Arindum Soni

“I don’t know the question, but your PATIENCE, PERSEVERANCE, and PERSISTENCE are the answers “

This is the simplest formula I would always give to my students to their complicated academic, philosophical and personal questions.

INDIAN ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES- A pride, an honor, a service to mankind. For most of us, it is not merely a job but a purpose in life. The energy, fascination, enthusiasm and passion illustrated by the aspirants are widespread and contagious. With an average of 800 vacancies in a year and a success ratio of less than .001%, IAS is considered one of the toughest competing exams conducted by UPSC.

“What makes this exam so tough, why there is such a throat cut competition, how can we sail through it” are amongst the most frequent queries of many candidates.

Well, the first few lines of this article are invariably my answer.

The Question

How would these articles help the readers? The goal it seeks to accomplish?

Well, through this series of articles “UPSC DECIPHERED” on Indian administrative services, I would cater to every possible generalized query which would systematically and strategically help aspirants to deal with the exam.

This shall envelope unraveling the academic as well as philosophical issues faced by the candidates.

An Answer

Primarily, I would systematically cater to a subject-wise strategy, the desired orientation towards a particular topic.

Secondly, The personal and philosophical dilemma encountered by the aspirants during preparation.

DECIPHERING “Scheme of the examination”

IAS exams are conducted by UPSC annually on a regular basis, unlike state agencies.

The exam consists of 3 stages –

The first stage, A preliminary test. It is an MCQ-based objective paper that consists of 2 papers of 200 marks each.

Paper-1 General studies (200 marks) form the core fundamental for the preliminary exam on which the merit is decided.

Paper -2 CSAT (200 marks, qualificatory in nature, i.e you need 33% marks to qualify this paper which shall not be considered under merit)

At this stage, Upsc generally selects candidates as much as 12 times the vacancy that particular year.

The marks of the last selected (meritorious) candidates are declared as the cut-off marks for preliminary exams.

Note: If you fail to qualify CSAT exam, your G.S marks are not taken into consideration whatsoever.

The second stage, aka MAINS exam. At this stage, you are encountered with 1750 marks of written subjective papers which consist of 4 General Studies papers (250 marks each)  and two optional papers (250 marks each). Upsc generally selects candidates up to 3 to 3.5 times the vacancy, based on which the cut-off is declared.

Note: UPSC gives you a list of optional subjects amongst which you can opt while filling your application form at the preliminary stage only. You cannot alter your choice of optional paper or preferred language for writing the exam after filling out the form during the later stages.

The third stage, the Interview stage

You will encounter this stage only when you get through the mains cut off. At this stage, UPSC tests your personality and evaluates you for 275 marks.

Note: The final result declared is a cumulative addition of marks obtained by the candidate at the second and the third stage.

 It takes approximately one whole year to complete these three stages and in my experience, it takes approximately one year to prepare for the exam as well.

The myth

There’s a widespread myth amongst people that only individuals with high IQ and dignified academic backgrounds can clear this exam. Let me assure you with certainty and assert that candidates with average IQ and moderate academic backgrounds have made the final list. And this proclamation is based on facts and figures in terms of evident ranks in past years.

The final message

The goal of competing in the exam is to become “competent”- better than the rest of the others. Do not speculate on the questions, Strive for the answers.

Lastly, I would again strongly reiterate “I don’t know the question, but your PATIENCE, PERSEVERANCE, and PERSISTENCE are the answers”

Writter is Faculty for UPSC IAS exams at MITRA’S IAS Jaipur

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