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Is UPSC India's Toughest Examination?

Updated on June 15, 2020
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I am a Chartered Accountant and am also a UPSC aspirant. I like to write about various topics and education & religion are one of them.

UPSC | Source

First of all, What's UPSC?

UPSC stands for Union Public Service Commission. It is a constitutional body of India responsible for conducting examination for the selection of Class I Officers (White-collar Job) on behalf of the government. The selected candidates become the top government officials.UPSC recruits candidates for both civil as well as defense services.

civil service exam pattern
civil service exam pattern | Source

The Pattern of the Exam.

The exam is held in 3 stages and one has to clear all the 3 stages that too within a rank of approximately 1000. The First stage is called a Preliminary Exam ( more like a screening test) which is an objective type of exam consisting of two papers. A candidate has to clear the cut off marks in order to be selected for the 2nd stage.

The 2 and the 3rd stage are called as Mains examination and Personality test aka Interview.

Stages of UPSC exam.
Stages of UPSC exam. | Source

The 2nd and 3rd Stage.

These are the stages where the fun begins.

A candidate has no idea what could be the results. At any stage, if he fails to clear the cut-off, he has to start afresh. The 2nd stage is called Mains Examination consisting of 8 papers. It is a subjective type of examination testing the analytical knowledge, reasoning knowledge, and critical thinking ability of a candidate.

The 3rd stage is the interview stage which is more of a personality test and less of a knowledge test. The interview is taken by various top government officials and other experts.

The big Question.
The big Question. | Source

Now the big question: Is the Exam really hard?

Let me ask you the same question. You got familiar with the pattern of the exam, what do you think it seems to be?

So what makes it the toughest examination of India?

1.The Pass Percentage.

Let's dive into some factual figures. Every year lakhs of candidates give the prelims examination and only about 25% of them are able to clear it.

Then come the mains exam and among those who qualified the prelims only 15% are able to appear for the interview. In the interview, the success rate is about 50%.

So if 1000 candidates appear in the prelims stage only 18 candidates are recruited. The pass percentage comes to 1.85% or approx. 2%. That's the lowest of any exam in India.

2.The Pattern of the Exam itself.

Apart from the above figures, the pattern of the exam is also such that it creates a lot of pressure on the candidate. The pressure to succeed in the exam in one go or else has to repeat the entire cycle from scratch.

3.The Syllabus

The syllabus of the Exam is huge. Literally, it is huge.

You have to read about every subject and every aspect that has an effect on India. From International relations, economics, political issues to social issues, Disaster management, history, art and culture, geography, and so on.

A candidate should have knowledge of all the subject matters to pass through the exam.

4.The preparation Time.

Now you know it has a huge syllabus to cover, it is natural that a candidate will require enough time to cover all those subject areas. On average, it takes about a whole year to prepare for the USPC exam. Some candidates might take a year and a half whereas some others might take only 10 months. It depends on the individual’s interests and preparation style.

What motivates people to attempt UPSC exam?
What motivates people to attempt UPSC exam? | Source

What motivates people to attempt UPSC exam?

If it is really tough then why people are keen to attempt this exam?

The answer is the vast opportunities, social privileges & recognition, and the power which comes after passing the exam.

This exam gives immense opportunity to the poorest of the poor also to mark a change in society.

The power, resources, and social recognition are what drives the candidates to carry on their preparation for 4-5 years until they clear.

Lastly, the exam is surely tough and some might take years to crack it but the fruits are really sweet.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Deepanshu yadav


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