Civil Services Preliminary Examination: A Comprehensive Guide

The Civil Services Preliminary Examination is among India’s most sought-after and competitive examinations. It serves as the first step towards a prestigious career in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and other government services. This complete guide’ll provide a detailed overview of the preliminary civil services examination, eligibility criteria, application process, examination pattern, and preparation tips. 

Overview of the Civil Services Preliminary Examination

The civil services preliminary examination is conducted annually by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to shortlist candidates for the next stage, i.e., the Civil Services Main Examination. It is an all-India examination that thousands of aspirants appear for yearly, aiming to secure a prestigious position in the Indian bureaucracy.

Important Dates

  • Date of Notification: 01/02/2023
  • Date of Commencement of Examination: 28/05/2023
  • Duration of Examination: One Day
  • Last Date for Receipt of Applications: 21/02/2023 – 6:00 pm
  • Date of Upload: 01/02/2023

Eligibility Criteria for the Civil Services Preliminary Examination

Before applying for the civil services preliminary examination, Knowing the eligibility requirements set by the UPSC is important. Candidates must fulfill the below-mentioned requirements to be eligible for the examination:


The candidate must be a person who is a citizen of India or a person from Nepal, Bhutan, or a Tibetan refugee who arrived in India before January 1, 1962. Persons of Indian origin who have The majority of them came to Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia, and Vietnam, planning to settle permanently in India are also eligible.

Age Limit

Candidates must be aged between 21 and 32 years old. Of age as of August 1, 2023. However, there are certain age relaxations for candidates belonging to reserved categories:

  • Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) candidates: Up to 5 years of relaxation
  • Other Backward Classes (OBC) candidates: Up to 3 years of relaxation
  • Persons with Benchmark Disabilities (PwBD) candidates: Up to 10 years of relaxation

Educational Qualification

Candidates must possess an advanced degree from a reputable university or equivalent qualification. Candidates appearing for their final year examinations or awaiting their results are also eligible to apply, provided they submit their degree certificate as proof of passing the examination before the commencement of the Main Examination.

Application Process for the Civil Services Preliminary Examination

The application process for the civil services preliminary examination is entirely online. Or waiting for their or waiting for there are and are eligible to apply successfully apply for the examination:

  1. Visit the official UPSC website ( and click the ‘Apply Online link.
  2. Click on the ‘Online Application for Various Examinations of UPSC’ link.
  3. Read the instructions carefully and click on the ‘Part-I Registration link.
  4. Fill in the required details, such as personal information, educational qualifications, and contact details.
  5. After completing Part-I Registration, proceed with the ‘Part-II Registration link.
  6. Upload the necessary documents per the prescribed specifications, such as a scanned photograph and signature.
  7. Pay the examination fee (Rs. 100 for General and OBC candidates; exempted for SC/ST/PwBD/female candidates) through online mode (Credit Card/Debit Card/Net Banking) or offline mode (cash payment in any SBI branch).
  8. Select the examination center and confirm the declaration.
  9. Submit the application form and take a printout for future reference.

Examination Pattern for the Civil Services Preliminary Examination

The civil services ‘ preliminary exam consists of two objective tests: General Studies Paper-I and General Studies Paper-II (the Civil Services Aptitude Test or CSAT). Both papers are conducted on the same day and have a maximum of 200 marks each. The duration of each paper is 2 hours.

General Studies Paper-I

This paper tests candidates’ knowledge of current events, Indian history, geography, Indian polity, economy, social development, environmental ecology, biodiversity, climate change, and general science. This paper is considered for merit ranking.

General Studies Paper-II (CSAT)

This paper tests candidates’ comprehension, interpersonal skills, logical reasoning, analytical ability, decision-making, problem-solving, basic numeracy, and data interpretation skills. Candidates must score at least 33% in this paper to qualify; however, this paper is not considered for merit ranking.

Preparation Tips for the Civil Services Preliminary Examination

Preparing for the civil services preliminary examination requires a strategic approach, hard work, and consistency. Below are some tips to help you prepare effectively:

Understand the Syllabus and Exam Pattern

Before starting your preparation, thoroughly understand the syllabus and examination pattern. This will help you identify the essential topics and allocate your time accordingly.

Plan a Study Schedule

Create a study schedule that covers all the essential topics and allows time for revision and practice. Stick to this schedule and evaluate your progress regularly.

Read Newspapers and Magazines

Reading newspapers and magazines is crucial for staying updated on current events and understanding various perspectives on national and international issues. Regular reading will also improve your comprehension and vocabulary skills.

Take Mock Tests and Solve Previous Years’ Papers

Taking mock tests and solving previous years’ question papers will help you gauge your preparedness and identify improvement areas. It will assist you in familiarizing yourself with the pattern of examination along with time management.

Revise Regularly

Regular revision is essential to retain information and reinforce your understanding of concepts. Allocate time for revision in your study schedule and use it to revisit important topics and practice questions.

To prepare effectively for the civil services preliminary examination, referring to the right study materials is essential. Below is a list of recommended books and resources for each paper:

General Studies Paper-I

  1. NCERT textbooks (Class 6-12) for history, geography, economics, and political science
  2. Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
  3. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  4. Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong
  5. A Brief History of Modern India by Rajiv Ahir

General Studies Paper-II (CSAT)

  1. CSAT Paper-II by Arihant Publications
  2. Analytical Reasoning by M.K. Pandey
  3. A Modern Approach to Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by R.S. Aggarwal
  4. Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by R.S. Aggarwal


The civil services preliminary examination is a crucial step towards a prestigious career in the Indian bureaucracy. To succeed in this examination, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the eligibility criteria, application process, examination pattern, and preparation strategy. With determination, hard work, and the right resources, you can clear the civil services preliminary examination and move one step closer to serving the nation.

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