How to Become an IAS Officer in 3 Steps


Well-dressed. Disciplined. A confident personality. And a strong will to serve India.

These qualities sum up the definition of an Indian Administrative Service officer. Behind these qualities, there was once a hard-working and dedicated teen, like you, who dared to dream big and aspired to become an IAS officer to serve their country with knowledge, experience and the right skillset. 

If you are one such aspiring IAS officer, this article will work as a friendly guide to help you cross each milestone in your journey of becoming an IAS officer. If you are thinking of questions like – who is an IAS officer, what do they do, what qualifications do you need to become an IAS officer, what skills you need to acquire to crack the UPSC exam to become a successful IAS officer – then you will find all these answers and more in this article.

Who is an IAS officer?

Let us start with the basics.

You must have heard the term ‘IAS officer’ a lot but only a few of us actually know what is the ‘IAS’ full form and what being an IAS officer means. The abbreviation IAS stands for Indian Administrative Service

By the name itself you might have guessed what an IAS officer does. To put it in layman’s terms, an IAS officer follows, implements and keeps a track of the government’s policies in a designated area or district. We will discuss the various roles and responsibilities of an IAS officer later in this article. 

3 Steps to become an IAS officer

Did you know that to become an IAS officer you need to cross only 3 steps? Here is what you need to do to become an IAS officer.

  • Step 1 – Complete your schooling till class 12.
  • Step 2 – Complete your graduation.
  • Step 3 – Clear all three rounds of the UPSC-CSE exam.

While it may sound easy, becoming an IAS officer is not a cakewalk. The preparation takes years of hard work, dedication and patience, and most importantly the mindset that one day you will crack the UPSC-CSE exam and become an IAS officer.

Here is one inspiring story of India’s first IAS officers.

Satyendranath Tagore was the first administrative officer of India. He became an IAS officer before India became independent. Being an IAS aspirant back in the day was not as simple as it is today. 

With India still being under British rule, there weren’t enough facilities or authorities in the country to conduct the examinations. And so, Sayendranath Tagore had to travel all the way to England to give his IAS exams in 1862. He held the position of India’s first IAS officer in 1864.

As kids, we are always looking for inspiration, knowingly and unknowingly, from our elders and world leaders. Be it watching Dhoni hit his signature helicopter shot and imitating the same while playing gully cricket with your friends.

In some way or the other, being inspired helps drive our dreams and ambitions towards the path of success.

While India was still settling down in the post-independence era, Anna Rajam Malhotra broke the gender barrier in 1951 by becoming India’s first woman IAS officer. She was offered the position of sub-collector of a district in Chennai. 

How to become an IAS officer after the 12th standard?

Here is a step-wise guide to your journey to becoming an IAS officer after the 12th standard.

Step 1: Pursue your Graduation

To become an IAS officer you are required to have a graduation degree as one of the eligibility criteria to opt for the civil services exam.

You might wonder “which degree is best to become an IAS officer?” 

Well, there is not any particular course or degree that can add a direct advantage to joining the civil services. So you should choose a course that interests you. When you are interested in a course or subject area, you naturally feel motivated to perform well in it. 

Having said that, the civil services exam covers almost all topics one can probably think of. Be it Indian history, world geography, Indian polity, literature or current affairs, you will be covering all these topics and more while preparing for the UPSC-CSE exam.

So, you may choose to opt for any of these subjects during your graduation to either gain more knowledge or improve your understanding of the subject further. This will help you have a strong grasp of the subject while giving your UPSC-CSE exam.

Step 2: Give UPSC-CSE exam

To become an IAS officer you have to appear for CSE – Civil Services Exam conducted by UPSC – Union Public Service Commission. Once you are a graduate, you can register yourself for the said exam.

There are 3 parts of the UPSC-CSE  that you will have to give:

  • Preliminary exam
  • Mains exam
  • Interview

You need to clear all three parts successfully to become an IAS officer. 

Step 3: Gain Skills to become an IAS officer

To become an IAS officer, you need to show that you have what it takes to be a successful one. Even after studying religiously for months if you lack certain skills and personality traits to become an IAS officer, you might just be moving backward instead of forwards.

Gain skills relevant to becoming an IAS officer who everyone looks up to as inspiration, just like you look up to your idols. Skills like decision making, communication, analytical thinking, logical reasoning, critical thinking, etc. will help you answer correctly in your general subjects paper as well as crack the interview – the most important round of the UPSC-CSE exam.

So, what Skills are required to be an IAS Officer?

  • Analytical thinking – An IAS officer deals directly with the welfare of the people. And when you are dealing with people, there is no black and white. You need to analyze a situation from all aspects to arrive at a conclusion that caters to the mass.
  • Leadership – To lead an entire district of a given state for the betterment of the people, you need strong leadership skills. This skill should not just be ‘learned’ by you but you also need to mold your personality as a leader to truly reflect it in your actions. 
  • Critical thinking – You need to think critically about the decisions you make. You cannot let emotions come in the way of your decisions. And so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each decision before you make the final call as an IAS officer.
  • Communication skills – One of the main roles of an IAS officer is to create and execute policies for the public. While the policy you formulate may be strong, delivering an important message to the mass, if it is not communicated effectively to the people, it will not be successful. 

An IAS officer has to interact with all sorts of people from the top government officials, politicians to the underdeveloped class of the society – and knowing how to communicate clearly to each of these sections is a skill you must start learning early in life.

  • Willingness to learn – “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are willing to learn, no one can stop you.” This quote perfectly defines the importance of having the will to learn to be an IAS officer. The willingness to learn is a life skill that will only open up great opportunities and paths of success for you.
  • Perseverance – As an IAS officer, you should possess the attitude to never give up. Even as an aspiring IAS officer, you will have to work hard and keep trying to excel in your preparation until you achieve success and clear UPSC-CSE. 
  • Patience – As mentioned earlier, no matter how big your dream is, you cannot become an IAS officer after the 12th standard. You will require a lot of patience to study for the UPSC-CSE, be firm on your goals and acquire all these relevant skills to live your dream as an IAS officer.
  • Time management – From 6 a.m to 9 p.m every day, you will live a life of an IAS officer after clearing your UPSC-CSE. And to tick all the boxes in your daily IAS routine life, you need to have excellent time management skills. 

Not just that, during your UPSC-CSE preparation, covering all topics in the huge syllabus, revising them and solving sample UPSC-CSE questions will require you to manage your time in a way that you complete all your to-do’s and live a healthy lifestyle. 

How and when to learn Skills to be an IAS officer?

Why wait till you become an IAS officer to acquire these much-needed skills? An early start in skill development as a teenager can give you a strong foundation and add a lot of time to continuously improve and develop expertise in these skills.  

What if we told you that you can start learning all these skills in just 10 hours? With Clever Harvey’s Explorer Pack program you can gain IAS-relevant knowledge and skills while exploring different fields of career to learn how the industry works. 

This is what Clever Harvey brings to you:

  • Interact with peers and industry professionals to improve your communication skills.
  • Learn about the different roles and responsibilities of various career fields.
  • Learn from real-life case studies of different companies to understand how to solve a problem.
  • Apply those skills and develop critical and analytical thinking skills by working out a solution for industry giants like PUMA, Samsonite, etc.
  • Work on a live project and execute your ideas and plans.
  • Lead your project and pitch it to industry experts yourself.

There is no ‘right time’ to learn new skills. The sooner you start, the closer you get to achieving your dream of becoming an IAS officer. Clever Harvey can help you push the first gear on your journey of developing IAS-relevant abilities and skills.

8 things you Need to know about the UPSC-CSE Exam

Now that you know the steps and skills required to become an IAS officer in detail, it’s time for you to learn more about the civil service exam. 

Here is a complete list of all the important information you need to know about the UPSC-CSE.

UPSC-CSE Complete Information (2022)

Questions about UPSCAnswers
What is the full form of UPSC?The full form of UPSC is Union Public Service Commission
What is the UPSC-CSE exam?UPSC Civil Service Exam is the test you need to clear to become an IAS officer.
What is the minimum age limit to give the UPSC-CSE?You need to be at least 21 years old to give the civil service exam.
Is there a maximum age limit to give the UPSC-CSE?Yes. The maximum age limit for the UPSC-CSE is:General – 32 yearsOBC – 35 yearsSC/ST – 37 years
How many attempts are allowed for the UPSC-CSE?No. of attempts to give the UPSC-CSE are:General – 6OBC – 9SC/ST – till the age of 37 years
What is the minimum educational qualification required to take the UPSC-CSE?You need to have a bachelor’s degree from a known university.
Which stream is best for the UPSC-CSE?Any stream that interests you and helps you to score well is enough to give the UPSC-CSE.
When is Civil Services Day?21st April is celebrated as Civil Services Day.

UPSC-CSE Exam 2022: Dates, registration, fee

If you fit in all the above criteria to give the UPSC-CSE, here’s what you need to know to apply and study for the civil service exam in 2022. 

UPSC-CSE 2022 – Exam Dates, Registration Fee, How to Register

Type of InformationDetails of UPSC-CSE 2022
Prelims Exam Application NoticeFebruary 2
Prelims Exam Application DeadlineFebruary 22
Prelims Exam DateJune 5
Mains Exam Date September 16
Prelims Registration FeeRs. 100 (exemption for: women, SC/ST/PWD)
Mains Registration FeeRs. 200 (exemption for: women, SC/ST/PWD)
UPSC-CSE Application FormUPSC Official Website

UPSC-CSE Syllabus 2022

If you are looking for the complete syllabus for the UPSC-CSE Prelims and Mains exam then you will find all the information in the tables below.

UPSC-CSE Prelims syllabus and exam pattern

This table will give you the complete structure of the Prelims exam.

UPSC-CSE Prelims Syllabus & Paper Pattern 2022

Paper NameSyllabusQuestionsMarks*Duration
General Studies – 1Questions on current events, Indian history and polity, world geography, Indian economy, environment, general science, technology, international relations, social development, climate change, etc.1002002 hrs
General Studies – 2 (CSAT)Questions testing your reading & writing skills, basic numeracy, reasoning, data interpretation, critical thinking, analytical, decision-making skills, etc.802002 hrs

*UPSC-CSE preliminary exam contains negative marking of ⅓ marks of the total marks allotted to that question for each incorrect answer.

Many students find it difficult to crack the GS-2 CSAT paper as the questions are not a part of the ‘syllabus’. The answers will be based on your intellect and skills

To sharpen your reasoning skills, you should take reasoning assessment tests such as Callido’s Interactive Assessment video which helps you develop and improve your interpretation, reasoning and critical thinking skills

You can take one free assessment now.

Embed video here: 

Become an IAS Officer

The preliminary exam is treated as a screening round for aspiring IAS officers. Once you clear the preliminary exam, you become eligible to sit for the UPSC-CSE Mains exam. 

UPSC-CSE Mains syllabus and exam pattern

If you manage to cross the first hurdle of the UPSC-CSE, it’s time to prepare for the Mains exam. Get complete details of the Mains exam including the syllabus and exam pattern for all 9 theoretical papers.

UPSC-CSE Mains Syllabus & Paper Pattern 2022

Paper no.Paper NameTopics CoveredMarksDuration
1EssayWrite clear, precise and subject-specific essays on different topics.2503 hrs
2GS – 1India’s history, cultural heritage, cultural history, geography, Indian and international society, etc.2503 hrs
3GS – 2Constitution of India, political framework, polity, India’s governance and its relations with foreign countries, etc.2503 hrs
4GS – 3Economic and technological developments, security measures, biodiversity plans and measures, disaster management, etc.2503 hrs
5GS – 4Questions based on ethics, skill-based questions to test your aptitude, etc.2503 hrs
6Indian Language (compulsory)Choose any one Indian language among the 22 options available. Tests on –  comprehension, short essays, vocabulary, sentence usage, translation, etc.3003 hrs
7English (compulsory)Tests on –  comprehension, short essays, vocabulary, sentence usage, translation, etc.3003 hrs
8Optional – 1Choose any one from a list of 48 subjects including literature from any one language.2503 hrs
9Optional – 2Choose any one from a list of 48 subjects including literature from any one language.2503 hrs

After clearing your Mains exam, you will be called for an interview. 

What to expect in UPSC-CSE personality interview?

Till now, all your knowledge, skills and experience were tested on paper. In the last round of the UPSC-CSE, your skills will be put to test in front of a group of unbiased officials appointed by the UPSC through a personality interview.

You will basically be participating in a meaningful discussion with the board. This is what you will be tested on in your personality interview of the CSE:

  • Your decision-making skills.
  • Your ability to reason and put forward your opinions.
  • How you analyze a given situation.
  • Your communication skills.
  • Your thought process.

How to crack UPSC-CSE?

Study hours, how to study, exam sample papers, etc

All set to prepare yourself for the UPSC-CSE? Wait. Follow these helpful tips to make your prep 10x better.

  • Keep at least a year’s time to cover the entire syllabus of UPSC-CSE.
  • If you plan to start preparing for IAS after completing 12th, you should start by dedicating 4-5 hours daily.
  • Inculcate the habit of reading current affairs, as part of your daily routine, from both newspapers and online resources.
  • Up-skill yourself with Clever Harvey’s JuniorMBA program to increase your chances of clearing all three rounds of the exam.
  • Avoid studying at a stretch to prevent mental and physical burnout. 
  • Take a 10-15 minute break every hour to relax your brain, eyes and body.

IAS Roles & Responsibilities you Should Know

The roles and responsibilities of an IAS officer changes with the position assigned to them. To give you a glimpse of what your responsibilities may look like as an IAS officer, we have compiled a list of basic roles and responsibilities of an IAS officer just for you.

  • Conduct fieldwork in and around the district allotted to you.
  • Review existing policies and frameworks.
  • Ideate, formulate and implement new policies.
  • Allocate, manage and distribute government funds among different departments and schemes.
  • Assist the state during emergency situations like political unrest, disaster management, etc.
  • Maintain law and order in their respective areas or district.

IAS Career Opportunities & Salary 

Wondering what career opportunities you might get after clearing your UPSC-CSE? Here is a list of the top 3 positions offered to IAS officers with basic salaries (excluding other allowances).

IAS Career Opportunities & Salary

Type of JobStarting PayMaximum Pay

Please note: These salary amounts are taken from various sources and may change as per your designation and experience.

Start living your Dream today

“It’s never too late to become who you want to be”

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald

Why wait till tomorrow morning to start reading the newspaper? Start right away. There is no ‘perfect time’ or a ‘perfect day’ to start preparing for the IAS. With daily and consistent efforts as a teen, only you can lead your own path of success.

If you don’t know where to start, Clever Harvey can help you take your first step in learning essential IAS qualities and skills with a comprehensive JuniorMBA program. Who knows? You might just become the youngest IAS officer India has ever seen.

If you have more questions on how to become an IAS officer, we have tried to answer them in the FAQs below.

FAQs on how to become an IAS officer

Can I give CSE after the 12th standard?

No. You need to have a graduation degree and be at least 21 years of age to appear for the UPSC-CSE.

How should you start your IAS preparation after class 12?

You can do these 3 things to begin your IAS prep after class 12:

You can start by reading the news and current affairs on a daily basis. 
Regularly up-skill yourself by learning new skills in different professions. 
Don’t throw out your school books. Keep them safe and revisit your lessons to strengthen your foundational concepts.

Is maths compulsory for IAS?

Math is an optional subject in the UPSC-CSE Mains exam. So, if you are not confident about the subject, you can choose any other subject from a list of 48 optional subjects.

Does IAS require you to be physically fit?

It comes as a great advantage if you are mentally and physically fit to carry the roles and responsibilities of an IAS officer.

Is the IAS exam difficult?

The UPSC-CSE is one of the most competitive exams in India. If you are determined to crack the CSE and maintain a daily study routine of at least 8-9 hours a day, you should be able to give your IAS exam without much pressure.

What is IAS training?

After clearing all UPSC-CSE exams, you have to join the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Uttarakhand to start your training program before your final posting as an IAS officer.

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