UPSC : The most Prestigious yet Toughest exam of INDIA

UPSC : The most Prestigious yet Toughest exam of INDIA

“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up” ~Nelson Mandela This quotation perfectly describes the motto that most aspirants of the UPSC exams imbibe w

“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up” ~Nelson Mandela 

This quotation perfectly describes the motto that most aspirants of the UPSC exams imbibe while on their journey to success. However, before divulging the opportunities and prospects of a student in this field, we’ll look into what UPSC proclaims. 


Firstly, UPSC stands for Union Public Service Commission and is a recruiting portal for top-level Central Government jobs. Predominantly, the UPSC Civil Services Exam is the first step toward job titles such as IAS, IFS, IPS, IRS officers, etc. Since it is an extremely respected position with a lot of authority, the exam and the ensuing process before taking the oath is quite a strenuous one. For instance, lakhs of students appear for the exam annually, but a mere 0.1 to 0.4% succeed. Further, while talking about the initial syllabus for the exam, it is quite a lengthy one that is all-encompassing with regards to subjects concerning worldly matters. 


The examination process is divided into two parts, the first one being the qualifying process comprising two preliminary papers, one in an Indian language of the participant’s choosing and the other in English. This serves to function as a selection process for candidates who will appear in the main examination. The papers are in an MCQ format, for 200 marks, and span over two hours each. These are termed General Studies Paper Ⅰ and Ⅱ (CSAT). The first paper measures a variety of subjects such as Indian Polity, History, Geography, Indian Economy, Environment and Ecology, Science and Technology, and UPSC Current Affairs. On the contrary, the Civil Service Aptitude Test assesses a candidate’s proficiency in solving “reasoning and analytical” questions alongside “decision making” and “reading and comprehension” questions. 


After a candidate has qualified in the prelims, he/she moves on to the main exam for passing UPSC, which comprises seven papers and a personality test contributing 2025 marks in total. Paper Ⅰ is Essay based and in a medium of the candidate’s choice. Paper Ⅱ is General Studies Ⅰ that encircles Indian Heritage and Culture alongside the History and Geography of the world. Paper Ⅲ is General Studies Ⅱ and tests Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International relations. Next, Paper Ⅳ is General Studies Ⅲ and pertains to Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security, and Disaster Management. Following this, Paper Ⅴ is General Studies Ⅳ and judges Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude. Next, Papers Ⅵ and Ⅶ are termed Optional Subject Papers 1 and 2. These include literature in a variety of languages across subjects such as Anthropology, Botany, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, Psychology, Statistics, and Zoology to name a few. Following this, a Personality Test is carried out, also known as the “Interview”. This seeks to assess the personal abilities and mental capacities of the candidates alongside testing their knowledge of issues in the country. Often considered an extremely tricky part of the UPSC process, the interview requires a lot of polishing up on one’s general knowledge, critical analysis, and problem-solving skills. 


Moving forward, the eligibility for the UPSC exam in the General Category is a four-fold process. The first is the age limit which ranges from 21 to 32 years. However, there exist age limit relaxations for the OBS, SC/ST, and EWS categories. Next, a candidate must at least have completed graduation from an accredited college, and lastly, the exam applies to Indian citizens only. Lastly, even students who are awaiting their final exam results from any government-recognized universities can appear for the preliminary examinations. 


While the entire process for the UPSC exams and preparation seems like an extremely painstaking one, here are certain planning tips that, if followed, might increase your chances to perform well and attain your dreams. 

  1. Prepare yourself by taking necessary measures such as eliminating major distractions and improving your focusing ability. 
  2. Having a good understanding of the UPSC syllabus.
  3. Formulating a timetable including proper breaks and different study schedules. 
  4. Keep up with current affairs and recent developments in the country. Use websites such as Jagran Josh and GKToday for the same.
  5. Next, carefully select your optional subjects through careful consideration of factors such as prior knowledge or academic background, presence of study material and external guides, passion for the subject, etc. 
  6. Go through basic NCERT textbooks and certain advanced books as well. 
  7. Undergo extensive writing practice, especially with descriptive questions, and time yourself. 
  8. Solve mock test papers to analyze yourself and rectify errors.
  9. Revise daily to keep your mind challenged and functional at all times.
  10. Prep for the interview by going through mock-ups available on the internet. Improve your diplomatic, communication, and assertive skills alongside general knowledge. Emphasize being as authentic as possible. 
  11. Read pertinent magazines such as Yojana, Kurukshetra, and Economic & Political Weekly in addition to traditional study resources. These display information on topics such as polity, governance, economy, etc. 
  12. Moreover, stay positive and have at least one person to fall back on and consult. 


Lastly, here are a few common misconceptions about the procedure that needs to be debunked. Firstly, one need not study 16-20 hours daily to be able to crack the exam. Studying for an appropriate time with consistency and breaks at regular intervals is extremely helpful as well. Try using study methods such as Pomodoro or the SQ3R method to start with. Next, UPSC preparation can be done extremely efficiently without coaching classes and they aren’t a necessity to pass exams. Remember, focus your energy on bettering yourself through consistent efforts and stay positive throughout the process.