The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a nationwide competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) among others. It is conducted in three phases – a preliminary examination consisting of two objective-type papers (General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II also popularly known as Civil Service Aptitude Test or CSAT), and a main examination consisting of nine papers of conventional (essay) type, followed by a personality test (interview).
The Civil Services Examination is based on the British Raj – era Imperial Civil Service tests, as well as the civil service tests conducted by old Indian empires such as in the Mauryan Empire and Mughal Empire. The Civil Services Examination is considered to be the most difficult competitive examination in India. On average, 900,000 to 1,000,000 candidates apply every year and the number of candidates appearing to sit the preliminary examination is approximately 500,000.
The training program for the selected candidates usually commences the following September.
All candidates must have as a minimum one of the following educational qualifications:
The following candidates are also eligible, but must submit proof of their eligibility from a competent authority at their institute/university at the time of the main examination, failing which they will not be allowed to attend the exam.
The candidate must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years (for the General category candidate) on August 1 of the year of examination. Prescribed age limits vary with respect to caste reservations.
The number of times a candidate may attempt the exam is limited as follows:
Appearing to attempt one of the papers in the preliminary examination is counted as an attempt, including disqualification/ cancellation of candidature. However, applying to sit the exam but failing to attend is not counted as an attempt.
Following are the services which one gets on qualifying the Civil Service Examination
The pattern of the Preliminary examination up to 2010 was based on the recommendations of the Kothari Commission (1979). It included two examinations, one on general studies worth 150 marks, and the second on one of 23 optional subjects worth 300 marks. Until 2011, when it was revamped, the preliminary pattern was sustained with only minor changes once every ten to fifteen years
From 2011 onwards, the preliminary examination, now popularly known as the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) (officially it is still called General Studies Paper-1 and Paper-2), intends to focus on analytical abilities and understanding rather than the ability to memorize. The new pattern includes two papers of two hours duration and 200 marks each. Both papers have multiple choice objective type questions only. They are as under:
In August 2014, the Centre announced that English marks in CSAT-II will not be included for gradation or merit and 2011 candidates may get a second chance to appear for the test next year.
In May 2015, the Government of India announced that Paper II of the preliminary examination will be qualifying in nature i.e. it wouldn’t be graded for eligibility in Mains Examination & a candidate needs to secure at least 33% marks in order to be eligible for graded on basis of marks of Paper I of Preliminary Examination.
The Civil Services Mains Examination consists of a written examination and a Personality Test (an interview).
The written examination consists of nine papers, two qualifying and seven ranking in nature. The range of questions may vary from just one mark to sixty marks, twenty words to 600 words answers. Candidates who pass qualifying papers are ranked according to marks and a selected number of candidates are called for interview or a personality test at the Commission’s discretion.
According to the new marks allocations in Civil Service Examination 2013 there are some changes made in the examination according to the suggestion of the Prof. Arun. S. Nigavekar Committee However, after some controversy, the qualifying papers for Indian languages and English were restored to the examination.
|Civil Services Mains (CSM)|
|Paper A||(One of the Indian languages listed below, to be selected by the candidate (from the languages listed in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India) (Qualifying)||300|
|Paper B||English (Qualifying)||300|
|Paper II||General Studies I (Indian heritage and culture, history and geography of the world and society)||250|
|Paper III||General Studies II (Governance, constitution, polity, social justice and international relations)||250|
|Paper IV||General Studies III (Technology, economic development, bio-diversity, environment, security and disaster management)||250|
|Paper V||General Studies IV(ethics, integrity and aptitude)||250|
|Papers VI, VII||Two papers on subjects to be selected by the candidate from the list of optional subjects below (250 marks for each paper)||500|
|Sub Total (Written Test)||1750|
|Personality Test (Interview)||275|
The examination is offered in the following languages, with the name of the script in braces
Officially called the “Personality Test”, the objective of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to evaluate the mental calibre of a candidate. In broad terms, this is really an assessment of not only a candidate’s intellectual qualities, but also social traits and interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, and intellectual and moral integrity.
The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination, but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation that is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.
The interview is not intended to be a test either of the specialised or general knowledge of the candidate, which has been already tested through written papers. Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study, but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own state or country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of all well-educated youth. The interview standards are very high and require thorough preparation as well as commitment.