The Preliminary examination is normally held in the month of May/June for which the notification is released in the month of February/March. Approximately four lakh candidates appear at the examination, the results of which are announced in the month of August. Approximately and   10000-12000 qualify for Main Examination.

The Main Examination is divided into two parts – the written and the personality test. The written test, comprises two Qualifying Papers, one Paper on General Essay and four papers in General Studies. Apart from this, the candidate must choose one optional subject for the examination. The question papers are of conventional short essay type where each question has to be answered within the word limit and the space demarcated. The written test is held in September/October. Candidates who qualify at the written part of the Main Examination have to appear for the Personality test held in February-April.

The personality test is the final stage where the candidate is interviewed to asses his/her personal suitability for a career in public service. The test is intended to judge the mental calibre of the candidate. The marks scored in the written test and the personality test is added to determine the final order of merit. Usually about 900 aspirants are certified for appointment The selected aspirants, after training, are assigned various positions.