IAS Syllabus

IAS Preliminary & Mains Exam Syllabus

In the below section of this page, we are giving IAS Syllabus 2016 for Preliminary exam and main exam. Preliminary Exam consist 2 papers i.e. Paper 1 and Paper 2.


IAS Preliminary Exam


Paper 1:

History of India and Indian national movement
General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization General Science.
Indian and world geography- Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
Indian politics and governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
Current events of national and international importance
Economic and social development Ecology- – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.

Paper 2:

Logical reasoning and analytical ability
Interpersonal skills including communication skills
General mental ability
English language comprehension skills
Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level).


IAS Main Exam


in the beneath segment of this page, we are providing IAS Syllabus for main exam. Main examination consist 2 paper i.e. paper A and paper B. In paper A, there are 2 parts and In Paper B there is 7 parts.

Paper A:

Paper I: Any Indian Language

In this, candidates have to choose one language from Languages which included in Eighth Schedule of Constitution. This exam is not compulsory for candidates who are from States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.

Paper II: English

Purpose of this paper is to test candidate’s skills to read and understand serious discursive prose, and to express his thoughts correctly, in English and concerned Indian Language.

Pattern of questions would be mostly as follows:-

Comprehension of given passages
Precis Writing
Usage and Vocabulary

Paper B:

Paper Subject Topics
III Essay Candidates will require writing an essay on a specific topic. Choice of subjects will be given. They will be expected to keep closely to topic of essay to assemble their ideas in orderly and to write in brief.
IV General Studies 1
  • (Indian Heritage/Culture, World History & Geography)
  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
  • The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country
V General Studies 2
  • (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations)
  •  Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
  • The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country
VI General Studies 3
  • (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-Diversity, Environment, Security & Disaster Management)
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.
  • Government Budgeting.
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
VII General Studies 4
  • (Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude)
  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships.
  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  • Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
VIII and IX Optional 1 (Of your choice)/ Optional 2 (Of your choice)
  • Botany, Economics, General Studies, Geography, Management, Philosophy, Public Administration
  • Agriculture, Chemistry, Medical science, Electrical Engineering, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, Sociology, Statistics, Law, Essays, Commerce & Accountancy and Psychology

Important Notice: For paper VIII and IX, Candidates can select any ONE optional subject from amongst list of subjects provided above.



Essential booklist for UPSC Prelims 2018

If you are appearing for Prelims 2016, and want to know which books you need to read, below is the list of books that you will need to clear Prelims. It has been compiled on the recommendations of our IAS experts, and has been updated keeping in mind the UPSC Prelims examination of the past 3 years.

NCERT BASIC READINGS Magazines & Newspapers
11th (Ancient Indian History – RS Sharma)
11th (Medieval Indian History – Satish Chandra)
12th (Modern Indian History – Bipan Chandra)
Indian Economy
Performance & Policies – Uma Kapila
The Hindu
6th to 10th Standard Books (Old Syllabus)
11th to 12th Standard Books (New Syllabus)
Indian Constitution – M Lakshmikantha The Indian Express
11th Standard (Indian Economic Development)
Marching Ahead With Science – NBT
From Government to Government – NBT
Future of Indian Agriculture – NBT
The Frontline
Indian Polity
9th to 12th Standard Book
The Constitution of India – P M Bakshi
India’s Foreign Policy – V P Dutt
Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude – IGNOU Material
Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong
Indian Year Book – Publication Division
International Relations
12th Standard Book (Contemporary World Politic)
World Politics
Orient Blackswan Atlas
TTK School Atlas
Constitutional Questions & Citizen Charter – A G Noorani
Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri
India and the dynamics of World Politics – Sharma, Goria & Mishra

All the above mentioned recommendations are well-suited for any aspirant to clear the Civil Service Exam like IAS in your very first attempt. But ultimately it depends on your perseverance and hard work to sail through.


The subject are taken by Shanmugam IAS Study Circle

1. Geography

2. History

3. Political Sciences

4. Public Administration

5. Tamil Literature 




In the journey of Civil Services Examination, The Interview (Personality Test) is like a climax of an interesting Suspense Thriller movie. The whole process is the Most Important, Interesting and Memorable part.

Also, it is the most misunderstood, least prepared for, least guided/misguided and often the most mishandled and mismanaged process. But when rightly handled, it is surely the easiest and the most rewarding experience.


* It has a great scoring potential. Process of just 25 to 35 minutes and marks scored has a wide range: 140 to 220. It is the last chance to maximize total score. Even if score in the Written Examination is near the cut-off, you can score very high and be in the selection list.

CSE, 2014 Cut-off marks (General Category):

Written :   678   (for getting interview call)

Final :     889. (for getting selected after interview)

So in CSE, 2014 a Candidate on cut off should have scored 211 marks in Interview (889-678=211) just to be in the selection list.

(Similarly, in CSE, 2013 a Candidate on cut off should have scored 210 marks in Interview just to be in the selection list).

* There were 90 Vacancies for IAS in 2014. Total score of Rank 90 is 951.So approx. cut-off for IAS=951 marks if we assume that all have given 1st preference to IAS. Difference of marks between IAS and last candidate in the List is of 62 marks. (951-889=62). Range of Marks in Interview is 140 to 220 i.e. of 80 marks.

* Difference in marks between those getting 1st preferred service and 2nd or 3rd preferred service is so narrow, Sometimes 5 marks or less. So even a small difference in interview marks changes the Service Allocation, leading you to appear again for Prelims.

* Of course, there was wide Range of marks in the written Examination, 2014 compared to 2013. So Interview marks had a comparatively less bearing on final rankings in 2014 as compared to 2013. So 2014 topper Ms. Ira Singhal who had scored exceptionally higher marks in the Written Examination, could be topper with only 162 marks in Interview. But she is an exception.

* Let us take two examples of interview marks being a deciding factor:

  1. following two candidates have last ranks in the list :


Name                   Marks Written       Marks Interview                  Total

Nityesh Sharma             724                      165                                889

Sucharita das,                685                      204                                889


  1. Case of Zainab: She scored only 731 marks in the Written Exam. But she scored All-India highest 220 marks in the interview. Her total marks: 731+220=951, All India Rank: 107.

The UPSC Personality Test is:


* Preparation can be made the most interesting game. Will see how.

* Suspense about your marks in the Written Part also makes it interesting. So no option but to maximize your marks.

* Often, results surprise you with marks much above/below expected.

MEMORABLE: marks in the interview has a great bearing on your selection/elimination or at least on your service allocation. The score can push you up to get 1st preferred service, or pull you down at the bottom or out of the selection list. The experience will leave a lingering memory for the whole life and during the next attempt starting with the Preliminary Examination.



* Preparation starts late. Often neglected.

* Less time invested compared to Written Examination.

* Preparation is often random and haphazard.


LEAST GUIDED: less than 3500 candidates scattered all over India. No favourable economies Of Scale for professionally coaching them. So providing them Detailed Guidance is not Commercially viable.


* Logical corollary of the above.

* Candidates often misguided by Myths and rumors.

 MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE: If rightly prepared for and handled, immediate reward of above 75% marks. Morever, it rewards you with crops of a polished personality, to be harvested through the rest of your life.



* A Statistical Analysis : Following Table shows Interview marks of 590 selected candidates of General Category in CSE, 2014:


Marks Scored       No. of candidates falling in this Range Of Marks


Upto 100                        001

101 to 120                     001

121 to 140                     018

141 to 160                     108

161 to 180                     197

181 to 200                     194

201 to 220                     071


Total                               590


Let us simplify :


Scores        no. of candidates   Percentage                  Cumulative %

Upto 140              020             03.39                         –

141 to 160            108             18.31                         21.70

161 to 180            197             33.39                         50.09

181 to 200            194             32.88                         87.97

201 to 220            071             12.03                         100



  1. Effective range of marks is 141 to 220 (96.61% of candidates fall in this range)
  2. Bottom 50% of candidates score upto 180 marks.
  3. Top 50% of candidates score between 181 and 220 marks.
  4. Top 12% of candidates score between 201 and 220 marks. (should be your targeted marks)

What UPSC says:

“The Civil Services (main) Examination shall consist of:

  1. Written Examination and
  2. Personality Test (Interview)”

Above words have two cryptic clues:

  1. Interview i.e. the last part of the Main Examination yet not over. Continuity of preparation till the interview date is expected. Cannot afford to stop preparing till the results of Written Examination.
  2. Next part of the Examination is Personality Test. It is different and needs different and unique type of preparation.

To give a full and clear insight of the Personality Test (Interview), UPSC explains and clarifies in detail:

  1. “The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them a record of his/her career. He/she will be asked questions on matters of general interest. The object 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 judge the mental caliber of a candidate. In broad terms this is really an assessment of not only his/her intellectual qualities but also social traits and his/her interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgment, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity”.
  1. The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.”
  1. The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialised or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their 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 well educated youth.”

The above words of UPSC:

* Clarify the objective, technique and the syllabus of the test.

* Explain its objective: assess Personal suitability and mental caliber. To remove any possible ambiguity or misconception of a    candidate about its objective, it even lists out some mental qualities to be assessed.

* Clearly rules out one more assessment of General or Specialised Knowledge after Written Examination. But re-emphasizes on the  intellectual and mental traits. Besides, it expects you to take Intelligent Interest in Current Events, modern currents of thought and new discoveries.

* Technique: friendly elders having natural yet directed and purposive conversation. BUT NOT a Cross examination like a lawyer questioning  an accused.

* Clarify further about its objective: assess Personal suitability and      mental caliber. To rule out any possible ambiguity or misconception  about its objective, it even lists out following mental qualities to be      assessed to finally judge your suitability as a person :

  1. Mental alertness :

Means presence of mind, confidence and mental composer.

  1. Critical powers of assimilation: To assimilate means to understand or take in fully. Grasp many dimensions of an issue.
  2. Clear and logical exposition: clarity of thoughts and expression.
  3. Balance of judgment: objectivity and optimism. No cynics needed.
  4. Variety and depth of interest: hobbies and passions.
  5. Intellectual and moral integrity: A synthesis of morality and intellect.
  6. Ability for social cohesion and leadership : Empathy to social problems and weaker sections.

Key words here are personal suitability, mental caliber and qualities as a person.

It also tests intelligent interest in:

  1. special subjects of academic study.
  2. the Current events: National, International and within own    state.
  3. modern currents of thought.
  4. new discoveries.

Key words here are intelligent interest and curiosity of well educated youth.

Now, simply re-read the above seven qualities. You will realize that almost all the candidates who qualify for the interview already have most of the above qualities. Expecting E-summon for interview is itself an evidence thereof. All are supremely talented. Still, there is a wide difference in their marks. Why?

Explode The Myths

In the Written Examination you have a Syllabus, study material, Previous year’s Papers, Professional guidance and so on. But a candidate’s access to the real UPSC Interview Process is almost nil. A candidate’s Post Interview Feedback or Interview Transcript, even if honestly given, is often misunderstood. It is, at the most, a script but not the movie. A candidate groans under the burden of a plethora tips. As a result, clear understanding of this important and interesting process is contaminated with Myths. It needs a Distilled Understanding. Myths are dangerous viruses. So vaccinate yourself against them. Let us burst all such myths one by one :

Myth of Subjectivity: In a Written Examination, there is only one evaluator. In Interview, there are five unbiased evaluators. If any subjectivity is still there, accept it because you cannot change it.

Personality can not change in months: Out of those candidates who have appeared in 2013 and 2014, many have improved their scores by 60 to 80 marks in 2014.

Result largely depends on luck: Luck is the most random element in any human effort. Planned systematic Preparation is the most reliable way out.

Strict Interview Panels: It is a widespread myth that some interviewers are strict and Dream Killers. Truth is that all panels are unbiased and friendly and award all range of marks.



Q. How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it?

A. Concrete floors are very hard to crack! (UPSC Topper)

Q. If it took eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it?

A. No time at all it is already built. (UPSC 23 Rank Opted for IFS)

Q. If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in the other hand, what would you have?

A. Very large hands. (Good one) (UPSC 11 Rank Opted for IPS)

Q. How can you lift an elephant with one hand?

A. It is not a problem, since you will never find an elephant withone hand. (UPSC Rank 14 Opted for IES)

Q. How can a man go eight days without sleep?

A. No Probs , He sleeps at night. (UPSC IAS Rank 98)

Q. If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what it will become?

A. It will Wet or Sink as simple as that. (UPSC IAS Rank 2)

Q. What looks like half apple ?

A: The other half. (UPSC - IAS Topper )

Q. What can you never eat for breakfast ?

A: Dinner.

Q. What happened when wheel was invented ?

A: It caused a revolution.

Q. Bay of Bengal is in which state?

A: Liquid (UPSC 33Rank )

* Below are the Interview Questions, which were asked in HR Round..... *

* No one will GET second chance to impress.... *

* Very very Impressive Questions and Answers..... ... *

*Question 1:** *

You are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night,

it's raining heavily, when suddenly you pass by a bus stop, and you see three people waiting for a bus:

An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.

An old friend who once saved your life.

The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride to, knowing very well that there could only be one passenger in your car?

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application.

* You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first;

* or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to ! pay him back.

* However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.

The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. Guess what was his answer?

* He simply answered: *

"I would give the car keys to my Old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital. I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams."

Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations. Never forget to "Think Outside of the Box."

*Question 2: *

What will you do if I run away with your sister?"

The candidate who was selected answered " I will not get a better match for my sister than you sir"

* Question 3:** *

Interviewer (to a student girl candidate) - What is one morning you woke up & found that you were pregnant.

Girl - I will be very excited and take an off, to celebrate with my husband.

Normally an unmarried girl will be shocked to hear this, but she managed it well. Why I should think it in the wrong way, she said later when asked

*Question 4:*

Interviewer: He ordered a cup of coffee for the candidate. Coffee arrived; kept before the candidate, then he asked what is before you?

Candidate: Instantly replied "Tea"

He got selected.

You know how and why did he say "TEA" when he knows very well that coffee was kept before.

(Answer: The question was "What is before you (U - alphabet) Reply was "TEA" ( T - alphabet)

Alphabet "T" was before Alphabet "U"

* Question 5:*

Where Lord Rama would have celebrated his "First Diwali"?

People will start thinking of Ayodya, Mitila [Janaki's place], Lanka etc...

But the logic is, Diwali was a celebrated as a mark of Lord Krishna
Killing Narakasura. In Dusavataar, Krishnavathaar comes after

So, Lord Rama would not have celebrated the Diwali At all!

* Question 6: *

The interviewer asked to the candidate "This is your last question of the
interview. Please tell me the exact position of the center of this table
where u have kept your files."

Candidate confidently put one of his finger at some point at the table and
told that this was the central point at the table.

Interviewer asked how did u get to know that this being the central point
of this table, then he answers quickly that

"sir u r not likely to ask any more question, as it was the last question
that u promised to ask....."

And hence, he was selected as because of his quick-wittedness. 




  1. Usual preparation. It is about knowledge. This part is not completely neglected but often candidates prepare randomly and haphazardly but not systematically. Assimilative Learning, and not just studying is the key to prepare for the interview.
  1. Mental Preparation called Preparedness. It is not about Preparing but Getting Mentally Prepared For The Interview. It is Behavioral and Subtle part. It is the very base on which the marks in the interview are awarded. Yet, surprisingly, it is the most neglected part.

PPP model of The wholesome Preparation:

* Performance = Preparation + Preparedness

* Public Private Partnership : adopt a mix of best methods of group preparation and Individual preparedness.

* Purposive and regular Practice in both i.e. Preparation and Preparedness optimizes your Performance:

Regular Practice ( preparation + preparedness ) = Optimum Performance.

Purpose of this Write Up is to guide you for Optimum preparation + preparedness.

Get Set and Go now only :

Gone are the days of prolonged studies with tight schedules. Yet it is extremely important to mentally get set and start preparing for the interview from now only. Resume daily News Paper Reading, if you have stopped.

Stop thinking: ‘lets wait for the results.’ Best Strategy is to mentally switch to Interview Mode and start preparing now only even if you think you have only some chances of getting E-summon for the Interview. Because the Techniques of Preparation and Preparedness discussed hereunder, will demand Daily Practice for at least two months for scoring decent marks. Like eating or bathing.

  1. PREPARATION : The usual knowledge part. Each Of the seven Letters of the key ‘PREPARE’ stands for:
  1. Personal Information: Your Detailed Application Form ( DAF ) includes the following Bio-Data :

-Home State, District and Place of birth : Special features, peculiarities, typical problems, famous persons and places etc.

– Schools, Colleges, Places of Schooling.

– Mother’s and Father’s profession.

– Your own previous professions/jobs and organisation, if any.

– Date of Birth, Meaning of Name, any special occasion that coincides with the Date and Year.

– Hobbies : Be honest. No manufactured or cooked up hobby.

– Awards and any extra-curricular activities : Be honest. Do not cook up.

-Reasons for a long time gap after graduation without employment, if any.

– Optional Subjects, Subject of graduation : general questions of applied nature like how the subject or a concept helps in administration or in real life  etc.

– Order of preferences for services : justification for the same, especially when it is unusual. E.g. why IPS and not IAS or IFS?

– Revised Order of preferences for services : justification for the same.

  1. R. Referring and revising: above areas or topics with specific reference to interview.
  2. E. Expected questions/areas/topics: Frame maximum possible questions.

on above areas or topics. Distribute copies of your DAF to selected friends to prepare questions for you. Think and prepare your own answers.

  1. Practice regularly: listening, thinking, summarizing and speaking.
  2. AAssimilate and Analyse: After reading/listening, systematically think, question, connect with other topics, internalize, summarize and form your own opinions.
  3. R. Revisiting: the areas or topics connected with the important Current Events with specific reference to interview.
  4. E. Events:
  5. Current events : Read, discuss, listen to Audio Visuals. Peacefully think, summarize, Personalize, connect and form your opinions.
  6. Observe small events around you. Make them your Personal experiences. Connect them with relevant topics. Think, internalize and form your opinions.

Key to prepare Current Events is Intelligent Interest and curiosity. T.V. discussions and Audio Visuals are very helpful and interesting. Following are some useful sources :


-Al jazeera English






It is not about Preparing but GETTING PREPARED FOR THE INTERVIEW. It is Behavioral and Subtle part. Very base on which the marks in the interview are awarded. Yet, surprisingly, it is the most neglected part. A combination of small and subtle behavioral traits decides your performance in the interview.

Plethora of Tips or Do’s and Don’t.s to act in a particular way during the Interview tell you ‘what’ without explaining ‘why and how.’ Tips are meaningless unless a candidate passes through a process of :

  • having a clear understanding and conviction of required Positive Personality traits. Like a Doctor’s Prescription.
  • regular practice for nourishing and nurturing them. Like Right and regular dozes of medicine.
  • positive external feedback and inner satisfaction about improvement.

Personality traits are behavioral tendencies, qualities or habits. They are not Inborn but Learnt and Practiced. They guide and make you think, act, react, respond and behave. Not your knowledge but these subtle and invisible qualities in you are assessed during the Interview.

Thankfully, each of these positive Personality Traits in any individual   are accompanied by certain habits. A Charm in a person has an accompanying habit of Smiling. You can feel the perfume through smell. You can feel the charm of a person through a smile.

Let us discuss seven such tendencies or qualities, shortly named as 5C+2H. Our purpose is to use some joyful, practically helpful and interesting methods of regular practice to nourish and strengthen these qualities and reap an optimum harvest during the interview.


– Nobody is born confident. Everybody is born crying.

– A Reasonable confidence level needs to be maintained. Like an ECG of a living Person, Confidence level during an interview should fluctuate within a permissible range.

-Confidence is a result of competence and motivated and sustained unidirectional efforts. You have already proven your competence so far.

-Consistent practice makes it very easy to maintain, strengthen and nourish Confidence.

– Consistent Practice, improved performance and positive feed back by others enhances your self-esteem, self satisfaction or self conviction.

– Self Satisfaction or Self Esteem is the most important part. Value and respect yourself constantly and regularly. Your Weaknesses only glorify and compliment your strengths. Like Roti main Namak. A little salt in Roti makes it tastier.

– Just set the Divine cycle in motion: Consistent Practice? improved performance ? positive feed back by others? self satisfaction? self Esteem.

– Erect posture, eye contact, nodding and Smile boosts confidence.


– It means refined confidence. Being Calm And Composed. Not being casual or passive or dull. A balanced and alert mind without inner stress or over-excitement.

– wearing a Smile instantly relaxes all facial muscles. Make a curve that makes many things straight. Second best use of lips.

– Set a two-way Divine cycle into motion :

  1. Confidence, coolness, charm and cheer boosts a smile.
  2. A Smile boosts confidence, coolness, charm and cheer.

– best display of Coolness is LISTENING with patience and interest. Listening with a view to learning and understanding. Do not listen just to speak. Gently nodding affirmatively while listening displays coolness, interest and positivity.

– Listen and think well before speaking.

– Be open to correction and thereby refine your performance.

– Trust yourself in the discomfortable moments.

– Accept discomfort in the moment even if you do not like it.

– Let go: When stressed, do not fight or react to temporary stress but just be aware. See the occasional feelings of anxiety or stress as a momentary part till it passes. Realize it as momentary reality but not as an absolute truth or an incurable personal defect.

– miraculous improvement possible with a little regular practice.


– Everyone has Ability to walk. One who uses it by a daily morning walk gets fitness. Common sense is common to all. But it is a highly under-utilised asset. Need to use this ability regularly.

– For a Candidate qualified for interview, big words like mental alertness, rationality, assimilative skills, clear and logical disposition simply mean pure common sense.

– An Example. There are three monkeys on a tree branch. One decides to jump. How many monkeys are left on that tree branch?

Answer is not two but three. A monkey has decided to jump but has not actually jumped.

– Components of common sense answers :

– answer lies in the question itself.

– sense of humour.

– positive response to negative question.

– creative thinking

– unusual answer supported by logic.

– Regular Practices improve habit of using common sense optimally.

– A simple but impressive common sense answer is possible to most of the apparently confusing questions.


– Interview involves a balance between four processes : Presence, Listening, Thinking and Speaking.

– 1. Listening with Patience, interest, smile and gentle affirmative noddings displays calmness, confidence, positivity and humility instantly. Mere proper listening practice = 70% of communication.

– 2. Presence: Nonverbal Communication or Body Language. There is direct Cyclical connection between Body Language and 5C+2H.

– 3. Thinking: A little thinking before verbally responding is calmness. Interview Panel likes it. It also improves Verbal Communication.

– 4. Speaking well has following components :

– Listening with interest. Ask/clarify/confirm if not clear about question. Think and then communicate. Maintain eye contact when speaking and listening.

– Value yourself and your opinions. They are as important as anyone else’s.

– Quality: Do not worry. Thankfully, more than ornamental Language or oratory, it is clarity that impresses the Board.

– Choice of Language : Two Different Languages called formal and informal. Everybody knows the difference. We have a practice of speaking an Informal Spoken Language containing casual words, slangs and short forms and so on in daily life. So it has become a Practiced habit. So you often speak informal or colloquial language during the interview. You need Conscious and consistent practice of speaking Formal and Polite Language to avoid such mistakes.

– Medium for Interview. Out of Hindi and English, choose one which you feel more comfortable speaking and listening. English has no extra weightage as a medium. If you are not comfortable with both, then only go for your Regional Language. In that case, an interpreter sits in the Panel.

– Need polite language. E.g. ‘Please let me clarify.’ Is better than ‘you did not get me.’ Or ‘I will tell you.’

– Smile adds to Confidence, politeness, charm and spoken language.

  1. CHARM & CHEER :

– Smile more often.

– Happiness and optimism are matters of choice. Choose to be happy and optimistic.

– Cherish habits/qualities like enthusiasm, interest in listening, child like curiosity and sense of humour within you. Appreciate and complement people with those qualities.

– Charm is infectious.

– Be full of interest and curiosity to understand and learn.

– Express gratitude when corrected or advised or even when criticised.

-Respond with optimism and positivity even to pessimistic or cynical remarks/question/stimulus.

  1. HONESTY :

– Besides a mental trait, use Honesty as The Best Policy to your benefit. Remember childhood storey of an honest wood cutter who gets back his axe along with rewards of golden and silver axes? Moral of the storey is more relevant for the UPSC   Interview.

– Be yourself. Do not ape anyone. Present the best but actual version of yourself. Do not lie/bluff.

– Nobody is expected to be a know-all. Frankly Say ‘I do not know’ or ‘I cannot recall now’ with a smile any time during the interview. It is honesty and it helps. It protects your confidence and self value. Surprisingly, you get marks for confidently and honestly saying it. On the other hand, giving some vague, wrong or irrelevant reply is fatal. You lose confidence and self value and get negative marks.

– Use Honesty along with common sense and confidence.

Reply following question right now :

‘What is the sex ratio of your Home state? Reply assuming that you do not know the exact sex ratio.

Did you say “I do not Know” as an honest answer? Now think using your common sense about a more honest answer. E.g. “I do not Know the exact figure but the ratio is adverse to Female in my state. However, it is less adverse than All India Figure and not as alarming as x and y states.”

– Integrity means the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. ‘intellectual and moral integrity’ means no compromise on moral integrity. But help of intellect needed. Means moral integrity coupled with Common Sense so that Integrity helps you but does not harm you.


– Smile instantly reflects humility.

– Self Correction : admitting any mistakes/errors/omissions at the earliest moment with a Smile relieves your uneasiness and maintains your calmness and confidence.

– smile with openness and gratitude when corrected or advised or even when criticized.

– It is curiosity to learn what ‘I should have learnt’ but ‘I could not’.

– Humility is egoless confidence. Its equation:

Humility = (Confidence + Calmness) – (Ego & Over-excitement)

-1st Law of humility: criticism = helpful suggestion.

-2nd Law: Respect a person having a contradictory view while firmly expressing your own view.

– Show faith in yourself and respect to others.

Let us shortly call above seven traits ‘5C+2H’ and understand and appreciate, through two Analogies, how these seven traits i.e. 5C+2H help you immensely :

  1. A lovely helpful family : Mr. Confidence and Mrs. Calmness are happily married. Excellence is born out of the above wedlock, having two elder brothers named Mr. Charm-cheer and Mr. Common Sense and three elder sisters named Ms. Honesty, Humility and Language. This is a lovely cohesive family of 7. They help each other a lot, individually and collectively and in multiple ways.
  1. Agriculture and Law of Harvest : An Agriculturist struggles through a series of timely and regular laborious acts like getting quality seeds, planting and watering, protecting them from pests and insects and so on. Thankfully, you have already done it and have done it exceptionally well. Qualifying for the interview means the Plants are well grown and well nourished. No more toil now. Harvest Time (interview) is nearing.

A proverb says: ‘what you sow so shall you reap. But The Law of Harvest: you reap much more than what you sowed and nourished till now. So celebrate the Harvesting climax after years of toil. Just a little more nourishment and protection of plants and you will reap a harvest much richer than imagined.

SMILE is a common component of all the 5 C.s and 2 H.s : Smile is a habit, a positive body language, a quality. All-in-one. Instantly nourishes and refines 5C+2H. Smile alone can boost your interview marks beyond imagination.

BEST : Best, Enjoyable, Simulative Techniques :

Thankfully, each of these positive traits i.e. 5C+2H are accompanied by certain habits. So you can nourish and strengthen 5C+2H and accompanying Habits. Let us do it on daily basis through some Joyful useful, productive, interesting and easy games. Let us call them BEST i.e. Best, Enjoyable, Simulative Techniques.

Get Set and Go now only :

Gone are the days of prolonged studies with tight schedules. Yet extremely important to mentally get set and start preparing for the interview from now only. Resume daily News Paper Reading, if you have stopped.

Do not think: ‘let me wait for the results.’ Best Strategy is to mentally switch to Interview Mode and start preparing now only even if you think you have only some chances of getting E-summon for the Interview. Because the BEST Techniques of Preparation and Preparedness discussed hereunder, will demand Daily Practice for about two months for scoring decent marks. The games are as easy as eating or bathing but you have to practice Playing them daily.




* ‘CASPER’ stands for Complete And Simulative Practice of Evaluation & Re-view.

* How to play: Form a Group of at least six members. Preferably, actual interview candidates, Seniors or aspirants for Civil services. If any shortfall, enroll any educated elder who is available daily.

Make a distraction-free room available with a table and six chairs. Place copies of each Group Member’s Detailed Application Form (DAF) on the table.


Daily Play the game of UPSC Interview. Simulate every detail. Each member shall play a Role of Chair Person, Member M1 to M4 and Interviewee. Role changes by rotation on next day. Thus each member shall be an interviewee every 6th day. If someone is absent, reshuffle the roles. The Show must go on daily with the present quorum. If seventh person joins on any day, assign him/her the role of an Observer.

Strictly Simulate the Actual UPSC Interview. Like children playing Doctor-doctor game, enjoy it as an Interview-interview game. Keep Candidate’s DAF on the table. Everything should be simulated from interviewee’s entry in the room till his/her exit from the room. Make it a realistic and formal interview. Play your role faithfully. Do not presume anything. Part 1 of this Interview Game is over after about half an hour with interviewee’s exit from the room.




Part 2 of the Game starts with interviewee’s re-entry in the room.

Critical Self-Review: The Interviewee, based on that day’s performance, shall briefly and critically self-evaluate and speak about his performance. HE/she shall first speak about mistakes committed by him i.e. commissions and then about what he/she Omitted. E.g. omission to smile. A spontaneous and honest two minutes Self-confession.

Four Positive Feedbacks: Based on that day’s performance, each board member from M1 to M4 shall speak turn by turn for = two minutes giving a Positive Feedback/Review. A spontaneous and honest Positive Review. Make it a genuine but positive feedback strictly based on that day’s performance. Precise, genuine, honest and Sincere Appreciation of what he/she liked. Make the Interviewee feel important. It shall be a great motivator. It shall promote these positive qualities in all of you.

Suggestions : Lastly, based on that day’s performance, the Chair Person shall speak out some suggestions for improvement, if any. He/she may use some of the following words (5C+2H and accompanying habits) :

* Confidence, Smile, Calmness, Coolness, Patient Listening, Response with Positivity, Interested Listening, Clarity of thoughts and expression,

* Nodding, Quality Of Language, Polite Language,

* Charm   & Cheer, Positivity, Enthusiasm,

* Frankness, Honesty, Integrity

Rationality, mental alertness, presence of mind, Good Common  Sense,

* Humility, openness to Self Correction, Response to Correction and Advice, Curiosity to Learn, Confidence and conviction in expressing opinion.

Why only Positive and no critical Feedback?: Because Interviewers can critically comment, contradict, examine or cross-question the Interviewee in Part-1i.e. Actual Interview itself.