How to become an IAS Officer

Career Jobs

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts Civil Services exam to recruit candidates for the three All India Services and Central Civil Services for various departments of the Government of India. There are three major services that fall under the All India Services machinery – the Indian Police Service (IPS), the Indian Forest Service (IFS), and the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). All three form the bureaucratic backbone of the nation being neutral and without any political affiliation.The Indian Administrative Service (IAS),a branch of the Indian Civil Service is one of the premier services of the Government of India. IAS is a highly prestigious career option for talented people in India. It is one of the All India Services along with others such as Police Services, Defence and Emergency Services. IAS officers serve as the permanent bureaucracy of the Executive Branch of the Government of India. But the main question is “How to become the IAS Officer?”. In this article we are going to explain the answer of this question.

How to become an IAS officer
How to become an IAS officer
How to become an IAS officer
How to become an IAS officer

HISTORY OF INDIAN CIVIL SERVICES:

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”- John F. Kennedy.

  • The earliest origins of a civil service in India for administration purposes traces back to the period after 1757 when the East India Company were the de-facto rulers in parts of India. The company during that time started  the Covenanted Civil Services (CCS).
  • The Revolt of 1857 ended the Company’s rule and power got transferred to the British Crown. In 1886, the Crown called CSS as the Imperial Civil Service, which was later renamed as the Indian Civil Service(ICS).
  • In 1854, the Macaulay Committee recommended the appointment to the service to be based on a merit-based system. Accordingly after 1855, recruitment to the ICS was based on merit only through a competitive examination. But this was restricted to Indians only. 
  • In 1886, the Aitchison Commission Recommended that the Indians should also get employed in public service. A further development to the inclusion of Indians in the service happened in 1912 when the Islington Commission suggested that 25 % of the higher posts be filled by Indians. It also recommended that the recruitment to higher posts should be done partly in India and partly in England.
  • From 1922, the ICS exam was held in India.The all India services were designated as Central Superior Services in 1924. After 1939, the number of Indians in the service increased because of non-availability of Europeans.
  • After independence, the ICS became the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
How to become an IAS officer
How to become an IAS officer

It is really unusual that such a service – defined as the ‘steel frame’, on which depended the fortunes and the survival of a huge empire – continued essentially with the same structure and traditions, along with the administrative systems developed over a century, into Independent democratic India. Although much has changed, even today the Indian Administrative Service retains some basic characteristics from the past. This system of governance as it evolved in India is indeed fascinating. 

HOW TO BECOME AN IAS OFFICER:

A question that most youngsters and students often hear is “What do you want to be in life?” Apart from the usual responses like Doctor, Engineer or Army Officer, a lot of “I want to be an IAS Officer” is heard. 

Eligibility- The eligibility criteria to become an IAS Officer is as follows:

  • The candidate must be a citizen of the country. Candidates who are subject of Nepal, Bhutan, Tibetan refugee with the necessary certificate from the Government of India are not eligible for IAS, IFS or IPS examination.
  • Candidates must have completed his or her graduation (any course) from a recognized university in the country 
  • Candidates should be between the age group of 21 to 32 years. The age is calculated as on 31 August of the year of notification.
  • There are a maximum number of six attempts which a General Category candidate is allowed for UPSC Civil Services examination.OBCs have 9 years, and SC/ST candidates can have unlimited number of attempts until they reach their allowed age limit.
How to become an IAS officer
How to become an IAS officer

Exam Pattern and Syllabus- Indian Administrative Services or IAS is a coveted job. Every year, lakhs of candidates prepare endlessly to find a spot in the elite bureaucratic services that help in running the country. Becoming an IAS by joining the Indian Administrative Services is a dream of lakhs of people in India. Whether it is the prestige, or the fervour to serve the country and bring about changes at the ground level or just the salary and the perks, Civil Services or IAS is the cadre that is easily the elite of the country. But while many are aware of the fact that you need to appear for the UPSC Civil Services Examination to become an IAS, not many know the entire process. 

Preparing for the civil services is a time-consuming affair because unlike many other competitive exams, it has three rounds and many dimensions to it. So, before you embark on this journey, one must decide whether it is what he really wants. Ideally, if it’s an individual’s heart’s desire to serve your country and be a part of the system to bring about positive changes,one should consider the IAS as a career option. It is challenging and demanding, but it can also be immensely satisfying and fulfilling.

How to become an IAS officer
How to become an IAS officer

 The exam itself is structured into three parts – the Preliminary (Civil Services Aptitude Test – CSAT), Main Exam, and finally the Interview.

ROUND 1- PRELIMS EXAM:

This round consists of two papers. The following table gives the details about the IAS prelims.

ExamTypeDurationTotal MarksNegative MarkingNumber of Questions
General Studies IMCQ2 hours200Yes100
General Studies I (CSAT)MCQ2 hours200Yes80

The topics involved in the Prelims Exams are:

  • Current events of national and international importance
  • History of India and Indian National Movement
  • Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – subject specialization not required.
  • General Science

Paper II – (200 marks) Duration: Two hoursthis is a qualifying paper, candidates should score minimum 33% to qualify

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)
How to become an IAS officer
How to become an IAS officer

ROUND 2- MAINS EXAM:

The main examination will have the 2 qualifying papers and 7 papers to be counted for merit. All the 9 papers will have essay-type questions.

Paper A (300 marks) – One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the languages included in the 8th Schedule to the Constitution

Paper B (300 marks) – English

The papers on Indian Languages and English (Paper A and Paper B) will be of matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.

How to become an IAS officer
How to become an IAS officer

However, paper A on Indian Language will not be compulsory for candidates hailing from the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim. The following table gives the details about the IAS prelims.

PaperSyllabusMarks
Paper AIndian Language from among languages in Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. Not compulsory for candidates from Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim300
Paper BEnglish300
Paper IEssay250
Paper II – IVGeneral Studies: Indian Heritage, History, Geography, Politics, International Relations, Technology, Economy, Environment, Ethics, Aptitude, etc.250 x 4
Paper VI – VIIOptional Subject250 x 2

ROUND 3: INTERVIEW/PERSONALITY TEST-

This is the final stage of the IAS Exam before the final results are declared.Candidates who clear the Mains stage of the IAS exam with the required cut-off marks qualify for the final stage of the IAS exam i.e., the Personality Test or Interview round with the UPSC Board Members.  In this round, the board assesses the personality traits of the candidates and questions will be asked on their hobbies, current affairs, general knowledge, situation questions, etc. to evaluate if they are fit for a career in the civil services or not. The UPSC personality test will be held only in the UPSC Bhavan in New Delhi.The maximum marks allotted for the interview stage is 275, thus bringing the total marks for the merit list consideration to 2025.

IAS Interview
IAS Interview

Preparatory Material-

Books for IAS are considered as an inextricably important during IAS preparation. The basic concepts are the same in all the books but the application of the concept makes all the difference hence some books are considered as the best books. The main issue is to do selection of appropriate or best books which are quite relevant and effective for IAS preparation. Suggested books in mentioned below have a good coverage of topics of UPSC IAS Exam syllabus.

Indian History– ‘Ancient India’ by RS Sharma (Old NCERT) has good coverage of UPSC IAS Prelims syllabus and there are a number of questions that has been directly asked from this book.  History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra (Old NCERT) has good coverage of topics of Medieval History of India. ‘Concise History of Modern India’ by Sujata Menon has good coverage of the Modern History syllabus for IAS Prelims Exam. 

Crack IAS Prelims General Studies Paper 1 (Set of 7 Compendiums)
Crack IAS Prelims General Studies Paper 1 (Set of 7 Compendiums)

Geography- Old NCERT books are most preferred for the preparation of Indian Geography. For Physical Geography Goh Cheng Leong’s ‘Certificate Physical and Human Geography’ is more relevant. 

NCERT History Books Set Class 6 to 12 (English Medium) [Hardcover] NCERT
NCERT History Books Set Class 6 to 12 (English Medium) [Hardcover] NCERT

NCERT Iitihas Books Set
NCERT Iitihas Books Set 

Indian Polity- Books most recommended for the preparation of Indian Polity are ‘Indian Polity’ by Laxmikanth, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution of India’ by D. D. Basu and ‘The Constitution of India’ by P. M. Bakshi. With the above standard books for Indian Polity, the IAS aspirant must finish the old NCERT books of Indian Polity.

UPSC Prep Combo : General Studies - Paper I 2020 + Indian Polity 6th Edition (Set of 2 Books)
UPSC Prep Combo : General Studies – Paper I 2020 + Indian Polity 6th Edition (Set of 2 Books)
Indian Polity - For Civil Services and Other State Examinations
Indian Polity – For Civil Services and Other State Examinations
Bharat Ki Rajvyavastha - Civil Seva Evam Anya Rajya Parikshao Hetu
Bharat Ki Rajvyavastha – Civil Seva Evam Anya Rajya Parikshao Hetu

Economy- It is essential to reach the Macroeconomics Class 12th textbook by NCERT because it covers the basic terminologies of an economy which are quite helpful for understanding the growth and development of a country. For further study on Indian Economy, most recommended books are ‘Indian Economy’ by Ramesh Singh, ‘Indian Economy’ by Mishra and Puri and the precise material of Economic Survey.

General Studies UPSC IAS/ IPS PRELIMS (25 Years) & MAINS (7 Years) Solved Papers with Mega Yearbook 2020 - set of 3 Books
General Studies UPSC IAS/ IPS PRELIMS (25 Years) & MAINS (7 Years) Solved Papers with Mega Yearbook 2020
Indian Economy + Indian Polity - For UPSC Exam
Indian Economy + Indian Polity – For UPSC Exam
Indian Economy
Indian Economy

Science & Technology- IAS aspirants must stick to the daily newspapers because the questions asked under Science & the Technology section of the IAS Prelims Exam, are generally based on the current events. The NCERT books of class 9th and 10th are also recommendable for IAS Prelims Preparation.

Current Affairs- The study of newspapers on a daily basis will help them out for the preparation of Current Affairs for IAS Prelims Exam. Reading newspapers such as The Hindu, Economic Times, Indian Express, Jagran Josh.

General Studies Paper 1 2020 : for Civil Services Preliminary Examination
General Studies Paper 1 2020 : for Civil Services Preliminary Examination

Logical Reasoning and Analytical Ability- In this section, most of the aspirants prefer RS Aggrawal but they should also take the help of MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning. RS Aggarwal has good coverage of various topics, but in terms of comprehension MK Pandey’s explanations and illustrations are much more advanced. 

Mathematics- RS Aggarwal of S Chand publication is enough for the preparation of Mathematics. This book has comprehensive coverage of the topics of IAS syllabus 

Besides the recommended books there are also certain examination strategies which one should follow before appearing for the exam. They are:

  • Go through the previous years’ IAS exam questions to gauge the amount of preparation needed from your end.
  • Read the NCERT books and make notes. You will have to make at least two sets of notes i.e. short notes for Prelims and descriptive notes for UPSC Mains.
  • The preparation for Prelims and Mains must be done simultaneously until 1-2 months before the date of the Prelims exam. Identify the syllabus overlap between Prelims and Mains and focus on those areas first.
  • Select an Optional subject for the IAS exam based on your aptitude, interest and experience. Few optional subjects have a significant overlap with the General Studies syllabus in Mains, however, their syllabi are rather vast so do your due diligence before finalising one.
  • Take out time for MCQ solving practice for Prelims and answer writing practice for Mains.
  • Revise multiple times, update your notes, and revise some more.
How to become an IAS officer
How to become an IAS officer

 BECOMING AN IAS OFFICER:

After High School (10th and 12th grade)- 

It is not possible to become an IAS Officer right after completing 10th or 12th standard. In order to become an IAS Officer, one must apply for CSE exam conducted by the UPSC and also crack the exam (preliminary, mains and interview) in order to get selected for the training.The basic eligibility criteria required to appear for this exam is – candidate must possess Graduate Degree from a recognized University/Institute.So technically, 10th or 12th passed students can’t appear for this exam right after completing their exams. After completing 12th, they must complete Graduation first.This is only possible once an applicant has completed his/her high school(both class 10 and 12) with sufficient passing marks. In other words, one has to give her 10th exam first, choose any stream of his/her interest in the higher secondary level and get a passing marks in class 12. Belonging to any field or stream of study has no effect on the giving of exams, as questions come from various topics combined consisting elements of all the subjects. However, one can surely start preparing for the IAS exam right from the start after high school by joining any institute or take any other sort of guidance. An early start would mean more practice and more time for the person to prepare.

How to become an IAS officer
How to become an IAS officer

After Graduation-

As discussed earlier, graduating with a degree from any stream from a recognized University or Institute is the only educational qualification required to become an IAS Officer. Though one appears for the exam only after graduation, meanwhile the candidate can very well prepare for the exam. In this process he can either join any institute or get any kind of guidance for the preparation. The notification for the exam comes out in the month of February, so by the time the exams are held one may very well get completed with his college exams.

SALARY OF AN IAS OFFICER:

With an amazing job comes a great salary package. After the 7th Pay Commission’s implementation, civil servants in India get a good take-home pay package. The basic per month salary of an IAS officer starts at Rs.56,100(TA, DA and HRA are extra) and can go on to reach Rs.2,500,00 for a Cabinet Secretary.Apart from the decent monthly income, they also get amenities such as good accommodation, official vehicles, household staff, subsidised electricity, water. Though being a handsome salary package, people not only opt for IAS for the money, rather some even leave their fancy private jobs to serve the country. The main reason being the powers and responsibilities associated with the post. 

STEPS TO BECOME AN IAS OFFICER:

How to become an IAS officer
How to become an IAS officer

DUTIES OF AN IAS OFFICER:

The clichéd quote ‘With great power comes great responsibility’, stands true for an IAS officer as they have to look after and manage administrative functions as well as implement developmental policies for the government. It is no doubt that the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is the epitome of administrative civil service in the Government of India. When it comes to the duties of an IAS officer, it can be easily said that they hold an important and crucial position within the Union Government, the States, as well as the public-sector undertakings. An IAS Officer as a civil servant is responsible for the law and order and general administration in the area under his work. 

  • In the beginning, an IAS Officer joins the state administration at the sub-divisional level and as a sub-divisional magistrate and looks after the general administration and development work as well as law and order in the areas under his/her control.
  • At the district level, IAS officers are mainly delegated with district affairs, including implementation of developmental schemes.
  • During the normal course of their career, the officers also oblige in the State Secretariat or as Head of Departments or in Public Sector Undertakings.
  • Responsible for personal supervision for the expenditure of public funds on the implementation of policies as the IAS officers are accountable to the Parliament and State Legislature for any indiscretions that may happen
  • IAS officers at various levels like a joint secretary, deputy secretary make their contributions in the process of policy formulation and decision-making and the final shape of the policy is given or a final decision is taken with the agreement of the minister concerned or the cabinet depending upon the significance of the issue.

The process of preparation for the UPSC Civil Services is an involved process. It is a deeply enlightening experience which expands your horizons and exposes you to a wealth of information about the country and the world at large.“Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work.” – Einstein.The road to success is filled with extreme hard work, tremendous dedication, and almost superhuman reasoning, memorizing, and analytical abilities. Becoming an IAS officer thus entails almost miraculous capabilities garnering them the nickname of being heaven-born. But maybe it has also got to do with the fact that they shoulder the responsibility of making our society better for all of us.throughout the IAS journey one should have faith in oneself and one’s abilities. Harbouring doubts about one’s strengths only diminishes them. If the right strategy is adopted and combined with intense and steadfast effort, there would be desired results. 

SOME OF THE SUCCESSFUL IAS OFFICERS WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE IN THE SOCIETY IN 2019 THROUGH THEIR EFFORTS

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