UPSC Civil Services: All you need to know if you want to appear in the exam
Through CSE, UPSC recruits officers under three categories – All India Services, Group A Civil Services, and Group B Civil Services.
The number of posts depends on the vacancies in these services. (In the year 2020 there were 796 vacancies, in 2019 it was 896, in 2018 it was 782, while in 2017 it was 980.)
The CSE exam is conducted in three stages – Prelims, Mains and Interview. Those who qualify for Prelims are allowed to appear in Mains, and similarly, those who qualify in Mains are allowed to appear in Interview, which is the final stage of the exam. The final merit list is released on the basis of marks obtained by the candidates in Mains and Interview.
Services under UPSC CSE
The civil services exam is conducted to recruit officers under three categories – All India Services, Group A Civil Services, and Group B Civil Services. The All India Services include – Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Forest Service (IFoS).
Group A civil services include – Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS), Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS), Indian Corporate Law Service (ICLS), Indian Defense Accounts Service (IDAS), Indian Defense Estates Service (IDES), Indian Information Service (IIS), Indian Ordnance Factory Service (IOFS), Indian Communications Finance Services (ICFS), Indian Postal Service (IPOS), Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS), Indian Railway Personnel Service ( IRPS), Indian Railway Transport Service (IRTS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Indian Trade Service (ITS), and Railway Protection Force (RPF).
Group B civil services include – Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Services; Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service (DANIX); Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Police Service (DANIPS), Pondicherry Civil Service; and Pondicherry Police Service.
Right time to start UPSC preparation
Every year lakhs of students appear in the Civil Services Examination, and only 750 to 900 candidates are selected (depending on the vacancy) in the final merit list. The selection rate decides the candidates need to be the best to qualify. So it is advised that candidates start preparing for the exam as soon as possible.
Ideally, UPSC CSE syllabus takes 18 months to complete, which also includes preparation for Mains, which is subjective. The Mains paper requires candidates to write answers to some of the toughest questions – including commentaries on the most burning and challenging issues faced by society and administrators across the globe.
UPSC preparation requires a thorough knowledge, writing and broad skills. Even if one is not preparing for UPSC directly and may be in school or university, focus on developing these skills (including communication and speaking skills), it will help students during UPSC preparation. Would be very helpful to help.
A candidate should start preparing the basics during his graduation and develop the habit of reading newspapers and being aware of various issues. They should also participate in various co-curricular activities to develop different aspects of their personality. Remember, UPSC CSE preparation is as much knowledge as its creative and innovative application.
Does graduation background affect selection in UPSC?
A student’s background in graduation can help you prepare for UPSC CSE, however, most students have some advantages. Students from arts backgrounds may find some sections of the course relatively easy to master, while students from science and other backgrounds may find some other sections familiar.
In addition, the course requires students to have a general overview of various subjects such as history, geography, politics, science and technology, economics, society, international relations, public administration and disaster management. Therefore, it ensures that students from any background will encounter some classes that are completely new to them.
How much time is needed for UPSC preparation?
The UPSC syllabus is vast and the paper pattern tests aptitude, reasoning, reading, comprehension and writing skills at various stages of the exam. Above all, it tests the suitability of candidates for public administration posts, and thus involves testing their understanding of various subjects, issues and challenges faced by the country and the world at large.
Thus any candidate will need a strong background to start the preparation. This can be achieved by mastering the basics of NCERT from class 6th to 12th. This itself would require about 3 months of study. The reading of a topic-specific advanced lesson should then be selected, which usually takes about 9 to 10 months.
This should be followed by extensive practice of both objective type questions for prelims and answer writing for mains. Depending on the habits and abilities of a student, to crack the exam, it will take between 12 months to 18 months of dedicated study to master the entire syllabus.
Is UPSC exam right for you?
Clearing the UPSC CSE exam is only the beginning and initiation into public service. The road ahead will require you to be able to handle various complex issues of the society and the country at large.
No civil servant will be able to perform well and give his best if he is not motivated and motivated by the mission of bringing about change in the society or implementing better public policy and administration.
It would also be wrong to suggest that all candidates have the same motivation to start. However, awareness of various issues during preparation sets the background for many.
Many candidates find their motivation and purpose to enter the civil services during their preparation journey. A general interest in public issue and governance can be considered as a sign to enter or start your UPSC preparation.
Remember, sometimes the purpose comes to you when you start walking down the path, it’s not always the reverse.
proper preparation techniques
Since UPSC tests you on various parameters and the exam requires you to master various skills, the preparation strategy is essentially individual. If you are good at writing, you may need less time to master answer writing, and more time may be required to prepare for the preliminary exam. This is the reason why some candidates find Prelims difficult, while others find Mains or Interview a hurdle.
However, there are some things that a student needs to do as hygiene. Firstly, before starting the preparation, he should go through the school books of NCERT or any other board to prepare the foundation and brush up on the fundamentals to start the preparation. Second, he should revise the syllabus several times and practice answer writing and tests regularly to make sure you get the concepts right and can attempt questions in the exam hall on time.
Third, you need to be an avid reader and keep up to date with the events and issues happening in the country and around the world. UPSC is looking for Public Administrators and hence you must put your opinion on various aspects of social, national and international issues.
However, the combination of all these is important and this is where you need individual guidance and advice to be able to complete your preparation effectively and be able to prepare for the exam. The knowledge to crack the exam is as important as the knowledge acquired during the preparation.
Apart from these, daily habits and routines need to be included in your plan. Your UPSC plan should be ingrained in your life, and you should allot and plan proper time to sleep and rejuvenate yourself. Prepare yourself for the long haul. UPSC needs the last bit of your patience and dedication. Prepare accordingly.
The trick is to enjoy the process
The dedication and hard work required to prepare for UPSC can seem tiring. But if driven by a sense of mission and dedication, it can also be fun and personal growth.
Candidates driven by such zeal are found to enjoy the process, be more consistent and crack the exam easily than other people. The trick is to find key areas in the curriculum that interest you and dedicate some time daily to them.
This will refresh you again and help you enjoy the process. Hence it is recommended to choose optional subject for mains as per one’s interest. It is also suggested to have some hobbies during your preparation journey and complete it once. It will also help you in Mains, as the interview board likes to ask the candidates about their hobbies and how they pursue them.
How to get the upper hand?
When lakhs of candidates are preparing it is natural to ask that how to get extra marks in the exam or how to top the interview? The trick is to do the work that others are not doing. You should be more active in knowing more and understanding the core issues of news and topics of the syllabus.
When you find a new issue or event – ask and learn what, how, when, where and what’s next. The use of technology will dig a little more into the issues and understand the core of the events. It is general interest in issues and events, which will give you the upper hand over others.
What if you didn’t make it?
Let’s address the elephant in the room once and for all. Lakhs of candidates prepare for the exam, and hence not all are able to crack it. What if there is one of them? This question bothers many candidates and they are afraid to solve it. Then we have the suggestions – the ‘if you have a plan B, you have no plan’ crop up.
Know that even if you don’t make the final list, it’s not the end of the world. Know that you will not be the same after preparation. UPSC preparation is a reward in itself.
After preparation you will know more than anyone who has never prepared for UPSC. You will know world history, politics, geography, economy, moral principles, various philosophers and revolutionaries. Also, you will be the master of your optional subject. In a way, you will be a better citizen, better equipped to address the issues of the society and will be on course to get a job in some other field or related field.
Candidates can either look for jobs in other sectors once they are out of their efforts or even when they are preparing. There are many examples of candidates who quit their jobs to prepare, or those who qualified while working or went on to make a great career after not being qualified.
Maintaining a positive outlook towards life, and having clarity of purpose will always motivate you to lead a good life. Remember, it is never too late to start, be it any field you want to venture into.
(Author Chandrahas Panigrahi is Co-Founder of EduKemi. Views expressed here are personal.)
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