November 3, 2016
The civil services exam, popularly known as the IAS/IPS Exam,is the most prestigious and competitive recruitment test of the Union Public Service Commission. The three-stage examination proposes to recruit entry level officers for around 24 powerful and glamorous services in our country.
This initial stage of the staggered examination contains two papers of multiple choice questions containing an aggregate of 400 marks. The General Studies paper contains 100 questions with each question carrying twomarks. The second paper known as Aptitude paper contains 80 questions with each question carrying 2.5 marks. This test is a filtration test designed to select around 10,000 serious candidates out of the approximate total of eight lakh candidates who appear every year. Any sound and strategic preparation must concentrate on the General Studies paper asits marks will determine the ranking and selection in the Preliminary Test. The candidates will not face a deficit of time in both papers and therefore should thoroughly study and understand the questions before choosing the answers; any hasty move will be suicidal especially as the choices are often intimately related. As this is a qualifying test,anything above 110 in General Studies with minimum 33 percent in Aptitude will be a safe score.
The most important portion of the grueling civil services exam is the main test that will take place in December. In this essentially subjective examination, all the nine papers (Modern Indian Language – 300 marks, General English – 300 marks, Four General Studies papers – 250 marks each, Essay paper – 250 marks and two papers of Optional Subject – 250 marks each) carry an aggregate of 2350 marks out of which the 600 marks for the General English and Indian Language papers will not be counted in the final score as they are of qualifying nature. The 1750 marks available in the remaining papers carry enormous weightage as they determine the future fortunes of the candidates.
The four General Studies papers and the lone Essay paper are very important as they carry among them a total of 1250 marks. A strong emphasis on current affairs is indispensable to any sound preparation as questions in all major sections are asked predominantly in the domain of contemporary issues.Reading the same materials repeatedly reiterates and reinforces the lessons learnt in the memory layers of the candidates. It is imperative to recall the basic axiom that for the preliminary test of the civil services exam one should study ten books at one time and for the main exam one book ten times.
The choice of optional subject is very crucial as the two papers carry 500 marks. The personal inclination of the candidates, availability of study materials, and access to resource persons and academic background are the key factors that should guide the candidates in the choice of optional subjects.
The interview component of the exam process forms the most decisive part as the fortunes of the candidates are mostly determined here. The performance in the interview either makes or breaks the candidate’s career dreams. They can demonstrate their personality and capabilities within a minimal time and score maximum marks unlike in the main stage where all our sweat and toil usually do not give us a commanding lead over other candidates.
The interview is not like conventional ones but a kind of continuing interaction where the interview panel seeks to test and capture the innate and intrinsic strength and integrity of personality of the aspirants. The interactions revolve around educational background, issues and trends in local, regional, national and international domains on which the candidates are expected to exhibit manifest and steadfast opinions that must conform to the basic constitutional and national values of our nation.
A judicious mix of optimism, dynamism, presence of mind, social commitment and leadership qualities will give good dividends. The possession of a socially relevant and intellectually stimulating hobby brings enormous value to the interview as the interview panels are tempted to ask more questions on them. It is pertinent here to remember the modern maxim that the hobby is the index of one’s mind and personality. Anything above 200 out of 275 marks should be a very decisive score.
As the aggregate of marks scored in the main exam and personality test is taken into consideration in the final ranking, the candidates must score anything above 1025 out of 2025 countable marks to get into the top echelons of the civil services.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own