The extremely challenging and competitive civil service examination is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. It has three stages: preliminary exam, main exam, and an interview. Recently the preliminary exam pattern has changed. Previously it used to have 23 optional subjects along with a general studies paper. Now there are no optional subjects in the preliminary examination. Instead, there is a second paper which will be common for all the candidates. It covers Aptitude, General Mathematics, Comprehensive English, Social Studies, etc.
IAS has a tag of prestige and multitude of career options attached to it. Although entry into it is considered to be the most difficult, it still remains to be the top choice of almost all the candidates. For example, in the 2011 batch, of the 425 selected candidates, 390 indicated IAS as their first preference, 35 chose IRS, and just 9 chose IPS. And only when it came to their second preference did 226 candidates mark IRS while 159 marked IPS as their choice.
Each year, though 850 candidates are finally selected out of the nearly 550,000(2010 data), only a rank in the top 80 guarantees an IAS selection — an acceptance rate of 0.025 percent, which makes it one of the most competitive selection processes in the world.
After being selected for the IAS, candidates are allocated to “cadres.” Most of the IAS officers start their careers in the state administration at the sub-divisional level, as a Sub Divisional Magistrate. They are entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining law and order in the city along with general administration and development of the areas under their charge. At the top of the hierarchy of IAS officers, at the Centre, is the Cabinet Secretary followed by Secretary/Additional Secretary, Joint Secretary, Director, Deputy Secretary and Under Secretary. These posts are filled according to seniority. But the post of District Officer, also known as District Magistrate, District Collector or Deputy Commissioner, continues to be the most sought out position in the IAS Services.
The applicants must be degree holders in any discipline from a recognized university, and within the age limit as follows:
General Category : Between 21 and 32 years (Get 6 chances to write the exam)
OBC Category : Between 21 and 35 years (Get 9 chances to write the exam)
SC, ST Category : Between 21 and 37 years (No limit)
Any aspirant should go through 3 stages to complete the Civil Service Examination process:
Preliminary examination – This is a qualifying test. Every year it is notified in May, conducted in August and the results are announced in the first half of October.
Main examination – This main exam is held in December every year. Results are usually published in the second week of April.
Personality Test (Interview) – It is the final test and is held in April/May every year. Final results are usually announced a few days before the next preliminary examination.
And usually in August training program for the selected candidates commences.