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UPSC Eligibility Criteria 2018

UPSC Civil Services Exam is conducted for the recruitment of IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS and other 22 services listed under Group A and Group B. Roughly, about 11 lakh students apply for Prelims exams out of which 4 to 5 lakh appear for the exam, which is the first step of an aspirant to secure a spot out of around 1000 vacancies offered.

In this page, we provide the UPSC Eligibility Criteria for the Civil Services Exam which includes

  • Age Limit
  • Educational Eligibility
  • Nationality
  • Number of attempts

UPSC Exam Eligibility


  • 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 subject 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 belonging to categories (2), (3), (4) and (5) shall be a person in whose favour the Government of India has issued a certificate of eligibility.

Note 2: Further, candidates belonging to categories (2), (3) and (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.

Note: The Candidates applying for the Civil Service Examination should ensure that they fulfill all eligibility conditions and criteria for admission to the examination. Their admission to all the stages of the examination will be purely provisional subject to satisfying the prescribed eligibility conditions. Mere issue of admission certificate to the candidate will not imply that his/her candidature has been finally cleared by the UPSC. UPSC takes up verification of eligibility conditions with reference to original documents only after the candidate has qualified for Interview/ Personality Test.

Age Limit and Number of Attempts

The age limit and its relaxation (on the basis of category) decides the number of chances you get to appear for the UPSC exam. Applicants should have attained an age of 21 years and must not be more than 32 years of age on 1st August 2018, which means candidates should not have been born earlier than 2nd August 1986 or after 1st August 1997.

The restrictions on the number of times this exam can be taken are as follows

  1. For General Category: 6 attempts till 32 years of age
  2. For OBC category: 9 attempts till 35 years of age
  3. For SC/ST category: unlimited attempts till 37 years of age

Note: Physically Handicapped/disabled candidates belonging to General category will get the benefit of 9 attempts till the age prescribed by UPSC i.e., 42 years.

If a candidate appears for any of the papers of the Civil Services Preliminary Exam, the attempt is counted. If a candidate filled up the UPSC application form but didn t take the Preliminary Exam, the attempt will not be counted.

CategoryAge limitsNumber of attempts
General32 years06
OBC 32 years with relaxation of 3 years i.e. 35 years 09
SC/ST32 years with relaxation of 5 years i.e. 37 yearsTill the age limit
PH candidate32 years with relaxation of 10 years i.e. 42 yearsFor General & OBC 9 attempts
J&K Residence General= 37 yearsOBC= 40 yearsSC/ST=42 yearsPH=50Till the age limit
Disabled serviceman discharged from dutyif general then 32+3=35OBC then 32+3+3=38SC/ST then 32+3+5=40depending on above categories viz. Gen, OBC, SC/ST, Disabled
Ex-serviceman with five years duty* specific condition on page 2 of notificationif general then 32+5=37OBC then 32+5+3=40SC/ST then 32+5+5=42depending on above categories viz. Gen, OBC, SC/ST, Disabled

Note: An attempt is counted if a student appears for one of the papers in the Prelims examination.

Educational Eligibility

The minimum educational qualification for IAS exam is that a candidate must hold a degree from any university incorporated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India, or other educational institution established by an Act of Parliament, or declared to be deemed as a university under Section-3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, or possess an equivalent qualification.

  • Final year students can also appear for the UPSC IAS exam, but they should get their graduation completed by the time they appear for Civil Services Mains Exam
  • Candidates possessing professional and technical qualifications which are recognised by the Government as equivalent to a professional and technical degree would also be eligible for admission to the examination
  • Candidates who are appearing for the final year of M.B.B.S or any other Medical Examination, but have not completed their internship would be provisionally admitted to the Civil Services Mains exam, but they have to produce their original certificate at the time of Personality test
  • All such candidates who qualify the Prelims examination must produce a proof of Pass Bachelor Degree to appear for the Civil Services Main Examination. This Degree has to be attached to their application for the Main Examinations
  • The UPSC may, in exceptional cases, treat a candidate without the foregoing requisite qualifications as an eligible candidate. This exception can occur if he/ she has passed an examination conducted by other institutions, the standard of which justifies his/ her admission in the opinion of the Commission. The criteria may apply to candidates having Bachelor's degree from any reputed foreign university, for example, Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard etc.

Three stages of UPSC Civil Services Exam

UPSC Civil Services exam is conducted every year for the recruitment of elite IAS, IPS and other Group A officers. The recruitment process takes about a year and exams are conducted in three stages.

Stage 1: Preliminary exam, usually conducted in May/June. It is an objective type question paper with two papers - one is General Studies, and the other is CSAT for 400 marks (200 marks each).

Note - Marks are deducted for wrong answers (1/3rd for every wrong answer), and CSAT paper is qualifying in nature (66.7 marks needed for qualifying).

Stage 2: UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam consists of 9 papers which are descriptive. There are 4 General Studies Essays and 2 Optional Papers included for merit. English and Language papers are qualifying in nature. Mains exam is usually held in October/November.

Stage 3: Those candidates who qualify the Mains exam are called for the Interview. Based on Mains and Interview score, candidates are recommended by UPSC. UPSC publishes the final recommended list in May/June.


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