How much difficulty is UPSC CSE

The number of candidates who apply for IAS Exam is increasing fast. There are many reasons – increase in salary, prestige, publicity, job security and so on. But how many candidates can get into any of the 24 civil services in a year?

The total number of vacancies are only approximately 1000

The answer is – only around 1000. But, there is nothing to feel bad about it. It’s the difficulty to get into services like IAS, IPS, IFS etc which makes it more attractive.

How tough is the IAS exam competition?

IAS exam (UPSC Civil Services Exam) is widely considered as the toughest exam in India. Why?

This is not because of the difficulty of the questions asked. Of course, the questions which come in the Preliminary, Mains or Interview stages of IAS exam are not easy. But IAS exam is tough to crack because the selection ratio is very less.

There are only limited number of vacancies every year (only approximately 1000, for all the 24 services combined like IAS, IPS, IFS etc – and this includes 49.5% reservation).

The competition is huge. And, the quantity and quality of the competition are increasing exponentially. The selection can now be rightly called ‘one in a million’ as more than 1 million aspirants apply for the exam – including those for IITs, IIMs etc.

In this post, let us analyse in detail the number of candidates who – apply for UPSC Civil Services exam, actually appear for the Preliminary exam, qualify the Preliminary exam, sit for the Main exam, appear for the Interview/Personality Test, and find a place in the final rank list.

The number of candidates who applied for IAS exam and appeared for Prelims, Mains and Interview in the last 10 years – A comparison

YearNumber of candidates
who applied for Prelims
Number of candidates
who appeared for Prelims
Number of candidates
who qualified for mains
Number of candidates
who appeared for mains
Number of
who were called for
20149474284,51,602 16900*1628633081364
20159,45,9084,65,88215008 15000*27971164

* – denotes approximate figure.

Note: As per UPSC, the number of candidates to be admitted for the Main exam will be about twelve to thirteen (12-13) times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in the year through this examination. Analyzing the above chart, it can be seen that this figure usually would be 12.5 times the approximate vacancies.

Note: As per UPSC, the number of candidates to be summoned for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled. But looking at the above data, it can be seen that, this number would be around 2.5

Yes, the competition is increasing – but success favors the brave!

As per the above analysis, there is no doubt that the competition as increasing, despite the number of vacancies remaining more or less around 1000.

The last 8 years saw an addition of around 8,00,000 new UPSC preliminary exam applicants but the combined vacancies of all 24 services increased only by a meager 100 or 200.

It should also be noted how high should be the all-India rank for an aspirant to get Into IAS, IPS or IFS.

But there is nothing to be worried about – if you are a serious aspirant. What matters in the IAS exam is right strategies and guidance.

IAS exam is not only cleared by doctors, engineers or those with PhDs, but it is an inclusive exam, equally conquered by everyone – irrespective of the financial, social or educational background. If you have potential and if you have self-belief, you should definitely try this exam. You can clear IAS!

What are the strategies to clear IAS exam, and make sure you stay ahead in the race?