The UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exam or the UPSC CSE (Union Public Service Commission Civil Services Examination) is one of the most competitive and prestigious exams in India. The Union Public Service Commission, a major Indian regulating body, conducts the exam for recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India.
One of the most coveted of the UPSC exam is the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) with its subsets Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Revenue Service (IRS).
The Exam Structure
The exam is conducted in three phases. The first phase is the Preliminary Exam, the second the Mains followed by the third phase, the UPSC interview.
The first phase consists of a preliminary examination with two objective type papers (General Studies Paper I and Paper II). This is also known as the Civil Service Aptitude Test or CSAT or the UPSC Preliminary Exam.
The exam is conducted on one day and the candidates have to secure the cut-off marks to qualify to the next stage – the Mains. But the marks secured at the Prelims are not added to the final merit list. The papers are set in English and Hindi. Candidates have to secure a minimum of a mark of 33% to qualify.
The second phase or the UPSC Mains has nine papers conducted within 5-7 days. Two papers A (Compulsory Indian Language) and B (English Language) are qualifying papers. The rest of the mains from Paper 1 – Paper VII are ranking in nature, where candidates have to secure a minimum of 25% in each paper.
The papers are in the essay format with a duration of three hours. Candidates could write The Indian Language paper in any of the languages included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. These papers except for Paper B could be answered in English or any of the languages included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.
The final or the third stage of the UPSC exam is the Interview or the Personality Test. The interview aims to assess the candidate’s mental caliber and personality, intellectual qualities, social traits, and interest in current affairs.
The candidate is judged on how he or she approaches a question and if they demonstrate good administrative skills, like mental sharpness, clear and logical exposition, fair judgment, leadership, moral and intellectual integrity.
It is conducted by a board of members that includes the Chairman and four other members. The Chairman will always be a UPSC member while the other panelists are experts from various fields.
Read What is the UPSC exam? Part 2 to know more about the basics for the year-long prep for the exam.