Indian Civil Services Examination Handbook

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About the examination[edit]

There is the only selection process, where there is no job description. Unfortunately no one is talking about that. This is hilarious.

The Civil Services Examination is conducted by Union Public Service Commission of India for recruitment to various posts and services such as:

  1. Indian Administrative Service.
  2. Indian Foreign Service.
  3. Indian Police Service
  4. Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Group ‘A’.
  5. Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  6. Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), Group ‘A’.
  7. Indian Defence Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  8. Indian Revenue Service (I.T.), Group ‘A’.
  9. Indian Postal Service, Group ‘A’.
  10. Indian Civil Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.
  11. Indian Railway Traffic Service, Group ‘A’.
  12. Indian Railway Accounts Service, Group 'A'.
  13. Indian Railway Personnel Service, Group ‘A’.
  14. Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force, Group ‘A’
  15. Indian Defence Estates Service, Group ‘A’.
  16. Indian Information Service (Junior Grade), Group ‘A’.
  17. Indian Trade Service, Group 'A' (Gr. III).
  18. Indian Corporate Law Service, Group "A".
  19. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service, Group ‘B’ (Section Officer’s Grade).
  20. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service, Group 'B'.
  21. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service, Group 'B'.
  22. Pondicherry Civil Service, Group 'B'.
  23. Pondicherry Police Service, Group 'B'.

Examination scheme[edit]

The Civil Services Examination will consist of two successive stages

  1. Civil Services Preliminary Examination (Objective type) for the selection of candidates for the Main Examination; and
  2. Civil Services Main Examination (Written and Interview) for the selection of candidates for the various Services and posts noted above.

The Preliminary Examination will consist of two papers of Objective type (multiple choice questions) and carry a maximum of 400 marks. This examination is meant to serve as a screening test only; the marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination by the candidates who are declared qualified for admission to the Main Examination will not be counted for determining their final order of merit. The number of candidates to be admitted to the Main Examination will be about twelve to thirteen times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in the year in the various Services and Posts.

Candidates who obtain such minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the Main Examination as may be fixed by the Commission at their discretion, shall be summoned by them for interview for a Personality Test. The number of candidates to be summoned for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled. Marks thus obtained by the candidates in the Main Examination (written part as well as interview) would determine their final ranking. Candidates will be allotted to the various Services keeping inview their ranks in the examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various Services and Posts.

Preliminary Examination[edit]

The Examination shall comprise two compulsory papers of 200 marks each. Both the question papers will be of the objective type (multiple choice questions). The question papers will be set both in Hindi and English. However, questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level will be tested through passages from English Language only without providing Hindi translation thereof in the question paper. Each paper will be of two hours duration.

There will be negative marking for incorrect answers (as detailed below) 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 answer for such questions. There are four alternatives for the answers to every question. For each question for which a wrong answer has been given by the candidate, one‐third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty. If a candidate gives more than one answer, it will be treated as a wrong answer even if one of the given answers happen to be correct and there will be same penalty as above for that question. If a question is left blank, i.e. no answer is given by the candidate; there will be no penalty for that question.

The Commission will draw a list of candidates to be qualified for Civil Service (Main) Examination based on the total qualifying marks as may be determined by the Commission, of the two papers put together.

Main Examination[edit]

Qualifying Papers:

  • Paper‐ A - One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.
  • Paper‐ B - English

Papers A and B are of 300 marks each. 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. The paper A on Indian Language will not, however, be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.

Papers to be counted for merit:

  • Paper‐I Essay
  • Paper‐II General Studies–I - Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society
  • Paper‐III General Studies –II - Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations
  • Paper‐IV General Studies –III - Technology, Economic Development, Bio‐diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
  • Paper‐V General Studies –IV - Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
  • Paper‐VI Optional Subject – Paper 1
  • Paper‐VII Optional Subject – Paper 2

Papers I to VII are of 250 marks each.

Evaluation of the papers, namely, ‘Essay’, ‘General Studies’ and Optional Subject of all the candidates would be done simultaneously along with evaluation of their qualifying papers on ‘Indian Languages’ and ‘English’ but the papers on ‘Essay’, General Studies and Optional Subject of only such candidates will be taken cognizance of who attain such minimum standard as may be fixed by Commission at their discretion for the qualifying papers on ‘Indian Language’ and ‘English’.

Marks obtained by the candidates for the Paper I‐VII only will be counted for merit ranking. However, the Commission will have the discretion to fix qualifying marks in any or all of these papers.

The question papers for the examination will be of conventional (essay) type. Each paper will be of three hours duration. Candidates will have the option to answer all the question papers, except the Qualifying Language papers Paper‐A and Paper‐B, in any of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India or in English. Candidates exercising the option to answer Papers in any one of the languages mentioned above may, if they so desire, give English version within brackets of only the description of the technical terms, if any, in addition to the version in the language opted by them. Candidates should, however, note that if they misuse the above rule, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to them and in extreme cases; their script(s) will not be valued for being in an unauthorized medium.

The question papers (other than the literature of language papers) will be set in Hindi and English only.

Interview test[edit]

The interview will carry 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).

The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them a record of his/her career. He/she will be asked questions on matters of general interest. The object of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to judge the mental calibre of a candidate. In broad terms this is really an assessment of not only his/her intellectual qualities but also social traits and his/her interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.

The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.

The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialised or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers. Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own state or country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of well educated youth.

Syllabi[edit]

Preliminary Examination[edit]

Paper I[edit]

  • 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, Bio‐diversity and Climate Change‐ that do not require subject specialization
  • General Science.

Paper II[edit]

  • 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)
  • English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).
  • Questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level (last item in the Syllabus of Paper‐II) will be tested through passages from English language only without providing Hindi translation thereof in the question paper.

Main examination[edit]

The main examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory.

The nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper II to Paper V) will be such that a well‐educated person will be able to answer them without any specialized study. The questions will be such as to test a candidate’s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in Civil Services. The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio‐ economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.

Qualifying papers on Indian languages and English[edit]

The aim of the paper is to test the candidates’s ability to read and understand serious discursive prose, and to express his ideas clearly and correctly, in English and Indian Language concerned. The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows:‐

  • Comprehension of given passages
  • Precis Writing
  • Usage and Vocabulary
  • Short Essay.

Indian Languages:‐

  • Comprehension of given passages.
  • Precis Writing
  • Usage and Vocabulary.
  • Short Essay
  • Translation from English to the Indian language and vice‐versa.

The Papers on Indian Languages and English will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature only. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.

Paper-I / Essay[edit]

Candidates will be required to write an essay on a specific topic. The choice of subjects will be given. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

Paper‐II / General Studies‐ I / Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society[edit]

Paper-III / General Studies‐ II / Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations[edit]

  • Indian Constitution‐ historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  • Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
  • Parliament and State Legislatures ‐ structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  • Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
  • Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
  • Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi‐judicial bodies
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Development processes and the development industry‐ the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e‐governance‐ applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  • Role of civil services in a democracy.
  • India and its neighborhood‐ relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora‐their structure, mandate.

Paper-IV / General Studies-III / Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management[edit]

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • Government Budgeting.
  • Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems, storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e‐technology in the aid of farmers
  • Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System‐ objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal‐rearing.
  • Food processing and related industries in India‐ scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
  • Land reforms in India.
  • Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  • Investment models.
  • Science and Technology‐ developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
  • Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano‐technology, bio‐technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
  • Disaster and disaster management.
  • Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  • Role of external state and non‐state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money‐laundering and its prevention
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

Paper-V / General Studies‐ IV / Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude[edit]

This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects. The following broad areas will be covered.

  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships.
  • Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  • Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non‐partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker‐sections.
  • Emotional intelligence ‐ concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
  • Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.
  • Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.
  • Case Studies on above issues.

Paper‐VI & Paper-VII / Optional Subject Papers I & II[edit]

The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers for the examination is broadly of the honours degree level i.e. a level higher than the bachelors’ degree and lower than the masters’ degree. In the case of Engineering, Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelors’ degree.

Candidate may choose any optional subject from amongst the following list of Optional Subjects:

  • Agriculture
  • Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  • Anthropology
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Commerce and Accountancy
  • Economics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • History
  • Law
  • Management
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medical Science
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Zoology
  • Literature of any one of the following languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, English.