The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is an annual national-level test conducted by the Union Public Service Commission to recruit officers to the IAS, IPS and other central services. The examination — considered as the toughest and most prestigious in India — is held in a systematic and time bound manner.
It involves three stages with preliminary examination (two papers of 400 marks each), main exam (seven papers of 1,750 marks) and a personality test for 275 marks. The candidates must clear all three stages and in case they fail to clear any of these, they have to start all over again from scratch.
The preliminary examination is an objective-type test with multiple choice questions and negative marking of .33 per cent deducted for every wrong answer. It is qualifying in nature and has two papers comprising general studies with 100 questions for 200 marks in the first, while Paper-II, the Civil Services Aptitude Test, has 80 questions for 200 marks. Unlike the preliminary examination, the mains is descriptive and has seven papers of 250 marks each. While the first five papers are common for all students, the last two can be opted from the 23 subjects.
In addition to the seven papers, there are two compulsory language papers – one in English and the other in any of the 22 languages recognised by the Constitution. Though these papers will not be considered while calculating the final score of the candidate, it is compulsory to clear the two language papers. If the candidate fails to pass the language test, his/her other papers will not be evaluated and the candidate is disqualified for the mains.
The last stage of the examination, the interview, tests the candidate’s personality, characteristics, understanding, analysis and, likes and dislikes. The focus is more on the candidate’s personal information, achievements, hobbies and opinions on current happenings.