How to prepare for the Civil Services Examination

March 30, 2015 08:20 am | Updated 08:20 am IST

Aaron Israel Jebasingh resigned from IAS after 10 years of service to train young aspirants in Chennai. Photo: M. Vedhan

Aaron Israel Jebasingh resigned from IAS after 10 years of service to train young aspirants in Chennai. Photo: M. Vedhan

Are you concerned about the quality of governance in the country? Are you young and aspiring to improve the existing social, economic, infrastructural and civic conditions by contributing to policy decisions on welfare and development with honesty and integrity. One wonderful option is to join All India Services such as the India Administrative Service (IAS) by cracking the Civil Services Examination. 

> Around five lakh candidates appear for the examination every year. At least 100 toppers are selected to the IAS. Another 1,200 candidates join other services.   

> Graduates or those in the final year of graduation should watch out for the notification in April/May every year in Employment News, a weekly newspaper registered under the PRB Act with RNI, and published since 1975. It is published by the Publications Division of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B). 


Find the cut-off marks  for the competitive examination and chalk out a strategy that suits your knowledge. Last year, the cut-off marks for the mains examination was around 600/1,750. Revise what you learnt in school. Focus on reading NCERT books, newspapers and publications of the Publications Division of the I&B ministry.

Need help preparing?

Aspirants can enrol in Tamil Nadu government-run All India Civil Services Coaching Centre on Greenways Road and private coaching centres in CIT Nagar, Anna Nagar and Adyar. Study centres have also been formed in major libraries and employment exchanges.  


One year of intense study after graduation, on average         


> Application can be made online at Detailed instructions on filling up the form are available on the website

> No fee is required from SC/ST/women/physically-challenged candidates. Others have to pay Rs. 100. Various modes of payment are available, as mentioned in the notification



> This round has two papers:

Paper 1 with 100 questions carrying two marks each (covers general knowledge)

Paper 2 with 80 questions carrying 2.5 marks each (Civil services aptitude test, with questions in aptitude, reasoning and English) comprehension

There is also negative marking is 0.333     


> Last year, the cut-off for general category was 241 out of 400 marks and for the physically-challenged (hearing impaired), it was 163 out of 400.



> Two qualifying papers: English and any of the languages mentioned in the eighth schedule of the Constitution (not for final ranking)

> General Studies papers: four papers of 250 marks each

Paper 1: Indian heritage, culture, history, geography of the world and society

Paper 2:  Governance, constitution, polity, social justice and international relations

Paper 3: Technology, economic development, biodiversity, environment, security and disaster management  

Paper 4: Ethics, integrity and aptitude

One optional subject: Two papers of 250 marks each   

General essay paper with two essays of 1,000-1,200 words each   

> Last year, the mains cut-off for general category was 564 out of 1,750 marks, and for the physically-challenged (hearing impaired), it was 410 out of 1,750

> The interview carries 275 marks. It is a test of the candidate’s personality

> The cut-off for the finals, last year, was 775 out of 2,025 marks for general category, and 613 for the physically-challenged (hearing impaired)

> Usually, the preliminary exam is conducted on the 3 Sunday of August

> The mains exam is conducted during December, every year 

> The interview is held after May every year  

Expert speak

There seem to be fewer candidates for sensible policy making. Motivated candidates should start preparation for the exam at least one year ahead by shaping their personality and widening their knowledge base. Chennai offers aspirants a lot of opportunities to learn – Aeron Israel Jebasingh, IAS (Mr. Jebasingh resigned from IAS after 10 years of service to train young aspirants in Chennai) 


Compiled by Aloysius Xavier Lopez

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