The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is one such exam that can completely change your life and at the same time absolve all of your past academic blackmarks. I would always tell my students that becoming a civil servant is a calling. The country needs strong-minded individuals who will use their knowledge and morality to help the downtrodden and dedicate their lives to their country’s progress. The CSE is conducted to find such individuals, and hence their 10th std., 12th std., graduation marks do not matter as long as they have completed it with the required pass percentage. Therefore, what you were, does not matter to the UPSC at all. It does not matter whether you are from an IIT or a regular college; what matters is that you have the spirit to become a splendid civil servant who cares for the Nation. Still doubtful that UPSC considers marks? Then allow me to share with you my personal story- I wanted to become a doctor when I was in school, but my marks did not allow me to take it up. My father had to console me, saying that being a part of the civil services was also of great value, and I could perhaps consider that. I decided to pursue an engineering degree, and during my engineering days, I had arrears which ultimately affected my campus selection process. It was at this point that I decided to rekindle my civil services dream and I cleared the Civil Services Exam.
What should you do if you have low marks but still aspire to be a Civil Servant?
As I have mentioned before, marks do not matter for this exam. But many a time, my students feel that the UPSC will reject them as they may have been an average student in studies and thereby having low self-esteem. This low self-esteem is the only thing that is stopping you from achieving your dream. I will briefly explain how the CSE works to make you realize that school/college marks do not matter. Since the eligibility for the CSE is to have a pass percentage, anyone with a valid school and college degree can apply for the exam. The first stage of the exam, the Prelims, is an objective type, and hence the aspirant is required to get past the cut-off score to be eligible for the next stage. What comes once you clear the Prelims is the Mains, and here, the questions are of subjective type spanning across multiple papers. Here, once again, you are required to get past the cut-off marks to be eligible for the next and final stage- the Interview.
In both the Prelims and Mains, what gets tested is your basic understanding of the subject. Many aspirants wonder that since they got low marks during their school/college days, they may not be able to clear these stages. The reality is that these stages are only testing the basics of what you have learnt from your 6th std. to 12th std., essentially from the NCERTs. Again, the questions asked are not based on tough formulae or theorem, but rather on very basic areas like environment, science, polity, etc. This makes sure that any aspirant who wants to become a civil servant can become one, even if they were not the studious type.
The final stage, the Interview is the time where the UPSC board will assess you. Here, the board will go through the Detailed Application Form (DAF), which contains the basic information about you, including the marks you scored in your college and school. But, I assure you, the board will never judge you based on these marks as the UPSC clearly states that “the objective 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 calibre of a candidate”. Hence, the mental suitability of becoming a civil servant is tested during the Interview. In my view, if you had low marks in your school/college and if you managed to appear for the Interview, you could present it as a sign of resilience and hard work.
If you have a dream, then you should pursue it. And if that dream is to become a civil servant, you have all the support and motivation from myself and my team at Officers IAS Academy. Do not let your past be an obstacle for your future endeavours – Wishing you all the very best for the upcoming Prelims exam.