PCS COACHING IN LUCKNOW : AT ATHENA COACHING ACADEMY

Athena Coaching Academy provides personally customized coaching for the three stage exam for Uttar Pradesh Provincial Civil Service (UP PCS), generally referred to as PCS.

EXAMINATION SCHEME

The Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC) conducts this exam on an annual basis. The exam consists of Prelims at the first stage, Mains at the second stage and Interview at the third stage.

The dates for holding the exam for each of the three stages are notified well in advance by UPPSC through an annual exam calendar issued generally for a financial year, i.e., from April in one calendar year to March in the next calendar year. Aspirants can see the exam calendar on the UPPSC website.

The standard exam schedule is for Prelims to be held in June, Mains in September and Interviews in December. This schedule was disturbed in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic related lockdown. The exam is likely to be held as per the normal schedule in 2021.

THE STRUCTURE OF PCS

PCS has two dominant sources of recruitment. The upper segment consists of recruitment directly as Deputy Collectors. The lower segment consists of recruitment at Tehsildar level through what is generally called the Upper Subordinate Exam. The two streams contribute equally to the PCS cadre which has a total strength of about 1200 officers. In a normal year about 300 recruitments would be made to the PCS. It is not unusual to see up to 5 lakh aspirants trying their luck, many of them repeatedly, year after year, to join this coveted service.

The PCS cadre in Uttar Pradesh contributes to one third of the posts of the UP cadre of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). Normally, PCS officers with about 20 years of service are able to get promotion to IAS provided they have a good service record and manage to pass the departmental exams conducted for this purpose. Both IAS and PCS cadres lend their shoulder to run the state administration effectively. Their roles and responsibilities are intertwined to ensure administrative efficiency in the service of the state.

PATTERN OF PCS EXAMINATION

From 2018 onwards, UPPSC has adopted the same pattern of exam for PCS which UPSC has been following for the annual civil service exams for the past several years. Therefore, for all functional purposes, the PCS exam has become as tough and competitive as the UPSC civil service exam. This has made it possible for lakhs of aspirants to prepare through a common syllabus for both UPSC civil service and UPPSC PCS exam as one single consolidated effort. UPPSC has been gracious and considerate enough to hold its own PCS exam in all stages very close to the corresponding UPSC civil service exam so that aspirants appearing for both the exams can optimize their preparation.

Prelims

The Prelims Exam consists of two papers as indicated below:

Paper1: General Studies 1    200 Marks    will count for ‘merit’
Paper2: General Studies 2    200 Marks    Only qualifying exam
(CSAT) (Qualifying marks 33%)

Both the papers are held in objective type online mode on OMR sheets.

The PCS Prelims exam is a crucial exam because without scoring high marks in General Studies Paper 1, and without getting minimum 33 % qualifying marks in General Studies Paper 2, the candidate cannot qualify further for the Mains Exam. Yet, Marks obtained in Prelims General Studies Paper 1 are not added to the overall merit score.

The cut off marks for the Prelims is decided on the basis of the establishment rule that the number of candidates to qualify Prelims and appear for the Mains Exam shall be 13 times the total number of vacancies advertised for that year’s exam. For example, if the number of vacancies advertised is, say, 300, then only 300 x 13 = 3,900 candidates will be made to qualify for the Mains, with the candidates having the highest merit marks in Prelims separately within the general and each of the various other reserved categories, as per the established procedure, totally constituting this overall number. The marks obtained by the last person to qualify in each category shall be the cut off marks for Prelims for that particular category alone. It will vary from category to category, and from year to year.

Mains

The Mains Exam consists of 8 papers held in off line (pen & paper) mode. These are as indicated below:

Paper1: General Hindi (Qualifying paper only) 150 Marks
Paper2: Essay (Qualifying paper only) 150 Marks
Paper3: General Studies I (History theme) 200 Marks
Paper4: General Studies II (Political Thought theme) 200 Marks
Paper5: General Studies III (Economics Theme) 200 Marks
Paper6: General Studies IV (Public Service Theme) 200 Marks
Paper7: Optional Subject Paper 1 200 Marks
Paper8: Optional Subject Paper 2 200 Marks
Total 1500 Marks

Interview

The number of candidates to qualify Mains and being called for Interview shall be up to three times the number of vacancies advertised for each such exam.

The interview is the third and final stage of the examination. The UPPSC and the government would like to ensure that the aspirants, who have already passed through two tough stages of the examination, also possess the personal dignity, gravitas, teamwork skills and a mature outlook on their role and responsibilities as very senior officers of the state administration. The interview generally last for up to half an hour and gives the interview board an insight into the mental makeup of the candidates sitting in front of them.

The interview is of 100 marks. Therefore the final ranking of each candidate appearing for the interview is decided on the basis of 1500 marks in Mains + 100 marks in interview, i.e., total 1600 marks. The candidates getting the highest marks in combined total of mains and interview, starting from the top up to the total number of seats in each of the categories e.g. General, OBC, SC, ST etc., would be recommended by UPSC by the state government for appointment to PCS after necessary formalities like police verification, health check up etc.

Normally the entire process of selection, from the date of notification of the examination issued by UPPSC up to the declaration of final results, takes anything between 10 to 12 months.

THE COACHING MODEL AT ATHENA COACHING ACADEMY

The present level of higher education in universities as well as in engineering colleges simply does not prepare the aspiring candidates to prepare on their own for such an intensely competitive examination. Coaching for civil service examination, both at UPSC and UPPSC level, is very much desirable. Almost all the coaching centres try to maximize the profitability through such coaching by attempting economies of scale in keeping the strength of the batches as large as possible. This becomes a self defeating exercise since serious aspirants sitting in such large batches are not able to get the requisite guidance.

Athena Coaching Academy is different from all other coaching centres in Lucknow in that the aspirants are allowed to join for coaching for PCS at any time of their choice and convenience instead of being asked to join on a specific date to start a batch. This is because the aspirants come with vastly differing personal skill sets and varying academic backgrounds. As a result, their unique learning needs and their ability to understand complex multi -dimensional issues on subjects which they have never studied before is strikingly different from each other. Therefore, Athena Coaching Academy provides separate slots for these aspirants so that they have adequate orientation for understanding the quantum of effort involved in cracking this exam. Once the aspirants become familiar with the learning strategies, small groups are formed depending on the candidates’ language preference, as also their academic background, timing options etc.

The coaching is undertaken for both Prelims and Mains simultaneously for two reasons. First, the exam schedule does not leave enough margins for the two language papers, four general study compulsory papers and the two papers for the optional subjects to be studied after the Prelims results have been announced. Secondly the study preparation for the four general study papers by itself provides excellent inputs for the Prelims.

Aspirants have to realize that they have to compete with up to 5 lakh candidates for just a few hundred vacancies advertised each year. Only if they opt for the personally customized coaching, virtually as an individual tutor, given by Athena Coaching Academy would they have a substantial chance of succeeding in this career defining exam.

Athena Coaching Academy believes with a strong sense of conviction that for any coaching to give desired results, it is necessary to have the inputs built around the unique learning needs of every individual aspirant. That is how, through this model, Athena Coaching Academy provides the best PCS coaching in Lucknow.

FEES STRUCTURE

The fees at Athena Coaching Academy for PCS Coaching in Lucknow is as under :

Prelims :

8 months coaching from November to June: Rs.60, 000/-It can be paid in 3 equal instalments at 2 month intervals.

Mains:

3 months coaching from July to September : Rs.30,000/-It can be paid in two instalments after qualifying Prelims

Interview:

One month (4 weeks) coaching in December : Rs.5,000/-It is to be paid only after qualifying the Mains exam.

The fees being charged by Athena Coaching Academy for such individually customized coaching is much less than what other coaching centres in Lucknow charge for making candidates sit in large batches. It is for this reason that Athena Coaching Academy has justifiably earned the reputation for being the best PCS Coaching in Lucknow.