How to become an IAS officer in India | IAS Exam Pattern, Eligibility & More| Career Launcher

Simply put answer to the question, how to become an IAS officer in India, will be - after qualifying UPSC Civil Services Examination. Yes, to become an IAS officer in India, you must qualify UPSC Civil Services Examination also known as the UPSC exam or IAS exam or Civil Services Exam. This exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to recruit civil 


In this article, we will delve deep into answering how to become an IAS officer in India, what is the role of IAS officers, the perks and benefits of IAS officers, and finally how to prepare for civil services exams including Prelims and Mains! We’ve also roughly discussed the pattern of the exam. Let’s get started:  


What is the role of IAS officers?

The civil services officers’ role is to serve the Central and State governments in implementing and administering the policies formulated by the central and state governments and also providing valuable feedback for any government decision-making process. So, basically, an IAS officer assists the government in policy framing and administration, implementation of policies, and providing key feedback to the concerned ministries about the implementation status and impact of the policies.  


How to become an IAS officer in India  

To become an IAS officer, you need to qualify the Civil Services Examination conducted by UPSC every year. The exam is conducted to recruit civil servants for about 25 services including IAS, IPS, IFS, Central government services as well as other allied services. UPSC releases the notification inviting the applications around January-February each year, and the first phase or the preliminary examination is usually held around the end of May or beginning of the June.


UPSC conducts the Civil Services Examination in three phases namely:

  • Preliminary Examination

  • Civil Services (Main) Examination

  • Personality Test or Interview


Let us briefly discuss the exam pattern for UPSC Civil Services Prelims:

Name of the Paper

No of Questions

Topics Included(Brief)

Marks Allotted

Time Allotted

Nature of Exam

Paper I: General Studies (Objective-type)

100

Questions from subjects like History, Polity, Geography, Science, Economy, Current Affairs are asked.

200

2 hours

The score will be considered for Cut-off

Paper-II: General Studies-II (CSAT) (Objective-Type)

80

Questions from topics like Maths, Logical Reasoning, Reading comprehension are asked.

200

2 hours

Qualifying Nature- Candidates will have to score 33% to qualify CSAT.


So, as you can see, the UPSC Prelims consists of two papers namely General Studies-I and General Studies-II or the CSAT paper. You can follow the given links to get complete information about these papers. 


Coming to UPSC Civil Services (Main) examination, the Mains paper consists of 9 papers the details of which are mentioned in the table below. Follow the links of the subjects to get complete information about each paper:

Paper

Subject

Duration

Total marks

Time Allotted

Nature of paper

Type of Paper

Paper A

Compulsory Indian language

3 hours

300

3 hours

Qualifying

Descriptive

Paper B

English

3 hours

300

3 hours

Qualifying

Descriptive

Paper I

Essay

3 hours

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper-II

General Studies I

3 hours

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper III

General Studies II

3 hours

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper IV

General Studies III

3 hours

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper V

General Studies IV

3 hours

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper VI

Optional I

3 hours

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive

Paper VII

Optional II

3 hours

250

3 hours

Merit

Descriptive


How to prepare for the Civil Services exam to become an IAS officer?

The actual answer to ‘how to become an IAS officer in India’ starts from the preparation strategy! Usually, it takes about 8-12 months to prepare for the Civil Services examination. So, you need to start about a year in advance to prepare the entire syllabus holistically. Here are some basic steps that you need to follow to prepare for the Civil Services examination. 

Step Zero: Know about the exam

It is extremely important that you know the exam pattern as well as the exam syllabus of UPSC extremely well. Always keep a copy of the syllabus on your table so that you can refer to it whenever you want to assess the relevance of any topic from examination point of view. So, it is imperative that you have the syllabus mapped in your mind for effective preparation. Next, glance through a few previous year papers to get an idea of how the questions are asked. 

 

Step One: Work on building a strong foundation

A strong foundation is extremely instrumental if you want to offer a robust structure to your preparation. Hence, start with the basics. NCERTs are extremely important and basic source of information that will introduce you to the subjects that you need to study in detail for UPSC preparation. Hence, refer to the NCERTs to kickstart your preparation for UPSC!


Step Two: Read Standard Books

Now, the first question that might pop up in your minds would be “ Which are the standard books for UPSC preparation”! So, the standard books refer to the books that need to be studied cover to cover for a certain subject. The list of the standard books for UPSC is mentioned in this linked article. Go through it and source all the important books and start reading them. The article also has a list of NCERT books that can be easily downloaded from the official website of NCERT. 


Step Three: Master the Current Affairs

Direct questions from the current affairs are asked in the Prelims examination every year. Hence, it is important to read the current affairs of about 12-18 months for UPSC. You can either join a course on Current affairs that will surely help you in collating the important information extremely easily or you can cover it via newspapers and magazines. For more details, you can read this article on the importance of current affairs for the UPSC exam

 

Step Four: Mock Tests and Answer-writing Practice

Mock tests and answer-writing are the two most important pillars in the UPSC preparation. You cannot complete your UPSC preparation without them! While mock-test helps in analyzing your preparation and give you insights on your weak areas, answer-writing practicing helps in honing your writing skills and perfecting your answer-writing techniques. Hence, implement both of them in your preparation. 

 

Step Five: Revision 

Revision is also the important part of the UPSC preparation. Multiple revisions of what you’ve studied are extremely important for concept retention. We tend to forget the dates and events in General Studies, hence it is very important to revise it multiple times in order to cement those concepts in your mind. 


Additionally, you can read more such insightful UPSC preparation-oriented articles here. This is a brief overview of how to become an IAS officer in India. Follow the articles on our website to know full details about the IAS exam in India.

Career Launcher brings to you detail-oriented online courses that are sure to help you in preparing for an exam as demanding as UPSC at the comfort of your home! Get in touch with our course counselors to get more information on course deliverables. 

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