UPSC Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is the educational qualification needed to appear in IAS exam?
Answer: Any degree (graduation) which may be regular or distant. The candidate must hold a degree from 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.
Q. Can final year students of graduation apply for UPSC CSE?
Answer: Yes, candidates who have appeared at an examination the passing of which would render them educationally qualified for the Commission’s examination but have not been informed of the results as also the candidates who intend to appear at such a qualifying examination will also be eligible for admission to the Preliminary Examination.
Q. When should I produce the proof of passing my graduation examination before UPSC?
Answer: All candidates who are declared qualified by the Commission for taking the Civil Services (Main) Examination will be required to produce proof of passing the requisite examination with their application for the Main Examination failing which such candidates will not be admitted to the Main Examination.
Q. I hesitate to apply for Civil Services Exam because I cannot speak fluently in English. Is it possible that I write the Civil Services Main Exam in English and take the interview in Hindi or in any other India Language?
Answer: You need not be afraid of applying for the Civil Services Exam because UPSC give following options in this respect:
- If you opt to write the Civil Services Main Exam in English, you may choose either english as the medium for interview or Hindi or any other Indian language opted by you for the compulsory Indian Language Paper in the written part of civil services mains examination as the medium for interview. However, if you are exempted from the Compulsory Indian Language paper, you will have to choose either English or Hindi as medium of interview.
- If you opt for Indian Language medium for the written part of the Civil Services Main Exam, you can choose either the same Indian Language or English or Hindi as the medium for the Interview or Personality Test.
Q. If I apply for the Civil Services Prelims Exam but do not appear in any paper will it be counted as an attempt?
Answer: No, an attempt will be counted only if you have appeared in at least one paper.
Q. If a candidate belongs to a community included in the OBC list of states but not in the Central list of OBCs is he eligible for age relaxation, reservation etc. for Civil Services Examinations?
Answer: No, only candidates belonging to communities which are included in the Central list of OBC’s are eligible for such concessions.
Q. Can I choose an optional subject (in Mains), which I have not studied at Graduate/PG level?
Answer: Yes, you can choose any optional subject from amongst the UPSC’s list of optional subjects for Civil Services Main Exam.
Q. Can I write different papers of Civil Services Main Exam in different languages?
Answer: No, you have the option to write your answers either in English or in any one of the languages included in the Eighth schedule to Constitution.
Q. Generally, it is advised that the candidates should carefully study the last 10 years question papers of General Studies (Prelims) exam as these give a fair idea as to how the questions are framed from the respective themes of the syllabus and also indicate the difficulty level.
Answer: Yes, previous years’ papers help the candidates to know the trend and they must go through these papers again and again.
Q. Are individual marks secured in various papers or aggregate marks across all papers considered f or merit?
Answer: Total marks are considered.
Q. How tough is the competition in UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE)?
Answer: You can assess the level of competition from the following data:
- No. of vacancies advertised every year: Between 1000 to 1200.
- No. of candidates who filled the form: More than 9,00,000
- No. of applications who appeared in the Preliminary exam. : Almost 4,50,000-5,00,000
- No. of candidates who qualify the Prelims and become eligible to appear in the Mains Exam: Equal to 12 to 13 times the nos. of vacancies of CSE.
- Nos. of Candidates who qualify Mains to appear in the Interview: 2-2½ times the Nos. of vacancies in the CSE. Thus one can say that CSE is one of the toughest competitive examinations.
Q. Will there be any exceptions to the above mentioned educational requirements?
Answer: In exceptional cases the Union Public Service Commission may treat a candidate who has not any of the foregoing qualifications as a qualified candidate provided that he/she has passed examination conducted by the other Institutions, the standard of which in the opinion of the Commission justifies his/her admission to the examination.
Q. I possess professional/technical qualification. Am I eligible to appear for UPSC CSE?
Answer: Candidates possessing professional and technical qualifications which are recognized by the Government as equivalent to professional and technical degree would also be eligible for admission to the examination.
Q. I have passed MBBS, but not completed internship. Can I appear for UPSC CSE Mains?
Answer: Candidates who have passed the final professional M.B.B.S. or any other Medical Examination but have not completed their internship by the time of submission of their applications for the Civil Services (Main) Examination, will be provisionally admitted to the Examination provided they submit a copy along with their application a copy of certificate from the concerned authority of the University/Institution that they had passed the requisite final professional medical examination, along with their application. In such cases, the candidates will be required to produce at the time of their interview original Degree or a certificate from the concerned competent authority of the University/Institution that they had completed all requirements (including completion of internship) for the award of the Degree.
Q. Can I clear IAS exam without attending classroom coaching?
Answer: Yes, you can if you are good at self-study. We are not against classroom coaching. There are good institutes and teachers who help aspirants save a lot of time and effort. But not all coaching institutes provide quality service, so if you wish to join one, do that after proper research. It should also be noted that with the advent of technology, guidance and study materials can be sought online.
Q. Will there be an individual cut-off for two papers in Civil Service Prelims?
Answer: The minimum cut off marks for Paper 2 is 33 percent. The Commission may fix a minimum cut-off mark for Paper 1 too.
Q. Will there be negative marks or different marks for Preliminary Questions?
Answer: There will be negative marking for incorrect answers for all questions except some of the questions where the negative marking will be inbuilt in the form of different marks being awarded to the most appropriate and not so appropriate answers for such questions.
Q. Which stream/subject should I choose for graduation to clear UPSC exam?
Answer: Most of the questions in the general studies paper in Prelims and Mains are related to Humanities background. But it is neither necessary nor advisable to take Humanities as your graduation stream just to clear UPSC exam. Graduation should be based on your interest – it can be humanities, science, engineering, literature or management. For graduation, select any stream you like to study for 3-4 years. You are free to choose any optional subject for UPSC Mains and it may not be the one you studied for graduation.
Will there be minimum qualifying marks for UPSC Mains Compulsory Papers?
Answer: The Commission has the discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all the subjects of the examination. Since 2015, the minimum mark were 25% for Indian language and English language. For GS1, GS2, GS3 and GS4 the minimum marks expected are 10%.
Q. Will UPSC deduct marks for bad handwriting?
Answer: If a candidate’s handwriting is not easily legible, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to him.
Q. Will there be minimum qualifying marks for UPSC Interview?
Answer: The interview will carry 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).
Q. Can candidates use calculators in UPSC Civil Services Exam?
Answer: Not for UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam. But candidates will be allowed to use the Scientific (Non-Programmable type) Calculators at the subjective type examination of UPSC, ie Mains Exam. Programmable type calculators will not however be allowed and the use of such calculators shall tantamount to resorting to unfair means by the candidates. Loaning or interchanging of calculators in the Examination Hall is not permitted. It is also important to note that candidates are not permitted to use calculators for answering objective type papers (Test Booklets). They should not, therefore, bring the same inside the Examination Hall.
Q. Is coaching important?
Answer: This is one of the most frequently asked questions. UPSC has been constantly changing its pattern over the years to make the civil services exam preparation accessible and possible to students from every set of background. It’s Endeavour is to neutralize the effect of coaching so that all candidates come on a equal platform. However, the fact remains – most of the candidate who succeed have taken coaching at some point of their preparation. This is chiefly due to:
- The vast syllabus, especially in general studies which the candidates find very difficult to do on their own in a shortest possible period. Moreover, the students are flooded with so many books that they get confused about consulting which ones. Class notes and Material provide a solution to this.
- The candidates many times in their quest for acquiring knowledge lose track of time. They overdo the studies in some subjects at the cost of others. Coaching institutes cover the syllabus within the time period and thus are sought after.
However, the need for coaching could be removed wholly if the candidates could get the right study material and the right guidance for the examination.
Q. Should we prepare our own Notes?
Answer: Nothing could be better than this. However, the problem comes when one considers the wide syllabus, which is too vast if we include two optional papers and the general studies which in turn comprises so many subjects.
One can decide to pair his own notes in those areas in which one is weak, or there are many sources to consult, or on those topics which are very important from the examination point of view. Otherwise, it will be a Herculean task to prepare notes on individual topics.
But those candidates who have decided to appear in civil services exam during their graduation years may go for this as they have ample time to contribute.
Q. How many hours of study are sufficient?
Answer: The answer is as many hours as you can study efficiently. In civil services preparation, there is never a time when one feels that there is nothing more to study. So, what exactly matters is the quality of studying rather quantity of reading. First the difference between ‘studying’ and ‘reading’ should be understood. Reading means mere verbalisation of the written texts. What lacks here is understanding. When understanding adds to ‘Reading – it becomes ‘studying’. So the issue how many hours you can sit and read the text with understanding also connotes to analysis, deep processing of information, interrelating with your past knowledge base and making a view on the topic. Reading on the other hand is merely a passive activity where involvement of the reader is the least.
We can thus conclude that studying for 8 hours is many times more fruitful than reading for 16 hours. That is to say ‘Quality’ is more important than the ‘Quantity’ invested.
Q. Can an average student also compete with the rest?
Answer: An average student has an added advantage as he knows his limitations. He knows he does not have any time to waste. The intelligent ones feel they have the ability to start late and end early … and they lose at the end. The tortoise rabbit story is not obsolete yet.
In fact, most of the students who succeed in the Civil service were very ordinary students in their academics. But they knew, how add ‘extra’ into ‘ordinary’ to become ‘extra-ordinary’. That extra is provided by their firm
determination, an honest self-assessment and foolproof planning followed by strict implementation. In short, the hard work put in by them ultimately lands them at the summit of success.
Q. How does a good bio-data matter?
Answer: Bio-data matters during the interview and personality test (i.e. during the third phase). Personality test is based wholly or mostly on the basis of bio-data and the questions are framed on information provided by you. In fact, the-then personality is judged by the interview board on the parameters of suitability of candidates for the job. However, a bad bio-data may give some unfavourable impression on the members of the board and thus, a kind of judgment is formed by them consciously or unconsciously.
At the same time the members of the board are very experienced and they give full opportunity to candidates to thwart any pre-notions formed by the bio-data. So, the candidates by their performance in the interview have full opportunity to score high in the Interview.
But, the idea is that those candidates who are in their early academic years should try and see that their biodata is without any shortcomings.
Q. Could the civil services questions be answered in the regional languages?
Answer: Yes, aspirants can write answers in any language provided in the eighth schedule of the constitution of India.
Q. Preparation for Preliminary and Mains – Separate or Integrated?
Answer: Can knowledge be compartmentalized? No, in fact it is an integrated whole which gives a comprehensive understanding. Same holds true for the preparation. The whole subject should be understood in its entirety. Only then the requirement for the Preliminary and Mains could be fulfilled through particular emphasis on the orientation. The orientation for Prelims is towards a mix of factual information and understanding with a bias towards the former.
Q. When should one take his first attempt irrespective of the fact how many attempts the candidate has?
Answer: Many candidates appear in their first attempt taking it to be a learning experience. This is the biggest mistake they commit. UPSC attempts are very precious ones. Many candidates regret wasting their first attempt and wish if they had one they would have cracked the exam. The candidates must be very serious before appearing in the preliminary exam. They must complete the whole syllabus in their optional as well as general studies. They must check their performance by taking mock tests at home and work out the weak areas. The greatest benefit of the whole exercise is that there is a high probability that they get through the preliminary exam. If unfortunately, they could not, at least they came to know their grey and weak areas on which they need to concentrate. This enlightenment benefits them immensely in their next attempt. Those who waste their first attempt do not come to know about their shortcomings and in this situation may even waste their other attempts.
Q. How to select the optionals?
Answer: The basic criteria are in same sequence of importance.
- Availability of study material and guidance.
- Gap between the optionals during the Mains exam.
- Scoring optionals – trend prevailing.
Q. Speaking English during an Interview – How important is it?
Answer: UPSC holds personality tests and interviews in English, Hindi and all other languages in the 8th schedule – i.e. 22 languages, provided the candidates writes all the papers (optional and general studies) in the same language. Also, UPSC through the Civil Services exam tries to dig out the best brains in the country, who could contribute in development and progress of the nation. It is thus a wrong notion to hold that the UPSC is language-biased. However, the candidates themselves need to learn English for their own sake as during their long career in civil services they have to come across so many occasions where they will have to communicate with various kind of organisations, institutions, seniors and people and during such a situation, language should not be a limitation.
Q. When I see people around me who do not have final get selected in the prestigious services, then I lose self- confidence. What should I do in this situation?
Answer: Generally, we see most of the people around us who are not selected. Seeing them, your self-confidence should not be reduced because everyone has a different strategy. We should always remember that most of the candidates who are finally selected are also from us.
Not only information and knowledge is sufficient for the final selection but also keeping in mind the demand of the examination and importance of contemporary issue in answer-writing is important.
Q. What can be the reasons for failure?
Failure can be for several reasons:
- Time is limited in the examination hall, despite being, aware of the questions, one is not able to express correctly because one has not practiced properly.
- Pressure management just before the examination is not done properly, so that the answer to the known question with the correct information goes wrong too.
- Lack of Right Guidance on strategy.
- No assessment of ability of a aspirant regarding time management, use of fact and writing style.
- Keep a positive view, meet successful people, ignore negative thought.
- Do not loose your self-confidence, you have immense potential use it to achieve your goal honestly.
- Identify your short-comings and try to remove them. Go ahead with your determination by choosing your own way.
Q. Family pressure is high on girls due to which there is no consideration in studies, what to do for it.
- Stay focused on your goal, concentrate with your full passion and energy to achieve your goals.
- Take your parents and family in confidence which will in turn help you achieve your goal.
- If success is achieved in the 1st stage, the trust of the parents and family increase and therefore work hard to achieve the goal in first go itself.
- Do not think negatively for the next set of problems, try to improve the present. Become an inspiration for yourself, set small goals and fulfil them, thereby strengthening self-confidence.
Q. I have got only one year time duration for preparation. Can I become an IAS in such a short period of time?
Answer: Well, for the preparation of the IAS Exam, one or two years of intensive study is required because the syllabus is very wide and its is also necessary to have an understanding and hold on the subject and it takes a little time, but with the right strategy, better guidance, perseverance it can be done in one year also.
Aspirants family background, academic ability and his basic understanding, plays a very decisive role. If everything is positive and favourable then success can be achieved even in one year by hard work.
Q. If I am working then how can I prepare for the UPSC exam?
Answer: Nature of the job will matter, you will have to adjust with your routine, as well as time management also becomes important as quality of study is more important than the quantity.
- Target should set weekly, so that you do not feel bored. Confidence will also increase on completion of weekly target.
- utilize weekend very well, revise what you have read throughout the week, assess your preparation through the tests.
- Handling pressure needs a smart strategy, revise whatever you read, read selectively, and also work on writing skills.