The Civil Services
Examination is a challenge and thousands of candidates appear
in it every year. As many students appear in the examination,
we answer some commonly asked questions. To achieve success
in the exam, it is important to study in a focused manner,
both for the Preliminary as well as for the Main Exam. For an
IAS aspirant, it is important to know the plan of the
examination as well as what one might expect.
The examination consists of two parts:
Examination (objective type), which is a qualifying
examination, and a Main Examination consisting of written
examination and interview. The marks obtained in the
Preliminary Exam are not counted in the Main Exam and it is
only a screening exam. The Preliminary Exam is an objective
type test. One can appear in the Main Examination only after
passing the Preliminary Exam. The Union Public Service
Commission (UPSC) holds the Preliminary Examination in
May/June and the Main Examination is held in
October/November. The notification for the Preliminary
Examination is published in December every year. The exam is
held in many cities in India and one can opt for a centre
near one's place so that unnecessary travel is avoided. The
number of vacancies are 600-700 every year. Reservation is
made for candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes,
Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
Age: The candidate must be between 21 and 30 years of age as
on August 1 every year for the exam. Relaxations to the age
limit are available for 5 years for candidates belonging to
the scheduled castes or those who were domiciled in J & K
from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 1989. A relaxation of 3
years in the case of Defence Services Personnel disabled in
operations; upto 8 years for Scheduled Caste candidate who is
also a defence personnel, disabled in operations; upto 5
years in case of ex-servicemen including Commissioned
Officers who have rendered at least five years Military
Service as on August 1 of that year; upto 10 years in the
case of ex-servicemen including Commissioned Officers who
belong to the Scheduled Castes and who have rendered at least
five years Military Service. The date of birth acceptable is
the one entered in the Matriculation or School Leaving
Certificate. No other documents with respect to age are
Educational Qualifications: The candidate must hold a degree
of any of the Universities incorporated by an act of
legislature in India or educational institutions established
by an Act of Parliament. A degree from deemed universities
under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956
is also eligible. Candidates having professionals and
technical qualifications recognised by the government are
also eligible. Candidates having an MBBS degree but have not
completed their internship will be provisionally admitted to
the Main Examination provided that they submit a certificate
of their Institute that they have passed the final
professional medical examination. Those who have appeared in
the final year but do not have the result can also apply but
they would have to produce proof of passing the exam with
their application for the Main Exam.
Attempts: A candidate is permitted 4 attempts at the
examination. There is no restriction on the number of
attempts for scheduled caste candidates but Other Backward
Classes have seven attempts. If a person appears in the
Preliminary Exam or even appears in one paper, it is counted
as an attempt. One should make up one's mind before applying
and taking an attempt and only a serious attempt should be
Fee: The fee for the exam is Rs 50, to be paid through
Central Recruitment Fee stamps available at post offices. The
post office must cancel the stamps so that the impression of
the cancellation stamp partially overflows on the application
form. Instruments such as postal orders, drafts and such are
not accepted and candidates should only send the fee through
the Recruitment Fee stamps. Candidates belonging to the
scheduled castes and physically handicapped persons are not
required to pay any fee.
How to Apply: Applications should be made in the prescribed
format (the form is available from all leading post offices)
and sent to: Under Secretary (CSP), Union Public Service
Commission, Dholpur House, New Delhi-110 011. A registration
number is given as a token of receipt of the application. If
a candidate does not receive an acknowledgement within 45
days, he is advised to contact the UPSC. Admission
certificates and Roll Nos. are sent and if they are not
received one month before the exam, the candidate should
contact the UPSC. Communications to the UPSC should contain
name of examination, registration no., name and postal
address as given in the application.
Plan of the Preliminary Examination: The Preliminary Exam
consists of two papers of objective type having maximum marks
of 450, as follows:
Paper I General Studies 150 marks
Paper II One subject to be selected from below 300 marks
Total 450 marks
Subjects for Paper II (one subject to be selected):
Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Botany,
Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Commerce, Economics, Electrical
Engineering, Geography, Geology, Indian History, Law,
Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Medical Science,
Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Public
Administration, Sociology, Statistics, Zoology.
The question papers are in Hindi and English and each paper
is of two hours duration. The course content of the syllabi
is of degree level. Each paper is of two hours duration.
Blind candidates are allowed an extra time of 20 minutes for
Plan of the Main Examination: The Main Exam consists of a
written exam and an interview test. The written exam has 9
papers of conventional essay type. Marks obtained in the Main
Exam will determine whether a candidate is called for the
interview. The interview carries 300 marks and the number of
candidates called is about twice the number of vacancies.
Interview calls are sent on the basis of minimum marks fixed
by the UPSC at its discretion. Marks obtained in the Main
Exam plus interview determines the final ranking. Candidates
are allotted various services keeping in view their ranks in
the examination and preferences expressed by them. The
written examination consists of the following papers:
Paper I One of the languages to be selected from the Eighth
Schedule of the Constitution
Paper II English 300 marks
Paper III Essay 200 marks
Paper IV & V General Studies 300 marks each
Paper VI-IX Any two subjects from list of optional subjects.
Each subject has two papers.
Interview 300 marks
Optional subjects: Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and
Veterinary Science, Botany, Chemistry, Civil Engineering,
Commerce and Accountancy, Economics, Electrical Engineering,
Geography, Geology, History, Law, Management, Mathematics,
Mechanical Engineering,20Medical Science, Philosophy,
Physics, Political Science and International Relations,
Psychology, Public Administration, Sociology, Statistics,
Zoology. Each paper is of 3 hours duration.
The following combinations not allowed are:
Political Science & International Relations and Public
Commerce and Management
Anthropology and Sociology
Maths and Statistics
Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
Management and Public Administration
Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science and Medical Science
Any two branches of engineering.
Literature of any of the following languages: Arabic,
Assamese, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, German,
Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Marathi,
Malayalam, Manipuri, Nepali, Oriya, Pali, Persian, Punjabi,
Russian, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telegu, Urdu.
Interview: The object of the interview is to assess the
suitability of the candidate for a career in public service.
It is an assessment of not only the intellectual qualities
but also social traits and interest in current affairs. Some
of the qualities judged are: mental alertness, critical
powers of assimilation, logical exposition, balance of
judgement, variety and depth of interest, social cohesion,
leadership and above all, intellectual and moral integrity.
To succeed in the interview, candidates should take an
intelligent interest not only in areas of their subjects, but
also in what is happening around them, both within and
outside their country. They should be aware of modern
currents of thought and in new discoveries which should
arouse the curiosity of well educated youth. That is why it
is most important to read magazines and newspapers, watch
television programmes on current affairs and also discuss the
issues with friends or parents on a regular basis.
A success plan for preliminary examination
One important thing that candidates should keep in mind is
that since the time between the Main Exam and the declaration
of result of the Preliminary Exam is very less, it is
advisable to begin preparations of the Main Exam along with
the Preliminary Exam.
The General Studies paper covers the following areas:
General Science; Current events of national and international
importance; History of India; World Geography; Indian Polity
and Economy; Indian National Movement; General Mental
For this section, it is important to be updated in all
fields. For History, Economy, Polity, etc, it is advisable to
read Class 11 and 12 books published by the NCERT. Some books
on the freedom struggle are published by the National Book
Trust. For general knowledge and objective-type questions,
refer to General Knowledge Refresher by O.P. Khanna. For
General Mental Ability and current affairs, it is advisable
to read The Competition Master regularly.
One question that is often asked by students is about the
subjects that they should take up. Since some subjects are
scoring, students wish to opt for them. But one thing that
must be kept in mind is one's aptitude. If one has studied a
subject since school and one is comfortable in it, chances of
doing well in it are greater rather than taking up an
unrelated subject which one may never have studied. Generally
speaking, do not choose an entirely new subject in which you
will have to work very hard. If the optional is prepared well
for the preliminary and the same subject is also planned to
be opted as one of the optionals, it is very useful and saves
a lot of labour.
Once you have decided to appear in the Civil Services Exam,
preparations should start early. A look at past papers helps
get an idea about the kind of questions that are asked. Over
the years, The Competition Master has published solved papers
which can be referred to. It may be advisable to join a
coaching institute so that one keeps in touch with other
students and discuss issues with them. It is important,
however, to select a good institute. However, one can be
successful by self-study also.
Before initiating the preparations, a few things must be
noted by the candidates. The choice of optional subject for
Paper-II has to be done very carefully. The candidates must
plan ahead of time with eyes on the main examination and
choose the optional which he/she intends taking up in the
Mains. The preparations done for the preliminaries would
assist the candidates in getting good grasp of the subject
and the effort put in would not go waste after the prelims.
Secondly, optional subject carries more number of maximum
marks as compared to the General Studies Paper. Hence, its
importance cannot be undermined. A candidate doing well in
the optional paper is expected to fare well in the
examination. Moreover, the optional subject for Paper-II
should usually be the subject in which the candidate has
either attained proficiency/higher academic qualification or
in which the candidate feels at home. Another consideration
is the performance of candidates in the said subject in the
recent past. There are several20subjects like History,
Psychology, Sociology, Public Administration etc in which
even the candidates not having special or additional
educational qualifications have been doing reasonably well,
while the subjects like Mathematics, Physics, and Engineering
are considered to offer tougher questions and the candidates
with exceptionally good preparation only may expect to do
well. But this observation may not be taken as the universal
truth. Moreover, the aptitude and proficiency of a particular
candidate in a given subject also plays an important role in
arriving at a decision.
Availability and access to good and prescribed books is yet
another consideration and often the candidates are also
guided by this factor, particularly in smaller towns. Books
for preliminary examination are available in plenty in common
subjects but in case of specialised optionals like
Mathematics, Engineering, Agriculture etc, one has to look
carefully for good books which cover all parts of the
Preparations for Paper-II also need specific planning. It
would be wrong to confine the studies only to the multiple
choice objective type questions. Unless a detailed study of
the subject is carried out, it would be difficult to answer
the questions on the subject properly. The aim, must,
therefore, be to clearly understand the basics of the subject
by covering each and every aspect of the syllabus. This
provides a candidate with adequate self-confidence and
knowledge to answer the questions correctly. It is better to
consult various books on different aspects, as it is very
rare that one single book covers the entire syllabus with
total efficiency. After going through all parts of the
syllabus in detail and getting hold of the basic concepts, it
is desirable to have sufficient practice in solving multiple
choice objective type questions. A good book on objective
type multiple choice questions or a good question bank on the
subject concerned may assist the candidates a great deal.
Such practice, on the one hand, would perfect the art of
answering the questions correctly and rapidly, and on the
other would enable the candidates in understanding the
questions asked in various forms. It is normally observed
that at times even simple questions are asked in such a
complex manner that it becomes difficult to understand the
It is not difficult to find out a candidate who had, during
the past couple of years, appeared in the prelims with the
same subject. It is always better to discuss the subject, its
intricacies, pattern of questions and the books to be
studied. In addition, it is also not difficult to identify
the candidate offering the same optional subject for Paper-II
within the same town/city. It is always fruitful to have
detailed discussions on various parts of the syllabus, books
to be consulted for the basics, multiple choice question
books or question banks and other related issues. Finally,
the practice of correctly marking the answer sheet by using
minimum possible time will go a long way in helping you
While the Optional (Paper-I) subject is very important, the
candidates also need to do well in Paper-I. This paper has a
maximum of 150 marks but in a competition like this where
even a single mark matters a lot, these marks play a decisive
role. Most candidates do well in Paper II since the subject
chosen is of their interest and knowledge. As such the
importance of Paper I is immense. Paper-I determines the top
honours and a candidate doing well in this paper as well, can
hope to find his/her name in the list of candidates
qualifying for the main examination. As there is no choice of
subject for Paper-I and all the candidates are required to
solve the same questions, this paper assumes enormous
importance as anyone spoiling this paper cannot have any
chance of qualifying the examination.
General Studies paper consists of questions on Indian Polity
and Economy, History of India including Indian National
Movement, Indian and World Geography, Current Affairs of
National and International Importance, General and day-to-day
Science, Mental Ability and Basics of Statistics etc.
Questions on planning, budgeting, developmental programmes,
latest issues of political and constitutional importance,
panchayati raj, electoral reforms, natural resources,
culture, growth of nationalism, Committees, Commission etc
can be expected almost every year. Emphasis normally are
placed on the general aspects of the subject which every
educated person aspiring to join the Civil Services as an
officer, is expected to know.
The fact that this paper needs special and thorough
preparations need not be over-emphasised. The aspiring
candidates are expected to have keen interest in the General
Studies and are supposed to have a good amount of interest in
current affairs. All the preparation starting from a scratch
cannot be completed in the short period of 4 to 5 months and
the candidates must begin preparations early. Regular and
detailed reading of a good national newspaper, a standard
competition magazine and a basic book on general knowledge is
the essential pre-requisite. Those readers who still have two
to three years of time left for becoming eligible to go in
for Civil Services Examination must begin preparations now.
The candidates who do not have enough background in20the
General Studies may have to put in harder effort to catch up
with the others.
"General Knowledge Refresher" by O.P. Khanna and "The
Competition Master" make a unique combination for this
purpose. In addition, a good and basic book on Indian
Constitution, latest plan document and budget/economic
survey, basic books like NCERT books on Indian History and
National Movement, World and Indian Geography and General
Science are certain other books which can fruitfully
supplement the efforts. A good backgrounder on major national
and international events assists the fresh starters to
understand the background of any social, economic or
political event, enabling them to understand the details and
developments in a better way. In addition, the candidates who
have recently taken the examination may also be consulted.
The candidates must bear one thing in mind. Exhaustive study
of each and every aspect of the General Studies is essential.
It would be wrong to presume that any single book would
suffice. Every book has its strong and weak parts. It is,
therefore, left to the candidate to consult as many books as
possible, so that every aspect is studied in the required
detail. Another important point is efficient time planning.
The time available with the candidates for preparations is
limited and it has to be intelligently utilised. The
candidates must not waste the time unnecessarily by going
into lengthy details of one particular aspect, leaving other
important aspects untouched. Moreover, it is better to draw
up a formal time table so that no aspects of both the papers
is left unprepared.
To conclude, proper selection of optional subject,
availability and selection of proper books and magazines,
meticulous time management, proper planning, hard work and
will to succeed are some of the attributes which play vital
role in making a candidate successful. One thing good about
this examination is that the preparations made do not go
waste and are properly utilised for the main examination.
Hard work invariably is rewarded with the sweet taste of
Success Plan for Mains
Preparations for the Civil Services Mains Exam should start
along with those of Preliminary exam. This is because there
is much common ground for study, and there is little time for
the mains exam if one waits for the results of the
Preliminaries. It is a long haul and preparations should be
done with persistence, over nine months to an year.
Choice of subjects
One of the first questions that has to be answered is the
choice of subjects. Here the choice should not only be with
regard to your interests but also with regard to the study
material available. It has been found that even science and
engineering students take up subjects like history,
sociology, anthropology, geography, political science,
psychology and public administration because there is a huge
amount of study material available, which covers the entire
syllabus. Even if your branch of study is different, it is
advisable to keep in touch with one of these subjects which
will help you when you start preparations. Start collecting
books and readings once you have made your choice.
The next step is to make a time-bound study plan, which would
include not only studying the subject but improvement of
writing expression. This is done by writing down the answers
to the questions asked in previous years' papers. Show these
answers to someone you know, like a teacher in your college
or university, parents or friends. The study should be done
according to the syllabus and also in the same chronological
order as given in the syllabus.
The following topics need coverage for General Studies:
i) Current AffiarsNational and International
ii) Indian Polity
iii) Indian Economy
iv) Geography of India
v) Science and Technology
vi) History of India and Freedom Movement
vii) Study of thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru
and Rabindranath Tagore
viii) Statistics and General Mathematics Ability
To study current affairs, it is essential to read one
national newspaper and The Competition Master. When you are
studying the round up of national and international affairs,
efforts should not be merely taking up the information but
also to understand the issues involved. Go into the
background of events. For example, the recent Lok Sabha
elections threw up many issues. Get to know these issues and
be clear about them so that you can answer questions on them.
With regard to other topics, the books published by the NCERT
are the best source of study. Take up the text-books for
classes IX, X, XI and XII. However, just reading these books
will not serve the purpose. What is essential is that the
person taking up self-study must pick up past question papers
and write down the answers to questions asked therein. A
practice in writing is what is required to attempt the paper.
Many students make the mistake of studying for hours but have
no practice in writing down the answers, which costs heavily
during the exam. The skill required is that of organising the
arguments and making a coherent answer from the diverse
material. One more thing that must be kept in mind is that
the answers must be a little different from others and must
have some extra bit that is missed out by others. This is not
difficult if one has understood the issue in depth.
One important aspect of the Civil Services Mains Exam is that
the questions do not ask for mere information as a reply, but
seek analysis backed with arguments from the candidates.
Usually, one gets the impression that one knows everything
but thoughts do not flow out naturally as one puts pen to
paper. Hence, writing down the answers is an important aspect
of the preparation. Another thing is that the candidate must
carefully read the questions in order to make out what the
examiner is asking. Having done that, it is important to
organise one's thoughts before writing and the sequence of
the answer should be from the most important/potent aspect to
less important aspects.
If you do not have someone to show your answers, keep them
away and after a gap of some time, read them again. You will
discover many mistakes, which earlier you could not. Analyse
the answers in order to improve them. This exercise of
re-analysis of answers improves the ability to be precise.
One of the important requirements of the Mains exam is that
the answers should be crisp and to-the-point.
While studying for the optional subjects, keep in mind that
there is no scope for selective studies in the Civil Services
Examination. The whole syllabus must be completely and
thoroughly covered. Invariably, some candidates organise
their studies in a manner that they study one subject
thoroughly, with reduced emphasis on their second subject. It
is imperative that equal stress be given to both the subjects
you have chosen.
It is also important to remember that the level of questions
asked is of the Masters level examination. The questions have
an added spin in order to bring out the grasp of the
candidate with regard to the basic concepts of the subject.
Hence, if you choose subjects in which you do not have a
basic grounding, it would be advisable to start from simple
books. After getting the grasp of the basic concepts, start
with higher level study material. Here again, reflections on
basic concepts and their application in real life is
important. For best preparation and a success plan, it is
suggested that the candidate make a habit of beginning his
study by writing answers to three questions each day, one
each from General Studies and two from optional subjects.
Questions should be chosen from previous years' papers and
the answer writing should be preceded by study on the
Most candidates do not have problems with regard to English
and Hindi examinations and are able to qualify in them
easily. However, it is important to have a good working
knowledge of the two languages. In order to improve this
skill, pick up a General Studies book and translate it into
the language in which you are weak. For instance, if you are
weak in Hindi, try translating important essays on current
affairs into Hindi which will not only improve fluency but
also the general knowledge. Another way is to write letters
to friends in the language that one is weak in.
Studying for General Studies
Giving a detailed description of the optional subjects is not
feasible here but we give here some suggested readings for
the General Studies paper. Students should remember that this
list is not exhaustive and they should choose the books
themselves based on recommendations of previous successful
students, teachers and guides, etc. We are giving a list as a
general requirement. NCERT, IGNOU booklets and National Book
Trust (NBT) publications are quite helpful. For the
Preliminary paper, study the following books:
History: NCERT books of class XI and XII, Freedom Struggle
(published by National Book Trust)
Geography: Class XII books of Geography (NCERT), a good
Indian Polity: Introduction to the Indian Constitution.
Indian Economy: NCERT and other books on Evolution of the
General Science: NCERT books on science, a science magazine
or newspaper supplements on science.
Current Events: A national newspaper, The Competition Master,
General Mental Ability: Do the Quantitative Aptitude
published in The Competition Master, past test papers.
For the main examination, the study should be done in more
detail. In addition to the above readings, the following are
suggested as well:
History: India's Struggle for Independence, IGNOU
publications on Modern India.
Indian Culture: Art and culture portions of history books,
India Yearbook (culture chapter), Encyclopaedia on Indian
Culture, Gazetteer of India, books on culture published by
Publications Division and National Book Trust.
Current Affairs: A national newspaper, The Competition
Master, current affairs programmes on Doordarshan,
Statistics: Class XI NCERT book on Statistics.
Indian Polity: Introduction to the Constitution, Parliament.
Indian Geography: NCERT books on Indian Geography.
Indian Economy: NCERT and other books on Indian Economy,
financial newspapers, The Competition Master carries regular
analysis of the Indian Economy.
Science: A science magazine, supplements in newspapers.
The final stage is that of interview. There are cases where
students clear the preliminary and the mains but fail at the
last stage. The secret is to start for preparations for the
interview along with the written test. Develop the habit of
debating and discussing issues with friends or parents.
Listen to the current affairs programmes and learn to
organise thoughts the way the participants do. Develop
interests and hobbies so that you are able to answer
convincingly. Understand the current affairs and the issues
behind the events. Remember that the interview is not a cross
examination but a natural but purposeful conversation. It is
an opportunity to reveal the mental qualities of a candidate.
The interview is not a test of specialised knowledge, as that
has already been tested in written examination. The idea is
to see the social traits of a person and his personality as
suited to a career in the Civil Services. If a person gives
the impression of being a bookworm, the chances of his
selection are reduced. The candidate must exhibit an
intelligent interest in events happening around him so that
he appears to be a complete personality.
Finally, there is a very frequently asked question about
whether a candidate should join a coaching centre and if so,
which one. Coaching centres are helpful in the sense that
they develop a discipline of attending regular classes. An
instructor may be available who can give an opinion about the
answers written by a candidate. At the same time, the
candidate will meet like-minded people with whom he can
develop the habit of debating and discussion. However, the
coaching centre must be chosen with care: the instructor must
be erudite enough to be able to guide students. If he is not
well read, the chances of guiding others would be diminished.
It must also be remembered that preparation for the optional
subjects must be done on one's own, as it is unlikely that
any coaching centre would be able to do justice to all the
State Civil Services
Yet another opening to the administrative services in
Government is in the form of State Civil Services (SCS) also
known as Provincial Civil Services (PCS).
Every State Public Service Commission carries out a
competitive examination usually every year for recruitment to
the State Civil Services. The categories of services to which
candidates are selected through the SCS examination are as
(a) State Civil Services, Class-I (SCS)
(b) State Police Service, Class-I (SPS).
(c) Block Development Officer.
(d) Tehsildar/Talukadar/Asstt. Collector.
(e) Excise and Taxation Officer.
(f) Distt. Employment Officer.
(g) Distt. Treasury Officer.
(h) Distt Welfare Officer.
(i) Asstt Registrar Cooperative Societies.
(j) Distt. Food and Supplies Controller/Officer.
(k) Any other Class-I/Class-II service notified as per rules
by the concerned State.
All the above services offer excellent avenues in the middle
level administration. After putting in a certain number of
years in the State service, the officers of SCS and SPS may
expect to be nominated to the IAS and IPS respectively, with
some antedate seniority. In the SCS, the officers get posted
as Sub-Divisional Magistrates/Deputy Collectors, Land
Acquisition Collectors, Additional District Magistrates,
Municipal Administrators, Under/Deputy Joint Secretaries,
Deputy/Joint /Additional Directors or Assistant Commissioners
in the State administration. Similarly, SPS officers are
appointed as Deputy/Additional Superintendents of Police. One
major advantage these services has is that one may expect to
remain within that particular States and gain valuable
experience before getting nominated to the IAS/IPS. This
enables these officers to excel in their higher postings. A
candidate joining SCS/SPS at a favourable age may expect to
reach the level of the Secretary or DIG Police. However, the
promotional avenues vary from State to State. Moreover, these
services have built-inhigher scales like senior and selection
scale before getting into the IAS/IPS.
Most of the other posts enumerated above are class-II
services and have their promotional avenues through the SCS
class-I and the officers may subsequently get nominated to
the IAS before retirement.
Most of the openings in the State Civil Services are
executive in nature and the officers in these services are
directly responsible for implementing all schemes, plans and
programmes of the Government. The mental satisfaction of
being at the centre-stage of implementing the Government
policies is the hallmark of this career.
The examination for State civil services is conducted by the
State Public Service Commission concerned. The number of
vacancies is dependent on the requisition by the Government
which varies every year. The number of vacancies is also
dependent on several other factors like promotions,
retirements and expansion of cadre in a particular year in
the concerned State.
(a) Eligibility: All graduates are eligible to take this
examination. Minimum age required is 21 years but the upper
age limit may range between 28 to 35 years, varying from
State to State. The State Governments usually allow
relaxation in upper age limit to the scheduled
castes/scheduled Tribes, Ex-Servicemen, physically
handicapped and the employees of the State Government. Some
vacancies are reserved for various other categories which
differ from State to State.
The examination is conducted as an all-India competition but
during the interview it is desirable for the candidates to
know the language, culture, customs etc of the concerned
State. The number of vacancies being limited, the examination
offers a tough competition to the aspirants and only the
candidates with thorough preparations may expect to be
(b) Scheme of Examination: The pattern of this examination is
similar to the civil services examination conducted by the UPSC. Most of the bigger States follow the practice of
holding a preliminary examination to short-list the
candidates. Preliminary examination is almost on the lines of
preliminary examination for the civil services examination
conducted by the UPSC, with the exception that a few
questions may be asked about the custom, traditions, planning
and problems of the State concerned. The smaller States with
relatively lesser number of vacancies and lesser candidates
may skip the preliminary examination. The Centres for
examination are determined by the concerned public service
commission considering the geographical area of the State and
the number of candidates taking the examination.
Preliminary examination is followed by the main examination
(Smaller States usually go in for main examination
straightaway). Most of the States have adopted the syllabi
and pattern of the Civil Services examination. The only
difference usually is that the language papers i.e. English
and regional language papers are full-fledged papers and
marks obtained in these subjects are also included for
preparing the final merit list. Moreover, in the General
Studies paper some questions on socio-economic conditions,
planning, customs, culture etc of the particular State may
The details regarding optional subject for preliminary and
main examination are given in the instructions for the
examination given alongwith the application form. The readers
may refer to the Career's feature in November 1992 issue of
'The Competition Master' in which details of compulsory
subjects for Civil Services examination are given. The
candidates may also refer to the question-papers of the
previous few years which will normally clarify the trend of
(c) Personal Interview: Main examination is followed by
personal interview. In proportion to the number of vacancies,
the candidates are called to appear before an interview
board. The competition being very keen, the interview
conducted by the State public service commissions assumes
significance. The purpose of the interview is to judge the
suitability of the candidates for the State civil services.
On the basis of the marks obtained in the main examination as
well as the interview, a final merit list is prepared and the
candidates are declared successful on the basis of their rank
and choice of service after providing for reservations.
How to Prepare
Since the pattern, subjects and syllabi of the State civil
service examination and the civil service examination
conducted by the UPSC are almost same, it is recommended that
the candidates must appear for both these examinations
simultaneously. Only minor changes in the preparations would
be required. The State public service commissions usually try
to ensure that the dates of examination do not clash with
those of the civil services examination.
There are several academies/institutions which offer
guidance and coaching facilities to the interested
candidates. While it is advisable to get some guidance, the
candidates must be very selective while choosing an academy
for this purpose. Formalised coaching suffers from one big
drawbacksame standards are fixed by the academy for all
candidates and no attention is paid to the existing level of
preparedness of a particular candidate. Hence, self-study has
the advantage of proper planning for the distribution of time
among various subjects as per one's level of preparation in
each subject. For preparing, the books on optional as well as
compulsory subjects must be chosen with great caution. It is
recommended that the successful candidates of the previous
years should be contacted and details about the books for
optionals are obtained from them. The candidates must also
see for themselves that the prescribed syllabus is also
covered by the books they wish to consult. Even while
choosing optionals one should be careful and the subjects
already read should be preferred. If a new subject is
required to be chosen as optional, subjects like Sociology,
Psychology, Anthropology, History, and Public Administration
are the ones which can easily be prepared without any
previous background. Of course the final selection would
depend on one's aptitude for a particular subject.
Special attention needs to be paid to the compulsories,
particularly General Studies and English. For General Studies
special preparations are required particularly for making
preparations for the "State-specific" questions as no
readymade material is normally available. Special efforts are
required to procure and compile this part of General Studies.
For rest of the contents, a standard General Knowledge
Refresher, supplemented by the year book published by the
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, regular study of
"The Competition Master" (including previous issues for at
least one-year), a good national as well as regional
newspaper, Economic Survey, Plan Document, Economic
Review/Survey of the State concerned etc are some of the
essential aids. In addition, a good introductory book on
Modern History and a good introductory book on Indian
Constitution may also prove to be useful.
Once all the above material and standard books are arranged,
the candidates must start preparing thoroughly. In-depth
studies would not only help in the written examination, but
will also add to the self-confidence of the candidate during
the personal interview. Since there is no substitute to hard
work and studies, a well-prepared candidate may find his/her
name in the final merit list.
Further information about the subjects, syllabus, centres of
examination etc are given in the advertisement and in the
"instructions" for the candidates. In some States the
examination is not conducted every year. In such States the
candidates may have to remain prepared for longer durations
and to grab the opportunity when it comes their way.