Civil Services Examination (CSE) – Details About IAS, IPS & IFS Exams

Ever heard of the popular IAS, IPS or IFS exams?

If you reside in India then must have heard about the popular Civil Services Examination (CSE) which is also simply called UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) examination.

CSE or UPSC Exam is also known as the popular IAS exam.

So, here in this blog post, Let’s understand each and every aspect of CSE in details.

Here, we go…

About Civil Services Examination

CSE (Civil Services Examination) is an Indian national competitive exam for the recruitment for the post of various civil services of the government of India.

The exam is conducted by the central recruiting agency UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) every year. IAS (Indian Administrative Service), IPS (Indian Police Service), and IFS (Indian Foreign Service) are among the most popular Civil Services of India.

Currently, there are a total of 24 types of Civil Services which are included under the Civil Services Exam conducted by UPSC every year.

Types of Civil Services

Below are the 24 types of Civil Services which students get in after qualifying the main Civil Services Examination (CSE).

1. All India Services

  • Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
  • Indian Police Service (IPS)

2. Group A – Central Services

  • Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
  • Indian P&T Accounts and Finance Service (IP&TAFS)
  • Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IA&AS)
  • Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS)
  • Indian Corporate Law Service (ICLS)
  • Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS)
  • Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES)
  • Indian Information Service (IIS)
  • Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS)
  • Indian Postal Service (IPoS)
  • Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS)
  • Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS)
  • Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS)
  • Indian Revenue Service (IRS-IT)
  • Indian Revenue Service (IRS-C&CE)
  • Indian Trade Service (ITrS)
  • Railway Protection Force (RPF)

3. Group B Services

  • Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Services (AFHCS)
  • Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service (DANICS)
  • Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Police Service (DANIPS)
  • Pondicherry Civil Service (PCS)
  • Pondicherry Police Service (PPS)


Civil Services Exam Pattern

UPSC Civil Services Procedure

IAS Exam or CSE is considered as one of the most difficult exams of India. The exam is conducted in 2 stages in which 900,000 to 1,000,000 students apply every year.

  • Stage 1 – Preliminary Examination
  • Stage 2 – Mains
    • Written Examination
    • Interview (Personality Test)

Civil Services Preliminary Exam (Stage 1)

Preliminary Exam is now (after 2011) known as the CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test) and it consists of 2 papers.

  • General Studies Paper 1 (200 marks, 2 hours)
  • General Studies Paper 2 (200 marks, 2 hours)

Civil Services Mains Exam (Stage 2)

Mains exam consists of a written exam followed by an interview.

  • Civil Services Mains Written Examination (1750 marks)
  • Civil Services Mains Interview (275 marks)

So, the full marks of the Civil Services Mains Examination are 2025 (1750 + 275).

Eligibility Criteria for Civil Services Examination

Students who have all the below requirements are eligible to appear for the exam. Here, you will find details about educational qualification, nationality, age limits and no. of attempts for the CSE.

CSE Eligibility Criteria

Educational Qualification

Students who are applying for the CSE should have at least one of the educational qualifications from the list below.

  • A degree (minimum graduation) from a Central, State or a Deemed University
  • A degree (minimum graduation) received through correspondence or distance education
  • A degree (minimum graduation) from an open university
  • A qualification recognized by the Government of India as being equivalent to one of the above

Under some circumstances, students with the following educational qualification can also be eligible to appear for the exam.

  • Candidates who appeared in an examination the passing of which would render them educationally qualified enough to satisfy one of the above points
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of the MBBS degree but have not yet completed an internship
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India), ICSI (Institute of Company Secretaries of India), and ICWAI (Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India).
  • A degree (minimum graduation) from a Private University
  • A degree (minimum graduation) from any foreign university recognized by the Association of Indian Universities


The candidate must be a citizen of India (only for IAS and IPS). And, for Civil Services other than IAS and IPS:

  • A citizen of India, Nepal, or Bhutan
  • Tibetan refugee migrated to India before Jan 1962
  • An Indian origin person who migrated to India permanently from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Kenya, Vietnam, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, or Ethiopia

Age Limit

The minimum age limit to appear for CSE is 21 years.

And, the upper limit is a bit complicated which you can understand better with the help of the below table.

Category Upper Age Limit
General Category 32 years
Other Backward Castes (OBC) 35 years
Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (SC & ST) 37 years
Defence Services Personnel (disabled during hostilities) 40 years
ECOs/SSCOs 32 years
PwD (Person with Disability) 37 years

Number of Attempts

If you appear in 1 of the 2 papers in the Preliminary Examination then it is counted as 1 attempt, no matter if you disqualified the exam or your candidature got cancelled for any reason.

But if you applied for the exam and couldn’t appear then it won’t be counted against your no. of attempts.

For different categories, the no. of attempts are different as shown in the table below.

Category Number of Attempts
General Candidates 6
OBC Candidates 9
SC & ST Candidates Unlimited till the Age of 32 years

Syllabus of the CSE

As discussed above, there are two stages of the Civil Services Exam – one is the Preliminary or Prelims Exam, and the second is the Mains Exam.

So, here is the syllabus for both exams.

Syllabus of the UPSC CSE

Civil Services Preliminary Paper 1 Exam Syllabus (200 marks)

  • Current Affairs
  • History of India including Indian national movement
  • Geography of India and world
  • Indian polity including Panchayati Raj system and Governance
  • Economic and social development
  • Environmental ecology
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change and general science
  • Arts and culture

Civil Services Preliminary Paper 2 Exam Syllabus (200 marks)

  • Comprehension skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Logical reasoning
  • Analytical ability
  • Decision making
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Basic numeracy
  • Data interpretation
  • English language comprehension skills & mental ability

Civil Services Mains Written Exam Syllabus (1750 marks)

Paper Description Marks
Qualifying Paper A One of the Indian Languages from the eighth schedule of the constitution of India. 300
Qualifying Paper B English 300
Paper 1 Essay writing 250
Paper 2 General Studies 1 (Indian heritage, Culture, History, Geography of the World & Society) 250
Paper 3 General Studies 2 (Governance, constitution, polity, Social justice & International relations) 250
Paper 4 General Studies 3 (Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security & Disaster management) 250
Paper 5 General Studies 4 (Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude) 250
Paper 6 Optional Subject – Paper 1 (from this list) 250
Paper 7 Optional Subject – Paper 2 (from this list) 250

Civil Services Mains Interview/Personality Test (275 marks)

Candidates need to choose the preferred language in which they would like to be interviewed. If needed, UPSC makes arrangements for the translators.

With the help of a personality test or interview, the student’s mental calibre is evaluated.

They check candidate’s intellectual qualities, social traits, interest in current affairs, mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, the balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, the ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity etc.

Roles and Responsibility of an IAS Officer

Following are the roles and responsibilities of an IAS officer:

  • Revenue collection
  • Law and order maintenance
  • Executive magistrate
  • CDO (Chief Development Officer)/DDC (District Development Commissioner)
  • Implementation of policies of Union and State government
  • Supervision of the implementation of policies
  • Expenditure of public funds supervision
  • Supervision of administration and daily government proceedings
  • Contribution in policy formulation
  • Officers at various levels as Joint Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Additional Secretary, Principal Secretary, Chief Secretary, etc.

Salary of an IAS Officer

The total income of an IAS officer is the basic monthly salary along with various allowances like TA (Travel Allowance), DA (Dearness Allowance), HRA (House Rent Allowance), etc.

Below is a table showing the basic monthly salary of IAS officers of different grade/level:

Grade (Level on Pay Matrix) Basic Monthly Salary
Cabinet Secretary grade (Pay level 18) ₹250,000
Apex scale (Pay level 17) ₹225,000
Higher administrative grade (Pay level 15) ₹182,200 – ₹224,100
Senior administrative grade (Pay level 14) ₹144,200 – ₹218,200
Selection grade (Pay level 13) ₹118,500 – ₹214,100
Junior administrative grade (Pay level 12) ₹78,800 – ₹191,500
Senior time scale (Pay level 11) ₹67,700 – ₹160,000
Junior time scale (Pay level 10) ₹56,100 – ₹132,000

Civil Services Examination (CSE) Previous Year Questions (Preliminary & Mains Exams)

Previous year questions for the UPSC Civil Services Exam help a lot in understanding the pattern of the examination.

When you attempt the previous year questions for the IAS, IPS and IFS exams; you get some idea about the types of questions asked during the examination so that you can plan your studies accordingly.

Civil Services Exam Previous Year Questions

The official website of the UPSC does provide the previous year questions but, sometimes, it may be difficult to search for exactly what you need.

So, here, I have done the hard work and collected all the questions of a few previous years in PDF format below.

You can download the previous year questions of both the Preliminary as well as Mains Examination in PDF format by clicking the respective links below.

Download PDF: Civil Services Preliminary Exam Previous Year Questions

Download PDF: Civil Services Main Exam Previous Year Questions

Important Downloads Related to the CSE (Civil Services Exam)

Below is a list of some really important documents that you can download in order to help yourself in your preparation for the IAS, IPS, and IFS exams (CSE).

Preliminary Exam Answer Keys

2018 – CSE Preliminary Exam – Paper 1: Download PDF

2018 – CSE Preliminary Exam – Paper 2: Download PDF

2017 – CSE Preliminary Exam – Paper 1: Download PDF

2017 – CSE Preliminary Exam – Paper 2: Download PDF

Civil Services Examination Cutoff Marks

2018 – CSE Cut-off: Download PDF

2017 – CSE Cut-off: Download PDF

2016 – CSE Cut-off: Download PDF

Model Question with Answer Booklets

CSE Main Exam – General Studies Paper 1: Download PDF

CSE Main Exam – Public Administration Paper 2: Download PDF

CSE Main Exam – Essay Paper: Download PDF

CSE Main Exam – English (Compulsory) Paper: Download PDF

Civil Services Examination FAQs

How to apply for the Civil Services Exam?

In order to apply for the exam, you will need to visit the official website of the UPSC by going to the web address:

The registration is done in 2 parts.

In part 1 of the registration process, you will be asked personal details, educational qualification, address, etc.

And, in part 2, you will be asked payment details, selection of centre, scanned photograph, signature and other essential documents.

When will the application process for the Civil Services Exam 2020 start?

As per the UPSC guidelines, here are some important dates of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020 which you must know.

Date of Notification: 12 FEB 2020

Last Date for Receipt of Applications: 3 MAR 2020

Date of Commencement of Exam: 31 MAY 2020

Final Words

Pretty long article, huh!

Download Civil Services Exam Details in PDF Format!

Download the PDF of this Article “Civil Services Examination (CSE) – Details About IAS, IPS & IFS Exams” by Clicking the Link Below.

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Now, it’s your turn… I have tried to cover each and every detail related to the Civil Services Exam.

But, if you think I’ve missed something important or if you have any related query; feel free to let me know in the comments right now.

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