Best Productivity Tips to Clear the UPSC Civil Services (IAS) Exam 2021: To clear the UPSC IAS Exam, aspirants are advised to have a long-term strategy. Though most of the serious candidates start preparation 10-12 months before the exam date, there are candidates who successfully achieve top ranks with only a few months of dedicated and smart study through proper plan.
While preparing for the UPSC Civil Services examination, time management is very crucial. A candidate should increase their productivity to the fullest in the given time if they desire to clear the UPSC CSE exam. Now the big question is how aspirants can prepare for the exam by making maximum utilization of resources in the given time. Read the article further for best tips to improve your productivity for UPSC IAS Exam Preparation and how to clear UPSC Civil Services Exam.
What is UPSC?
UPSC stands for Union Public Service Commission that is a recruitment department for various Civil Services of the Government of India, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and Indian Police Service (IPS) etc.
Now come to the topic (UPSC Exam 2021 Preparation Strategy)
What is the date of UPSC Prelims Exam 2021?
UPSC IAS Prelims exam date is June 27, 2021: One of the most important exams of UPSC, the civil services prelims exam will be held on June 27, 2021, for which the notification will be released on February 10, 2021 and the last date to apply is March 2, 2021.
Is UPSC Civil Services Examination very tough?
Well, it is not the UPSC exam that is tough. It appears tough because of the vast syllabus and a limited number of vacancies. Hence, it is important to have a robust strategy that can turn your aspirations into the reality.
How do I start preparing For Civil Services Exam (IAS Exam)?
This is the most frequently asked question by UPSC aspirants, especially from the beginners. To prepare for UPSC Civil Services Exam 2021, the first step is to know everything about the examination, from exam schedule to syllabus, exam pattern to preparation strategy.
How to start preparing for the UPSC Civil Services Examination?
UPSC Civil Services Examination is undoubtedly one of the toughest exams in India, but still, it attracts lakhs of students. Why? Well, who doesn’t want to work in the largest bureaucratic network (civil servants) in the world? The job profile of IAS officers is extremely fascinating thereby motivating the aspirants to fulfill their aspirations. But one difficult question that every fresh aspirant has in his mind – How to prepare for UPSC exam 2021?
Here’s your answer to your question!!
- Know the exam pattern and syllabus first
The Civil Services Examination comprises three successive stages:
- First Stage: Civil Services Preliminary Examination – Objective Type, for the selection of candidates for Main Examination.
- Second Stage: Civil Services Main Examination – Written/descriptive, for the selection of candidates for Interview.
- Final Stage: Interview or Personality Test for the selection of candidates for the various services and posts.
UPSC IAS Exam pattern of Prelims
- Firstly, this stage consists of two compulsory papers – General Studies paper and (CSAT) Civil service aptitude test. Moreover, it will test the analytical skills of the candidate.
- Secondly, all questions are objective/MCQs. So, the candidate has to choose any one option out of 4 answers given for each question.
- On the other hand, questions are in both Hindi and English language. However, comprehension questions in the English language in the CSAT paper are without Hindi translations.
- Also, preliminary is a qualifying paper. The cut-off of paper-I is decided by UPSC every year. The CSAT paper requires the candidates to score at least 33% i.e. 66 marks to qualify and to be able to sit for the Mains exam.
Moreover, the number of candidates that sit for the main exams is much higher than the vacancies (almost 15 times).
1. Why it is important to understand IAS exam pattern?
The candidate should understand the IAS exam pattern properly because it will help to understand what to study and what to omit. The syllabus should be divided on the basis of strengths and weaknesses.
2. What is the IAS exam pattern of Prelims?
It has two papers General awareness and CSAT. Moreover, the candidate should score 33% in the second paper to crack the exam.
Marking Scheme of Prelims
The UPSC IAS Exam pattern is very important to understand to pass the prelims exam. Here is the marking scheme of preliminary exam 2021:
- Firstly, every question in paper I is of 2 marks. So, the question paper is a total of 200 marks (100 MCQs).
- Secondly, every question in the Civil Service Aptitude Test carries 2.5 marks. So, the question paper is a total of 200 marks (Total 80 MCQs).
Also, for every wrong answer by the student, one third (0.33) marks will be deducted i.e. 0.66 will be deducted from paper I and 0.83 marks will be deducted from paper II. But, there is no negative marking from Question no. 74 to Question no. 80 in CSAT paper-II because these are decision-making questions. In short, the candidate will get a 1/3 mark deducted for incorrect answers.
- Moreover, if the candidate gives more than 1 answer, then it will be considered as wrong even if one of them is right.
- Candidates/aspirants must cross the cut-off marks in Paper I and a minimum of 33% score in Paper II to sit for the main exam.
UPSC Prelims Syllabus
GS Paper 1(General Studies) – This will test the student’s knowledge and passion for learning about the country. Also, the questions are from various aspects like history, geography, economy, polity and much more.
- Events of National and International Importance
- Geography impact in the country
- Constitutional and governance structure
- Issues faced by the country currently
- Social and Economic Development
- Research and development
- Scientific development
Paper 2(English and General Aptitude) – Knowing high-level English is not compulsory in the field of Public Service but students have to score at least 33% to crack the exam. So, candidates have to practice mock tests in English to be able to score the minimum marks. However, the aptitude of the student determines the ability to solve complex problems, time management etc. Also, the important fields to practice for the UPSC IAS exam are as follows:
- Logical Reasoning
- The capacity of problem-solving
- Interpersonal Skills
- Numerical Ability
- Analytical Skills
How to start preparing for UPSC IAS Exam 2021?
Here’s a list of things that you should do before beginning your preparation!!
Know the dates of the exam: It’s no surprise that you should ideally know this beforehand. It will help you organize your study schedule in terms of the number of hours that you want to dedicate. Decide on when you want to appear for the exam. A maximum of six attempts for general category candidates is allowed. Hence, don’t sit for the exam unprepared. Have at least 12-15 months of time to study rigorously if you’re a fresher. The UPSC CSE 2021 Prelims is scheduled to be conducted on June 27th, 2021 and the Mains will be held from September 17th, 2021.
Contemplate on why you want to prepare: Owing to the extensive syllabus and timeline of the exam which takes about a year to prepare and another year to complete the exam, it is time-consuming! Hence it is important that you have enough reasons to keep yourself motivated throughout the preparation journey.
How much preparation time is too much preparation time? It is a very subjective question and will depend on how well you strategize, what is your IAS preparation strategy, who you choose to be your mentor, whether you’re completely new to the preparation scenario or have a fair bit of idea about different subjects and how much time can you devote per day to the preparation! Ideally, 12-15 months of time is more than enough for preparation of this coveted exam.
Once you have done all of these and you are ready to take the plunge, here’s a concrete IAS Preparation Strategy that you can take inspiration from to devise your own. Always remember that all the experts, mentors, toppers or your friends who may already be in the preparation phase can only tell you what they think should be done. It is YOU who should devise your own Preparation Strategy for a simple reason – Nobody knows you better than YOU!!
Best Preparation Strategy For Beginners For UPSC IAS 2021
Here’s a list of important basic things that all the toppers and mentors swear by in order to prepare the foundation for UPSC CSE.
- Read NCERTs: NCERTs from 8th to 12th are wonderful sources of information especially for beginners. They are an-important not only because questions are asked directly from them but also because they are very introductory yet very informative. So, start out with reading and re-reading NCERTs and get an outline of every subject. If you are running short on time or don’t have that much time to go through the NCERT’s you can check out this basic NCERT course available online free of cost on some major platforms those are dedicated to the preparation for Civil Services Exam.
- Start Reading Newspapers: Newspapers such as The Hindu, Indian express and Economic times should be a must-read! It will help you in keeping a tab over the recent happenings (Current Affairs) and will also enhance your reading, writing and comprehending skills. Hence, do not skip reading newspapers. There is no substitute for reading newspapers, at least the editorial part of the Hindu and Indian express.
- Read Monthly Magazines: Monthly magazines in the likes of Kurukshetra and Yojana must make a place in your reading list. Even if you’re not getting time to read it cover to cover, go for reading its online analysis or synopsis to not miss out on any important article.
- Prepare Maps: Maps are yet another important and scoring area when it comes to IAS exam preparation. Hence, always keep in mind to prepare maps in your UPSC Preparation journey.
Be thorough with the understanding of Budget: UPSC Prelims is always scheduled around the last week of May or the first week of June. And questions related to budget that is announced in February always find its way in the Prelims. If you’re thorough with the understanding of the budget, you can also include the snippets to make your answers look more informative and substantive in the Mains.
Practice for CSAT: Although CSAT is qualifying in nature, don’t take it for granted. You still need to qualify the CSAT to be able to write Mains. Hence keep practicing for CSAT simultaneously. Alternatively, you can enroll yourself in the course or test series from a trusted test-prep institution like Career Launcher to ensure you qualify this paper.
When does UPSC release the notification for UPSC Exam?
The notification for the UPSC exam 2021 is released on the official website of UPSC (upsc.gov.in). It informs the candidates about the application dates, date of the preliminary exam, eligibility criteria, syllabus, and exam pattern.
What is the exam date for UPSC Civil Services Exam 2021?
The UPSC CSE Prelims is scheduled to be conducted on June 27th, 2021 and the Mains paper will be conducted from 14th September 2021.
Most Important Tips to Clear UPSC IAS Exam 2021
Tip #1: Organize your study plan
Make plans and the best timetable for IAS preparation. This is because without prior planning you cannot have an organised study. Thus before you start your studies, you should gather all the necessary information regarding this exam. Patterns, syllabus, books required, etc. all these should be known to you.
Tip #2: Get out of your comfort zone
If you want to increase your productivity, you’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone and venture into the unknown. You have to be brave enough to face the challenges. You can go through a phase of stress and anxiety while preparing, but you should keep in mind that you have to keep going.
Tip #3: When in doubt, clear them
If you are a civil services aspirant, you might not have any inkling as to how to start preparing for the exam. If you want to optimize your studies, you might want to think of taking guidance from expert faculty or others, who have ‘been there, done that. Their advice will help you when you attempt the exam.
Tips #4: Analyse everything you study
In the UPSC exams, the big picture is very important. If you focus too much on the minute details, you might forget the big picture. Link whatever you read, see or hear to the UPSC syllabus. You should relate the topics you go through with the subjects that are there in the syllabus. That way you will be better prepared no matter the topics that will be asked in the exam.
Tips #5: Avoid multitasking
A sure-shot way of decreasing productivity is multitasking. Multitasking should be avoided as much as possible. Focusing on a single activity enables you to finish it sooner. Your concentration comes down when you try to do many things at once and in the process you may not even complete the tasks you set out to do in the first place.
Tips #6: Stay focused on the path ahead
You should keep in mind you have to stand again whenever you fall. The past doesn’t change. The future would be a repetition of the past if you dwell on the past. If you want to crack the IAS exams, focus on the upcoming exam and not on your prior academic experience, be it good or bad.
Tips #7: Avoid negative influence
By negative influence, we mean to say those people who would be a liability to you. Such people will cast seeds of doubt in your mind and hence will damper productivity. Avoiding such people and being around positive and happy people will certainly bolster your productivity. You should not get affected by the negative comments of the people and always keep your focus on your goal.
What are the best books for UPSC Exam?
The primary books that help in strengthening the foundation of your knowledge are the NCERTs of all the subjects that are relevant to the Exam. It includes History, Polity, Economy, Geography, and General Science. The NCERTs of Art & Culture and Fine art are also important for this exam.
Booklist for UPSC That Toppers Recommend For the Preparation of UPSC CSE | UPSC Booklist:
Check out the table below to know about which UPSC books to study for qualifying Prelims
|General Studies (Paper I)||NCERTs of History, Geography & Polity Class 8th-12th |
India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
Certificate of Physical Geography by GC Leong
Indian Polity by M Laxmikanth
Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
Current Affairs – The Hindu, Yojana Magazine, Kurukshetra Magazine
Oxford World Atlas
NCERT XI and XII Indian Culture- Spectrum
NIOS Course Materials
|CSAT||Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – RS Agarwal |
TMH CSAT Manual
Quicker Maths by M.Tyra
English Grammar & Composition Wren & Martin
Booklist for UPSC Mains & Preparation Material for CSE Mains Examination
Here is the list of UPSC Books that you should be reading while preparing for UPSC CSE Mains:
Here is the list of UPSC Books that you should be reading while preparing for UPSC CSE Mains:
|General Studies – 1||India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra India After Independence by Bipan Chandra Ancient India by RS Sharma History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra From Plassey To Partition And After by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay Introduction to Indian Art for Class XI (NCERT) Geography of India – Majid Hussain World Geography- Majid Hussain Oxford Atlas Central Physical and Human Geography by GC Leong Geography NCERTs (Class XI and XII)|
|General Studies -2||Indian Polity by M Laxmikanth Constitution of India by DD Basu India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri|
|General Studies-3||Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh|
|General Studies- 4||Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude by Subba Rao and PN Rao Chaudhry|
NCERT Booklist for UPSC
Here is a list of all the titles of NCERT books that UPSC aspirants should read for the preparation of this exam:
- History: NCERT Class VI – Our Past
- History: NCERT Class VII – Our Past -I
- History: NCERT Class VIII – Our Past II and III
- History: NCERT Class IX – India and the Contemporary World – I
- History: NCERT Class X – India and the Contemporary World – II
- History: NCERT Class XI – Themes In World History
- History: NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History – I
- History: NCERT Class XII – Themes in Indian History – II
- History: NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History – III
Art & Culture
- Art & Culture: NCERT Class XI – An Introduction to Indian Art,
- Art & Culture: NCERT Class XI – Living Craft Traditions of India (Chapters 9 & 10)
- Polity: NCERT Class IX – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – I
- Polity: NCERT Class X – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – II
- Polity: NCERT Class XI – Political Science: Indian Constitution at Work
- Polity: NCERT Class XI – Political Science: Political Theory
- Polity: NCERT Class XII – Political Science I: Contemporary World Politics
- Polity: NCERT Class XII – Political Science II: Politics in India since Independence
- Geography: NCERT Class VI – The Earth Our Habitat
- Geography: NCERT Class VII – Our Environment
- Geography: NCERT Class VIII – Resource and Development
- Geography: NCERT Class IX – Contemporary India – I
- Geography: NCERT Class X – Contemporary India – II
- Geography: NCERT Class XI – Fundamentals of Physical Geography
- Geography: NCERT Class XI – India – Physical Environment
- Geography: NCERT Class XII – Fundamentals of Human Geography
- Geography: NCERT Class XII – India – People and Economy
- Economy: NCERT Class IX – Economics
- Economy: NCERT Class X – Understanding Economic Development
- Economy: NCERT Class XI – Indian Economic Development
- Economy: NCERT Class XII – Introductory Microeconomics
- Economy: NCERT Class XII – Introductory Macroeconomics
Environment and Ecology
- Biology: NCERT Class XII (Last 4 chapters)
This booklist for UPSC is recommended by almost all the toppers as well as UPSC experts. Now, that you have an entire list with you, there should be no worrying about what to read! You can also enroll in online NCERT course to get compilations of all NCERTs in one place.
Can an average student qualify UPSC Exam?
The only thing that you need to qualify any exam is patience and perseverance. If you’re sincere in your preparation and have the right motivations to qualify for the exam, you surely will achieve the desired result. Join a reputed course; get mentored by experts to ensure you are on the right track. You can start with something as basic as reading NCERTs.
UPSC Mains Syllabus
UPSC Mains Exam (1750 Marks)
- The Mains examination constitutes the 2nd phase of the Civil Services Examination. Only after successfully qualifying in the prelims exam would the candidates are allowed to write the IAS Mains.
- The Mains exam tests the candidate’s academic talent in depth and his/her ability to present his/her understanding according to the requirements of the question in a time-bound manner.
- The UPSC Mains exam consists of 9 papers, out of which two are qualifying papers of 300 marks each.
- The two qualifying papers are:
- Any Indian Language Paper
- English Language Paper
The papers on Essay, General Studies and Optional Subject of only such candidates who attain 25% marks in both the language papers as a minimum qualifying standard in these qualifying papers, will be taken cognizance of, for evaluation.
In case a candidate does not qualify in these language papers, then the marks obtained by such candidates will not be considered or counted.
Structure of the language papers:
The types of questions asked are –
- Essay – 100 marks
- Reading comprehension – 60 marks
- Precise Writing – 60 marks
- English to compulsory language (e.g. Hindi) – 20 marks
- Compulsory language to English – 20 marks
- Grammar and basic language usage – 40 marks
The rest of the seven papers can be written in any of the languages mentioned under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India or in English.
|Paper – I||Essay (can be written in the medium of the candidate’s choice)||250|
|Paper – II||General Studies – I (Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society)||250|
|Paper – III||General Studies – II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice & International Relations)||250|
|Paper – IV||General Studies – III (Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Security & Disaster Management)||250|
|Paper – V||General Studies – IV (Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude)||250|
|Paper – VI||Optional Subject – Paper I||250|
|Paper – VII||Optional Subject – Paper II||250|
How to prepare for UPSC Mains 2021 | UPSC Mains Strategy to Boost Your Preparation
UPSC CSE Prelims is the first elimination round of the Civil Service Examination. After you qualify the first hurdle of this coveted exam, begins the most crucial phase of your preparation journey. Since UPSC CSE Prelims is qualifying in nature, your score in that round will not determine your final selection. It is the Mains exam whose score will be extremely crucial in determining your selection as well as rank.
Hence, it is imperative you devise a rock-solid UPSC Mains Strategy that will boost your score and enhance your chances of getting a good rank. The first step towards it to find a suitable approach on how to prepare for UPSC Mains!
While the experienced aspirants have a fair bit of idea of what should be done after prelims, many-a-times, the beginners or fresh aspirants are at sea. Hence, they look for a trusted source to find answers to their questions regarding UPSC Mains Strategy or how to prepare for UPSC Mains. Here in this article, we bring to you one such UPSC Mains Strategy that will surely help you plan yours efficiently.
Let’s get started:
UPSC MAINS STRATEGY FOR BEGINNERS – How to prepare for UPSC Mains
Step 1: Be Consistent With Your Preparation
The most significant advantage that the early beginners have, is the advantage of extra time. However, there’s also a problem. When the time is sufficient, it’s not the ‘time management’, rather your ‘consistency maintenance over this prolonged period of time’ that requires more attention. Thus, all the days, weeks and months should be pre-scheduled with respective targets. First and Foremost, a candidate must imprint the entire syllabus of all the three phases of the exam, in his mind. This small but significant work would go a long way in keeping your preparation focussed and relevant.
Step 2: Sufficient Time Allocation
Given the sufficiency of time, it is important to begin with the ‘mains first’ strategy’. After prelims, a candidate gets hardly three to four months for the preparation of mains. The schedule is further tightened by the requirement of answer writing and essay writing practice. Thus, it will be an intelligent move to prepare for the mains part first.
Step 3: Choose Your Optional Subject Wisely
The most vital element of the mains syllabus is the optional subject. The choice of optional subject should be as per your own level of comfort with and degree of interest in the subject. This decision must not be misguided by any sort of false speculations of ‘which is the most scoring optional’. It’s not the optional subject per se, it’s your preparation and presentation (answer writing) that makes it scoring.
Step 4: Make Proper Study Plan
After having wisely chosen the optional subject, the candidate must start the preparation right from the beginning. Allocate the months and schedule your days and weeks well in advance, ensuring that by November – December, you finish the syllabus for the four General Studies papers and Optional subject. It is possible to do so smoothly if you plan your time with perfection.
Step 5: Follow Daily Current Affairs To Keep Yourself Updated
One important, in fact, decisive, part of the preparation is to religiously and consistently follow the newspaper daily. The candidate should always be updated with all the important national and international events. You can follow one or two magazines and government sources like Yojana, Kurukshetra, PIB, PRS, etc. Also, if time permits, you can start with your initial answer writing practice after you are done with the mains syllabus once. Try to get it evaluated by some senior or teacher.
One thing that must be kept in mind, is that the syllabus of mains and prelims is not completely compartmentalized. There is, in fact, a significant overlap. Thus, while preparing for mains, a significant portion of Prelims also gets covered. For the remaining portion, one can get into ‘prelims-focussed’ mode from January or February onwards. From this point onwards, the golden trinity of ‘revision, consolidation and assessment’, must become part of the preparation.
How to prepare for UPSC Mains after Prelims
Follow these five steps to effectively revise the syllabus after the Prelims is over.
Step 1: Give Yourself A Break After Prelims
It is very important to give yourself a break after prelims. You might have been preparing continuously for a year or more, so it’s important to take some time off of your studies. Take rest both physically and mentally for at least 10 days. Read newspapers or take a small vacation and prep yourself for another 3-4 months of exhaustive preparation. Contemplate about how your exam was, there might be three cases,
- You are 100% sure you will qualify the prelims. Devise a suitable UPSC Mains Preparation strategy to ensure your success in Mains as well.
- You are unsure whether or not you’ll not qualify the Prelims. Don’t get disheartened by the result. You can still get to start afresh as Prelims is qualifying in nature.
- You are 100% sure that you would not qualify the Prelims. Don’t get discouraged. Reflect on your mistakes, try to learn from them and devise a year-long strategy to follow for next year.
During this time, also read a lot about preparation strategies that can help you plan the best one for yourself. Take inspiration from your seniors or peers, toppers or mentors who can guide you best in the most crucial phase of your UPSC mains preparation.
Step 2: Make A Detailed Study Plan For UPSC Mains Strategy
Once you’ve relaxed completely, come out of that zone, and devise a detailed study plan for your mains preparation. As you might already know that UPSC Mains consist of 9 theory papers of which 2 are language papers that are qualifying, 2 are your optional subject papers, 1 is essay paper and the other four are general studies paper. So, you should have a clear cut strategy on how to go about revising each of the subjects and preparing the ones you’ve not even started hitherto.
Step 3: Schedule the Time You Need To Invest In Each Paper
Now, most fresh aspirants get confused about how to revise everything in 2-3 months that they get between Prelims and Mains. Here’s what you can do:
- Have a monthly goal, weekly goal, and a daily goal. Stick to that and ensure that you complete each goal. Make small targets so that they seem achievable.
- Even if your preparation get’s disturbed for 1-2 days, don’t wreck the whole plan, rather, divide the portions you have missed across the week.
- Always keep 2 hours for revising what you’ve read daily. Also, keep the weekends free for answer writing practice revising what you’ve learned in the week.
Now, mostly the aspirants get confused with the time allocation. How much time is too much time to allocate for each of the General Studies paper?
Let’s find out what our experts believe:
|Paper Name||Stipulated Time (Recommended by Experts)|
|Optional Subject||30-40 Days|
|Essay Paper||Prepare 4-5 topics each week|
|General Studies Paper 1||10-15 days|
|General Studies Paper 2||10-15 days|
|General Studies Paper 3||15-20 days|
|General Studies Paper 4||15-20 days|
Step 4: Enhance Your Answer Writing Practice
Since the Mains paper is descriptive in nature, it is important that you give due time to answer writing in your UPSC Mains Preparation strategy. Whatever that you read, try to summarise in your own words at the end of the day. Dedicate an hour each day to practice answer writing. Get your answers evaluated by your mentors or seniors to get a fair bit of idea where you stand. Don’t fret about writing bad answers in the beginning. Practice does make one perfect, hence practice answer writing as much as you can.
Step 5: Give Regular Mock Tests.
Now, mock tests are important because it gives you an exam-feel, it prepares you to write your best answers in a stressful-exam situation. Hence, never take mocks for granted. Think of it as an opportunity to understand the answer-writing process, to write brief succinct answers considering the demand of the questions
UPSC Interview: IAS Interview 2021
Interview or Personality Test is the most important step in the selection procedure because it connects both the UPSC and aspirant. The Union Public Services Commission (UPSC) will be conducting the personality tests for the candidates who qualify in the Civil Services Examination (CSE) two stages – Preliminary and Mains. The qualified candidates will be called for the interview round that lasts for about 30 minutes.
Candidates who are selected for the personality test are usually 2.2 times, the candidates who appeared for the main exam. This depends on the vacancy, notified in the UPSC’s advertisement every year. The maximum marks for interview are 275. A score over 200 is considered a high score.
Interview according to UPSC is described to be a test of candidate’s overall personality which includes analytical ability, lateral thinking, logical decision making etc. The objective 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 caliber 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 judgment, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
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 board tests a candidate on integrity, the depth in understanding, awareness about issues happening around and how well a candidate is able to analyze and apply these issues in his/her answer.
The interview is a two months long process that usually begins two weeks after the declaration of the main exam results. It is usually in the period between February to April. It is conducted at the UPSC located at Shahjahan Road, New Delhi. The schedule usually consists of two slots per day. The Forenoon slot begins by 9AM while the afternoon slot begins by 2 PM.
The board usually consists of 5 people. The chairperson sits in the center while the other members are seated two on either side of the chairperson. The chairperson begins with the questions and will guide the other members to continue the interview.
The duration of the interview is typically 30 minutes +/- 5 minutes. The range of questions will include questions on hobby and their practical application, why he/she wishes to join the civil services, candidate’s opinion on current/historic issues, knowledge about candidate’s education, optional subject, issues of the state candidate belongs to, international relations, current affairs etc. They may also provide situation based question and seek the candidates’ opinion/response on the same.