The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a nationwide competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for recruitment to higher Civil Services of the Government of India, including the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, and Indian Police Service. Also simply referred to as the UPSC examination, it is conducted in three phases – a preliminary examination consisting of two objective-type papers (General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II also popularly known as Civil Service Aptitude Test or CSAT), and a main examination consisting of nine papers of conventional (essay) type, in which two papers are qualifying and only marks of seven are counted followed by a personality test (interview). A successful candidate sits for 32 hours of examination during the complete process spanning around one year.

The term civil service can refer to either a branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed (hired) on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations; or the body of employees in any government agency apart from the military, which is a separate extension of any national government. An employment in the civil services is much more than an average white- collar job. In fact, the Civil Services offer a unique career opportunity combined with constructive challenges and high growth prospects. By getting into the civil services, you will not only be associated with the decision-makers and implementer of policies & programmes but you will also be a crucial contributor as policy maker to the development of the nation as a whole.

The decision to join the civil services is not that of going for yet another lucrative job for livelihood. In fact, it is an opportunity to serve the country. Moreover, the varied nature of assignments attached with the services gives an opportunity for the maximum utilization of one’s potential. The civil service system is the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country. The executive decisions are implemented by the Indian civil servants.


UPSC Exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) which is India’s central agency for recruiting civil servants. UPSC Exam is commonly addressed as the IAS Exam since IAS is one of the most aspirational and preferred jobs in the country. Every year lakhs of candidates vie for the country’s top Civil Services posts by appearing for the UPSC CSE exam.

UPSC exam list includes Indian Engineering Service Exam, Indian Forest Service Exams, Combined Defense Service Exam, Indian Economic/Statistical Service Exam, Combined Medical Service Exam, The Geologists Exam, Stenographers Exam, Central Police Force Exam, NDA exam and SCRA exam besides the Civil Services Exam. 

Civil Services exam or the IAS Exam is the most prestigious amongst all other exams and is the gateway to around 24 government services including IFS, IPS, IRS, IRPS and so on. Every year many Civil Services aspirants compete for close to 1000 vacancies, making it one of the toughest papers to crack.  The exact number of vacancies is notified by the UPSC. 

What is IAS?

Indian Administrative Service (IAS), is classified as a ‘Category A service’ because it is a very prestigious government job. IAS, IPS, and IFS are three of the most sought-after posts. IAS officers are given strategic positions in the Union Government, State Government, and PSUs.

It is very important to know what is IAS before you plunge into the competitive warfare i.e. IAS exam. People who have complete information about Indian Civil Services are motivated enough to take multiple attempts to crack the IAS exam. A person appointed through the Civil Services Exam has personal morality and professional responsibility, to oversee important matters related to the able administrative functioning of a vast country like India.

IAS officers initially work at the sub-divisional level in the state administration. They also work as a sub-divisional magistrate, overseeing administration/development of the specialist work area they are assigned to. An IAS Officer is given a respectable job exposure and set responsibilities to perform diverse roles like that of a Collector, Commissioner, Chief Secretary, PSU Head, Cabinet Secretary and more. There is an ample scope to gain more experience and handle challenges to make a positive impact on a million lives.

How to become an IAS officer?

It is not easy to make this distinguished career choice and it is not easy to crack the IAS exam code either. Civil Services Exam is a competitive paper organized annually by the UPSC. Millions of aspirants appear for the coveted posts listed under the UPSC CSE making it even tougher to clear the exam (with a perfect competitive score) in the first attempt.

The UPSC CSE Exam is an all-inclusive paper. Anybody can apply for the post and an aspirant may not necessarily be a qualified doctor or engineer to be eligible for the crucial government vacancies.  Any candidate, irrespective of the financial, social or educational background, can apply for the IAS Exam and appear for the CSE based on his own potential and confidence.

At a preliminary level, it is recommended to be familiar with the UPSC CSE Exam Pattern. At the next stage, get to know the exam syllabus, organize a preparation schedule of General Studies, and sequentially, browse through the previous year papers and plan a subject wise strategy to prepare for the IAS exam.

Details about Civil Services Exam

UPSC invites applications for the Civil Service Exams annually through the Civil Services exam notification. The latest news of an increase in salary post the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission, the job prestige, job security and plethora of reasons make the IAS Exam the most sought after UPSC exam every year. But how many people can, or do qualify, for the Indian Civil Service?

Before a candidate even gets to know about what is IAS or what is UPSC, the better-known fact is that the IAS exam is a tough paper and it is difficult to clear the exam in a single attempt. However, more than the difficulty of the UPSC CSE pattern is the fact that the selection ratio is less.

There are limited job vacancies for Indian Civil Service. The 1000 vacancy number approximate is for the combined 24 posts including IAS, IPS, and IFS. Out of this total number, there is only a limited number of vacancies every year (only approximately 1000) for all the 24 services and 49.5% seats/posts are under reservation.

There were 11,35,943 candidates who applied for the UPSC CSE 2016 held on 7 August 2016. Out of the total candidates who applied for the exam (11,35,943), only 4,59,659 candidates finally appeared. Only 15,452 candidates could qualify for the Mains examination conducted in December 2016. And, only 2,961 could finally make it to the next stage of the personality test/interview held between March to May in 2017.

The culminating figures of the last eight years show that the new UPSC exam applicants at the preliminary level have increased by almost 8,00,000. In comparison, the total vacancies (for the combined 24 services) has gone up marginally, the increase has been marginal with only 100 to 200 posts added in the same period.