Is UPSC Civil Services Exam Difficult To Crack?

‘Difficulty’ is a subjective term. What seems to be difficult for one person might be easy for another person.


We have seen many mediocre and below average students cracking the CSE, whereas many IITians fail to crack it.

So what makes CSE different from all other competitive exams? When a mediocre student could crack it, why not some IITians?

The answer is simple.

UPSC CSE tests the analytical skills of candidates, that is, the ability to break down a problem into smaller pieces and examine each piece to arrive at a solution. On the other hand, other competitive exams such as CAT, JEE, etc test the logical skills of candidates, that is, the ability to do calculations and apply established logics to solve problems.

Thus, irrespective of a person’s IQ level and logical ability, only if he/she is good at analytical thinking, will be able to get through the exam.

In addition to the need for analytical thinking, various other factors also make UPSC CSE look difficult.

The nature of the preparation phase, duration of the exam process, varying requirements for skills at different levels of the exam, social pressure, etc makes the exam look very hard to crack.

Above all, it is the belief in popular MYTHS about UPSC exam that makes it look hard.

Mammoth Syllabus

UPSC CSE syllabus is popularly described as “Everything under the sun”. This is not untrue though. It is not just about the vastness of the syllabus, but also about the versatile nature of the subjects that we study.

Whether a person is from engineering or humanities background, one has to study a wide range of subjects from polity to environment to economics to history to aptitude. This makes the exam look like a monster exam.

But one actually need not study everything under the sun. This is not possible too. One has to narrow down the sources of reference and study only the right quality and quantity of study materials.


Length of the exam process

UPSC exam process is often described as ‘lengthy’. But it is not true. From prelims to the final rank list, it takes one year. Yet, this doesn’t make it ‘lengthy’ as popularly claimed. The very nature of the UPSC exam is versatile as its requirements are versatile.

Different levels of the exam process checks for different skills in a candidate. The requirements to clear Prelims, Mains and Interview levels are different and only the candidates with versatile skills can clear all three levels.

So what exactly makes it look as ‘Lengthy’ process?

It is the ‘Requirements’ for versatile skills that makes the journey look lengthy.

One has to face many ups and downs in every stage of the exam process. Staying positive and dedicated throughout the entire process needs a lot of patience and perseverance.

Acquiring the ‘key skills’ that are prerequisite for any administrator takes a long time. This ‘Skill Acquisition’ process makes the exam look lengthy and tiring.



Living in the second most populous country, we have to face heavy competition in every competitive exam. Still, it is the UPSC CSE that is described as ‘Mother of all exams’. Is it true?

Competition and difficulty level of any exam is often drawn on comparison between the number of applicants and the number of candidates selected. But this does not reflect the ‘TRUE COMPETITION’.

The real competition is only among the ‘Sincere Candidates’.

Every year, a few lakh candidates apply for the Preliminary level exam, yet only a few thousand among them are ‘Sincere candidates’.

Thus the real competition in the exam is not as high as portrayed.


Financial Dependency

Many aspirants hesitate to take up Civil Services classes full-time because of their fear of dependency on their parent’s money.

Also, a majority of the aspirants are convinced that it will take at least a few numbers of attempts to crack the exam. This adds to their fear.

They have forgotten a popular and powerful saying ‘ Where there is a will, there is a way’. Financial dependency is just a state, not an obstacle.

After finishing the Civil Services courses, the aspirants can start to work full time or part time, whichever is convenient for them. Just a consistent study of 3-4 hours a day and simultaneously taking up the right tests will be sufficient.

Many working professionals are clearing the exam on par with the candidates who prepare full time. This exam is all about ‘Managing Crisis’. Working professionals are better at balancing between their work and preparation.

Money is not a factor of your success. Your dedication is.



Why are you reading this article right now?

Because you are doubtful about your potential in cracking the exam.

Stop reading this article and start your preparation right now! Nothing is impossible

Life is all about making the impossible, possible.


10 Ways UPSC Civil Services Exam changes you


Ours is the generation of ‘Two minutes’ Maggi. We want everything to be fast, really fast.

We have been conditioned to equate time with money and money with success. But we are not taught that without patience neither money nor success can be achieved.

We need to understand that every great empire needed time to be built ‘great’.

Patience is not just about waiting for something, but with optimism. Life has never been easy. It is full of crises and shocks. A wise person would know to handle the surprise shocks that life throws at him. At the time of crisis, he would do nothing but remain patient.

UPSC exam is the best school that teaches all the life lessons to aspirants. They learn the most difficult lessons in life.

Even in this ‘instant’ world, a UPSC aspirant would know what patience is. He/she has to wait for one year to get the exam process completed. This indeed needs a great degree of patience.

If not this year, the only option given is ‘Next Year’. A UPSC aspirant would know the value of one year better than anyone does.

Patience helps to channelise hard work and knowledge towards success. As this acts as a buffer in reducing the stress and frustration levels.

Success needs peace of mind more than hard work. Patience is the source of peace of mind.

Confidence at its finest

‘Confidence is the best outfit’. This is a very popular quote everyone would have come across.

If confidence is the best outfit, then where does one get it?

Supermarket? Online? Shopping Mall?  ..From where?

Undoubtedly, from one’s KNOWLEDGE.

Confidence is the manifestation of knowledge. Knowledgeable people display their confidence through their words and actions.

UPSC exam preparation turns a person into a mini-encyclopedia. People from no other profession would have such a vast knowledge about anything and everything.

In addition to enormous information gained from books, continuous battles with failures make an aspirant exceptionally immune to fear and turn them ‘Personification of Confidence’.

A few years of preparation for CSE would make a person stand distinct from the crowd wherever he/she goes. The blend of knowledge and confidence is the essence of success and the UPSC aspirants are a testimony to this.

Failures are a part of success

We are all afraid of failures, not because of its consequences, but because of the doubt over our ability to stand up and try again.

Any successful candidate in the UPSC exam would have removed the term ‘failure’ from his/her dictionary or would have re-defined what a failure is.

Whether a person makes it to the final rank list or not, he/she would no more have the ‘fear of failure’ in life.

Failures fall into two categories. One being ‘Failures in UPSC exam’ and the other is ‘ Failures because of UPSC exam’. Whatever be the nature and intensity of failures, the aspirants are always ready to stand up and fight again.

The journey towards success is adorned with the ‘thorns of failures’. UPSC aspirants understand this reality and are ready to cherish the failures in their journey.  

The luxury of dreaming big 

Life is meaningless without the dream – The dream of bringing in happiness to others life.

The aspirants endure all the pain and courageously shatter the obstacles in their way, only to realise their dream come true.

Just the sight of an impoverished child would give them the required thrust to move forward when they are at the edge of giving up.

Every aspirant takes up the CSE preparation with loads and loads of dreams. They tirelessly work hard days and nights to live their dream in reality someday.

They dream to enable even the most marginalised people to dream big and to work for it.  

Never ending ‘Thirst for Knowledge’

Even people who find reading as boring as their relatives might turn into a bookaholic!.

Once the interest to gain knowledge is ignited, it will engulf oneself into the monstrous fire of ‘Never-ending search for knowledge’.

Preparing for UPSC exam is the spark that ignites one’s interest in learning. Aspirants have no other choice, but to read, read, and read. Really a lot!

Many would get accustomed to it and end up making ‘learning’ as their way of life.

At the end of the day, the UPSC exam produces good readers.

Acceptance over Tolerance 

Tolerance is not the same as acceptance.

Tolerance is not for civilised, it is for semi-civilised. Civilised societies tend to preach acceptance to tolerance.

The UPSC exam preparation process would turn a person into neither semi-civilised nor civilised, but ‘highly-civilised’.

The aspirants would always try to ‘understand’ the people who are ‘different’ from them. They would appreciate and respect the ‘differences’ among people. This is the highest level of human civilisation- The Understanding level.

In this highly competitive world, finding tolerance itself seems to be a herculean task.

Withstanding all the chaos, UPSC exam instils not just the virtues of tolerance and acceptance, but a noble virtue of ‘Understanding’ in the minds of youngsters.

Cool-Headed during Crisis 

We all must have experienced crises in our life.

It could be from a simple crisis situation like accidentally breaking mom’s favourite coffee mug to losing family members to disaster.

We all would have reacted differently to different crisis situations.

Our mom would have yelled or beaten us on breaking her favourite coffee mug.

This sounds normal, isn’t it?

Instead of just yelling at the child, what if the mom remains silent for a minute and then responds to the child’s act?

This is what we say, ‘Respond not react to situations’.

And this is one of the most invaluable life lessons that UPSC teaches you.

Any aspirant would be a master at crisis management, as the success in UPSC exam is inseparable from one’s ability to manage crises.

The aspirants are better at ‘prevention’ than curing crises.

The very nature of the exam preparation itself inculcates the ‘crisis preventive’ habits in the aspirants. An aspirant has to be ..

  • Good at saying ‘NO’ to distractions and social addiction.
  • Obedient to themselves, ie, they should have high level of self control.
  • Able to fix a goal and work for it with focus. This needs formulating and following schedules.
  • Good at balancing between studies and personal life.

These are some of the prerequisites to manage any future crisis situation. The exam preparation process equips the aspirants well enough to remain cool-headed during crisis situations.

Knowledge of law of the land 

The legal awareness among the general public is abnormally poor in India. It is disheartening to know that people are not even aware of very basic laws and rules that govern them.

The importance of legal education has long been neglected. It is imperative to instil at least basic legal education among school and college students to ascertain their legal rights as citizens.

How many of us who hold a driver’s license actually know the traffic laws and rules?

Only a minuscule of us…

Though UPSC exam preparation does not impart legal education to students, at least it makes them legally aware to demand their legal rights.

Without legal awareness, there will be no legal education.

Stop Blaming Start Changing 

Humans would blame even the gravity for falling down! Because blame is easy.

When traffic is high on the road, we blame the government.

When the food is overcooked, when the coffee is cold, when our girlfriend/boyfriend breaks up the relationship, for everything we blame the government.

Humans are programmed to choose the easy way! Thus we choose to blame ‘others’ for our flaws.

We fail to understand that blaming bears no fruit.

The UPSC exam preparation process teaches the aspirants to be the ‘Change’. It propels them to take up the initiative. It makes them see the real problems, listen to others grievances and initiate changes that would change the lives of millions.

We read stories of civil servants who have brought in substantial changes to the lives of lakhs and millions. These are the people who believe in initiating changes, not passing on the blame to others.

Every great change needs an initiative.

A Better YOU

You will no more be the same person you were before starting the exam preparation. You can feel the change within yourself.

You will be…

A better version of your ‘Self’.

Welcome to UPSC…


Who we were yesterday is the calling card to who we are today and who we will be tomorrow.

Every yesterday is a treasure, that holds an invaluable pile of gems and gold, the information.

Only by understanding the ‘Yesterdays’, we will be able to command the present and persist in the future.

Historians do not create empires, but emperors and empresses! They do not develop iPhones to people, but give them identities! They do not train military personnel, but instil patriotism in every citizens’ blood!

In this era of identity crisis, the only source of identity  that people take refuge from is History.

History of a person’s family gives him/her an identity. History of his/her village, community, language, lifestyle, political party, etc gives him/her an array of identities.

People say History is just a collection of stories. Yes, stories. Stories of Jhansi Rani, Gandhiji, Karl Marx, a sepoy, a devadasi, Periyar, Ambedkar, a child widow, etc.

An NRI settled in England would celebrate Indian Cricket team’s victory over England’s team. Where does this love for Motherland come from?

Even a convict in death sentence would feel proud on independence day. Where does this patriotism come from?


History is the binding root that binds every citizen of a country together.

‘All Indians are my brothers and sisters’ – Because we share a common History!

There goes a saying, ‘History repeats itself’. True, History repeats itself, but not its mistakes.

History, a wonderful journey through the past.

The UPSC also doesn’t forget the importance of History to bureaucrats. Bureaucrats, being the Iron pillar of our country, are deciding the fate of the present and the future citizens. How would they not read the past?

History is a ‘go for it’ optional subject in the UPSC Mains exam. By understanding the Indian and the World History, the aspirants can interconnect all other subjects with ease.

But there are some myths surrounding History as optional subject.

As Vast as Ocean

People say the syllabus of History is vast, very vast. The UPSC does not discriminate between subjects. If the syllabus of History is vast, then the syllabus of every other optional subject is also vast.


Facts! Crude Facts!

Who said History is all about facts? History is a beautiful story which demands some facts to be remembered, without which the story will become lifeless. The aspirants should understand that, every subjects demands some basic facts to be remembered, especially for the Preliminary exam.

The questions in the Mains exam would be analytical and practical. Facts do not matter in Mains, one’s analytical skill alone matters.


Not a Scoring Subject

Again, the UPSC does not discriminate between subjects in providing marks. Every subject is equally scoring. The aspirants must understand one thing that the toppers hail from all the optional subjects.


No Relevance to the Present

History has more relevance to the present than any other subject. Every subject needs historical information to proceed with. Thus History occupies the dais in relating to the present.