UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE) IAS Exam – Syllabus, Eligibility & More

About UPSC Exam

UPSC Exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) which is India's central authority for recruiting civil servants. On successfully clearing this exam, the candidate is recruited as an IAS officer which is one of the most aspirational and preferred jobs in the country. Every year, 4-5 lakhs candidates vie for the country's top Civil Services posts by appearing for the UPSC exam.

UPSC exam list includes Indian Engineering Service (IES), 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 close to 1000 vacancies that the UPSC releases making it one of the toughest papers to crack. According to the Civil Services Exam 2019 notification, this year there are 896 posts that are advertised.

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What is IAS?

Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is classified as a 'Category A service' in the government service. 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 IAS is before one takes a plunge into this competitive warfare. 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. People who have complete information about Indian Civil Services are motivated enough to take multiple attempts to crack the IAS exam. 

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 expected 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 either. Civil Services Exam is conducted annually by the UPSC. 

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.

First, it is recommended to be familiar with the UPSC Exam Pattern after which one must understand the syllabus. The candidate must then 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.

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Details about Civil Services Exam

UPSC invites applications for the Civil Service Exams (CSE) annually through the Civil Services exam notification. Out of the 1000 vacancies for all the 24 services, 49.5% seats are under reservation.

In 2016, 11,35,943 candidates applied for the UPSC CSE of which only 4,59,659 candidates finally appeared. Of those who appeared, only 15,452 could qualify for the Mains examination conducted in December 2016 and 2,961 could finally make it to the last stage (Personality/Interview) of the exam which was held between March-May 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 only marginally with only 100 to 200 posts added in the same period.

UPSC Eligibility Criteria

For All India Services (IAS and IPS), the candidate must be a citizen of India.

For Other Services like IRS, IAAS, IRTS etc., the candidate must be either

1. a Citizen of India, or

2. a Citizen of Nepal, or

3. a Subject of Bhutan, or

4. a Tibetan refugee, who came over to India before 1st January 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India, or

5. a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

Note 1: Provided that a candidate belongs to categories (2), (3), (4) or (5), he/she must have a certificate of eligibility issued by the Government of India.

Note 2: Further, candidates belonging to categories (2), (3) or (4) above will not be eligible for appointment to the Indian Foreign Service.

Note 3: A candidate in whose case a certificate of eligibility is necessary may be admitted to the examination but the offer of appointment may be given only after the necessary eligibility certificate has been issued to him/her by the Government of India.

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1. Educational Qualification

To be eligible to apply for an IAS officer post, a candidate must have at least one of the following education degree or qualification:

  • An education grade/degree from a Central, State or a Deemed University under the UGC Act.
  • An education grade/degree attained through correspondence or distance education course.
  • An education grade/degree on completion of the course from an open university.
  • An education grade/degree/qualification granted recognition by the Government of India in consideration of standing equivalent to one of the above.
  • An education grade/degree identified as applicable by an Act of Parliament.

Obtaining the right education degree should be the basic objective for an IAS Officer aspirant.

Candidates meeting the below criteria can also appear for the UPSC CSE:

  • Individuals who have given the graduation exam or the equivalent (relevant as per the Government of India) exam or higher examinations, and are still waiting for the exam results scheduled to appear in the same year of the IAS exam, can sit for the paper.
  • Individuals who have cleared the final MBBS degree exam but may not have finished their MBBS internship.
  • Individuals who have cleared the final paper of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of India (ICAI), ICSI and ICWAI.
  • Only candidates who possess a degree from a private university meeting the set conditions as specified above.
  • Only candidates who have a degree from a foreign university granted recognition by the Association of Indian Universities.

The aspirant needs to submit the proof of eligibility from the designated or practising authority or representative from the university or institution they pursued the course from at the time of appearing for the UPSC Main Exam. Candidates who are not able to furnish the proof will not be allowed to appear for the examination.

Any candidate who has appeared or intends to take the CSE exam and is waiting for their results is considered eligible to take the IAS preliminary exam. They are still required to submit proof of clearing the final (education qualification) exam alongside the Detailed Application Form (DAF) submission for the CSE Mains.

2. Age limit

The regulated age criteria for individuals who wish to take the written UPSC CSE exam is subject to many important related conditions. Applicants should have attained a minimum age of 21 years and a maximum age permissible age of 32 years as on 1st August 2019, as per the official age criteria. This means candidates should not have been born earlier than 2nd August 1987 or after 1st August 1998.

The following table indicates the maximum age limit and the number of attempts allowed for all the categories:

Category Age Limit Number of Attempts
General Category Upper age limit is 32 Years Number of attempts allowed is 6
OBC Category Upper age limit is 35 years Number of attempts allowed is 9
SC / ST Category Upper age limit is 37 Years Number of attempts allowed is Unlimited
Physically Handicapped Category Upper age limit for General Category Candidates is 42 Years OBC Category Candidates is 45 Years SC/ST Category Candidates is 47 Years Number of attempts allowed is Unlimited in all the cases
J & K Domicile Candidates Upper age limit for General Category Candidates is 37 Years Upper age limit for OBC Category Candidates is 40 Years Upper age limit for SC/ST Category Candidates is 42 Years Upper age limit for Physically Handicapped Candidates is 50 Years Number of attempts allowed is the same as specified above for the General, OBC, SC/ST, Physically Handicapped category students
Ex-Servicemen Candidates Upper age limit for General category is 37 Years Upper age limit for OBC category is 40 Years Upper age limit for SC/ST category is 42 Years Number of attempts allowed is the same as specified above for the General, OBC, SC/ST, Physically Handicapped category students
Disabled Defence Services Personnel* conditional Upper age limit for General category is 37 Years Upper age limit for OBC category is 40 Years Upper age limit for SC/ST category is 42 Years Number of attempts allowed is the same as specified above for the General, OBC, SC/ST, Physically Handicapped category students

Stages in exams

UPSC CSE has the following three stages:  Following which, the mains are scheduled in December and the results mostly expected to be declared in February/March of the following year.

Stage 1: Prelims

Stage I is UPSC Prelims, which is held in August every year, has two objective-type papers. One is the general studies and the second is the aptitude test often known as Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT). The result for this stage is declared in September. 

Stage 2: Mains

Stage 2 is the IAS Mains exam, which is held in December, is a subjective exam and includes nine descriptive papers. The result for this stage is declared in February/March. 

Stage 3: Interview

Stage 3 is the IAS Interview (Personality Test) is held in March and April. The result for this stage is expected in May/June. Only individuals who clear the UPSC CSE Mains with the required cut-off marks will be eligible to appear for the next and the final stage- the Personality Test or Interview (a part of the IAS exams) in front of the UPSC Board Members.

If the candidate clears the written tests, he/she will receive an e-summon issued by the UPSC. The summon will direct the candidate to appear for a face-to-face discussion round with the UPSC Board Members. This round is conducted to assess and evaluate the individual (personality) traits. The discussion round includes questions related to a candidate s hobbies, GK, and current affairs, case-study or situation based questions, etc. The face to face round is organized in the UPSC Bhawan in New Delhi.

How to clear IAS exam?

It is important to know and personally comprehend the IAS exam pattern and syllabus. It needs a detailed preparation and a long-form strategy to clear the UPSC CSE. Depending upon the individual capability, a candidate may clear the exam in a few months of preparation or may need continued attempts to make it to the IAS qualifier list. The basic requirement is to have a focused approach, commitment, dedication and smart hard work. A candidate should not only focus on the duration of the preparation, the standard duration of 9-12 months may be enough for an aspiring Indian Civil Service Officer, but every individual needs to put emphasis on the quality of preparation during the self-stipulated time.

Only a disciplined and focused approach and mindset can achieve the challenging task. An individual with a passion for learning and reading can call it a success at the UPSC CSE. A candidate with an analytical bent of mind and sound presentation skills accompanied with the qualities of good knowledge is an ideal aspirant. At the same time, it is important to have access to a repository of books and study material to prepare for the Prelims and the Mains.

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UPSC Prelims Schedule

  • The notification for the CSE Prelims exam date is released in February every year.
  • Application forms are available on UPSC's official website https://upsc.gov.in/ from February until the last date in March (specified).
  • The admit card is issued three weeks prior to the Prelims Exam date.
  • The Prelims are held in the month of June.
  • The Answer key is released only after the declaration of the final UPSC CSE exam result made in the following year.
  • The Prelims Results is declared in August/September.
  • The UPSC Prelims cut-off is announced post the final result announcement in the following year (like for 2017 candidates, the cut-off will be released in 2018).

UPSC Mains Schedule

  • The notification for the CSE Mains exam date is issued in August/September.
  • Application forms are made available in August/September.
  • Admit Card is issued three weeks before the scheduled date of the Mains.
  • The Mains is conducted in October.
  • The Answer key is released only after the declaration of the final UPSC CSE exam result made in the following year.
  • The UPSC CSE Mains Result are declared in Jan-Feb of the following year.
  • The UPSC Mains cut-off is announced post the final result announcement in the following year.

UPSC CSE Personality Test/Interview Schedule

  • The UPSC notification is issued in February/March.
  • An e-summon is issued in March/April.
  • The tentative schedule for the personality test/interview is March/April only.
  • The result is announced in April/June.

Important Dates for UPSC CSE 2019

S.No. Name of Examination Date of Notification Last Date for receipt of Applications Date of commencement of Exam Duration of Exam
1 Civil Service Prelims Exam 19 February 2019 18 March 2019 2 June 2019 (Sunday) 1 DAY
2 Civil Service Mains Exam To be announced To be announced 20 September 2019 5 DAYS

Note: The dates of notification, commencement, and duration of Examinations/ RTs are liable to changes as notified by UPSC.

UPSC Syllabus

Syllabus for the IAS exam is set by UPSC. Please find the syllabus for all the stages of the exam below:

UPSC Prelims - also called CSAT (objective-type section)

The first stage or the screening test of UPSC CSE is an aptitude assessment examination and the paper includes questions of Reasoning and Analytical format.

The Prelims is divided into two papers of objective-type questions and each paper is of 200 marks, equaling a total of 400 marks. The total duration of the IAS exam prelims is 2 hours and it is mandatory for every candidate to complete both the papers.

The IAS Exam-Paper I has topics of General Studies including History of India, economy, social development, Indian and World geography, science & technology, polity and governance, environment & ecology, art and culture etc.

The IAS Exam-Paper II has questions related to logical reasoning, analytical ability, English language comprehension, data interpretation, basic numeracy or maths etc.

UPSC Mains - Subjective section

UPSC CSE Mains exam is structured to evaluate the academic knowledge of the shortlisted candidates. The aim is to assess academic skills in a crisp and precise way. Depending upon a candidate's profound subject knowledge and analysis, the overall intellect is assessed.

The UPSC Mains exam pattern was revised in 2015. There are a total of 9 (7+2) IAS Mains papers. The questions are subjective or descriptive types:

Syllabus for the Mains papers is as follows:

  • 1st aper- Essay in language or medium chosen by an individual candidate. (Marks Allotment=250)
  • 2nd paper- General Studies 1 consisting of Indian Heritage, Indian Culture, Indian History, Local and World Geography. (Marks Alloted=250)
  • 3rd paper- General Studies 2 consisting of topics Polity & Governance, Social Justice & International Relations, and Constitution. (Marks Alloted=250)
  • 4th paper- General Studies 3 comprising of topics of Economic Development, Technology, Bio-diversity, Security & Disaster Management. (Marks Alloted=250)
  • 5th paper- General Studies 4 comprising of topics of Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude. (Marks Allotment=250)
  • 6th paper- is the optional subject, Paper 1. (Marks Alloted=250)
  • 7th paper- is the optional subject, Paper 2. (Marks Alloted=250)

Apart from these 7 papers whose marks are counted while deciding the cut-off, there are 2 other papers which are of qualifying nature i.e. one has to score 25% marks in these papers to qualify. These papers are:

  • Indian Language Paper- One of the Indian Languages must be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. This paper will not be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim. (Marks Alloted=300)
  • English Language Paper. (Marks Alloted=300)

UPSC Interview format based on a Vocal Section

This is the final stage of the IAS Exam. The shortlisted candidate must appear for the UPSC interview conducted by Board Members based on the candidate's resume. The interview questions are directed towards assessing the social traits and current affairs and aptitude of each candidate. The personality test will focus on determining the mental ability, the presence of mind, clarity in thinking, logical thinking pattern, interest in current affairs, judgment aptitude, moral integrity and leadership like qualities by the interviewer. The candidate needs to appear for this interview test which is worth 275 marks.

List of Optional Subjects

For the UPSC CSE Mains, there is a list of optional subjects. The candidate has an option to choose only one of the listed subjects. In other words, there is only 1 optional subject to write during the UPSC CSE mains.

Click on the icon to go to the respective optional subject syllabus page.

Literature of any one of the following language:

UPSC Exam pattern

UPSC IAS Prelims

The UPSC CSE Prelims exam is divided into two papers: Paper 1 for General Studies and Paper 2 for Civil Services Aptitude Test.

Paper 1 has 100 questions to be completed in 2 hours. Each question is of 2 marks each. The paper has a negative marking of 0.66 marks (1/3rd of 2 marks) for each wrong answer.

Paper 2 or the CSAT paper is a qualifying test and the cut-off marks are 33% of the total marks of the CSAT paper. A candidate needs to score 66 marks (the 33% cut-off score) to qualify for the IAS exam mains. The total marks are 200.

The CSAT paper has 80 questions and each question has an equal value of 2.5 marks. The total duration of the exam is 2 hours and there is negative marking of 0.833 marks (1/3rd of 2.5 marks) for every wrong answer.

Both the papers are presented in English and Hindi and are objective-type multiple choice questions format on an OMR sheet.

UPSC IAS Mains

The Mains exam consists of 7+2=9 papers.

The two qualifying papers of any Indian Language and English paper called Paper A and Paper B is of matriculation level or the equivalent of the matriculation standard. It is mandatory to pass the qualifier papers.

The 5 papers of General Studies and 2 papers of Optional Subjects will be evaluated simultaneously with the assessment of the qualifying papers (Paper A and Paper B). However, the complete evaluation or the final assessment is done only based on a candidate qualifying the Paper A and Paper B. If a candidate does not qualify the two papers then the complete score of the 7 papers will not be accounted for.

The only exception to the paper A format on Indian Language is for candidates belonging to or appearing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim.

UPSC CSE Personality Test/Interview

UPSC shortlists and invites around 2500-3000 candidates on an average every year through an interview call. UPSC creates various boards working on an everyday basis and a UPSC member heading each of the many boards. Each board has 4-5 members comprising of a variety of field experts. The board members ask questions to assess the objective ability and mental agility of a candidate. The questions are related to issues concerning national and international matters. Candidates can expect questions related to personal profile as per the Detailed Application Form (DAF) submitted.

Roles & Responsibilities of an IAS officer

An IAS Officer is the part of the administrative unit of the executive branch of the Government of the Republic of India. The prime responsibility of an Indian Civil Service official is to handle the various Government Affairs including the officers appointed at the central or the state level.

A Civil Services officer plays a significant role in the administration and execution of the day-to-day matters concerning the vast landscape of our country's governance. An IAS Officer has the authority to appropriate all important matters, specifically the policy-making decisions and is empowered with essence or custodianship to operate the nation.

An IAS Officer is allocated the task of managing various administrative departments and the respective function of each of these departments. Their role can include policy framing, acting in an advisory role to the ministries and the responsibility for effective execution of designated or appointed duties as an IAS officer in charge of the administration of single (small) administrative units.

An IAS officer is also responsible for maintaining the law and order situation, supervising revenue administration and general administration of the designated area under his/her official jurisdiction. Some of the prime functions of an IAS Officer are donning the role of a Chief Development Officer or District Development Commissioner, Executive Magistrate, overseeing and implementing State level and Central Government policies, supervising the expenditure of Public Funds among others.

History of IAS

When India was declared a democratic nation, it was a moment to reckon with. Going strong and globally unified with its democratic beliefs and values, at the Centre and state level both, these public representatives are successfully performing the duties of a responsible elected official. The system at the central and state level need to work in sync to bring a change. One needs to make judicious use of the evolving state machinery to create and execute effective policy-making decisions.

The set of skilful and knowledgeable government officials are formally called bureaucrats.

The history of Indian Civil Services under the British dictation was a one-way command structure. It was the political system existing during the British Raj which led to the implementation of wrong policies for Indian governance.

Factually, only later, Article 311 of the Constitution in 1949 was conceptualized to encourage bureaucrats to inquire or even criticise their superiors. If they did so on justified grounds, there was no fear of losing their jobs in the pretext of an imposed penalty for incompetency or individual wrongdoing by their superiors or the system.

The apex court's decision has given a further flex-muscle to the Indian Civil Service officers. It has recently notified the Centre and the State Governments to establish a Civil Services Board and handle the bureaucratic affairs of transfers, postings, promotions, inquiries, rewards and punishments, disciplinary action and stipulating job tenure of the bureaucrats. The aim of this decision is to reduce dependency on political interference concerning bureaucracy.

Today, the Indian system of bureaucracy is focused towards delivering in good public faith and a step towards achieving the objective is to enthuse the masses and thus raise the public participation level, entice the youths to join the Indian Civil Services system and thus, make a big leap forwards in general administrative procedure.

List of posts under UPSC

Group A Services

  1. Indian Administrative Services
  2. Indian Foreign Services
  3. Indian Police Services
  4. Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Services
  5. Indian Audit and Accounts Services
  6. Indian Revenue Services (Customs and Central Excise)
  7. Indian Defence Accounts Services
  8. Indian Revenue Services (I.T.)
  9. Indian Ordnance Factories Services (Assistant Works Manager, Administration)
  10. Indian Postal Services
  11. Indian Civil Accounts Services
  12. Indian Railway Traffic Services
  13. Indian Railway Accounts Services
  14. Indian Railway Personnel Services
  15. Indian Railway Protection Force (Assistant Security Commissioner)
  16. Indian Defence Estates Services
  17. Indian Information Services (Junior Grade)
  18. Indian Trade Services, Group 'A' (Gr. III)
  19. Indian Corporate Law Services

Group - B Services

  1. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Services (Section Officer's Grade)
  2. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Services
  3. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Services
  4. Pondicherry Civil Services
  5. Pondicherry Police Services

How To Become Secretaries

One can become a Chief Secretary through attaining promotion from the Principal Secretary or the Financial Commissioner level in the respective State Governments. Chief Secretary Post is granted to a deserving official in the State Government Departments. The Chief Secretary post is equivalent to a Secretary at the Centre (in the Central Government).

The next level of promotion is the Cabinet Secretary Post in the Central government. The Cabinet Secretary to the Government of India is the ex-officio Head of Civil Services Board, the Cabinet Secretariat, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Head of all Civil Services under the rules of business of the Government.

The system of allotment as a Cadre

Once selected as an IAS, candidates are allocated to cadres. Each state has a single cadre. The only exception being the joint cadres: Assam-Meghalaya, Manipur-Tripura, and Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram-Union Territories (AGMUT). During the time of allocation, the local to the non-local candidates' ratio is maintained at 1:2. 

A new cadre allocation policy has been recently finalized at the Centre concerning IAS, IPS and other officials. The main objective is to practice national integration for India's top bureaucracy. The all-India services officials, i.e. the IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service choose cadres from the zones in place of states. Earlier these officers were allotted a cadre set or to choose from a set of states to appoint self. The only deputation at the centre was allowed during the time of their service.

The present 26 cadres have been grouped into five zones. The new policy facilitates the appointment of an officer from Bihar into the southern zone, for example. Candidates appearing for the UPSC CSE must specify their choices in order of preference.

Vacancies for the Current Year

UPSC notified 980 vacancies for the year 2017, 99 posts less than the previous year. The number of vacancies has been reducing continuously for the past four years.

IAS Online Coaching

Every year, the UPSC CSE exam questions are different and are designed in a way to assess the clarity of thought and mental agility of a candidate. This is exactly where the concept of holistic preparation and test series as per the CSE syllabus fits in.

Online IAS coaching institutes like NeoStencil offer the candidates a multi-purposed opportunity by providing live online classes by India's top teachers right on their computer/smartphones, thus, mitigating the need to relocate to big cities for coaching. NeoStencil also assists candidates to do a periodical evaluation, have access to feedback by top coaching faculty, live-video recorded discussion for self-assessment, anytime access to the tests series online, check answer copies accessible at the right time and to top it up, a pre-registered discount for IAS aspirants who wish to make optimum use of the available Free IAS Preparation section before beginning to prepare.

The online IAS reference material includes comprehensive and module courses for UPSC General Studies (Prelims and Mains), Test Series for optional papers and General Studies, part of the Prelims curriculum. The selection has a test series for subjects like Geography, Sociology, Public Administration, History, Sociology and so on. The candidate can take the tests in any order at free-will.

The candidates' interaction with the NeoStencil format is not only limited to taking classes and test series. The appointed coaching faculty personally invests time to evaluate individual performance. A candidate has an option to discuss with the faculty member to assess the right strategy or approach for the test paper and how to construct an ideal answer. It is the content of the answer and the complete presentation which is emphasized upon. The faculty gives detailed feedback and suggestions on each student's performance.

Importance of Mock Tests

Mock tests are needed to test the writing ability of a candidate before appearing for the actual exam. Through continuous practice, a candidate can feel confident about cracking the exam. There are series of mock tests available for online IAS preparation and only if a candidate puts him/herself through real-like exam situation can he/she exercise more control over the actual exam.

How online IAS preparation through mocks test can help a candidate -

    1. If an individual is aiming for a top score like 120+ in the prelims or the mains of the UPSC CSE, the only way to make this a reality is by taking mock tests. Learning by practice is the only safe bet to score high and higher.

    2. A candidate is expected not to panic during the IAS exam if he/she has practised mock tests. This is because a candidate has mastered the trick of managing stipulated time, knows his own weaknesses and strengths as per the subjects in the syllabus and is aware of which section can help in achieving a better score. The candidate can also resist the temptation of answering all questions leading to negative marking.

    3. Taking mock tests adds clarity of concepts given the versatility of questions. Being exposed to a variety of questions on each subject can help in clearing basic concepts and in understanding the IAS exam pattern.

    4. A well-prepared candidate is someone who has practised taking a series of mock tests every day and is better equipped to make a fine judgment and realistic assessment of the UPSC competition exam. He/she knows their strengths and weaknesses and is generally more aware of how to score by paying attention to subjects he/she is good at and utilizing the stipulated IAS exam time in an optimum way.

Every candidate must enrol for a series of all-India mock tests and get feedback on real-time ranking assessment.

Books Required for IAS Preparation

There are some essential books to assist an Indian Civil Services aspirant. It is important to stay focused on the quality of books and not the number of books to supplement IAS exam preparation. Only focused preparation using select books can improve the pattern of self-study.

Certain books on History subject like the History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra and India's Ancient Past by R.S Sharma help an individual to study the subject in detail. Another recommended title by India's Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra and History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra will add to an individual perspective on the subject.

Shifting focus to the subject of culture, the two books- The Wonder That Was India by AL Bhasham and Indian Art and Culture authored by Nitin Singhania- are a must have for the IAS exam preparation.

Geography books like Geography of India by Majid Husain and Oxford School Atlas by Oxford are good references for UPSC CSE self-study.

For Polity, refer to the book - Indian Polity for Civil Services Examination by M Laxmikanth.

India Year Book and Manorama Year Book are good books on Current Affairs.

About Toppers

Given below is a list of IAS toppers from 2010 to 2016:

Year IAS Rank 1 IAS Rank 2 IAS Rank 3
2016 Nandini K R Anmol Sher Singh Bedi Gopalakrishna Ronanki
2015 Tina Dabi Athar Aamir Ul Shafi Khan Jasmeet Singh Sandhu
2014 Ira Singhal Renu Raj Nidhi Gupta
2013 Gaurav Agrawal Munish Sharma Rachit Raj
2012 Haritha V Kumar Sriram V Stuti Charan
2011 Shena Aggarwal Rukmani Riar Prince Dhawan
2010 S Divyadharsini Sweta Mohanty R V Varun Kumar

Topper's strategy and the approach towards the main examination by some toppers are as follows:

Anju Arun Kumar (AIR 60 - UPSC CSE 2016)

Anju began her IAS exam preparation after completing B-Tech and only after making five unsuccessful attempts, she joined the Indian Civil Service Rank in her last attempt (which was her sixth attempt of the CSE paper). It was her sheer will, determination and focus that helped her pursue her long journey to get her dream job.

Avneet Punia (AIR 356 - UPSC CSE 2016)

The 23-year old Maths graduate chose Geography as his optional subject. However, having a strong Math background made Avneet analytically competent which was a useful skill that came handy during the CSE preparation. Avneet dedicated 1.5 years to the preparation and studied for 8 hours every day. He was also pursuing Masters in Geography from Delhi School of Economics during the preparation time. He took coaching for General Studies. His smart study plan is an inspiring story for many aspirants who dream of an IAS job.

Hariram Shankar (AIR 145 - UPSC CSE 2016)

Hariram belongs to a simple family. His father is a section officer at a Kerala state autonomous body and mother a practising Ayurveda doctor. Hariram is a Mechanical Engineering from NIT Calicut. He had earlier joined SBI as a PO. During his work experience in SBI as a P.O, he realized that he needed to make a difference to the lives of the poor, which is when he decided to sit for the Indian Civil Services examination. His experience as the PO helped him gain practical insights specifically concerning issues of financial access for the downtrodden in the society.

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