Cracking the civil services exam

Hard work pays:Consistent effort and focus ensure success in the UPSC examinations.

Hard work pays:Consistent effort and focus ensure success in the UPSC examinations.   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: R. RAGU

“The exam is not hard for the candidate with the right attitude and orientation. Only hard work counts.”

Being an official of the All India Services is considered both a privilege and a challenge. Every year, lakhs of students aspire for that. Only a privileged few get the opportunity to serve the country as an IAS or IPS officer.

“The awareness about the examination is very low among people. The only thing they will remember is the tough nature of the exam. It is a myth. The exam is not hard for the candidate with the right attitude and orientation. Only hard work counts in this examination,” says R. Sudahar, an IPS official.

The Union Public Service Commission, a constitutional body, conducts the Civil Services exam to select IAS, IPS and other Group A officials of the central government. The notification for the Civil Services examination every year is done during December. The graduates who have attained the age of 21 are eligible to apply for the preliminary examination.

“There is also a myth that high proficiency in English is necessary for the exam. But people with mediocre proficiency in English have also cleared the exam. It is enough that the candidate has the determination to become a civil servant,” says John Kingsly an IAS official.

The preliminary exam is conducted in May every year. It consists of two papers, one optional paper and a general studies paper. The preliminary results are out by August. The main examination is held in November. It consists of nine papers. The candidate is required to study any two optional subjects apart from general studies. The syllabus for the optional subjects will be of postgraduate level. The personality test is held in April and final results are announced by May.

D. Shankar, Director of Shankar IAS academy says, “The Civil Services Examination is not a tough nut to crack.” Civil service provides the candidate the opportunity to serve the nation by contributing towards policy making, says Mr. Shankar. Around 220 candidates from Tamil Nadu appeared for the personality test this year but only 88 candidates were among the final list of successful candidates. The psychological fear of going to New Delhi for the personality test makes the candidates perform inadequately. If the personality test for candidates of southern states is conducted in Chennai, the candidates may perform better, says Mr. Shankar.

The government of Tamil Nadu is providing Rs. 25,000 for buying books to the candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe who clear the preliminary exam. It will be helpful if the government considers providing the amount to all socially and educationally backward sections of the society, says S. Balamurugan, a civil service aspirant.

Even though lakhs of civil service aspirants in India sit for the examination every year, the candidates who are actually well trained to write the examination are fewer, says Mr. Shankar. Civil service aspirants should start preparing for the examination during the final year of graduation. This will help them acquire the required orientation, says A.G. Babu an IPS official.

Ganesh Babu, who has appeared for the Civil services preliminary examination says, the examination pattern has changed a lot over the years. “The negative marking introduced last year was a shock to all of us. But this move by the UPSC has reduced the cut-off marks to a large extent.”

The strategy for the examination also has changed over the years, says R. Seetharaman, a trainer of Aditya academy.

The candidates require hard work and a reasonably good intelligence quotient. The UPSC is not looking for a genius. It wants to recruit dedicated and good bureaucrats for the country, trainers point out.

“It is better to join the civil services at an early age. A candidate who joins the IAS at the age of 22 will certainly have the opportunity to become the Cabinet Secretary, the highest position an IAS officer can reach in India. So before finishing graduation, an aspirant should start reading the relevant books and be ready before the age of 21. It is better to talk to young IAS officials for the latest trends in the examination pattern,” says Mr. Shankar.

The Tamil Nadu government has taken many steps to ensure the entry of aspirants from Tamil Nadu into the civil services. The candidates who appear for the personality test are provided accommodation in Tamil Nadu House in New Delhi. The state government has made all arrangements in district libraries in the state for easy availability of the required books for the examination. If the candidate is ready to work hard, cracking the exam is not all that hard.


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