#WhatTheFAQ: Unpacking UPSC mania. Why is it still so prestigious and back-breaking? What's the success rate?

The UPSC Mains results have been declared, but what makes this exam so hard and what do the numbers say? And why is it considered to be one of the most difficult examinations? 
Pic: EdexLive
Pic: EdexLive

Union Public Service Examination (UPSC) declared the Mains 2022 results yesterday, December 6 and only 2,529 candidates qualified out of the eleven lakh who applied. Around thirteen thousand candidates passed the preliminary exam of UPSC earlier this year. Following the Mains, candidates will have to appear for another rigorous round of interviews from where only 861 candidates will be selected for various positions in the government Civil Services. The sheer number makes the examination so intimidating, apart from the prestige associated with the service. 

What do the numbers say?
Among the 11 lakh candidates who apply, fifty per cent appear for the exam and around 50 thousand are serious. If 13 thousand qualify for the preliminary exam, one in four serious candidates clear prelims, which denotes that the success rate of prelims is 25 per cent. The success rate of the Mains is 15 per cent and that of the interview is 50 per cent. Thus, from the 50,000 serious candidates, the chance of cracking UPSC is approximately 2 per cent. 

Why is it considered difficult?
UPSC's difficulty lies in the vastness of its syllabus and the intense competition. The syllabus encompasses everything from History, Geography, Science, Economy to Ethics, Environmental Studies, Art and Culture and current affairs. Candidates also have to appear for qualifying language papers. The language papers include one compulsory English paper and another vernacular paper. This syllabus is divided into three part examination — first preliminary MCQ examination; second, the Mains, which is a written test; and the final interview round. The process takes about one year and candidates devote at least one more year to its preparation. 

Why is it so stressful?
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), around 2,500 people commit suicide each year as a consequence of failing exams, in general. UPSC aspirants' suicide incidents are rampant in the country. The examination comes with a lot of uncertainty that often pushes candidates to the edge. According to an article by The Quint, lack of awareness of options, structural failures and socio-economic background are the leading factors that cause aspirants to take such drastic measures.

What after failing UPSC?
UPSC provides candidates six attempts from age 21 to 32 to appear for this examination. Most of the time, aspirants have backup options owing to the uncertainty of the examination. Many failed candidates appear for other government exams or join UPSC coaching institutes. Few go for higher studies and others get into the private sector. 

Vipin Yadav, who is an Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta graduate, shared his failed UPSC journey on LinkedIn. In his post, he states that he started his journey at the age of 28; however, despite investing 3.5 years in the examination, he failed. He had quit his well-paying corporate job in pursuit of the prestigious Civil Services but later, returned to the corporate world after failing in his third attempt. Vipin shares that he qualified for Mains twice but never got to qualify for the interviews; currently, he is working at an AgriTech start-up. 

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