What it takes to become an IAS / IPS Officer

If you want to become an IAS/IPS officer, then you have come to the right place. Every year UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) conducts an exam called Civil Services & clearing this exam takes you to the top posts in INDIA. There are 24 different services (all 24 services are mentioned in the end) under this exam and the most popularly known/ aspired ones are the IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS, etc and the list goes on.

Every year lakhs and lakhs of people apply for this exam and very few make it to the final selection list (thousand two hundred plus candidates). Now let’s see the exam procedure and also the ways to prepare and clear the Exam.

Exam Structure:

UPSC civil services exam is conducted in three phases. Failing in any phase, have to start it from beginning again next year. The different phases are;

  1. Preliminary Examination,
  2. Mains Examination,
  3. Personality Test (interview),

Medical exam is done after the interview session.


There is age & Attempt restriction which is discussed in the table below;

Category Min Age Maximum Age No. of attempts
General 21 32 6
OBC(non – creamy layer) 21 35 9
SC / ST 21 37 Unlimited

For SC / ST candidates, there is no restriction by the number of attempts and they can attempt any number of times from the age of 21 to the age of 37.

Hope you now have clarity on your age and attempt eligibility. Let’s move on to the exams in detail.

Preliminary examination:   

This is the first stage where 80% of the competition is eliminated. Having said that, it doesn’t mean impossible, but with hard work it’s quite easily achievable.

This consists of two papers Paper I & Paper II (200 marks each). Paper I is for merit i.e. the mark gets accounted for selection. Paper II is just a qualifying paper wherein just 33% i.e. 66 marks gets you the clearing score.

Paper I has 100 questions carrying 2 marks each totaling to 200 marks.

Paper II has 80 questions carrying 2.5 marks each totaling to 200 marks. Both papers have negative marking. For every wrong answer marked, you lose 1/3rd of the marks scored.

Mains Examination:

We qualify to this exam only after clearing  Preliminary Exam.

This section has 9 descriptive type papers and they are;

Paper I:  Essay

Paper II:  General Studies 1

Paper III: General Studies 2

Paper IV: General Studies 3

Paper V: General Studies 4

Paper VI: Optional subject* Paper I

Paper VII: Optional subject* Paper II

Paper VIII & IX : are qualifying papers with one as ENGLISH and the other has to be chosen from any of the 22 language papers listed in our Eighth Schedule. The marks obtained here will not be for merit list.

*Optional Subject has to be chosen from the list of available subjects.

All the papers above are for 250 marks each. The merit total is 250 * 7 papers i.e. 1750

Thereby the mains written total is 1750.

Personality Test:

After clearing mains exam, we get this third and the final round i.e. the interview carrying total of 275 marks. This will be based on the general issues, the personal details like hobby filled by you in the application form.


Paper Total Question Type Merit / Qualifying
Paper I* 200 Objective Merit
Paper II 200 Objective Qualifying
Total For Merit(1) 200


Merit paper is marked by *

and PRELIMS is only an entrance to MAINS.

Paper I * 250 Descriptive Merit
Paper II* 250 Descriptive Merit
Paper III* 250 Descriptive Merit
Paper IV* 250 Descriptive Merit
Paper V * 250 Descriptive Merit
Paper VI * 250 Descriptive Merit
Paper VII * 250 Descriptive Merit
Paper VIII 250 Descriptive Qualifying
Paper IX 250 Descriptive Qualifying
Total for Merit(2) 1750 Merit paper is marked by *
Personality Test (3) 275


Grand Total(2+3) 2025


Hope the basic details furnished above will suffice. The Exam is a quite difficult one, but when people have cleared it, we do have the same scope of clearing it. Either one sits dedicatedly and prepares, or preparing while working in any company, either way we have examples of people clearing it. End of the day what it takes to clear the exam boils down to only three things i.e. dedication, determination and hard work.

Never let anything come in between your goal. This is my first blog post and hope you liked it. To know about me, do visit the ABOUT page of this blog. Thank You.   If you find any of your doubts regarding UPSC still unsolved, do let me know in the comments section below, Will be glad to answer it and add it to the blog. Wish you all success.

Thank You.

Nirmal SN

The official website link for UPSC is  Click Here.


The 24 Services are :

(i) Indian Administrative Service.
(ii) Indian Foreign Service.
(iii) Indian Police Service.
(iv) Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Group ‘A’.
(v) Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
(vi) Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), Group ‘A’.
(vii) Indian Defence Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
(viii) Indian Revenue Service (I.T.), Group ‘A’.
(ix) Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Group ‘A’ (Assistant Works Manager, Administration).
(x) Indian Postal Service, Group ‘A’.
(xi) Indian Civil Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
(xii) Indian Railway Traffic Service, Group ‘A’.
(xiii) Indian Railway Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
(xiv) Indian Railway Personnel Service, Group ‘A’.
(xv) Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force, Group ‘A’
(xvi) Indian Defence Estates Service, Group ‘A’.
(xvii) Indian Information Service (Junior Grade), Group ‘A’.
(xviii) Indian Trade Service, Group ‘A’ (Gr. III).
(xix) Indian Corporate Law Service, Group “A”.
(xx) Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service, Group ‘B’ (Section Officer’s Grade).
(xxi) Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar
Haveli Civil Service, Group ‘B’.
(xxii) Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar
Haveli Police Service, Group ‘B’.
(xxiii) Pondicherry Civil Service, Group ‘B’.
(xxiv) Pondicherry Police Service, Group ‘B’.

Service allocation depends on the rank secured and the service and cadre preference given by the candidate in the application form.




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