By Harshmeet Singh
Some call it one of the world’s toughest examinations, some call it the entrance gate to a golden career, while some call it the chance to impact the society like nothing else. The UPSC Civil Services examination (or informally known as the IAS exam) presents a chance to the common man to enter the national bureaucracy based on his or her credibility.
One of the most coveted examinations in the country, the civil services examination’s preparation is in itself a penance. With a never ending syllabus and frequent twists in the examination pattern, aspirants prepare for multiple years to get a shot at the glory. Such is the aura of this examination that clearing it in the first attempt is considered an exception!
But behind the glory it brings to the successful candidates lies the toil and agony of the lakhs of candidates who leave their comfortable homes to come to Delhi with hopes that their next destination would be the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie.
This series of articles by NewsGram is an attempt at taking a closer look at the UPSC civil services aspirants, their hardships, the money-spinning coaching institutes and the examination itself. And we begin by studying the pattern of the ‘mother of all examinations’.
The UPSC civil services examination recruits officers for 24 central services, of which the Indian Administration Services or the IAS is considered the most illustrious. IAS officers go on to take up revered roles such as Collector, Chief Secretary, Head of the PSUs and others. Each year, close to 10 lakh candidates apply for the exam, out of which, close to 1000 candidates are finally selected for all the services!
The various stages of the examination stretch over a year, starting with the preliminary examination which is conducted in August. At this stage, the candidates need to appear for two papers, viz. Paper 1 or General Studies (History, Geography, Economics, Science & Technology, Polity and Current Events) and Paper 2 or the civil services aptitude test. Both the papers are objective type.
Upon clearing the first stage, the candidates will appear for the Mains stage. Here, the candidate will appear for nine descriptive papers. Of these nine papers, four are from General Studies, one English paper, one language paper, one Essay paper and two papers from the optional subject which that candidate is free to choose from the list of subjects offered by UPSC.
If the candidate is declared successful at this stage too, he or she proceeds to the grueling personality test where he or she will come face to face with some of the top bureaucrats of the country and answer their questions. The marks obtained by the candidate in the Mains stage and the personality test are added to form a merit list for the successful candidates.
The overall rigor of the examination is even more daunting than this lengthy scheme of the examination. They say that those who manage to successfully clear this examination despite all the odds have matured enough in the process to handle nerve-wrecking job postings in the coming times.