UPSC Preparation: How Tough is the IAS Exam? Why is UPSC Exam tough?

Why is UPSC Exam tough? The UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) examination in India is widely recognized as one of the most difficult exams. Many aspiring civil servants often question whether the UPSC is too challenging for typical students. In this article, we delve into the reasons behind the formidable reputation of the IAS (Indian Administrative Service) test and explore the various factors that contribute to its status as the nation’s toughest examination.

However, it is important for aspirants to realize that with the right mindset and approach, the UPSC exam can be cleared easily. In this article, we explore the key qualities and factors that contribute to success in the UPSC exam, emphasizing the importance of patience, honesty, determination, and the perfect alignment of circumstances.

The UPSC exam is often considered challenging, but it is not an insurmountable task. Success in the exam is achievable through the right strategy and dedicated preparation. It does not require being a college topper, as many candidates with average academic records have cleared the exam in the past.

However, several factors contribute to the perceived toughness of the UPSC exam, setting it apart from other competitive exams.

The vast syllabus of the UPSC examination demands comprehensive knowledge in diverse subjects, making it essential for aspirants to cover a wide range of topics. Additionally, the high cut-off marks set by UPSC add to the difficulty level, making it essential for candidates to perform exceptionally well to secure a position.

Furthermore, the UPSC Prelims exam’s negative marking system poses an additional challenge for candidates. It requires careful and precise answering to avoid losing marks for incorrect responses. 

This aspect necessitates a thorough understanding of the subjects and the ability to make educated guesses when required.

Despite these challenges, with the right approach, dedication, and consistent effort, candidates can overcome the difficulties associated with the UPSC exam and increase their chances of success. 

Proper planning and strategic preparation can make the journey to cracking the UPSC exam smoother and more manageable for aspirants from all academic backgrounds.

Why is UPSC Exam tough? 

The UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exam is considered tough by many aspirants. While it is true that anyone can crack the exam with the right strategy and preparation, there are several factors that make it challenging:

1. Vast Syllabus:

The UPSC exam covers a wide range of subjects, including history, geography, polity, economics, science and technology, and current affairs. The UPSC syllabus as well as APSC Syllabus is extensive, and candidates are expected to have a deep understanding of each subject.

2. Exam Pattern:

The UPSC exam pattern is designed to test a candidate’s comprehensive knowledge and analytical abilities. It includes multiple stages such as the Preliminary examination (Objective type), the Main examination (Descriptive type), and the Interview (Personality test). Each stage has its own challenges and requires thorough preparation.

3. High Qualifying Marks:

The UPSC sets high qualifying marks for each stage of the examination. Candidates need to score above a certain cutoff to move to the next stage. This adds to the competition and the difficulty level of the exam.

4. Negative Marking:

The Preliminary examination has a negative marking system, where incorrect answers are penalized with a deduction of marks. This makes it important for candidates to be careful while attempting the questions and eliminates the guessing factor.

5. Time-Intensive Preparation:

To cover the vast syllabus and develop a strong foundation in all the subjects, candidates need to dedicate a significant amount of time to their preparation. This includes reading textbooks, referring to various sources, practising previous year question papers, and appearing for mock tests.

Based on factors like the quantity of tests they hold, success rates, the number of candidates who are eligible to take the exam, and more, the chart below contrasts the UPSC exam with other competitive exams like the CAT and IIT/JEE.

Full formCommon Admission TestIndian Institute of Technology/Joint Entrance ExamUnion Public Service Commission/Civil Services Exam
EligibilityGraduateStd. XIIGraduate
Number of exams113 rounds (2 papers in prelims + 9 papers in mains + interview)
ObjectiveAdmission into IIMs and other MBA collegesAdmission into IITsRecruitment into Indian civil services
Total appeared1, 95, 000 (2014-16)1,61,319 (2019, Advanced)5,68,282 (2019)
Total attemptsUnlimited26 (for general category)
Success rate (per 1000 candidates)17.12401.5
Number qualified3335 (2014-16)38,705 (2019, Advanced)829 (2019)

The UPSC exams provide a chance to use administrative positions to benefit the country and make a difference. Aspirants can overcome obstacles and succeed in their pursuit of a job in the public service through commitment, discipline, and persistence.

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