Blaming the government over those gossip demanding sips of cutting chai; one who wishes to change the so called “system” meeting with ridicule and raising their hands in defeat – these are things of the past. The pride in working for your nation, the lust for power or authority and the tempting pay has made the civil services a career choice for many Indian citizens. The Civil Service examination is a pan-India exam held every year in three phases to select personnel for nearly 21 notifications (branches) of the Indian government, including administration, foreign, police, revenue etc.
To appear for the examination, you should be at least 21 years old. Also, you have to be a graduate (or be in the final year of your graduation). Fluency in English and one Indian language (many opt for Hindi) is recommended. Beyond such necessities required by the Union Public Service Commission, skills such as an excellent memory, a willingness to work hard for a year or longer, and being articulate, well informed, well read, etc. are assets.
The three stages of the examination are as follows:
1 The Preliminary Examination
Also known as CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test), it consists of two papers of two hours each. The first paper tests the candidate’s knowledge of current affairs, general awareness, history, geography, environment, climate, etc. A wide majority of the questions are in context to India. The second paper tests logical reasoning, analysis, reading comprehension, vocabulary, decision making, data interpretation skills, etc. The examination is conducted in May/June and the results are released in the first half of August
2 The Main Examinations
Open to candidates who qualify from the prelims, the main examinations (or mains) consist of nine papers held over a period of 20 days. The mains are designed to test the candidate’s academic gauge as well as their ability to present their knowledge in a clear, coherent manner. The first two papers are language-based (one is English and the other an Indian language of the candidate’s choice). These are followed by a paper devoted solely to essay writing, two papers on general studies, and finally, four examinations on two subjects (two papers each) of the candidate’s choice. It is interesting to note that the language papers are only QUALIFYING in nature and not used for RANKINGS i.e. a candidate only has to pass in the language papers while the other exams are used to assess their ranks. On the basis of their ranks, applicants are called in for the interview.
3 The Interview
The interview is where the candidate is involved in a natural, directive and purposeful conversation which would test the candidate’s knowledge and intelligence on a range of topics.
It is important to understand and respect the fact that the Indian government does not compromise on the quality of its civil servants. With a selection rate of 0.3%, the Civil Service examination is one of the toughest examinations to crack, but if you are tired of the banal marches, protests, campaigns, and the like and have a burning desire to change India’s face, civil services is the job you want to do, irrespective of the challenging, olympian selection procedure.
4 Study Tips
There is no definitive study method, as everyone has their own approach to the study material. But if you become overwhelmed by the amount of studying you need to do, do not panic. Follow these guidelines and get into your study groove:
- Pick your ideal study time. When are you your productive best – morning, afternoon, evening or night?
- Write notes. They will help you remember the material better. Either condense what you have read into headings, subheadings, points and bulleted lists, or draw mind maps: write the topic at the centre of the page and draw diverging lines from it. Each line radiating out represents a branch of the main idea. Write points under each branch briefly using a key word or a phrase. This method is ideal for those who learn pictorially.
- Understand the question before you write the answer. ‘Critically appreciate’, ‘discuss’, ‘elucidate’ and ‘explain’ mean different things and their answers must be written accordingly.
- Practise writing precise answers. Present them in an appealing manner. They should not be textbookish. Use simple English.
- Do not do anything mentally exhausting the night before an exam. Do a short review and get a good night’s sleep. Good luck!
Here is a List of the Notifications (Services) You can Join After Qualifying for the Civil Services:
All India Services
- Indian Administrative Service
- India Foreign Service
- Indian Police Service
Group A Services
- Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service
- Indian Audit and Accounts Service
- Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise)
- Indian Defence Accounts Service
- Indian Revenue Service (I.T.)
- Indian Ordnance Factories Service (Assistant Works Manager, Administration)
- Indian Postal Service
- Indian Civil Accounts Service
- Indian Railway Traffic Service
- Indian Railway Accounts Service
- Indian Railway Personnel Service
- Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force
- Indian Defence Estates Service
- Indian Information Service (Junior Grade)
- Indian Trade Service, Group ‘A’ (Gr. III)
- Indian Corporate Law Service
Group – B Services
- Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (Section Officer’s Grade)
- Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service
- Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service
- Pondicherry Civil Service
- Pondicherry Police Service
Volume 2 Issue 4