Beginner’s Guide

CIVIL SERVICES EXAM

The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a nationwide competitive examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India like IAS, IFS, IPS etc. 

STRUCTURE OF THE EXAMINATION

The Civil Services examination is of two stages: 

  • Preliminary examination of objective questions
  • Main examination of descriptive written papers. The selected candidates of Main examination has to undergo an interview / personality test.

PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION

  • The preliminary examination is only a screening test and it’s marks are not relevant in determining the final rank.
  • There are two papers :

Paper 1 – General studies (200 marks)

Paper 2 – CSAT (200 marks)

  • All the questions are of multiple-choice 
  • The duration of each paper is of two hours.
  • The questions are set in English and Hindi.
  • The marks of Paper 1 ie. General Studies paper is  counted only for determining the merit list
  • Paper 2 – CSAT is qualifying in nature ie. a candidate has to secure minimum 33 % marks in this paper. If he fails to secure minimum marks in CSAT  he fails to qualify preliminary examination (irrespective of his marks in Paper 1)
  • In paper 1 each question is of 2 marks. For wrong answers there will be 1/3rd negative marks  ie. (-0.66) marks per question.
  • The number of candidates to be admitted to the main examination would be 12 – 13 times the approximate number of vacancies.
  • Based on the performance of the candidates and the availability of vacancies, the UPSC will fix the qualifying marks for entry to the main examination. For this purpose, the marks scored in paper – 1 will be considered.
  • The detailed syllabus of the Preliminary examination and Main examination are given below in the syllabus section.

MAIN EXAMINATION

  • Main Examination consists of nine papers.
  • Three hours is the duration of each paper.
  • The  answers should be in descriptive form.
  • The first two papers are :

Part – A (An Indian language chosen by the candidate from the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution) 

Part – B (English)

  • The above two  papers are qualifying in  nature, ie. marks of these papers are not counted  for ranking. Both the papers are of 300 marks each. 
  • The core of the Civil Services Examination is the remaining seven papers, each of 250 marks.
  • The total marks scored in these seven papers and the marks in the interview put together decide the final rank list.
Paper SubjectMarks
Paper-1Essay250
Paper-2General Studies 1250
Paper-3General Studies 2250
Paper-4General Studies 3250
Paper-5General Studies 4250
Paper-6Optional Subject - Paper 1250
Paper-7Optional Subject - Paper 2250
Sub-TotalWritten Test1750
Personality Test275
Grand Total2025
  • These papers can be answered in English or in any language listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • These papers will be valued only if the candidate secures minimum qualifying marks in the chosen Indian language and English papers.
  • For papers VI and VII, the candidate can choose any one of the following optional subjects  Agriculture; Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science; Anthropology; Botany; Chemistry; Civil Engineering; Commerce and Accountancy; Economics; Electrical Engineering; Geography; Geology; History; Law; Management; Mathematics; Mechanical Engineering; Medical Science; Philosophy; Physics; Political Science and International Relations; Psychology; Public Administration; Sociology; Statistics; Zoology; Literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.

INTERVIEW

  • The candidates who obtain minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the main examination shall be summoned for  Personality test  
  • The objective of the interview is to access the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service 
  • The test is intended to judge the mental caliber of the candidate. In broad terms this is an assessment of not only the intellectual qualities but also social traits and interest in current affairs. 
  • Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
  • The technique of interview is not that of a strict cross examination but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.
  • The interview is not intended to be a test either of the specialized or general knowledge of the candidate which has been already tested through their written papers. Candidates are expected to take intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own state and country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of well educated youth.     

QUALIFYING MARKS OF PREVIOUS YEARS 

Exam2017201620152014
Preliminary ExamGen -105.34, OBC - 102.66, SC - 88.66, ST - 88.66, PH -1 - 85.34, PH- 2 -61.34, PH -3 - 40Gen -116, OBC - 110.66, SC - 99.34, ST - 96, PH -1 - 75.34, PH -2 - 72.66, PH -3 - 40Gen -107.34, OBC - 106, SC - 94, ST - 91.34, PH -1 - 90.66, PH -2 - 76.66, PH -3 - 40Gen -205, OBC - 204, SC - 182, ST - 174, PH -1 - 167, PH -2 - 113, PH -3 - 115
Mains ExamGen -809, OBC - 770, SC - 756, ST - 749, PH -1 - 734, PH -2 - 745, PH -3 - 578Gen -787, OBC - 745, SC - 739, ST - 730, PH -1 - 713, PH -2 - 740, PH -3 - 545Gen -676, OBC - 630, SC - 622, ST - 617, PH -1 - 580, PH -2 - 627, PH -3 - 504Gen -678, OBC - 631, SC - 631, ST - 619, PH -1 - 609, PH -2 - 575, PH -3 - 449
Final Cut-offGen -1006, OBC - 968, SC - 944, ST - 939, PH -1 - 923, PH -2 - 948, PH -3 - 830Gen -988, OBC - 951, SC - 937, ST - 920, PH -1 - 927, PH -2 - 951, PH -3 - 817Gen -877 , OBC - 834, SC - 810, ST - 801, PH -1 - 802, PH -2 - 830, PH -3 - 697Gen -889, OBC - 844, SC - 830, ST - 811, PH -1 - 816, PH -2 - 778, PH -3 - 713

SYLLABUS FOR PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION

Paper -I

  • Current events of national and international importance
  • History of India and Indian national movement
  • Indian and World Geography- Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the world
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political system, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights issues,         etc.
  • Economic and Social development – sustainable development, poverty, inclusion, demographics, social sector initiatives etc.
  • General issues on environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate change-that donot require subject specialization
  • General science

Paper -II

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision making and problem solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude etc.) (Class X level), Data Interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)
  • English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level)
  • Questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level. (will be tested through passages from English language only without providing Hindi translation)

Note 1: The questions in both Paper-I (current affairs) and Paper-II (aptitude test) will be of multiple choice, objective type for 200 marks each and the time allotted for each paper is two hours.

Note 2: The CSAT aptitude test or Paper-II will be a qualifying paper 

Note 3: It is mandatory for the candidate to appear in both the papers of Civil Services (Prelim) examination. The candidate will be disqualified in case he or she appears in only one paper of the (Prelims) exam.

SYLLABUS FOR MAIN EXAMINATION

Syllabus for General Studies – I 

Syllabus for General Studies – II 

Syllabus for General Studies – III

Syllabus for General Studies – IV

BOOK LIST  

Book list for Preliminary Examination 

Book list for Main Examination

DETAILED PLAN

  • Aspirants are advised to make a daily routine of 11- 12 hours of dedicated study
  • These 11 -12  hours should be divided into 3-4 slots of study with a maximum of 3 hours per slot
  • Aspirants are advised to complete all the NCERT books within first 2-3 months of preparation. Hence they should allocate required time to complete it in this time frame.
  • Newspaper reading is a must and shouldn’t be skipped. 
  • Aspirants should also start studying their optional subject from the beginning. Plan should be made in such a manner that the candidate can complete the optional subject 4- 6 months before the exam. This will help the candidates to revise their optional subject at-least once before Preliminary examination.
  • The preparation should be integrated for both Prelims and Mains. The focus should be shifted to prelims before 2- 4  months from the date of Preliminary exam depending upon the candidates confidence level.
  • Mains specific topics in General studies  should be completed on a priority basis. 
  • All the topics should be completed before  3 months from the date of exam. This strategy will provide adequate time for revision which is most important in the whole exam.  
  • Write Essays and revise current affairs on a weekly basis
  • Proper time should also be allocated for testing yourself and for answer writing practice. 

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