1. The FAQs are designed to provide a better understanding of common issues, and sometimes of fairly complex issues/topics and will often link to more detailed information.

2. This FAQ is for information purpose only and is not a substitute for Rules. The information provided here would not create any right on part of the individual candidate.

In case, there is lack of clarity on any issue, the position indicated in the CSE Rules for the prevailing year governing the CSE would prevail.

FAQ Categories

1. Questions on Examination Preparation.

2. Questions on CSE Prelims Preparations

3. Questions on CSE Mains Preparations

4. Question on INTERVIEW Preparations.

Few important things that all the aspirants should ensure in the part of preparation are as below-

Questions on Examination Preparation

1. What is Indian Administrator Service?
IAS or the Indian Administrative Service is arguably one of the most Prestigious services in India and is part of the Indian Civil Service (ICS), conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Which is often called the 'Steel Frame' of the country because without would be impossible to govern a country of this size and diversity.?In order to be successful in this prestigious exams one must have a clear Vision to the service, Tangible guidance for preparations, adequate materials to study along with confidence in oneself. Henceforth, Alchemy IAS Institute has come out with FAQ'S about exams and preparation process which all answered by Gris Hikdas, Director at Alchemy IAS Institute who has vast experience and success in making IAS, IPS, IFS and other Civil Services officers.
2. I am graduated from open University can I appear for this exam?
Yes, you can. Graduation from Open University is accepted. [Note: 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. Note: Alchemy student has 'one sitting' degree through correspondence course.
3. Sir, I'm a Malayalam medium student I don't know much english; i come from rural area can I become IAS officer?
Yes, certainly you can. If you can read, write and understand 10 th standard English, that is enough. The English knowledge you need so as to understand the content. If you are able to understand articles in English news papers that is enough. However, once you clear prelims you can write mains in any Indian language on which you have a command. Start your preparation with confidence.
4. Sir, I am a working professional. I will not have enough time to study hard. I can spend only two hours a day. Is it sufficient to crack the exam?
Yes, two hours a day is good amount of time. But, be focused don't be diverted stay tuned always around syllabus. True preparation does not mean one has to sit in front of books for hours together, day and night. Though you study for two hours, ensure that you study relevant topics and follow only selective exam oriented study material prepared by experienced and successful faculty. CONSISTANCY IS KEY HERE.
5. If I do not clear in the first two attempts, it will be too late so I may waste my time.
Did you know most people clear the civil services exam in their third or fourth attempt? Most of the IAS toppers give their final attempt when they manage to come out triumphant. The more you attempt, the better you get. So don't worry about attempts, rather learn from your mistakes. Ensure that you don't repeat the same mistake you have committed in the previous attempts.
6. I often get demotivated and suddenly I forget all that I have studied till then. If I want to restart my preparation I find it frustrating.
Well, your problem is very common and unavoidable. All of a sudden if you want to sit for studies and keep a track on it will take a lot of effort. Your determination to study should not be disrupted at any cost like taking break or relaxing unnecessarily. Hence, to overcome this, love your studies, enjoy the feel of learning new things and adding up knowledge to brighten your preparations, set fixed targets for a day, week and month just try to meet those targets. Don't give up until you achieve them. Don't worry if you're not able to remember what you studied. Just keep on achieving your targets. In due course, your preparation will be done.
7. I often fall asleep and feel very difficult to remember whatever I studied?
The focus of UPSC has changed from the replication of content to the application of knowledge. Although memorization of facts is essential, it is the application part that is more important. Analytical ability rather than mere memory is what the UPSC tests. Analytical ability to think from an administration point of view is required rather than simple memorization. So don't learn by heart the topics. Try to understand the concept and link the concept with current affairs. Your preparation will be more interesting and easy to remember.
8. I have been told and learned that Delhi is the right place for IAS preparation. Is it true?
Not only in Delhi. Anybody can pass the examination by preparing from anywhere. Many candidates prepare and pass the preliminary and main examination in their hometown itself. Candidates should cover each and every topic in civil service examination. The syllabus is considered as the bible for passing the exam. Candidates should practice writing answers for previous year question papers. While answering he/she should modify answer as per the current affairs. By following this method in Kerala, a candidate while working as a nurse secured a very good rank in the civil services examination. Moreover, at Alchemy IAS Institute, we have renowned faculty from Delhi.
9. I am advised by many to quit my job and dedicate myself completely for IAS. Only then can I qualify. Otherwise preparing and working simultaneously is impossible. Is it so?
Many tell us that a significant percentage of people qualified while working in some private/government organization. We can cite a long list of those people here, but the idea is to make you understand that preparing while working is possible, less risky and above all emotionally enriching. One can easily complete the syllabus by following a proper study plan and by continuously getting his progress evaluated. Yes, evaluation holds the key. Collecting current affairs in their leisure times at workplaces, discussing current events of national importance with colleagues and following a proper roadmap at home is a strategy that always works. As long as you know what to study, what not to study, how to study and you have someone to evaluate and give the feedback to you, there is no need to quit the job/study and prepare. Working people will have systematic time frame to reach the task for studies and work simultaneously. Quitting your job and preparing full time for CSE can be risky. Uncertainty can make one nervous and skeptical about his/her chances. So, when it is possible to clear the exams while working, why take a chance? Remove this doubt from your mind. In fact, working people will have a clear plan for studies rather that those who sit for full time preparation. They will have a more casual attitude and procrastinating mind. But, one must have a proper and tangible guidance.

Questions on CSE Prelims Preparations

10. There are some changes introduced from 2015 in prelims examination stage, what are they exactly?
Yes, there are changes neither in the pattern nor in the syllabus but in the selection of scores. As you know, till 2014 onewho scores the required marks for passing by taking into account the total of marks from both General studies and CSAT together was enough to qualify for Mains. The Commission will draw a list of candidates to be qualified for Civil Service(Main) Examination based on the criterion of minimum qualifying marks of 33% in General Studies Paper-II of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination and total qualifying marks of General Studies Paper-I of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination as may be determined by the Commission. However, negative evaluation is applicable. For each question for which a wrong answer has been given by the candidate, one-third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.
11. I am an engineering student. I have a strong foundation and I am capable of cracking CSAT easily. But , I am very poor at general studies subject. How can I pass prelims?
Nothing as such to worry, first of all UPSC does not discriminate students on the basis of their background whether it is arts, science, commerce or humanity. In fact the new changes are really helpful to all. Eg: All students with a background in engineering clear prelims with the help of CSAT, but majority of them were not able to qualify successfully in mains. So now onwards, it will not be an obstacle as you start your preparation for mains. All you will have to do is start preparing for mains general studies at the earliest. Don't prepare individually for mains and prelims. They are not different. Only the nature of the exam varies. Prelims is objective and mains is descriptive.
12. I have a good knowledge of general studies and of CSAT. I feel I have the potential to pass prelims but I fail to manage time and tend to give more wrong answers which leads to negative marking
Keep practicing more question papers until you overcome negative evaluation and time management. Out of what you have studied, you should repeatedly practice 70% of it. Only then can you pass prelims easily. Being knowledgeable helps. However, one must also have a hold on negative valuation and time management, which is possible only through practice.
13. General studies syllabus is very vast. How will I study all of it?
One does not need to study it all in depth. You are not going to be a subject matter expert but an officer. An officer must have the knowledge and authority to handle the situations around him. The role that any IAS officer plays is multi-dimensional and challenging at the same time. Consider this. As an IAS officer, you are responsible for the smooth functioning of an entire district. You have to respond to any crisis situation that may arise unexpectedly. You have to ensure harmonious public order; agriculture issues, social issues, land issues and many. Hence, you must have a basic knowledge of all the subjects. Here, the depth of knowledge does not matter. Range of knowledge is what matters. One must be Jack of All the subjects but not master in any subjects.

Questions on CSE Mains Preparations

All candidates recruited to various services under CSE have to be examined by the medical authority for initial appointment and for placement at jobs involving different types of work. Arrangement for the medical examinations to determine physical fitness is made by the central government. The DoPT notifies CSE Rules - Appendix-III every year prescribing guidelines for the same.

14. What is mains examination, How many papers will there in mains?
Mains is the stage following prelims examination. It is descriptive in nature. One must write the answers in essay format. Mains has 9 papers in total
Paper 1: Any Indian language for 300 marks
Paper 2: English Compulsory for 300 marks
Note - Both the papers are qualifying in nature, if one scores 75 or above in each paper is enough

Paper 3: Essay for 250 marks
Paper 4: General studies Paper I - 250 Marks
Paper 5: General studies Paper II - 250 Marks
Paper 6: General studies Paper III - 250 Marks
Paper 7: General studies Paper IV - 250 Marks
Paper 8: Optional subject Paper I - 250 Marks
Paper 9: Optional subject Paper II - 250 Marks
15. What is the minimum passing score in each paper of mains to qualify for interview?
Well. You don't have to worry about individual paper cut off, since the marks for all the papers like essay, general studies and optional will be counted. However, individually you must score a minimum of 10% marks in each paper.
16. How to score good marks in mains?
Well. Mains provides the highest potential to score maximum marks to secure first rank in civil services examination. You must know that writing is the ultimate task here since there is a limit on the time and the words used. However, you should finish your mains preparation before prelims. Now what you will have to do is practice as much as you can to write more. With the help of our test series, you can score high marks in mains. Many of our students secured very high marks in mains.
17. What are the new changes in CSE mains general studies since 2013?
There is no major change in the syllabus. However, one extra paper has been introduced in General Studies [paper IV]; Ethics Integrity and Aptitude. Moreover, two options have been reduced to one. There has been an overall change in the structure and pattern of the exam.
18. What about the entire syllabus for general studies paper IV?
Though there is a syllabus, the paper is very dynamic in nature. Here, the test is to evaluate the candidate's understanding of morality, ethics and values. This paper is classified into three areas viz. psychology, philosophy and political pragmatism. Here the candidate should possess an unbiased attitude towards caste, class, culture, creed, religion, gender, etc..
19. Can you elaborate more on general studies IV in detail?
Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions, dimensions of ethics, ethics in private and public relationships. Human Values - lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values. Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behavior; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion. Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service , integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections. Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world. Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; Ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance. Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information Sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen's Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption. Case Studies on above issues.
20. Which is the best optional subject for mains?
The selection of the optional subject is not based on the academic background of the candidate. It should be strategically chosen in order to secure a high score. Selection of the subject should be based on the below given qualities. 1. Who can guide you better 2. Easy to study and write 3. Have books available easily 4. Subject that includes more of General studies and Essay 5. Vastness of syllabus 6. Dynamicity of the questions 7. Ease of scoring Apart from the ones aforementioned, there are a lot of criteria based on which a candidate selects the optional subject. If you need any assistance, you can seek our guidance by walking into any one of our centers.

Question on INTERVIEW Preparation

21. What is interview in CSE?
It is not an Interview but called personality test. It is one of the three stages, which is for 275 marks, conducted only in New Delhi.
22. Many say personality test is very difficult and the panel members are very strict.
It is a false notion most have about IAS Exam. It instigates fear in the candidate about the exam. So, don't listen to such propaganda which is the wrong portrayal of UPSC and CSE.
23. Should i have a vast knowledge and high intelligence to score good marks in the personality test?
First of all the personality test is not like the usual corporate interviews. It is different, as the only motive of the personality test is to know the candidate's personality, loyalty, morality, honesty and sincerity at work and sense of responsibility if he/she is selected for service. Don't worry about personality test initially. Start your preparation by focusing more on prelims and mains. Gradually, you will improve your skills for personality test with preparation. Personality test is a test of what he/she is. It is not a test of knowledge. It takes a lot of training to impress panel members. It attempts to uncover attitudes which are imprinted in the candidate's subconscious mind. They want to check the candidate's honesty, clarity in concepts based on real life experiences. One must be brave enough to accept and admit one's ignorance. Mostly, UPSC members ask questions in the form of discussions.

A few important points all aspirants should keep in mind as part of preparation follow.

  • Wrong Selection of Books and Study Material: Given the vast syllabus and a ton of study material to choose from, most students end up either buying too many books for one subject or they come to know that the book was not that useful after having spent considerable time on it. Hence it is essential to have a properly vetted book list and well researched study material. The focus should be quality and not quantity.
  • Lack of a Proper Study/Preparation Plan: The first hurdle is lack of understanding on how to begin. I have understood the syllabus. I have a booklist ready. But what next? How to begin? Shall I first finish Polity in its entirety and then take up other subjects? Or should I read History and Polity in parallel for the first month? This dilemma not only wastes a lot of time and energy of the aspirants but also takes a toll on their psyche and many feel disillusioned. A quick solution is a remedy for disaster.
  • Absence of a Guide for Mentoring & Feedback: Preparing for CSE without feedback is akin to captaining a ship without a compass and a map. One can get lost in the vast sea of information. Am I going in the right direction? Are my efforts sufficient enough to clear the exam? I have so many thoughts, whom should I approach? These are scary situations. And the only solution is to have someone on your side who can guide you when you go astray. A mentor has the potential to lift your confidence to a level that you feel confident enough to meet the challenge.
  • Trust in yourself rather trusting others who are not trust worthy, rely on your capabilities and desire: not only for CSE preparations but also for any preparations to be successful in the task, one must have self confidence, confidence bounded with love and respect towards your life and career. Confidence should drive you towards successful efforts and perfect attempt. Have a healthy fear. Yes, one must have it in oneself every now and then to keep one on one's pursuit. Remember, no one is born talented or intelligent, the urge to build a good life, big thinking, a never give up attitude, making yourself tougher for the battle.

Alchemy IAS is one of the best coaching institutes for civil services in India

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