Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on UPSC Civil Services Exam – is a comprehensive source to clarify the common queries of all freshers. Most of the repeated queries regarding all stages of the exam – Prelims, Mains and Interview – are clarified here. Please post additional queries in comments, so that we can address them later. Thank you, and all the best!

FAQs on Civil Services:

Qn: What are the civil services? How to get into civil services of India?

Civil Services are jobs like  IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS etc. directly related to public service and are widely considered prestigious in India. UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) conducts Civil Service Exams for Central Government job vacancies. Click to know more about Civil Services Exam.

Qn: What is IAS? How To Clear This Exam and Become an IAS Officer?

IAS is the short form of Indian Administrative Service. Click to know more about IAS.

Qn: What is the salary of an IAS officer?

IAS salary structure consists of different Pay Scales: Junior Scale, Senior Scales, Super Time Scale, Above Super Time Scales etc. Each of the pay scales further consists of different pay bands. Click to know more about the salary of an IAS officer.

FAQs on Eligibility Criteria:

Qn: What is the educational qualification needed to appear in IAS exam?

Any degree (graduation).  It may be regular or distant. The candidate must hold a degree of any of 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.

Qn: What are the age limit and the number of attempts permitted to write UPSC Civil Services Exam?

Click to know about the eligibility criteria for IAS exam. Details about the number of attempts and age limits in UPSC Civil Services Exam is available in the link given..

FAQs on Exam preparation:

Qn: I am just about to begin UPSC Civil Services Exam preparation. How should a fresher begin IAS exam preparation?

If you are a beginner, then the best place to start should be the article ‘UPSC Exam Guidance for beginners: How to start IAS preparation?’.

Qn: What are the books to read for each subject in Prelims and Mains?

You can buy online the ‘Recommended list of IAS Books: Prelims+Mains‘ from the links given on this website.

Qn: Can I clear IAS exam without attending classroom coaching?

Yes. You can, particularly if you are good at self-study. We are not against classroom coaching. There are good institutes and teachers who help aspirants save a lot of time and effort. But not all coaching institutes provide quality service, so if you wish to join one, do that after proper research. It should also be noted that with the advent of technology, guidance and study materials can be sought online. and mobile app provides free guidance and study materials to lakhs of aspirants who can’t afford classroom coaching. You can also learn and compete with thousands of aspirants across India by attempting full length timed online mock test series with negative marking for UPSC Prelims.

FAQs on UPSC CSE Prelims:

Qn: What is the structure of UPSC Civil Service Prelims Exam? (2015 Pattern)

Prelims exam is objective in nature. There will be two papers – 200 marks each. Paper 1 is related to General Studies and Paper 2 is related to Mental Ability and Aptitude. For selection to the main exam, only marks of Paper 1 will be counted, provided the candidate has 33 percent marks in Paper 2.

Qn: Will there be an individual cut-off for two papers in Civil Service Prelims?

The minimum cut off marks for Paper 2 is 33 percent. The Commission may fix a minimum cut-off mark for Paper 1 too.

Qn: Will there be negative marks or different marks for Preliminary Questions?

There will be negative marking for incorrect answers for all questions except some of the questions where the negative marking will be inbuilt in the form of different marks being awarded to the most appropriate and not so appropriate answer for such questions.

Qn: Can you clarify some common doubts regarding UPSC Civil Services Prelims Application?

Most of the doubts aspirants raise while filing Prelims application is discussed here.

FAQs on UPSC CSE Mains:

Qn: What is the structure of UPSC Civil Service Mains Exam? (Latest Pattern)

The Main Examination will consist of written examination and an interview test. The written examination will consist of 9 papers of the conventional essay type. Two papers (out of 9) will be of qualifying in nature. Marks obtained for all the compulsory papers (Paper–I to Paper-VII) and Marks obtained in Interview for Personality Test will be counted for ranking. Read UPSC Civil Services Exam syllabus to know more.

Qn: Which optional subject should I choose for UPSC Mains?

UPSC has given a list of around 50 optional subjects to choose from. Read our article ‘How to select IAS Mains optional subject?‘ for more details.

Qn: Which stream/subject should I choose for graduation to clear UPSC exam?

Most of the questions in the general studies paper in Prelims and Mains are related to Humanities background. But it is neither necessary nor advisable to take Humanities as your graduation stream just to clear UPSC exam. Graduation should be based on your taste – it can be humanities, science, engineering, literature or management. For graduation, select any stream you like to study for 3-4 years. You are free to choose any optional subject for UPSC Mains and it may not be the one you studied for graduation.

Qn: Will there be minimum qualifying marks for UPSC Mains Compulsory Papers?

The Commission has the discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all the subjects of the examination. For 2015, the minimum mark is 25% for Indian language and English language. For GS1, GS2, GS3 and GS4 the minimum mark expected is 10%.

Qn: Will UPSC deduct marks for bad handwriting?

If a candidate’s handwriting is not easily legible, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to him.

Qn: Can you clarify some common doubts regarding UPSC Civil Services Mains Application (Detailed Application Form)?

Civil Service Mains Application Form (DAF) Checklist is given here.

Qn: What are the check-list items for Mains Exam hall?

Main exam hall checklist is given here.

FAQs on UPSC CSE Interview:

Qn: Will there be minimum qualifying marks for UPSC Interview?

The interview will carry 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).

FAQs on UPSC Ranking:

Qn: If the overall marks of two or more candidates are equal, how is relative merit between such candidates decided?

The principles for tie-breaking in various exams conducted by UPSC is explained in the linked post. PS: You may also browse the whole FAQ in UPSC website by clicking on the link.

General Queries:

Qn: Can candidates use calculators in UPSC Civil Services Exam?

Not for UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam. But candidates will be allowed the use of Scientific (Non-Programmable type) Calculators at the conventional (Essay) type examination of UPSC, ie Mains Exam. Programmable type calculators will however not be allowed and the use of such calculators shall tantamount to resorting to unfair means by the candidates. Loaning or interchanging of calculators in the Examination Hall is not permitted. It is also important to note that candidates are not permitted to use calculators for answering objective type papers (Test Booklets). They should not, therefore, bring the same inside the Examination Hall.


Important Suggestions for UPSC IAS Aspirants: SOSIN CLASSES 2018 and Beyond

The following are some of those general suggestions that one must keep in mind, or rather; one must follow with heart and in deeds. They help in making a much better, enjoyable preparation than just a worry and deadline oriented book reading.

  1. i) Enjoy the preparation

Do not worry too much about the results and questions etc. every time. Leave it for the best judgment of whoever takes care of it. All we need to do is to have a planned preparation and go about it day by day, one day at a time.

  1. ii) Do not pay heed to rumors

It is a surety that people get carried away with rumors, especially in those areas that are famous for aspirants. Do not spent even a single moment thinking or even discussing about these rumors unless you have nothing else to do.

Rumors about the results dates, cut offs, change of patterns etc. will generally go around you all the time. The less you pay attention to such topics, the better it will be for your preparation.

It is not easy to stay away from such rumors, especially when they relate to results (of prelims) but try to realize the damage they do to one’s mental peace and how they screw up one’s routine unnecessarily

iii) Do not stay alone and grow beard

It looks funny but only two kinds of people grow beard, one whose love has gone unfortunate or one who is preparing for civils!
Just try to understand that staying alone or away from people or growing beard doesn’t show any seriousness about your preparation nor they are the sure shot ways to get in to the services.

Staying away from phone and family, thinking of preparation as a ‘yagna’ are old perceptions when there was less access to information and aspirants are truly misinformed. Not so anymore.

Mingle with people (that definitely does not mean to waste time, you are grownups, you know where to draw a line), stay in touch with friend and family, live your life and prepare.

  1. iv) Do not buy each and every material that comes in to the market

Preparation is not measured in terms of neither the number of books you read from, nor the number of hours you sit with your books. Get books selectively.

  1. vi) Have lots of discussions

To understand any topic with clarity, discussions are a great way. More, discussions help in giving a pattern to your random thoughts, gives a feedback to oneself how much one knows about a particular topic.

It brings out different perspectives that does not stuck to one’s mind by self-study. Embrace discussions as a part of your routine. Don’t ever think that the other person benefits more than you through sharing of information in discussions, it is never the case. Share freely all the information you have that is necessary in a discussion.

Do not confront! Discussion is for improving the understanding, not to prove a point or to prove that you’re the only one who is right and who knows everything. If possible, form a small group with likeminded people, and have a continuous discussion and sort of, shared preparation where each can help others.

vii) Try to get involved in opinion sharing

Similar to discussions, try to start writing comments in leading newspapers like The Hindu, on topics that you know and that you don’t know, on topics that you understand and those that you don’t understand. It is a platform where you can put your thoughts into words.

It also gives a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment to see one’s comments getting published on the website/hard copy. Encourages a lot! Next time you search your name on Google, you can find your comment.

viii) Blog

If you are anywhere near to a tech savvy person, or one who sits on a laptop for a considerable period of time, start blogging. Put down your ideas and thoughts.

It can be anything from your childhood memories to something that troubles you badly that needs to be changed in the country. It helps a lot in making a huge difference to your answer writing and compilation of thoughts in your mind.

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