Indian Administrative Service

The Indian Administrative Service (English: Indian Administrative Service) is one of the All India Services. Its officers are officers of the All India Administrative Service. Direct recruitment to the Indian Administrative Service (and the Indian Police Service) is done through the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and allotted to the states by the Government of India. IAS officers work in strategic and important positions in the central government, state governments and public sector undertakings. Like other countries after the Westminster system of government, the IAS as a permanent bureaucracy in India is an inseparable part of the executive of the Government of India, and therefore provides neutrality and continuity to the administration.

Along with the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Forest Service (IFS/IFoS), the IAS is one of the three All India Services - its cadre is employed by both the central government and individual states. On confirmation of service after probation as a sub-collector/magistrate, an IAS officer is given administrative orders in the district after a few years of service as a district magistrate and collector, and usually, in some states, After serving 16 years, an IAS officer leads an entire division in the state as Divisional Commissioner. Reaching the highest level, IAS officers head entire departments and ministries of the Government of India.

IAS officers represent the Government of India at the international level in bilateral and multilateral negotiations. On deputation, they work in intergovernmental organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations or its agencies. IAS officers at various levels of administration play an important role in conducting free and fair elections in India under the direction of the Election Commission of India.

Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Exam Pattern :-

Phase I: Preliminary Exam (IAS Preliminary) Phase II: Mains Exam (IAS Mains) Phase III: UPSC Personality Test (IAS Interview)

No. S. Exam Name Nature of the exam Exam Duration Question and number
1 IAS Exam Paper - I: General Studies Merit Ranking Nature 2 hours 100/ 200 numbers
2 IAS Exam Paper - II: General Studies (College Scholastic Ability Test - CSAT) qualification nature 2 hours 80/ 200 numbers

Phase I: Preliminary Examination

  • Questions in IAS Exam (Preliminary) are of Objective Type or Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
  • There is 'negative marking' in IAS exam for every wrong answer, but only in the preliminary stage. The negative marking for wrong answers will be 1/3rd (0.66) of the allotted marks for that question.
  • GS Paper II (CSAT) in the IAS exam is qualifying in nature and candidates must score a minimum of 33 percent marks in this paper to qualify in the next stage of the IAS exam i.e. Mains.
  • Blind candidates are given 20 minutes extra time for each paper in IAS Exam (Preliminary).
  • It is mandatory for the candidates to appear in both the papers of Civil Services Prelims exam for evaluation.
  • The marks scored by the candidates in the preliminary exam are not counted for the final marks. It is only a screening test where candidates who do not secure the cut-off marks are eliminated.

Phase II: Mains Exam (IAS Mains)

The second stage of IAS exam is called Mains exam, which is a written descriptive test and consists of 9 papers. The 9 papers in IAS Exam (Mains) are as follows: Paper-A (Compulsory Indian Language); Paper-B (English) which are qualifying in nature, while other papers like Essay, Paper I, II, III and IV of General Studies, and Optional Paper I and II are considered for final ranking.

No. S. IAS Exam Paper Paper Name Nature of the paper Duration of Exam and Marks
1 Paper - A Compulsory Indian language qualifying nature 3 hours/ 300 marks
2 Paper - B English
3 hours/ 300 marks
3 Paper - I essay merit ranking nature 3 hours/ 250 marks
4 Paper - II General Studies I 3 hours/ 250 marks
5 Paper - III General Studies II 3 hours/ 250 marks
6 Paper - IV General Studies III 3 hours/ 250 marks
7 Paper - V General Studies IV 3 hours/ 250 marks
8 Paper - VI Optional Paper I 3 hours/ 250 marks
9 Paper - VII Optional Paper II 3 hours/ 250 marks
Total 1750 points
Interview or Personality Test 275 points
Total 2025 points


  • Candidates can choose their medium of writing UPSC Civil Services IAS Mains Exam in Hindi or English or any other language listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Indian languages ​​included in the IAS exam are as per the languages ​​listed in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • Candidates who score above the prescribed cut-off marks in IAS Exam (Mains) will be called for Personality Test (Final Stage of IAS Exam).
  • The final ranking of the candidates is based on the marks obtained by them in the main exam and personality test/interview round of the IAS exam.

Phase III: UPSC Personality Test (IAS Interview)

The 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. Personality Test or Interview round with UPSC Board members. E-summons will be sent by the Commission for face-to-face discussion with the board members to the candidates who qualify for the final stage.

In this round, the board assesses the personality traits of the candidates and questions will be asked on their hobbies, current affairs, general knowledge, status questions etc. to evaluate whether they are fit for a career in civil services. UPSC Personality Test will be conducted at UPSC Bhawan in New Delhi only.

IAS Exam age limit

There are conditions of nationality, age, number of attempts and educational qualification if the candidate wants to take the IAS exam. For general category candidates, the candidate must be a citizen of India or a PIO, hold a bachelor's degree, must be between 21 to 32 years of age, and must not have attempted the IAS exam 6 times.

IAS Exam Application Process

The application process for UPSC exams is online and UPSC admit cards are also issued online which should be downloaded by the IAS exam aspirants from the official website of UPSC. For more, kindly apply online for IAS Exam 2020.

IAS exam preparation

  1. Analyzing the trend, more current affairs based questions are asked in both Preliminary and Mains stage of IAS Exam. Select only trusted sources like PIB, The Hindu, Yojna etc and align the current events as per the IAS exam syllabus. For IAS exam, current affairs usually include events of national and international importance in the last 10-12 months.
  2. Go through the previous years IAS exam questions to get an idea of ​​the amount of preparation required from your end.
  3. Read NCERT books and make notes. You have to attempt at least two sets of notes for UPSC Mains i.e. Pre Prelims and Descriptive Notes.
  4. Prelims and Mains preparation should be done together up to 1-2 months before the date of Prelims exam. Recognize the syllabus overlap between Prelims and Mains and focus on those areas first.
  5. Select an optional subject for IAS exam based on your aptitude, interest and experience. Some elective subjects have a significant overlap with the syllabus of General Studies in Mains, however, their syllabus is huge so do your due diligence before finalizing any one.
  6. Do not take Prelims and Ethics paper easy in Mains Do not take CSAT paper. Similarly, two qualifying language papers in Mains are also important, as failing to score at least 25% in them will automatically result in you being eliminated from the IAS exam process, irrespective of your excellent performance in all other papers. Take out time to practice solving MCQs for Prelims and answer writing exercises for Mains. Revise multiple times, update your notes, and revise a few more.

IAS Interview Questions -

UPSC Interview Questions tests the mental acuity, general awareness, social etiquette and overall personality of the candidates. The questions in the IAS interview are not just to ascertain the theoretical knowledge, so instead of getting mugged, candidates must focus on their soft skills.

IAS Interview Questions faced by Civil Services aspirants follow a similar pattern. Let us have a look at some of the broad categories of questions in IAS interview and how candidates can prepare for them.

IAS Interview Questions on Introduction-

  1. Tell us briefly about yourself.
  2. Tell us about your hometown.
  3. What is the meaning of your name (First name / Surname)
  4. Tell us about your family

These questions are only setting a baseline i.e. the eminent UPSC board will use the information provided by you to ask the follow up questions.

Questions asked in IAS interview -

  1. What subjects did you study during school/graduation and do you think they are relevant to life in administration
  2. Which was your favorite subject?
  3. Why did you choose a 'xyz' college/school?
  4. What kind of projects did you do during school/graduation/PG?
  5. Would you call yourself an average student? Why?

The basic educational qualification for UPSC CSE exam is graduation. Questions in IAS interview may be oriented towards your graduation subject or the latest trends in the same. However, if you don't know the answer to a particular question, trying to figure it out your way is not advised. It is better to be humble and truthful than this.

IAS interview questions on current affairs-

  1. What are today's headlines?
  2. Some important issues in the news about India / your state / your hometown in the last few months.

Reading newspapers and following daily news is also important from UPSC IAS interview perspective. IAS Interview Questions can refer to the latest news topics. Unless the question is relatively straight forward, try to avoid giving one-dimensional opinion/information.

IAS Interview Questions on Work Profile-

  1. What were your roles and responsibilities in your job?
  2. Why do you want to become an IAS/IPS/IFS officer?

IAS Interview Questions on Optional Subject -

  1. Why did you choose the 'xyz' alternative?
  2. Why didn't you choose your undergraduate subject as your elective?

Also, you may face some questions in IAS Interview related to topics/theory/contemporary issues depending on your optional subject.

Interview questions on IAS hobby-

Here, the nature of questions varies depending on the hobby listed in your DAF. For those who have listed sports as a hobby, the panel has asked questions on famous sports persons or/and the latest results. Some candidates have also been asked to sing during the interview process.

IAS Exam Eligibility Details -

IAS Eligibility Overview -

IAS Age Limit 21 to 32 years
Age Relaxation Category wise (mentioned below)
Educational Qualification for IAS graduate
Nationality Indian citizens only

IAS Eligibility - UPSC Age Limit

  • As per civil services age limit, candidate age should be between 21 to 32 years
  • Civil Services age limit is an essential factor in the eligibility criteria. So the candidates who are applying for the UPSC exam must check these details thoroughly before filling the online application form.

(Relaxation in Civil Services age limit, as discussed below, will be applicable)

Square UPSC Age Limit - Upper Relaxation
General 32
Other Backward Classes 35
Scheduled Castes/Tribes 37
Disabled Defense Services Personnel 35
Ex-serviceman 37
Persons with Benchmark Disabilities - EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) 42

Note: As per the IAS eligibility for Defense Servicemen, there is a special relaxation in the age limit of a person disabled in operations during hostilities in any foreign country or disturbed area and issued as a result of civil service.

IAS eligibility states that ECOs/SSCOs who have completed the initial period of assignment of 5 years of military service as on 1st August 2020, get age relaxation of five years, provided the assignment is extended beyond five years and in which case the Ministry of Defense issues a certificate that they can apply for civilian employment and will be issued to them on three months' notice on selection from the date of receipt of the offer of appointment. For the latest details on IAS age limit, candidates must refer to the latest UPSC notification.

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  Last update :  Sat 15 Apr 2023
  Post Views :  8551
  Post Category :  Government Recruitments in India