How To Become IAS

How To Become IAS Officer – An Introduction

How to become an IAS officer, is a question that intrigues millions of youth in India. Aspirants from diverse backgrounds all over India right from rural areas to highly qualified people from IITs, IIMs, Doctors dream of joining the IAS. 

The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) (formerly known as Indian Civil Service) is one of the most prestigious and sought-after civil services in India. It offers a unique opportunity to serve the country and its people in various capacities, and the IAS officers are responsible for handling crucial administrative and governance roles. All key government positions are held by IAS officers. 

This makes IAS the most unique and powerful service in the world. However, becoming an IAS officer is a hard nut to crack, and it requires rigorous preparation, dedication, and hard work. So then the basic question arises and that is How to become IAS? In this article, we will discuss the procedure, eligibility criteria, the exam pattern, and the preparation strategy that addresses the question How to become an IAS officer?

[Also Read: IAS Kaise Bane (In Hindi)]

Procedure And Points To Note

  • The answer to the question of how to become IAS starts with one basic thing and that is, one needs to pass the Civil Services Examination conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission).
  • Another important point to remember is to become eligible before appearing for the exam. It is besides the point that the eligibility criteria is very basic i.e. 21 years of age and graduation in any stream from any recognized university.
  • One must be very sure of what he is doing because the preparation requires an investment of a lot of resources in terms of time, money and effort.
  • An aspiring candidate must also be ready for setbacks as the exam is extremely competitive and has inherent hurdles that may stop you from succeeding.

[Also Read: How to Read Bipin Chandra]

Eligibility Criteria

In order to become an IAS officer, a candidate must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Educational Qualification: A candidate must have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline from a recognized university.
  • Age Limit and Attempts allowed: It varies according to category. There are some age relaxations for reserved category candidates
    • General Category – A candidate must be between 21 and 32 years of age as of 1st August of the year in which he/she is appearing for the exam. No. of attempts allowed – 6.
    • OBC Category – 21 to 35  years of age as of 1st August of the year in which he/she is appearing for the exam. No. of attempts allowed – 9.
    • SC/ST Category – 21 to 37 years of age as of 1st August of the year in which he/she is appearing for the exam. No. of attempts allowed – unlimited till 37 years of age.
  • Nationality: A candidate must be a citizen of India or a subject of Nepal/Bhutan/Tibetan Refugee settled in India/Person of Indian Origin (PIO) who has migrated from other countries with the intention of permanently settling in India.

Exam Pattern

The Civil Services Exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) every year in three stages:

  • Preliminary Exam: It consists of two objective-type papers of 200 marks each, and the duration of each paper is two hours. The papers are: General Studies (Paper-I) and CSAT (Paper-II). The marks obtained in this exam are not counted for the final selection, and it is only a screening test to shortlist candidates for the mains exam.
  • Mains Exam: It consists of nine papers, of which seven are compulsory, and two are qualifying papers. The compulsory papers are Essay, General Studies Paper-I, General Studies Paper-II, General Studies Paper-III, General Studies Paper-IV, 2 Papers of the Optional Subject chosen by the candidate. The qualifying papers consist of 1 Indian Language paper, and a compulsory English Language paper. Each compulsory paper is of 250 marks, making the total marks for mains 1750. The duration of each paper is three hours.
  • Interview: Candidates who qualify for the mains exam are called for the interview, which is conducted by the UPSC. It is of 275 marks. Thus the total exam is of 1750 + 275 = 2025 marks.

Preparation Strategy – How To Become IAS Officer Step By Step

Preparing for the Civil Services Exam requires a dedicated effort, a comprehensive strategy and a disciplined approach. Here are some tips and tricks to help you in your preparation:

  • Understand the Exam Pattern: The most important aspect of how to become IAS is, before starting your preparation, one must understand the exam pattern and the syllabus. You should be well-versed with the topics covered in each paper and the weightage of each topic.
  • Plan Your Target Attempt Year: One must set a target attempt when he starts preparation e.g. if you start in 2023 then your target attempt should be 2025.
  • Make Monthly Goals: Since the syllabus is like an ocean, one must set goals for completing it. The best way out is setting goals for every month. Once set, the targets must be accomplished no matter what.
  • Start From Basics: NCERTs are the best way to start with. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything. {Watch this video : UPSC and NCERTs}.
  • Study From Standard Books: Read all the core topics from standard books. By doing so you’ll internalize the subject and comprehend it properly. {Watch this video : Notes and Standard Books}.
  • Make Your Own Notes: It is very important that you make your own notes. Notes help in revisions as you cannot read the big books 10 days before the exam. There is no point in studying from notes made by others as they were made in accordance with their own needs and circumstances. Your needs and circumstances are different. Anyways there is no short cut to success.
  • Avoid Social Media: Nowadays candidates have inculcated habits of preparing from YouTube. This is an extremely wrong practice. Social media can be used only to enhance your existing knowledge, not for studying completely from it. {Watch this video: UPSC and Social Media}
  • Target First Attempt As Your Last Attempt: This is very important because if you have a number of attempts in your mind then you’ll never clear this exam. A laid back attitude will set in and you will not adhere to your targets.

Some Other Do’s And Don’ts – How To Become IAS Officer

  • Read Newspapers and Magazines: Current affairs play a vital role in the UPSC Civil Services Exam, and you should keep yourself updated with the latest news and events. Reading newspapers and magazines like The Hindu, The Indian Express, Civil Services Chronicle and Yojana will help you in your preparation. This will also help in Essay writing and G.S. Paper IV. {Watch this video: UPSC Current Affairs Preparation}.
  • Practice Writing: It is meaningless to prepare for UPSC CSE without doing a lot of answer writing. Writing skills are crucial for the mains exam, and you should practice writing essays and answers regularly. You can join a coaching institute or take online courses to improve your writing skills. If you have all the knowledge and no answer writing skills then you will never make it.
  • Coaching Classes: Joining a coaching class is up to a candidate. If you are well aware about the preparation then there is no need for a coaching class. If you are not, then it is advisable to join a class. But make sure you join a class that provides a mentorship program. Never join classes that teach 100s of students in one classroom. {Watch this Video: Myths about UPSC Classes in Delhi}
  • Choose Optional Subjects Wisely: The optional papers can make or break your chances of selection, and you should choose the subjects wisely. The weightage of optional subjects is substantial as they carry 500 marks. You should opt for a subject that you are comfortable with and have a good understanding of. If you are not in Delhi, then choose an optional subject for which best guidance is available in your city or in the nearby area. It doesn’t matter which optional subject you choose. Your aim is to crack the exam not to become a scholar in a particular subject. {Watch this video: How to choose Optional Subject}.

Some Other Things

  • Time Management: Managing time is critical for the Civil Services Exam, and you should make a study plan and stick to it. You should allocate time for each subject and revise regularly. Best practice is weekly revision.
  • Never Join Online Classes: Nobody gets selected from online classes. It is a big fraud and a loss of time and money for the candidate. Online classes pay selected candidates to endorse their product.
  • Take Mock Tests: Taking mock tests and test series is an essential part of your preparation, and it will help you in assessing your preparation level. You can take mock tests available online or join a coaching institute that offers mock tests.
  • Solving PYQs: Solving previous years questions of all the subjects is very essential as the candidate would come to know what areas are usually represented in the exam from each subject.
  • Stay Motivated: It is very important that you stay motivated because this is a very long drawn process. So all the way you must be enthusiastic about what you are doing. Do some recreational activities.
  • Stay Healthy: Preparing for the Civil Services Exam requires long hours of study and hard work, and it is essential to stay healthy. You should eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and take breaks to avoid burnout.
  • Stay Positive: The Civil Services Exam is a tough nut to crack, and it requires a lot of patience and perseverance. You should stay positive and believe in yourself. Motivate yourself by reading success stories of IAS officers, and remember that hard work always pays off.


On the whole, clearing the UPSC CSE and becoming an IAS officer may be a challenging and daunting task, but it is not impossible. All you need is to set your priorities right and work hard in a systematic manner. One should also remember that mere hard work will not suffice. Hard work must be accompanied with a lot of smart work. Most important thing is that you must enjoy studying. Only then you will be able to do it passionately.

How To Become IAS

Rahul Sir’s IAS Academy

See Also

Women Empowerment In India

Formation Of Indian National Congress

Swadeshi Movement

FAQs On How To Become IAS Officer

How can I join IAS after 12TH?

The basic eligibility to appear for UPSC CSE is 21 years of age and graduation from any recognized university. So you cannot join after 12th. But this does not stop you from preparing after 12th. In fact, undergraduate is the best time to start preparation for UPSC CSE.

Is IAS exam difficult?

In a way yes and in a way no. It is difficult in the sense that the syllabus is like an ocean so covering it and revising it takes time, energy, effort and commitment. It is easy because all those who compete are not fully prepared. If one manages to work hard and prepare thoroughly then it is a cake walk.

How can I pass IAS in first attempt?

In fact, the first attempt is the best attempt. A simple way out is prepare thoroughly first with all the revisions and answer writing practice and then take your first attempt. Never mix attempts with studies.

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