India's Civil Service Exam and How to Pass It

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According to the 7th Central Pay Commission, IAS officers receive a base salary of Rs 56,100/- The highest-paying job for an IAS officer is the cabinet secretary position, which currently has a salary of Rs. 5Lakh/month In addition to these perks, IAS officers also have access to:

  • Rent-subsidized housing provided by the government  

  • There may also be other personnel present for security and other needs.

  • Phone, cell phone, and internet costs are fully reimbursed

  • Assistance around the house such as chefs, gardeners, etc. is provided.

  • Staying in a government hotel or bungalow free of charge while on duty.

  • All state and district officials have access to government-provided transportation.

  • Pension payments beginning one month after retirement

The following table shows the IAS salary in detail, broken down by post:

Pay Level

Earnings at the Entry Level

No in terms of (length of) service in years


Governmental Oversight of Local Government

The State Department

Main Receptionist Office




Magistrate of a lower division


An Asst. Sec.




Extra Magistrate of the District

The position of Undersecretary





Chief Magistrate of a District

Collaborative Secretaries

Assistant to the Secretary




Local Law Enforcement Officials

Secretary/Director of Special Affairs





Commissar of a Division

Relating to the Office of the Secretary and the Commission

Assembled Secretaries




Departmental Commissioner

Secretariat Chief

Secretary Addition




There is no such thing as an equivalent rank.

The Chief Secretary, Plus

No such rank exists




There is no such thing as an equivalent rank.

Secretary in Charge




37 years

There is no comparable rank

There is no comparable rank

India's Cabinet Secretary

Indian Administrative Service Exam Preparation

If you want to join the Indian Administrative Service, you must first pass the annual Civil Services Examination administered by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Examinees are selected for employment in the civil service for a wide variety of positions, including but not limited to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), the Central Government Service (CGS), and a Typically, the preliminary examination is held at the end of May or the beginning of June, with the UPSC's annual notification inviting applications appearing in January or February.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) administers the Civil Services Exam in three stages:

  • Preliminary Checkup

  • Test for Appointment to Civil Service

  • The Interview/Test of Personality

Let's take a quick look at the UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam Structure:

Article Title

Lack of Inquiries

What's covered (in brief)

Grades Given

The Allotted Time

Exam's Type

Exam I, Objective-type General Studies


Subjects covered include History, Politics, Geography, Science, the Economy, and Current Events.


2 hours

Cut-offs may be based on the score.

Exam Section 2: CS Fundamentals II (Objective-Type)


Mathematics, logic, and reading comprehension questions are included.


2 hours

Nature of Qualification: 33% CSAT Score Required

That's right; there are two parts to the UPSC Prelims: General Studies-I and General Studies-II, also known as the CSAT paper. You can learn more about these papers by clicking on the provided links.  

As for the UPSC Civil Services (Main) Exam, the Mains Paper consists of 9 papers, all of which are listed in the table below. For more details on each paper, click on the corresponding subject link.




Overall Grade

Scheduled Time

Characteristics of Paper

Term Paper Format

Paper A

Mandatory use of the Hindi language

3 hours


3 hours



Paper B


3 hours


3 hours



Paper I


3 hours


3 hours




Curriculum Foundations I

3 hours


3 hours



Paper III

Studies in Depth II

3 hours


3 hours



Paper IV

A Third-Year Course in General Studies

3 hours


3 hours



The best way to study for the Civil Services Exam and become an IAS Officer

Preparation is the first step in answering the question, "How do I become an IAS officer in India?" The average amount of time needed to pass the Civil Service Exam is between eight and twelve months. In order to prepare the entire curriculum comprehensively, you should begin a year in advance. If you want to succeed on the Civil Services exam, you need to follow these fundamental guidelines.  

Step One: Study for the Exam

You should be very familiar with both the UPSC exam format and the UPSC exam content. Keep a copy of the course outline handy so that you can quickly determine whether or not a given topic is exam-relevant. Therefore, you must have a mental map of the course material in order to prepare adequately. Then, to get a feel for the types of questions asked, review a few old exams.  

Establish a solid base as a first step.

If you want to give solid structure to your preparation, a solid foundation is crucial. Therefore, it's best to get the fundamentals down first. The NCERTs are a great place to start if you want to learn more about the subjects you'll need to delve into for your UPSC preparation. Thus, start your preparation for the UPSC by consulting the NCERTs.

Second, read some canonical works.

I know what you're thinking: "Which are the standard books for UPSC preparation?" So, the term "standard books" is used to describe the texts that should be read in their entirety when preparing for an examination in a particular field. This article provides a recommended reading list for the UPSC examination. Read it, then go out and find all the books it recommends. Downloadable copies of NCERT textbooks are also included in the article.  

In the third stage, become an expert in current events.

Every year, questions from the previous year's current events are included in the Prelims exam. Therefore, for UPSC, you should read news articles from the past 12-18 months. You can either cover it via newspapers and magazines or enroll in a course on current affairs, both of which will undoubtedly facilitate the collection of the crucial data. This article discusses the significance of staying up-to-date on current events in preparation for the UPSC exam.  

Fourth, practice tests and drafting answers

UPSC preparation is based primarily on taking practice tests and writing answers. They are essential to your success in the UPSC exam and your preparation in general. Answer-writing practice helps in honing your writing skills and perfecting your answer-writing techniques, while taking mock tests helps in analyzing your preparation and giving insights on your weak areas. That's why it's important to use both of them in your planning.  

The Fifth Stage: Editing

An essential part of getting ready for the UPSC is doing some last-minute reviewing. It's crucial to review what you've learned multiple times to really cement the ideas in your mind. Since most of us have a terrible memory when it comes to General Studies material like dates and events, it's crucial that you review this material frequently to ensure that it sticks.  

This is a high-level summary of the steps required to become an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer in India, and you can read more helpful articles on UPSC preparation right here. If you want to know everything there is to know about the Indian Civil Service exam, read the articles on our site.

If you want to prepare for an exam as rigorous as the UPSC without leaving your house, Career Launcher has the comprehensive online courses you need. If you have any questions about the outcomes of our courses, please contact our advisors.
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