The Union Public Service Commission conducts the Civil Services Examination (IAS Exam) on an annual basis to recruit candidates in the Indian administrative setup. Aspirants are often dismayed by the comprehensive examination process and face difficulty in aligning their preparation with the requirements of the IAS Exam.

UPSC Exam Pattern

Aspirants should first go through the latest syllabus and notification to understand the exam process. For the upcoming Prelims Exam on June 27, 2021, it is essential that aspirants are familiar with the IAS Syllabus 2021.

The UPSC releases the exam notification with eligibility, vacancies, syllabus and other details. The online application process opens with the release of the notification and closes after 20-30 days from the date.

In brief, the IAS Exam comprises:

  1. Prelims – Qualifying Stage – Two objective-type papers
  2. Mains – Nine Theory Papers
  3. Personality Test – Interview

The final merit list is calculated based on the marks obtained in Mains + Interview.

Preparation Tips

Aspiring IAS candidates can start with a thorough study of NCERT textbooks (class 6-12) and the previous years’ question papers. UPSC questions are never totally about memorizing or deep-diving on a narrow topic. Always, be it Prelims, Mains or Interview – the questions force aspirants to think creatively on something which is almost common knowledge and link related concepts and phenomena before they can be answered.

One aspect to keep in mind is that before reading subject-specific reference books, the underlying concepts should be well prepared. With a firm base, the additional knowledge acquired can be most useful otherwise it will just end up confusing or scaring most aspirants.

Current Affairs has become an important segment in IAS Exam. Aspirants can focus on Current Affairs from a period of 12-14 months preceding the exam. For eg – if the exam is in June 2021, the events of national and international importance from March 2020 to May 2021 need to be studied.

Making notes is an important part of the preparation. Candidates should reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses but a common approach is to maintain separate notes for Prelims and Mains.

UPSC Exam Process

From the release of the notification to the final list of selected candidates, the UPSC exam process lasts about 12 months. The IAS Admit Card is released online two-weeks prior to the exam date.

Candidates who clear the Prelims will give the Mains Exam. The number of candidates selected for Mains will roughly be 12-13 times the total number of vacancies as per the notification. All candidates who clear the Mains will be called for the Interview. The number of candidates called for the IAS interview will roughly be 2-3 times the total number of vacancies.

Successful candidates in Prelims will have to fill an additional form (called DAF or Detailed Application Form) for the Mains Exam. The document verification process is done by UPSC at the time of the interview. The IAS Interview or the UPSC Personality Test is only conducted at the UPSC Bhavan, New Delhi.

The UPSC IAS Exam is a tough nut to crack but armed with correct information and hard work, it is definitely achievable. All the information pertaining to the exam can be found in the notification and aspiring candidates should periodically review their preparation progress by checking the syllabus and practicing on previous question papers.


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