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. Also simply referred as UPSC examination. 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, in which two papers are qualifying and only marks of seven paper are counted followed by a personality test (interview).


The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC; संघ लोक सेवा आयोग) is India's premier central recruiting agency. It is responsible for appointments to and examinations for All India services and group A & group B of Central services. While Department of Personnel and Training is the central personnel agency in India.
The agency's charter is granted by Part XIV of the Constitution of India, titled as Services Under the Union and the States. The commission is mandated by the Constitution for appointments to the services of the Union and All India Services. It is also required to be consulted by the Government in matters relating to the appointment, transfer, promotion and disciplinary matters. The commission reports directly to the President and can advise the Government through him. Although, such advice is not binding on the Government. Being a constitutional authority, UPSC is amongst the few institutions which function with both autonomy and freedom, along with the country’s higher judiciary and lately the Election Commission.
The commission is headquartered at Dholpur House, in New Delhi and functions through its own secretariat. Arvind Saxena is its current Chairman of UPSC.
Established on 1 October 1926 as Public Service Commission, it was later reconstituted as Federal Public Service Commission by the Government of India Act, 1935; only to be renamed as today's Union Public Service Commission after the independence.
The Royal Commission on the superior Civil Services in India was set up under the chairmanship of Lord Lee of Fareham by the British Government in 1923.With equal numbers of Indian and British members, the commission submitted its report in 1924, recommending setting up of a Public Service Commission. The Lee Commission proposed that 40% of future entrants should be British, 40% Indians directly recruited, and 20% Indians promoted from the provincial services.
This led to the establishment of the first Public Service Commission on 1 October 1926 under the chairmanship of Sir Ross Barker. A mere limited advisory function was granted to the Public Service Commission and the leaders of the freedom movement continually stressed on this aspect, which then resulted in the setting up of a Federal Public Service Commission under the Government of India Act, 1935.
The Federal Public Service Commission became the Union Public Service Commission after independence. It was given a constitutional status with under of Constitution of India on 26 January 1950.
Constitutional status
Articles 315 to 323 of Part XIV of the constitution, titled as Services Under the Union and the States, provide for a Public Service Commission for the Union and for each state.Accordingly, as per Art. 315, at Union level, Union Public Service Commission is envisaged by it. UPSC is amongst the few institutions which function with both autonomy and freedom, along with the country’s higher judiciary and lately the Election Commission.
As per Art. 316, the Chairman and other members of Union Public Service Commission shall be appointed by the President. In case the office of the Chairman becomes vacant his duties shall be performed by one of the other members of the Commission as the President may appoint for the purpose.
Also, nearly half of the members of the Commission shall be persons who at the dates of their respective appointments have held office for at least ten years either under the Government of India or under the Government of a State. A member of a Union Public Service Commission shall hold office for a term of six years from the date on which he enters upon his office or until he attains the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier. Under Art 318, the President is empowered to determine number of members of the Commission and their conditions of service. Further, he can make provision with respect to the number of members of the staff of the Commission and their conditions of service too. Also, conditions of service cannot be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
As per Art 319, a person who holds office as Chairman shall, on the expiration of his term of office, be ineligible for re-appointment to that office. But, a member other than the Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission shall be eligible for appointment as the Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission, or as the Chairman of a State Public Service Commission, but not for any other employment either under the Government of India or under the Government of a State. Also, the Chairman of a State Public Service Commission shall be eligible for appointment as the Chairman or any other member of the Union Public Service Commission.
Removal and suspension
As per Art. 317, the Chairman or any other member of a Public Service Commission shall only be removed from his office by order of the President on the ground of "misbehaviour" after the Supreme Court, on reference being made to it by the President, has, on inquiry reported that the Chairman or such other member ought to be removed. The President may suspend the Chairman or other member of the Commission until report of the Supreme Court is received.
The President may also remove the Chairman or any other member of the commission if he/she:

  • is adjudged an insolvent; or
  • engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or
  • is, in the opinion of the President, unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body.

If the Chairman or any other member cannot hold an office of profit or otherwise he shall be deemed to be guilty of misbehaviour.
As per Art. 320, it shall be the duty of the Union Public Service Commissions to conduct examinations for appointments to the services of the Union. It shall also assist two or more States, if requested so, in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for any services.
The Union Public Service Commission shall be consulted:
on all matters relating to

  • methods of recruitment to civil services and for civil posts
  • making appointments to civil services and posts
  • making promotions and transfers from one service to another
  • the suitability of candidates for such appointments, promotions or transfers
  • on all disciplinary matters against a civil servant serving in a civil capacity, including memorials or petitions relating to such matters.
  • on any claim by or in respect of a person who is serving or has served in a civil capacity, that any costs incurred by him in defending legal proceedings instituted against him in respect of acts done or purporting to be done in the execution of his duty should be paid out of the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • on any claim for the award of a pension in respect of injuries sustained by a person while serving in a civil capacity, and any question as to the amount of such award.

It shall be the duty of a Union Public Service Commission to advise on any matter referred to them; provided that the President has not made any regulations specifying the matters in which it shall not be necessary for Union Public Service Commission to be consulted.
As per Art. 322, the expenses of the Union Public Service Commission, including any salaries, allowances and pensions payable to or in respect of the members or staff of the Commission, shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
Extension of functions
As per Art. 321, an Act made by Parliament may provide for the exercise of additional functions by the Union Public Service Commission w.r.t. services of the Union.
As per Art. 323, it shall be the duty of the Union Commission to annually present a report to the President of the work done by the Commission. On receipt of such report, the President shall present a copy before each House of Parliament; together with a memorandum, if any, explaining the reasons where the advice of the Commission was not accepted by him.

The Civil Services Exam popularly known as IAS Exam is conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) every year. It is a combined exam to recruit officers into Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Indian Audit and Accounts Services, Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) and several other Group A & Group B Central services.

All India Services officers i.e., IAS and IPS officers are given state cadres after the selection. The cadre controlling authority of IAS is Ministry of Personnel and Public Grievances, Government of India. The IPS cadre is controlled by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Overall, the IAS officers as District Collectors play a major role in the administration of the country.

Year-wise data of candidates applying, appearing & qualifying Civil Services Exam is given in tabular form:

CSE Applied for
Appeared for
CS(P )
Qualified & Appeared
for CS(M)
Qualified Mains
& Appeared
for Interview
2013 7,76,604 3,24,279 14,178 3,001 1,122
2014 9,47,428 4,46,623 16,286 3,303 1,363
2015 9,39,763 4,63,418 14,626 2,797 1078
2016 11,35,943 4,59,659 15,445 2,961 1099
2017 10,00,000
13,366 2,568 990
2018 8,00,000
10,468 2000
2019 8,00,000
11845 2,304

Is the UPSC Exam Very Tough?
A common question on the minds of youngsters aiming to be IAS officers is, ‘Is the UPSC exam very tough?’ The truth is, it is a tough exam. But again, it is not insurmountable. Let us analyze why it is considered tough.

  • Why is UPSC so tough?
    The Exam Pattern
    The first factor that makes the IAS exam tough is the UPSC exam pattern. It consists of three stages:
    1. UPSC Prelims
    2. UPSC Mains
    3. UPSC Board Interview
    You have to cross each stage to move onto the next. And it can be rightly said that the difficulty factor increases with each stage. The last stage can also be a tough nut to crack because here the UPSC tests not only your knowledge and ability to write but also your personality and ability to deal with situations. It takes a special kind of preparation to overcome the UPSC interview stage.


  • The UPSC Syllabus
    Another very important factor that contributes to the ‘toughness’ of this exam is the UPSC syllabus. It is indeed very large and contains a diverse range of subjects, unlike many other exams where you need expertise only in one or two subjects.


  • The pass percentage
    If you look at the success rate in the IAS exam, you will understand why it is considered one of the toughest exams in India and some say, the world. Every year, lakhs of people take the IAS prelims exam. Out of this, only about 25% clear it and move onto the IAS mains. Again, from this number, roughly 15% make it to the interview stage. In the interview stage, the success rate is about 50%. So, if you see, on the whole, the pass percentage in the UPSC exam is less than 1%. This is a disheartening figure. But cheer up, with the right kind of IAS preparation, you can fall within this 1%.


  • The preparation time
    Another factor that makes the IAS exam a tough one is the rather long time it takes to prepare for the exam.On an average, it takes about a whole year to prepare for the USPC exam. Some candidates might take a year and a half whereas some others might take only 10 months. It depends on the individual’s interests and preparation style.Sure, the UPSC exam can be called tough because of the above-mentioned factors. But, as said before, it is not unassailable. If you follow a strategy and prepare with direction and in the right approach, you can easily crack this exam.


  1. Indian Administrative Service.
  2. Indian Foreign Service.
  3. Indian Police Service.
  4. Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Group ‘A’.
  5. Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  6. Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) Group ‘A′
  7. Indian Defence Accounts Service, Group ‘A′.
  8. Indian Revenue Service (I.T.), Group ‘A′.
  9. Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Group ‘A’ (Assistant Works Manager, Administration)
  10. Indian Postal Service, Group ‘A’.
  11. Indian Civil Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  12. Indian Railway Traffic Service, Group ‘A’.
  13. Indian Railway Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  14. Indian Railway Personnel Service, Group ‘A’.
  15. Post of Assistant Security Commissioner, in Railway Protection Force, Group ‘A’
  16. Indian Defence Estates Service, Group ‘A’.
  17. Indian Information Service (Junior Grade), Group ‘A’.
  18. Indian Trade Service, Group "A" (GR.III)
  19. Indian Corporate Law Service, Group "A"
  20. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service, Group ‘B’ (Section Officer′s Grade)
  21. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service, Group ‘B’
  22. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service, Group ‘B’
  23. Pondicherry Civil Service, Group ‘B’
  24. Pondicherry Police Service, Group ‘B’
UPSC General Studies Prelims Mains Online Course
  • Recorded lectures of Prelims Paper I & II, Mains Paper I to V (Essay & GS)
  • Live interactive virtual class for doubt clearance once in a month
  • Current Affairs Analysis recorded lectures (for one year)
  • Current Affairs daily MCQ (Mon to Sat) for one year
  • Current Affairs topic-wise compilation (daily & monthly), Editorials in soft copy
  • NCERT based MCQ tests
  • Prelims Test Series.
  • Mains (GS & Essay) Test Series
  • Class notes (study materials) in soft copy
  • Study support / doubt solution via email.

Learn more

Online Current Affairs Analysis (video lecture)


Current Affairs Analysis (based on ‘The Hindu’ newspaper)by renowned UPSC faculty Mrs Bilquees Khatri. 
All important and relevant news are covered on daily basis.

(Prelims 2017 had 35 questions & 2018 had 51 questions directly from the current affairs & class notes of A A Shah’s IAS Institute compiled by Bilquees Khatri)

  12 months from the date of enrolment

Learn more

Useful links:

Importance of NCERT Books for IAS Exam Preparation

Daily Current Affairs Analysis

How much time is required to clear UPSC CSE Examination

UPSC Prelims Exam Last Minute Tips

How to crack Prelims in 50 Days

How to Prepare for History for IAS Prelims

Service allocation to a candidate depends on the following:

  1. Rank of the candidate in the CSE.
  2. Candidate’s order of preference for service.
  3. Candidate’s category.
  4. Availability of vacancy in the candidate’s category.
  5. Findings of Medical Board/Appellate Board with respect to the candidate.

Points to note:-

  • A candidate should indicate the order of preferences for ALL the services included in the CSE. No preference, zero preference and the same preference for more than one service are not allowed.
  • Once a candidate indicates preferences, any change will not be permitted.
  • If a candidate does not give preferences for all the civil services, and he/she doesn’t get the services for which he/she had given preferences, then he/she will be considered for the remaining services where there are vacancies after allocation of all the candidates who could be allocated to the cadres according to the preferences.
  • Reserved category candidates who have the sufficient rank without availing any relaxation like age limit, number of attempt, etc. are called General Merit (GM) or Meritorious Reserved Category (MRC) candidates.
  • In case the GM or MRC candidates don’t get the service of their higher preference in unreserved category, they can switch over to their own category leaving vacant slots.
  • Even after achieving UPSC CSE success, a candidate may not be appointed by the government for service unless it is satisfied that the candidate is fit in respect of his/her character and antecedents that he/she is suitable for service.

Cadre in All India Services is decided depending on following factors:

  • Your Rank
  • Number of seats available in your category (Gen/Others)and in your preferred state.
  • Your domicile. If you are a native of State X, you're an insider else outsider. As is obvious, you can be an insider to only one state.
  • A successful candidate gets the cadre based on what preference he stated for various cadres in his/her DAF provided there are availability.
  • Furthermore, the domicile is an important factor. Outsider seats are always greater than insider seats for a state. This is primarily done to maintain the spirit of an All India Service.

Eligibility Criteria

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Preliminary Exam (Prelims)

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Mains Written Exam (Mains)

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Personality Test (Interview)

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UPSC – CSE 2020

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