How to become an IAS Officer?

How to become an IAS Officer - Indian Administrative service is commonly termed as IAS. To become an IAS officer one will have to crack Civil service examination (CSE). Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts this exam for selecting the candidates for IFS, IAS, IPS and other allied services. UPSC civil service exam is conducted in three stages: Preliminary (Pre), Mains and Interview. After the selection, the successful candidates undergo training as per the service they are selected for. An IAS officer serves the Government of India, Individual states and is sometimes deployed in various PSUs. The step by step description on how to become an IAS officer, eligibility criteria, pattern of exam and selection process is detailed in this article. This article also guides the candidates what to do after 10th or 12th to become an IAS officer; how to become an IAS officer after graduation and other important details.

What is the Eligibility Criteria to become an IAS officer?

Candidate will have to fulfill the following UPSC Civil Services Eligibility Criteria to appear in IAS exam or to become an IAS officer:

  • IAS exam is for Indian citizens only. So its mandatory to have citizenship of India,.

  • Candidate should have possess at least graduate degree. Final year students also allowed to apply for the first stage of exam.

  • Candidate should be between the age of 21 to 32 years. Age relaxation is also allowed for SC/ST (5 years), PH (10 years), OBC (3 years) candidates, Ex-serviceman (5 years) and PH (10 years).

  • There are some constraints on attempts to clear IAS exam. General Category candidates have only 6 attempts and OBC candidate have 9 attempts to clear IAS exam. No constraints on SC/ST for attempts to clear IAS exam, they can appear in IAS exam till the upper age limit.

Exam Pattern of Civil Services Exam

Exam pattern awareness is an important aspect to prepare for any competitive exam. Exam pattern for IAS is structured in three stages. Clearing one stage will enable the candidate to go for next stage. IAS exam pattern is explained below:




IAS (Preliminary Exam)

Paper-I (General Studies)

  • 100 questions

  • 120 minutes

  • 200 marks

Paper-II (Aptitude)

  • 80 questions

  • 120 minutes

  • 200 marks

IAS (Mains Exam)

Written Examination

It comprises of 9 objective and subjective type papers. 7 papers carries 250 marks each, which are counted for merit and the rest 2 papers are of qualifying nature, both carries 600 marks.

IAS exam Interview

Personal Interview

Candidates with minimum qualifying marks (cut-off) in mains are called for personal interview to test personality. It carries 275 marks.

IAS syllabus

IAS exam syllabus is given in the following table:



IAS syllabus




General studies (Current affairs, History, Geography, Political science, economics, Environment and general science)

200 marks


CSAT (Comprehension, Numerical ability, Logical reasoning, decision making, etc.)

200 marks


(total 9 papers, Paper A & B are of qualifying nature and rest 7 papers are of ranking in nature)

Paper A

One of the regional language, selected by candidates

300 marks

Paper B

English Language

300 marks

Paper I

Essay writing

250 marks

Paper II

General Studies-I (history and geography of the world and society, Indian heritage and culture)

250 marks

Paper III

General Studies-II (Governance, constitution, polity, social justice and international relations)

250 marks

Paper IV

General Studies III (Technology, economic development, biodiversity, environment, security and disaster management)

250 marks

Paper V

General Studies IV (ethics, integrity and aptitude)

250 marks

Paper VI and VII

Two papers on one optional subjects.

250+250 marks

Personal Interview


Personal interview is conducted to test the personality of candidate. Final merit list is prepared on the basis of interview and marks in main exam.

275 marks

UPSC IAS cut-off or minimum qualifying marks

UPSC Cut-off refers to the minimum qualifying marks to be obtained to qualify IAS exam. UPSC releases the cut-off for CSE / IAS exam for pre, mains, interview and final selection.

IAS 2017 all stages cut-off for all categories

This is the cut-off for IAS 2017. There can be some variation in the cut-off for this year. It is not released still. Candidate can get estimate from this following list for the cut-off.

































  • Preliminary exam cut-off is released on the basis of the marks secured in the Paper-I. And Paper-II is of qualifying nature with minimum 33% marks only. Candidates with minimum qualifying marks are eligible for the mains exam.

  • Mains exam cut-off is prepared on the basis of marks obtained in Paper I to paper VII. Paper A and paper B are of qualifying nature. Candidates who clear the main exam cut-off are called for interview by UPSC.

  • After interview final cut-off is prepared on the basis of total number secured in the mains exam and interview test.

How to become an IAS officer? (Selection process)

UPSC conducts CSE exam to select the candidates for IAS and other civil services of India. CSE exam is conducted in three stages:

  • Preliminary: Pre IAS exam is the first stage of IAS exam. Candidates who pass the pre exam are eligible to go for next stage. Pre exam is just a key that opens up the entry door to the main exam. Its marks are not counted in final merit list.

  • Mains: Main exam is the second stage that allows candidates to get the call for the personal interview. Candidates who will get minimum qualifying marks in mains exam are eligible for interview process.

  • Interview: Interview is conducted to test the personality of candidate for civil services.

Final merit list of selection process of IAS officer is prepared on the basis of total marks obtained in Mains and Interview test. Candidates are deployed to various services as per their rank in merit list.

IAS Books recommendations and preparation guidance for IAS

There are lots of books in the market for the preparation of IAS exam. Candidates can choose between the books. But we recommend to choose comprehensive books for special subjects. Never choose any mix up book of all subjects to prepare for IAS, because it will bound the limits to IAS preparation. Some of the books recommended to crack IAS exam, are listed below:

Book name


Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations

M. Laxmikanth

Indian Economy

Ramesh Singh

Indian Geography

Majid Hussain

Indian Art and Culture

Nitin Singhania

India Year Book (Current Affairs)

Publication division of India

A Brief History of Modern India

Rajiv Ahir

Oxford School Atlas


India’s Ancient Past

R.S. Sharma

History Of Medieval India

Satish Chandra

Preparation guidance

  • Read newspaper and articles daily.

  • Read newspapers and magazines daily

  • Keep focus on study

  • Make a strong and smart time table for study.

  • Go through the previous year papers

IAS Previous year question papers

Previous year question papers are one of the most used and powerful tool to crack any competitive exam. Previous year question papers helps to go through the pattern of the paper, types of questions asked and of course there is always a chance to repeat any question in exam. So previous year question papers and model papers helps to prepare for exam.

After preparation of IAS exam, It is good strategy to practise using previous year IAS question papers and IAS model papers. It makes candidates aware with the type of questions asked in IAS exam, important areas of subject. IAS previous year question paper helps to evaluate performance, mark shortcomings and work on it.

Salary of IAS Officer

An IAS officer gets many other additional allowances and benefits along with salary. A junior IAS officer salary is INR 56100 per month whereas salary of senior IAS officer such as cabinet secretary can be 2.5 lakh per month. Apart from the salary, other allowances and benefits are given to every IAS officer by government, which are listed below:

  • Discount on Govt. services

  • Transportation allowance

  • House rent allowance

  • Dearness Allowance (DA)

  • and many more things.

How to become an IAS officer after 10th?

  • IAS officer is an administrative level service. Graduation is the minimum qualification for IAS officer.

  • Candidates from arts, commerce and science stream with graduation degree can apply for IAS exam. So it doesn't matter which stream candidate takes after 10th.

  • Candidates can start to prepare for IAS exam from the school level.

  • Candidates should read some other books, newspapers and magazines apart from the academic syllabus.

How to become an IAS officer after 12th?

  • After 12th candidate will have to complete graduation degree from a recognised university.

  • candidate can choose for degree in any subject. But it will be a boost point for preparation to go for BA with the subject matching with IAS syllabus or choose any other degree whose syllabus matches with the syllabus of IAS.

  • Graduation with correspondence and distance education, is also eligible for IAS exam.

Can diploma holder apply for IAS?

  • Candidates with diploma holder can’t apply for IAS exam. Because IAS exam is a graduate level exam and diploma is equivalent to 12th.

  • So after diploma candidate will have to complete the graduate degree to be eligible for IAS exam.

How to become an IAS officer after graduation?

  • Graduation is sufficient to apply for IAS exam. Now, it's time to prepare for IAS exam.

  • To prepare for any of the exam, candidate should be aware with exam pattern, syllabus, eligibility criteria and other main points which are given above. Check that all the details under the headings: eligibility for IAS officer, exam pattern of IAS exam, IAS officer selection process and other things.

  • Read newspaper, magazine and article daily gain extra knowledge.

Questions related to UPSC Civil Services Exam


Download the Careers360 App on your Android phone

Regular exam updates, QnA, Predictors, College Applications & E-books now on your Mobile

Careers360 App
150M+ Students
24,000+ Colleges
500+ Exams
1500+ E-books