IFS : The Simple And Breakthrough Guide Of The Service

IFS Exam stands for Indian Foreign Services. It is one of the central civil services of the Government of India. IFS  members represent the country in international territory.




IFS Exam

Every year, UPSC conducts the Civil Service Examination(CSE) for more than 24 services, such as IAS and IPS  by shortlisting the candidates. More than nine lakh candidates register for the UPSC exam and almost five lakh candidates appear for the examination. The selection process goes through several screenings starting with the preliminary exam, main examination, and interview.


Selection is a year-long process that starts in the month of June and ends in April, and the final list comes in the month of May.

Name of the Exam Civil Service Examination
Organizing Body Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
Exam Level National
Exam Mode Paper and Pen-based( Offline)
Number of Services 24
Number of Attempts 7 times
Number of Registrations Approx. 9Lakh
Admit Card Online
Official Website https://www.upsc.gov.in/



The UPSC generally releasees the date of the Civil Services Examinations notification in the month of February. Aspirants willing to appear for this All Indian Services along with other services can apply online by visiting the official website of UPSC.

Notification Month
Civil Service Examination Advertisement February
IFS- Online Application Form February to March
IFS- Preliminary Admit Card 2nd Week of May
IFS- Preliminary Exam October
IFS- Preliminary Result November
IFS-Main Exam January
IFS-Main Result February
IFS-Interview March to April
IFS-Final Result May


Eligibility Criteria: IFS Exam



1. Nationality 

  • Candidates must be a citizen of India
  • Candidates must be a citizen of Nepal or a subject of Bhutan.
  • Candidates must be Tibetan refugees who came to India before January 1, 1962, for settling permanently in India.
  • Candidates must a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Burma, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Myanmar, Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Vietnam, Zaire with the motive to settle permanently in India.


2. Educational Qualification 

  • Candidates must hold any Bachelor’s degree from any of the recognized universities. There is no minimum percentage required for graduation.
  • Candidates who have appeared for the qualifying exam and are awaiting results are also eligible.
  • Some of the skills required are Decision-making ability, Apt knowledge of current affairs and foreign countries, excellent communication skills, good leadership and analytical ability.


3. Age Limit & Number of Attempts

A candidate should be a minimum of 21 years and a maximum of 30 years to appear for the Civil Service Examination. The maximum age mentioned above is relaxable for the following candidates :

  1. Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST): 5 years
  2. Other Backward Classes(OBC) : 3 Years
  3. Defence Service Personnel : 3 years
  4. Candidate from the State of Jammu & Kashmir: Upto 5 years
  5. Ex-servicemen and ECOs/SSCOs who have served at least 5 years in Military Service as on 1st of August of the Notification Year: 5 years
  6. Blind, Deaf-mute and physically handicapped person: 10 Years.
Category Maximum Age Limit No of Attempts
General 30 Years 07
Other Backwards Castes (OBC) 33 Years 09
Economically Weaker Section(EWS) 30 Years 07
Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) 35 Years Till the age limit
Physically disabled candidates 40 Years For General and OBS candidates = 9

For SC/ST Candidates = Till age limit


IFS Officer: Roles & Responsibility

  • Representing India in its Embassies, High Commissions, Foreign countries and in multilateral organizations like UN.
  • Responsible for dealing with the diplomats for trade, cultural relations of the country, and management of Indian missions abroad
  • Responsible for framing the Government’s foreign policy.
  • Promoting, nurturing and improving nation’s interest, friendship between India and the country where the officer is posted.
  • Constantly updating the Ministry of External Affairs( MEA) Office, India with the recent and development and changes.


Career Graph of IAS Officer

The highest position, an IFS officer can desire for is the rank of Foreign Secretary of India. For abroad they can go up to the post of Ambassador/High Commissioner. The following is the career path of an IFS officer.

  • The candidate selected for the IFS cadre will be sent for training at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration( LBSNAA), Mussoorie.
  • The probationer will be sent for focus training at Foreign Service Institute, New Delhi.
  • After the completion of the above two training, the probationer will be sent for on-the-job training wherein they will be associated with the division of the Ministry of External Affairs for a period of 6 months.
  • Post this they are assigned a Compulsory Foreign Language(CFL) lie Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, German, Spanish etc.
  • Later posted as a Third Secretary (Language Trainee) in any Indian Mission abroad.
  • After completing the proficiency test conducted by School of Foreign Language, Ministry of Defense will confirm them as an IFS officer. The entire journeys take around three years of time.
Post in Foreign Country Post in India
Attache/ Third Secretary Under Secretary
First/Second Secretary Under Secretary
First Secretary Deputy  Secretary
Director Counselor Director
Minister/DCM Ambassador Joint Secretary
Ambassador/High Commissioner Additional  Secretary
Ambassador/High Commissioner Secretary



UPSC conducts exam in three levels as mentioned below.  The candidate has to clear all the 3 exams successfully to get the offer letter from Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)

  1. Preliminary Test
  2. Main Exam
  3. Interview.


Stage One-Preliminary Test (400 Marks) 

  • The Preliminary Exam consist of GS (General Studies) & CSAT (Civil Service Aptitude Test).
  • Both the papers are objective type (Multiple Choice Questions)
  • The question papers are set in Hindi and English language.
  • Blind candidate gets an additional 20 minutes of time for both papers.
  • Candidates appearing in the preliminary test must qualify for the cut-off score to get themselves eligible for the mains exam.
  • There is a negative marking associated with the question asked in the exam.
Paper Type Number of Questions Total Marks Negative Marking Duration
General Studies I Objective( MCQ) 100 200 Yes 2 Hours
General Studies II (CSAT) Objective( MCQ) 80 200 Yes 2 Hours


Stage Two-Main Examination (2025 Marks)

  • Candidates who qualify for the preliminary test are called for the Main Exam.
  • Main exam consists of 9 papers.
  • The language paper consists of the languages included in the 8th schedule of the Constitution.
  • All the paper is bilingual – Hindi & English except for the language papers.


 The written exam consists of the following papers

Paper Subject Type Duration Total Marks
Paper A One of the Indian Language Descriptive 3 Hours 300
Paper B English Descriptive 3 Hours 300
Paper I Essay Descriptive 3 Hours 250
Paper II General Studies I Descriptive 3 Hours 250
Paper III General Studies II Descriptive 3 Hours 250
Paper IV General Studies III Descriptive 3 Hours 250
Paper V General Studies IV Descriptive 3 Hours 250
Paper VI Optional I Descriptive 3 Hours 250
Paper VII Optional II Descriptive 3 Hours 250
Sub Total Marks 1750
Interview Marks 275
Grand Total Marks 2025


The subject which is covered in the General Studies in Main Exam is mentioned below

General Studies I General Studies II General Studies III General Studies IV
Indian Heritage and Culture Governance Technology Ethics
History and Geography of the World Constitution Economic Development Integrity
Society Polity Bio-Diversity Aptitude
Social Justice Environment
International Relations Security and Disaster Management


The list of the Optional Paper VI and VII of the Main Exam is enumerated below

Agriculture Chemistry History Geography Mathematics
Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Political Science and International Relations Mechanical Engineering Commerce and Accountancy Electrical Engineering
Anthropology Psychology Statistics Physics Economics
Botany Sociology Law Medical Science Geology
Zoology Philosophy Civil Engineering Public Administration Management
Literature can opt from any of the following language : Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit,  Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.


Stage Three- Interview (275 Marks )

The candidate who qualifies for the mains exam is called for the interview process. This is the last and final stage of the recruitment cycle before the results are declared. The maximum marks in the interview is 275 thus accruing the total marks in the merit list to be 2025.


UPSC board takes the interview which consists of the competent panelist, who would judge the candidature on the following grounds :

  • Mental Attentiveness
  • Critical power of understanding
  • Clear and Logical Interpretation
  • Balance of Judgement
  • Ability of social solidarity and leadership
  • Intellectual and virtuous integrity



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