Civil Service Exam

In this article, we will discuss all you need to know about the civil service exam which is popularly known as the IAS exam.  The contents of this article will include

  • Stepwise process
  • Eligibility Criteria
  • Exam Pattern
  • Syllabus
  • Vacancies
  • previous years cut-offs

Step-wise process

Eligibility Criteria

Age Criteria: A candidate must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32
years on the 1st of August, ‘year of examination’.

Category-wise age limit relaxation and maximum attempts:

  • General Category & EWS: 32 years; 6 attempts.
  • OBC (NCL): 32 + 3 years; 9 attempts.
  • SC/ST: 32 + 5 years; unlimited attempts.
  • Ex-Servicemen Commission Officer: 32 + 5 years + (3 years, if OBC or 5 Years, if SC/ST).
  • Persons with Benchmark Disabilities: 32 + 10 years; Gen/OBC Person with Benchmark Disability(EWS category)- 9 attempts & SC/ST – unlimited attempts.
  • Jammu & Kashmir Domicile: 32 + 5 years + (3 years, if OBC or 5 Years, if SC/ST); Number of attempts depends on the reserved category.

Minimum Education Qualification: A candidate must hold a Graduate degree from any of the Universities incorporated by an Act of the central or State Legislature in India or other educational institutions 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.

Nationality: For the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Foreign Service, and the Indian Police Service, a candidate must be a citizen of India.

For other services, a candidate must be either a citizen of India or:

  • a subject of Nepal
  • a subject of Bhutan
  • a Tibetan refugee who came over to India before 1st January 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India
  • 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, and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

Provided that a candidate belonging to these categories shall be a person in whose favor a certificate of eligibility has been issued by the Government of India.

Exam Pattern

The Civil service exam is a 3-Tier examination.

  • Tier 1 – Prelims
  • Tier 2 – Mains
  • Tier 3 – Interview

Tier 1 – Prelims:

the Preliminary stage consists of two papers, conducted on a single day

Name of the PaperNo of QuestionsMarks AllottedTime AllottedNature of Exam
Paper – I: General Studies1002002 hoursThe score will be considered for Cut-off
Paper – II: CSAT(Civil Service Aptitude Test)802002 hoursQualifying Nature- Candidates will have to score 33% to qualify for CSAT.

Both the papers comprise objective-type questions with MCQs (Multiple-Choice Questions). While CSAT is qualifying in nature, the marks obtained in the General Studies paper determine selection for the mains examination. Almost 10-12 thousand of candidates are selected for the next state.

Tier 2 – Mains:

PaperSubjectDurationIAS Total marks
Paper ACompulsory Indian language3 hours300
Paper BEnglish3 hours300
Paper – IEssay3 hours250
Paper – IIGeneral Studies I3 hours250
Paper – IIIGeneral Studies II3 hours250
Paper – IVGeneral Studies III3 hours250
Paper – VGeneral Studies IV3 hours250
Paper – VIOptional Subject paper I3 hours250
Paper – VIIOptional subject paper II3 hours250

Options for language subject for Paper A: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, Santhali.

Candidates have to choose any one of these optional subjects for paper-VI&VII:

  • Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Anthropology, Botany, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Commerce and Accountancy, Economics, Electrical Engineering, Geography, Geology, History, Law, Management, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Medical Science, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science and International Relations, Psychology, Public Administration, Sociology, Statistics, Zoology.
  • Literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.

All of the mains papers except for the language papers A and B are of a merit ranking nature, which sums up to a total of 1750. It is mandatory to score at least 25% in papers A and B and at least 10% in all other papers. On the basis of the scores mains, approximately 2.5 times of the total vacancies of the CSE(approximately 2000 candidates), get the call letter for the next level.

Tier 3 – Interview:

It comprises 275 marks, in which the personality test of the candidate is taken a UPSC board of experts, selected by UPSC chairman and members.
Then by combining the Tier 2 and Tier 3 marks, a merit list out of 2025 marks is prepared, on the basis of the merit list, final recommendations for various vacancies of civil services are proposed.


for Preliminary Examination, paper – I, General Studies:

  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity, and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization

for Paper II – CSAT(Civil Service Aptitude Test):

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills.
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability.
  • Decision-making and problem-solving.
  • General mental ability.
  • Class X level: Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.)
  • Class X level: Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc.)

For the Complete syllabus of mains examination click here.


The number of vacancies to be filled through the CSE 2022 is expected to be approximately 861.

Civil Services Examination is for recruitment to the Services and Posts mentioned below:

  • IAS – Indian Administrative Service
  • IFS – Indian Foreign Service
  • IPS – Indian Police Service
  • IRS – Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax)
  • IRS – Indian Revenue Service (Customs & Indirect Taxes)
  • Indian P&T Accounts and Finance Service
  • Indian Railway Protection Force Service
  • Indian Audit and Accounts Service
  • Indian Defence Accounts Service
  • Indian Defence Estates Service
  • Indian Corporate Law Service
  • Indian Civil Accounts Service
  • Indian Information Service
  • Indian Postal Service
  • Indian Trade Service

There is Reservation for candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, the Economically Weaker Sections, and Persons with Benchmark Disability in respect of vacancies as may be fixed by the Government.

Year wise CSE Vacancies over a few years have been given below:

Year of Examination Total number of Vacancies

Previous years cut-offs

minimum qualifying standards/marks secured by the last recommended candidate in various categories, in Civil Services Examination 2021.

Category Prelims exam marks
(out of 200)
Mains exam marks
(out of 1750)
(Mains+Interview) marks
(out of 2025)

Year-wise cut-offs of CSE preliminary exam for general category:

Year of Examination Marks (out of 200)

Year-wise cut-offs of CSE Mains and (mains+interview) marks of the last recommended candidate in the civil service exam for the general category.

Year of ExaminationMains exam Marks
(out of 1750)
(Mains + Interview) marks
(out of 2025)

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