IAS Full Form – What is IAS?

The Full Form of IAS is Indian Administrative Services (IAS) formerly known as the Imperial Civil Service during the British rule is one of the three arms of All India services along with IPS and IFoS. IAS officers are recruited through the civil services examination which is famous for being one of the toughest competitive exams in the world. Union Public Service Commission is the constitutional agency that conducts this exam. Every year approximately 10 lakh students apply for CIVIL SERVICES EXAMINATION to become CIVIL SERVANT through it but only a few of them (around 0.2%) are able to crack it and get enlisted for the post of IAS (nearly 180 posts are reserved for IAS). In this article, we bring forward to you everything that you need to know about the IAS.

What is IAS?

Indian Administrative Services is the premier administrative civil service of the government of India. It acts as a foundation of bureaucracy and administration of this country. Being an IAS officer is the dream job of many. Hierarchy-wise, IAS is on top of the list of 24 services offered by the UPSC through civil services examination. Members of the IAS are employed in union government, state government, and even in the public sector and international organisations. Jobs offered to the IAS officers are the post of SDM, Collector, Commissioner, Chief Secretary, Cabinet Secretary to name a few.

Everything about IAS Exam

IAS exam is conducted by the UPSC every year to select suitable candidates for India’s premier civil services. It is conducted in three stages i.e., Prelims, Mains and Personal Interview. Every year, less than 1000 candidates are selected for the overall 24 posts. Let’s dive into the details of the process.

  • Preliminary Examination: It consists of 2 papers comprising objective type questions with multiple choice answers. Prelims exam is qualifying in nature and used to select candidates for the mains examination. Marks scored in the prelims exam are not considered for the final list. Details of the prelims examination are given below:
    Paper Type No. of questions Marks Duration
    General Studies I Objective 100 200 2 hours
    General Studies II (CSAT) Objective 80 200 2 hours
  • Mains Examination: This exam has a total of 9 papers. The marks of only 7 papers are calculated to rank the candidate and the rest 2 are qualifying in nature. Only those candidates who have cleared the prelims exam are eligible to appear for the mains examination. All the papers are descriptive in nature. Details of UPSC examination are given below:
    Paper Subject Duration Total marks
    Paper A Compulsory Indian language(QUALIFYING) 3 hours 300
    Paper B English(QUALIFYING) 3 hours 300
    Paper I Essay(MARKS CONSIDERED FOR MERIT) 3 hours 250
    Paper II General Studies I(MARKS CONSIDERED FOR MERIT) 3 hours 250
    Paper III General Studies II(MARKS CONSIDERED FOR MERIT) 3 hours 250
    Paper IV General Studies III(MARKS CONSIDERED FOR MERIT) 3 hours 250
    Paper V General Studies IV(MARKS CONSIDERED FOR MERIT) 3 hours 250
    Paper VI Optional I(MARKS CONSIDERED FOR MERIT) 3 hours 250
    Paper VII Optional II(MARKS CONSIDERED FOR MERIT) 3 hours 250
  • PERSONALITY TEST : This is the final stage of the UPSC selection process. It is conducted by the UPSC board to assess the personality and suitability of the candidates for the civil services. It comprises of 275 marks.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible for the IAS exam, a candidate must have obtained a graduate degree from any recognised university of India and must have attained a minimum age of 21 years. UPSC has a fixed number of attempts for the candidates depending upon the category and age limits. Its details are given below:

Category Upper Age Limit for UPSC Maximum Number of Attempts
General 32 6
Economically Weaker Section (EWS) 32 6
OBC 35 9
SC/ST 37 Unlimited
Defence Services Personnel 35 9
Persons with Benchmark Disability 35 9

It is important to note that your attempt will be counted only when you appear for the examination. Merely filing the form is not considered as an attempt.

Role of an IAS officer

The role of an IAS officer depends on the assignment they get. The assignments are categorized into 3 types.

  • Field
  • State Secretariat
  • Central Secrerariat

Field assignment is the most difficult task of all. That’s why the Civil Service Exam is so tough. Some of the functions of an IAS officer includes:

  • Managing Government affairs like framing, implementing, and revising policies.
  • Consultations with various departments.
  • Distribution of funds of Central Government allocated for various schemes.
  • Supervision of the implemented schemes and policies of the government.
  • Immediately handling emergencies like natural disasters, accidents, riots and acting upon relief policies.

The role of an IAS Officer is discussed below:


  • Field Assignments : An IAS officers’ first posting after training is usually a field assignment. Their functions vary according to their rank and posts.
  • Sub-divisonal Functions : The sub-divisional magistrate manages law and order and looks after the development activities in the sub-divisional department.
  • District-level Functions : The collector or deputy commissioner have the same functions as the sub-divisional ones. They also look after all the activities in the District-level department.

However, the role of an IAS officer ends at the district level. But many of them work at the State Secretariat too.

  • State Secretariat : The position involves advising the representative policies and make decisions for the government by using the experience of field assignments.
  • Public Sector Undertakings :IAS officers get a job at Public Sector Undertakings and are a part of higher management. These undertakings include power stations, industrial units and many more.
  • Central Secretarial Assignment : These appointed officers tackle the review of policies and formulate their implementation for various ministries.

These duties are very difficult to manage and need a candidate with the utmost intelligence. That’s why the exams are so difficult to crack. But with the right strategy, proper guidance and consistent hard work one can easily clear this exam.

How to Clear the Civil Service Exam

There are a number of benefits and perks of being an IAS officer. But before that, you need to clear the UPSC exam which is not an easy task. Firstly, candidates should have a long term strategy. Secondly, goal-oriented students start preparing for the exam 12 months before the date. However, there are students who have been ranked at the top by only a few months of preparation. The quality of your study matters the most. IAS exam is much more than the verbal and written exam. It showcases the personality and the hard work of the candidate. Further, you may also choose the best institute to prepare for the exam. But don’t forget that you have to be extremely hard working and focused to be an IAS officer. The exam is the reflection of where you stand. Extreme hard work will do wonders for you.

Tips and Tricks to Crack IAS Exam

Here are a few tips to crack the IAS Exam fast. Follow these and do the hard work.

  • Read the Syllabus thoroughly : Planning is the key for you because to cover the entire syllabus, you must plan accordingly. Divide the syllabus on the basis of easy, medium, and difficult.
  • Previous Year Question Papers : You will get to know the exam pattern and understand what to read and what to exclude. So, do not skip on these.
  • Discussion is key : To remember each and everything, you must develop the habit of discussing current affairs on a daily basis.
  • Mock Paper : Also, develop a habit of solving mock papers regularly. This will make your mind sharp.
  • Newspaper : UPSC is keen on the dynamic portion of the syllabus for all the three stages of the exam especially Prelims. Therefore, develop daily newspaper reading habit and make notes out of them.
  • Diet and Sleep : You must follow a healthy diet and have a sleeping pattern too. Ensure that you sleep for at least 7-8 hours. You can have dry fruits to sharpen your memory.

Benefits of an IAS Officer:

An IAS officer enjoys a lot of benefits and perks which makes it one of the most sought-after careers in the country. They have the power to make a difference in the lives of millions of people. They also command huge respect in society. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits available to IAS officers:

  • Accommodation: IAS officers get big houses as accommodation by the government. Moreover, it is free of cost and gets additional services as well. It includes house help, gardener, cook, security guard, and security for the family as well. Also, they don’t have to lift a finger as the basic small chores are done by servants too.
  • Transport: Government vehicles and chauffeurs are provided to them. Also, more than one vehicle can be provided too.
  • Security: IAS is the highest position in civil service and so danger is a part of the job. However, security for the officer and his/her family is provided to protect them. Also in emergencies, STF commandoes are provided for extra protection.
  • Bills: The bills are usually free or highly subsidized. In short, it includes electricity, water, phone, and gas connections.
  • Trips: IAS officers get highly subsidized accommodation in government bungalows. Moreover, the trip can be official or non-official – it doesn’t matter. However, when they visit Delhi, they can stay in State Bhavans.
  • Study Leaves : Firstly, an IAS officer can get study leaves for 2 years. Secondly, they can also apply to prestigious foreign universities. The government will bear the expenses but there are restrictions too. Officers who have served for 7 years can apply for this facility. Also, they have to sign the bond stating that after returning they will serve as IAS for a certain number of years.
  • Job Security: An IAS officer enjoys a great sense of job security because it is not easy to fire an IAS officer. If an IAS officer is found guilty, there is a proper investigation before any decision is finalized.
  • Retirement Benefits
    • Lifetime Pension: An IAS officer enjoys a lifetime pension and other retirement benefits too.
    • Post Retirement: After retirement officers can easily be appointed to commissions. Moreover, their services can be availed in other government departments.

These are the main powers of the IAS officer. However, there are around 300 laws on the basis of the case. Also, the department of personnel and training keeps updating the manual. Moreover, the civil servants are answerable to the State and Central government.

Salary of an IAS Officer

The government of India elects a Pay Commission to finalize the salary of central government employees. Moreover, the government of India finalizes whether to choose it or reject it. Also, the inflation rate affects salary. To sum up, it means that the salary keeps fluctuating according to the economy. However, the salary keeps on increasing with time. And from transport to house help, everything is under government expense.

Salary structure

The 7th Pay Commission was approved by the cabinet on 29th June 2018. Moreover, the IAS officer gets 56,100 as the basic pay at the entry-level. Then 16,500 is the grade pay. Also, the maximum salary of a senior IAS officer is 2,70,000. And the additional allowances are:

  • Dearness Allowance
  • House Rent Allowance
  • Travel Allowance
  • Transport Allowance
  • Medical Allowance

IAS Salary during Training

The IAS officers get paid too during the training. But officially it is not salary, it is termed as Special Pay Advance. However, the amount is 45,000 per month that they get during the entire period. In other words, at the end of the day, they get 38,500 because 10,000 is deducted as a bill of mess food, uniform, tracksuit, horse riding costumes, etc. It also includes other miscellaneous expenses.

Basic Pay and Grade Pay of IAS on the Basis of Rank

The whole IAS cadre is divided into 8 Ranks or grades. Moreover, the basic pay keeps on increasing time to time as they keep getting promotions. Also, the promotion is on a service record basis and happens every 4-5 years. On the other hand, the IAS salary depends upon his/her experience, ranks, and pay grade. Also, The retirement package includes benefits like service vehicles, house help, security for the family. In other words, these benefits and salaries of the IAS officer can never be offered by the private sector. Though the salary at a private firm can be high, the respect that an IAS officer receives is incomparable.

Pay Grade Grade Basic Pay Grade Pay Service Period Post
10 Junior Scale ₹50,000 – ₹1,50,000 ₹16,500 0-4 years SDM, SDO, ADM (after 2 years probation period)
11 Senior Time Scale ₹50,000 – ₹1,50,001 ₹20,000 5 years DM, DC, Joint Secretary
12 Junior Administrative Grade ₹50,000 – ₹1,50,002 ₹23,000 9 years Special Secretary, State Government Department Heads
13 Selection Grade ₹1,00,000 – ₹2,00,000 ₹26,000 12-15 years Ministry Department Head
14 Super Time Scale ₹1,00,000 – ₹2,00,000 ₹30,000 17-20 Director of any Ministry
15 Above Super Time Scale ₹1,00,000 – ₹2,00,000 ₹30,000 Not Fixed Commissioner, Additional Secretary
16 Apex Scale ₹2,40,000(fixed) NA Not Fixed Chief Secretary in Ministries
17 Cabinet Secretary Grade ₹2,70,000 NA Not Fixed Cabinet Secretary

The IAS post is much more than its salary. Many people don’t know how much hard work it goes to become an IAS officer. Moreover, some don’t even have an idea of how strong and powerful the position is. This what makes the UPSC exam so difficult to crack. In short, if you are thinking to be an IAS officer, do prepare thoroughly at home.

Power of IAS Officer

Other than IAS salary, the officer has great power and responsibilities. Also, even if the IAS salary gets matched or sometimes less than the private sector, the power and command are unmatched by other professions.

  1. Firstly, the IAS officer holds the administration charge of the entire district/state/department/ministry.
  2. Secondly, many people depend on them for working efficiently and smoothly.
  3. Moreover, they have the authority for bringing positive changes in society. Education, health, and economic policies are influenced by them. In other words, the unmatched power to serve the country is unique.
  4. The Indian Penal Code’s criminal procedure Section- 107,108, 109, 110, 144 and 176 empowers the IAS officer for maintaining law and order.
  5. Law of tenancy regarding revenue powers is under the collector.
  6. Also, Arm, Drug License, essential commodities act is in the hands of an IAS officer.

These are the main powers of the IAS officer. However, there are around 300 laws on which an IAS officer has the power to make decisions.. Also, the department of personnel and training keeps updating the manual.

IAS Exam Syllabus

It is very important to look at the syllabus before starting the preparation to understand all the aspects of the civil services examination. The prelims is an objective type paper, The mains is a subjective exam and the Interview is a viva- exam. The candidate is chosen on the basis of the marks of the Main exam and Interview. The total marks for the Mains exam is 1750. The total marks for the Interview is 275. Therefore, the student should prepare wisely. The syllabus has questions from a wide range of subjects. Compared to other subjects, the syllabus of this exam is quite vast and exhaustive.

The first paper of Prelims (General Studies) covers the following topics:

  • Current Affairs
  • Indian National Movement
  • History of India
  • Geography
  • Social and Economic Development
  • Climate Change
  • Art
  • Culture
  • General Knowledge of Science
  • Environment

The second paper of Prelims (CSAT) covers the following topics:

  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • English
  • Comprehension
  • Data Interpretation
  • Basic Maths

The Mains exam covers the following subjects-

  • Compulsory Indian Language
  • English
  • Essay
  • Current Affairs
  • History
  • Geography
  • Art and Culture
  • Polity
  • Governance
  • Social and Economic Development
  • Economy
  • Science and Technology
  • Ethics
  • Optional paper – There are 26 subjects that you can choose your optional from.

Interview Stage:

UPSC wishes to test your personality and not merely your knowledge. So, relax and read as much as you can about the happenings around the world to brush up your knowledge. Consequently, you will perform well.


Clearing the IAS exam is not an easy task. Therefore, it requires a lot of hard work and focus on your part. You must study the syllabus thoroughly and come up with a detailed strategy of covering all the subjects given in the syllabus. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and prioritise things accordingly. Apart from regular studies, pay attention to your health too. Indulge in regular exercise, sleep well, and also maintain a balanced diet. Moreover, follow your daily schedule properly and be aware of the happenings around you. Don’t forget to read the newspaper daily. Practice mock tests and revise regularly to achieve your goal of becoming an IAS officer.

The position of an IAS officer commands huge respect and prestige in society. Along with various perks and benefits, you get a chance to serve the nation and work at the grassroots levels to bring a positive change in society. Therefore you should put in all your hard work and prepare for this exam with full dedication and focus.

FAQs on IAS full form

1.What is the Full Form of IAS?
The Full Form of IAS is Indian Administrative Services.

2. What is the cut-off of the prelims?
The cut off for paper 1 is set by UPSC. But for paper 2 the cut off is 33%.

3. How many papers are there in the main exam?
The main exam has 9 papers. However, 7 papers are used for ranking. And 2 papers are qualifying in nature. You have to secure minimum marks to qualify.

4. What are the other duties of IAS officer? Apart from the above-mentioned duties, an IAS officer also has to represent the nation on an International level for negotiation.

5. What is the starting salary of IAS officer? 56,100 is the approximate starting salary of an IAS officer. However, it fluctuates and can go high after a few years of experience.

6. What are the additional perks for IAS officer? The additional perks include transport, travel, accommodation, and many other facilities. Moreover, these are just a few perks out of many. IAS officers also get subsidized rates in many foreign countries.

7. What is the maximum salary of an IAS officer? 2,70,000 is the maximum salary of an IAS officer. An IAS officer can reach up to the top to become a Cabinet Secretary – the highest position for Civil Servants in the government of India. But it fluctuates according to inflation of the economy. Also, the officer gets a promotion every 4-5 years.

8. What is Special Pay Advance? Special pay advance is a term for the amount that IAS officers receive during training. It is the salary that they get on behalf of their cadre. It is supposed to be 45000/- But the final amount received is 38,500 after deducting 10,000 for miscellaneous expenses.

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