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Welcome to you most trusted companion – INSIGHTS –  in your journey towards getting a Top Rank in the UPSC IAS Civil Services Examination. Our initiatives will make sure that you are always on right path and under the best guidance available for this exam preparation.

Every initiative, every content, except for our much loved Prelims  Test Series, is FREE here. You can sit at your home and prepare confidently. It doesn’t matter what’s your level of preparation, it doesn’t matter whether you are working professional or a homemaker, Insights will be with you and will help you achieve your dream.  The following testimonials from Toppers, most of them shared voluntarily out of love and respect for our small contribution made to them during their days of UPSC civil services preparation.

This year you can be a Topper. Success depends on Three Important factors – Right guidance, Right environment and Motivation. You will get these three here, at Insights, all the time till you reach your goal. 

If you ever wanted to do self study and succeed in this exam, Insights was the platform you were looking for. We wish you all the best. Let your journey end with a good rank.

If you are a First Time visitor, Please follow these steps:

  1. Read Topper’s Articles – you can read them by clicking links below, or Here (You need to read these to get much needed motivation)
  2. Read Here about some of the Lies and Myths usually spread about UPSC IAS exam
  3. You can read Daily Current EventsHere (In Delhi you can see our current events being sold in every shop you visit. However, it’s free Here)
  4. If you want to know how to Prepare for Prelims, Please click Here to get the timetable (2017 Timetable will be posted after 2016 Prelims)
  5. If you want to solve Daily Current Events Quiz, click Here.
  6. If you want to practice Daily Answer Writing, click Here (It’s called Secure Initiative and  it will definitely secures you a rank once you start following it religiously)

Read Stories and Strategies of All Insights Toppers HERE




  1. UPSC IAS Topper NANDINI K R, Rank – 1, CSE – 2016, Insights Offline Student – Strategy & Motivation
  2. As Mains approaches – Strategy and a few words. – Mittali Sethi
  3. MOTIVATION and IAS TOPPER’S Detailed STRATEGY, Notes: Dr Naveen Bhat, Rank 37, Second Attempt, Insights Student (Download His Full Notes)
  4. MOTIVATION: Nikhil B, Rank 107, Second Attempt, Essay Score 45 to 158
  5. MOTIVATION and TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Dhyanachandra H M, Rank 47, CSE-2016, Age 24, Second Attempt, Insights Offline student
  6. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: SHAURYA SUMAN, AIR 119 (CSE-2016), GS Marks 481, GS Strategy
  7. IAS TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Santhosh B M, Rank 307, Third Attempt, Insights Offline Student
  8. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Meghashree D R, Rank 289, CSE – 2016, No Coaching, Insights Offline Student
  9. PSYCHOLOGY STRATEGY for Civil Services: Strategy, Booklist, Resources and Notes- Mittali Sethi AIR 56 (302 Marks)
  10. How to make Notes? Note Making Strategy by Akash Gupta, Rank 128, CSE-2016
  11. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Shabarish P, Rank 617, CSE-2016, Insights Offline Student
  12. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Ann Mary George, Rank 123 – Didn’t clear prelims in first two attempts, scored 137 in third prelims
  13. SOCIOLOGY STRATEGY: Garima Lekhwani, Rank 136 CSE-2016, Sociology Marks – 290
  14. TOPPER’S STRATEGY (GS & Pub Ad): Shivam Pratap Singh. AIR 52, CSE 2016 -Public Administration (Marks 312), 3rd Attempt
  15. POLITICAL SCIENCE & INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: Strategy by IAS Topper – Mirant Parikh, Rank 67, PSIR Marks – 307, First Attempt
  16. MOTIVATION and TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Garima Lekhwani, Rank 136 CSE-2016, Age 23, Lady Shri Ram College of Commerce
  17. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Rajarshi Raj Varma, Rank – 120, CSE-2016, ‘My journey is my reward’
  18. TESTIMONIAL & STRATEGY: Juhi Rai, Rank 155, First Attempt, One Year of Preparation – Followed Insights Consistently for all the Three Stages of Preparation
  19. ESSAY STRATEGY: Manuj Jindal. Rank 53, Essay Score – 158, CSE-2016
  20. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Swarn Prabhat, AIR – 105 in CSE 2016, 2nd Attempt
  21. TOPPERS’S STRATEGY: Saravanan V, Rank 27 CSE – 2016
  22. ECONOMICS OPTIONAL Strategy: Tejasvi Rana Rank 12 (Marks – 325, CSE-2016), Download Her Economics Optional Notes and Related Documents
  23. MOTIVATION & STRATEGY: Dinesh Kumar C, Rank 24, 4th Attempt – Falling Down and Rising up – Clearing while working and No Coaching
  24. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Dr Nandhinidevi K, Rank 54, Medical Science Optional
  25. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Prabhat Ranjan Pathak, Rank 137, First Attempt
  26. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Aishwarya Dongre, Rank 196, Age 22, First Attempt, Political Science Optional (327/500)
  27. TOPPER’s STRATEGY: Ayushi Sudan, Rank 65, CSE – 2016, MSc Physics
  28. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Mirant Parikh, Rank 67, Age 24, First Attempt, Optional – Political Science
  29. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Rohit Sissoniya, Rank 93, CSE – 2016

  30. Civil Services and a Job – Chasing your dreams while working: Mittali Sethi AIR 56, UPSC CSE 2016
  31. MOTIVATION: Suruchi Chaudhary, Rank 152, Proud Mother of Two Young Boys, Quit Corporate Job of 7 Years, Had Only 2 Attempts and Rank in Last Attempt, Commerce & Accountancy Optional
  32. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Yash Chaudhary, RANK 258, Third Attempt
  33. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Utkarsh Gupta, Rank 78, Unconventional Approach, Sociology Optional
  34. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Bilal Mohiuddin Bhat, Rank 10, J&K, Veterinary Science, Failed in 3 Prelims, 10th Rank in Fourth Attempt
  35. MOTIVATION: Kiran S, Rank 310, Last Attempt, 3 Interviews, Story of Determination and Hope
  36. ESSAY STRATEGY by IAS TOPPER: Rank 63, Tanai Sultania, Essay marks 110 to 159
  37. Topper’s Strategy: Sharath Chandra Arroju AIR 425, Doctor (MBBS), Anthropology Optional Strategy, Motivation
  38. MOTIVATION: MITTALI SETHI – AIR 56, The Journey of a Married, Working Woman into Civil Services – Truly Inspiring!
  39. MOTIVATION: Aishwarya Sharma, Rank 168, CSE 2016, Engineer, Complete Self Study, No Coaching, Economics Optional
  40. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: From Kanpur to Bangalore, Journey of Trust and Determination, Offline Experience – Utkarsh Gupta, Rank 324, CSE-2016, Mathematics Optional, Second Attempt
  41. TOPPERS from Insights: 27 Candidates in Top 100 of UPSC Civil Services Exam 2016 Followed Insights Religiously (Prelims Test Series/Mains Test Series/Secure/Timetables/Motivational Posts)
  42. IAS TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Tejasvi Rana – Rank 12 (CSE 2016), IIT Kanpur, ECONOMICS Optional, Second Attempt, Insights Follower
  43. IAS TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Suchismita Kanungoe, Rank 261, 443 Marks from Four GS Papers! + Tips on How to Follow Insights Secure
  44. IAS TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Shashank Chaudhary, Rank -130, First attempt, Electrical Engineer from IIT DELHI, Mathematics Optional
  45. TOPPER’S STRATEGY: Akil Mahajan, Rank 213, Fourth Attempt, Geography Optional (289 Marks)
  46. TOPPER’s STRATEGY: From 155 in CSE’14 to 306 in CSE’16 in PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION – Strategy by Rank  81
  47. SOCIOLOGY STRATEGY: Rank 63, Tanai Sultania, CSE – 2016
  48. ANTHROPOLOGY Strategy: Devendra Kumar, Rank 97, Anthropology Marks 312



  1. ALL INDIA RANK – 4, Artika Shukla – First Attempt, Self Study, Ardent follower of Insights on India – Strategy and Motivation
  2. ANTHROPOLOGY STRATEGY – Rank 14, Anthro Topper Marks – 275
  3. MOTIVATION: Myths and Mistakes to Avoid – Kumar Ashirwad, Rank 35, Insights Offline Student
  4. PRELIMS STRATGEY: Kumar Ashirwad, Rank 35, Marks in Prelims GS1 – 140
  5. MAINS Strategy and ANSWER WRITING Tips – Kumar Ashirwad, Rank 35 CSE – 2015
  6. Topper’s Notes: Nitin Sangwan, Rank 28 CSE 2015
  7. Testimonials and thank you messages from IAS Toppers (CSE 2015) who followed Insights – 2016 (Ranks 4, 25, 40, 60, 85, 133, 150, 152, 202, 480, 694 and 732)
  8. Thank you Note by Dr Ravindra Goswami, Rank – 152 CSE – 2015
  9. DETAILED ESSAY STRATEGY by Essay Topper 2015 (147 Marks) – Gazal Bharadwaj, Rank 40
  10. DETAILED ESSAY STRATEGY by Essay Topper 2015 (149 Marks) – Chandra Mohan Garg, Rank 25
  11. MOTIVATION – Bandana Pokhriyal, Cleared while working as Excise Inspector, Rank 83
  12. MOTIVATION – Alankrita Pandey – Overcame Depression, First Attempt – Rank 85
  13. List of 16 Toppers who benefited from Insights Offline Mains Test Series
  14. Kirthi C – UPSC Topper & Insights Follower (Rank – 14) – GS Score 417, Third attempt – Shares Secret behind GS Scores!
  15. Chandra Mohan Garg – UPSC Topper & Insights Follower (Rank – 25, CSE 2015) – Detailed Preparation Strategy
  16. Atul Vats – UPSC Topper & Insights Follower (Rank – 60, CSE – 2015) – Preparation Strategy
  17. Naman Upadhyaya – UPSC Topper & Insights Follower (Rank – 106, CSE 2015) – Preparation Strategy
  18. Srinivas Gowda – UPSC Topper and Insights Offline Student (Rank 105, CSE 2015) – Preparation Strategy
  19. Manju Adure, Insights Offline Student (Rank 291, CSE 2015) – Housewife, Two Failed attempts in Prelims
  20. Keerthishri – UPSC Topper & Insights Offline Students (Rank 380, CSE 2015) – Experience at Insights Offline Classes
  21. Abhinav Goel – UPSC Topper & Insights Follower (Rank – 36, CSE 2015) – Public Administration Strategy
  22. Gazal Bharadwaj – UPSC Topper & Insights Follower (Rank – 40, CSE 2015) – History Optional Preparation Strategy
  23. J Snehaja – UPSC Topper & Insights Follower, 3ed Highest Score in Interview (206) – Rank 103 – Commerce Optional – preparation Strategy
  24. Abhishek Gupta – UPSC Topper & Insights Follower (Rank – 202, CSE 2015) – Preparation Strategy
  25. Agam Jain – UPSC Topper & Insights Follower (Rank – 133, CSE 2015) – Preparation Strategy
  26. Rohan Botre – UPSC Topper & Insights Follower (Rank – 187, CSE 2015) – Preparation Strategy
  27. Vivek Chauhan UPSC Topper – Failed in 4 Prelims and Rank 300 in 6th attempt – Motivational Story
  28. Poonam – Primary School Teacher to ACP tp UPSC Rank – 308, Married and Started at Age 28
  29. ANTHROPOLOGY Strategy – Chetan T S, Rank 193 CSE – 2015
  30. ANTHROPOLOGY NOTES – S. Chithranjan Rank 574, CSE – 2015
  31. HISTORY OPTIONAL & GS STRATEGY: Vivek Chauhan, Rank 300
  32. PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION STRATEGY: Mukul Gupta, Rank – 87, Marks 237
  33. PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION STRATEGY: Devayani, Rank – 576, Marks 245
  34. SOCIOLOGY STRATEGY: Chandra Mohan Garg, Rank – 25, CSE – 2015
  35. PHILOSOPHY NOTES – by Rank 150, Ambarish Vemuri

In 2015 Mains, 20 out of 20 questions were either directly or indirectly asked under Secure – 2015 initiative in Paper – 2, 18 in Paper – 3 and 18 in Paper – 1.For details, check links below.



  1. Nearly 60 Questions repeated from Insights Test Series (Directly or indirectly) in UPSC Prelims – 2015
  2. Insights ANSWER KEY for General Studies Paper – 1 UPSC Prelims 2015 (With Detailed Explanation for Every Question)
  3. GEOGRAPHY OPTIONAL  – Strategy by Raju Mishra, IAS Topper 2014, Rank 65
  4. MOTIVATION – for UPSC Prelims 2015
  6. Sample Essay Paper by Balaji D K, IAS  Rank 36 
  7. Mains General Studies Papers 2 and 3 Strategy – By Rank 36
  8. Ethics and Integrity (GS-4) Strategy – By Rank 36
  9. Medical Science Strategy – By Rank 28
  10. Political Science Strategy – By Rank 77
  11. Mathematics Strategy – By Rank 8
  12. Anthropology Strategy – By Rank 26
  13. Public Administration Strategy – By Insights
  14. Summary of Economic Survey – 2015 – Prepare by Raju Mishra, Rank – 65
  15. Insights Daily Debates – Create Your Own Opinion on Issues that Matter


  1. Fouzia Tarannum, UPSC IAS Topper Rank – 31: Getting Top Rank While Working
  2. Atul Vikas Kulkarni UPSC IAS Topper (Rank 180): Started CSE Preparation at the Age of 28 and Cleared it in Second Attempt
  3. Balaji D.K. – UPSC IAS Topper (Rank – 36) – Overcoming Many Obstacles –
  4. Sandeep Chaudhary – UPSC IAS Topper (Rank – 158) Interview –
  5. Nitish K  – UPSC  IAS Topper (Rank – 8) – My Preparation Strategy 
  6. Satish Reddy – UPSC IAS Topper (Rank – 97) – My Journey Towards Success – Part – 2
  7. Madhusudan Hulgi – UPSC IAS Topper (Rank – 392) – Failed in  3 Prelims, Got Rank in 4th Attempt!
  8. Satish Reddy – UPSC IAS Topper (Rank – 97) – My Journey Towards Success 
  9. Neha Kumari – UPSC IAS Topper  (Rank 26) – First attempt, Insights Offline Student
  10. Khushal Yadav – UPSC IAS Topper (Rank 28) – Demystifying Interview 
  11. Mohmd Sameer Islam (MSI) – UPSC IAS Topper (Rank – 564) – Preparation Strategy
  12. Arpana Gupta-UPSC IAS Topper (Rank 108) – Personal Loss and Success: Motivational Story
  13. Abdaal Akhtar – UPSC IAS Topper (Rank – 35) Read His Strategy –
  14. Raju Mishra – UPSC IAS Topper (Rank 65) Read His Strategy –
  15. Five Out of Twenty Insights Students Get Top Ranks (Including AIR – 8)
  16. From Nothing to Rank – 65 – A Remarkable Journey! –

This article is about the examination in India. For a worldwide view, see Civil service entrance examination.

The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a nationwide competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) among others.[1] It is conducted in two phases - a preliminary examination consisting of two objective-type papers (General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II also popularly known as Civil Service Aptitute Test or CSAT), and a main examination consisting of nine papers of conventional (essay) type, followed by a personality test (interview).[1]


The Civil Services Examination is based on the British Raj - era Imperial Civil Service tests, as well as the civil service tests conducted by old Indian empires such as in the Mauryan Empire and Mughal Empire. The Civil Services Examination is considered to be one of the most difficult and competitive examinations in India. On average, 900,000 to 1,000,000 candidates apply every year and the number of candidates appearing to sit the preliminary examination is approximately 450,000.[2] The examination consists of the following three stages:

  • Stage I: Preliminary examination - A qualifying test advertised in Feb-March and held in June-July each year. Results are published in mid-August.
  • Stage II: Main examination - Held in October every year.
  • Stage III: Personality Test (interview) - held in March each year. Final results are usually announced in May .

The training program for the selected candidates usually commences the following September.


Eligibility for the examination is as follows:[1]


  • For the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, the candidate must be a citizen of India.
  • For other services, the candidate must be one of the following:
    • A citizen of India
    • A citizen of Nepal or a subject of Bhutan
    • A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India


All candidates must have as a minimum one of the following educational qualifications:

  • A degree from a Central, State or a Deemed university[1]
  • A degree received through correspondence or distance education
  • A degree from an open university[3]
  • A qualification recognized by the Government of India as being equivalent to one of the above[1]

The following candidates are also eligible, but must submit proof of their eligibility from a competent authority at their institute/university at the time of the main examination, failing which they will not be allowed to attend the exam.[1]

  • Candidates who have appeared in an examination, the passing of which would render them educationally qualified enough to satisfy one of the above points[4]
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of the MBBS degree but have not yet completed an internship.
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of ICAI, ICSI and ICWAI.
  • A degree from a private university.
  • A degree from any foreign university recognized by the Association of Indian Universities.


The candidate must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years (for the General category candidate) on August 1 of the year of examination. Prescribed age limits vary with respect to caste reservations.

Number of attempts[edit]

The number of times a candidate may attempt the exam is limited as follows:[3]

  • General category candidates = 6.[6]
  • OBC category candidates = 9.
  • SC/ST candidates = unlimited attempts till 37 years of age.

Appearing to attempt one of the papers in the preliminary examination is counted as an attempt, including disqualification/ cancellation of candidature. However, applying to sit the exam but failing to attend is not counted as an attempt.[7]

Vacancies and Selection[edit]

Generally the number of vacancies varies every year. The number of candidates that pass the preliminary examination is generally 11 or 12 times the number of vacancies, and the number of candidates selected for the final interview is twice the number of vacancies. As per existing policies, reservation for SC/ST/OBC is applied to each level of the selection process.

In 2006, around 400,000 candidates applied for fewer than 500 vacancies. Of those candidates, 7,500 passed the preliminary exam. In 2010, 547,698 candidates appeared for the preliminary exam.[8]

List of Services[edit]

Following are the services which one gets on qualifying the Civil Service Examination.[9]

All India Services (Group A)

Central Services (Group A)

Group B Services


The pattern of the Preliminary examination up to 2010 was based on the recommendations of the Kothari Commission (1979). It included two examinations, one on general studies worth 150 marks, and the second on one of 23 optional subjects worth 300 marks. Until 2011, when it was revamped,[10] the preliminary pattern was sustained with only minor changes once every ten to fifteen years.[10]

From 2011 onwards, the preliminary examination, now popularly known as the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) (officially it is still called General Studies Paper-1 and Paper-2), intends to focus on analytical abilities and understanding rather than the ability to memorize. The new pattern includes two papers of two hours duration and 200 marks each.[8] Both papers have multiple choice objective type questions only.[8] They are as under:

  • Paper I tests the candidate's knowledge on current events, history of India and Indian national movement, Indian and world geography, Indian polity panchayti Raj system and governance, economic and social development, environmental ecology, biodiversity, climate change and general science ,Art and culture.[8]
  • Paper II tests the candidates' skills in comprehension, interpersonal skills, communication, logical reasoning, analytical ability, decision making, problem solving, basic numeracy, data interpretation, English language comprehension skills and mental ability.[8]

In August 2014, the Centre announced that English marks in CSAT-II will not be included for gradation or merit and 2011 candidates may get a second chance to appear for the test next year.[11]

In May 2015, the Government of India announced that Paper II of the preliminary examination will be qualifying in nature i.e. it wouldn't be graded for eligibility in Mains Examination & a candidate needs to secure at least 33% marks in order to be eligible for graded on basis of marks of Paper I of Preliminary Examination.[1]


The Civil Services Mains Examination consists of a written examination and an interview.[1][12]


The written examination consists of nine papers, two qualifying and seven ranking in nature. The range of questions may vary from just one mark to sixty marks, twenty words to 600 words answers. Candidates who pass qualifying papers are ranked according to marks and a selected number of candidates are called for interview or a personality test at the Commission's discretion

According to the new marks allocations in Civil Service Examination 2013 there are some changes made in the examination according to the suggestion of the Prof. Arun. S. Nigavekar Committee.[13] However, after some controversy, the qualifying papers for Indian languages and English were restored to the examination.[14]

Paper A(One of the Indian languages listed below, to be selected by the candidate (from the languages listed in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India) (Qualifying)300
Paper BEnglish (Qualifying)300
Paper IEssay250
Paper IIGeneral Studies I (Indian heritage and culture, history and geography of the world and society)250
Paper IIIGeneral Studies II (Governance, constitution, polity, social justice and international relations)250
Paper IVGeneral Studies III (Technology, economic development, bio-diversity, environment, security and disaster management)250
Paper VGeneral Studies IV(ethics, integrity and aptitude)250
Papers VI, VIITwo papers on subjects to be selected by the candidate from the list of optional subjects below (250 marks for each paper)500
Sub Total (Written Test)1750
Personality Test (Interview)275
Total Marks2025

List of Languages[edit]

The examination is offered in the following languages, with the name of the script in braces:[15]

Optional subjects[edit]

The subjects available for Papers VI and VII are:[15] Public administration is one of the most sought after optional subjects in Mains examination as it has overlapping content with other subjects like Current Affairs, History, Polity. The standards of Optional papers is of Post Graduate level. Paper I is theoretical but Paper II is often dominated by Current Affairs and Application based questions.

  • Agriculture
  • Animal Husbandary and Veterinary Science
  • Anthropology
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Commerce and Accountancy
  • Economics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • History
  • Law
  • Literature of any one of the non-English languages listed above
  • Management
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medical Science
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Zoology


Officially called the "Personality Test", the objective of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to evaluate the mental calibre of a candidate. In broad terms, this is really an assessment of not only a candidate's intellectual qualities, but also social traits and interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, and intellectual and moral integrity.

The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination, but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation that is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.

The interview is not intended to be a test either of the specialised or general knowledge of the candidate, which has been already tested through written papers. Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study, but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own state or country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of all well-educated youth.


External links[edit]

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