Monday, 10 August 2015

Indian Forest Service - Profile and Recruitment Process

(Reproducing an article created for the Employment News by one of the officers of IFS 2015 Batch, published in its "30th May - 05th June 2015" issue)

Introduction to Service
Indian Forest Service (IFS) is one of the three All India Services (AIS), which works for conservation, protection and development of forests and wildlife, along with an aim to enhance livelihood opportunities of forest-dependent communities of rural and tribal areas. Thus, the mandate of IFS is a unique blend of environmental conservation and socio-economic development, which are essential components of the emerging sustainable development paradigm.

IFS offers a prestigious career option, equivalent to the coveted IAS and IPS, for graduates in science or engineering. Similar to IAS and IPS, IFS officers are also allocated state cadres based on their rank and available vacancies. After a Foundation Course in Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie, IFS officers undergo an extensive training programme at Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA), Dehradun. Post completion of training, they are posted in their respective cadre, initially as Assistant Conservator of Forests and later as Divisional Forest Officers. An IFS officer is largely independent of the district administration and exercises administrative, judicial and financial powers in their own domain. Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) acts as the cadre controlling authority for IFS officers.

IFS is open to graduates from science, with at least one of the subjects namely, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science, Botany, Chemistry, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, Statistics and Zoology, or a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture or Forestry or Engineering from a recognized university or equivalent. Forest management is a technical field, where the background of scientific or technological education proves to be helpful.

Examination Format
Civil Services (Prelim) Examination-2015, to be held on 23rd August 2015, would be used to screen candidates for the Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination, to be held from 21st November 2015 onwards.

CSE (Prelim) consists of two objective-type papers – Paper-1 covers General Studies, such as Indian History, Geography, Economy, General Science, etc., while Paper-2 is a test of aptitude towards logical reasoning, data interpretation, comprehension, etc.

The Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination consists of six subjective-type papers – General English (300 marks), General Knowledge (300 marks), 2 papers each for 2 optional subjects (200 marks each). The optional subjects available are science subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Botany, Zoology, Forestry, etc.  and engineering streams such as Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, etc.

Based on the Main examination scores, candidates are shortlisted for the Personality Test (300 marks). The final results for IFS Examination are declared based on the combined scores in Main examination and Personality Test.

Preparation Strategy
One must go through previous years’ question papers to develop some understanding about the topics covered and difficulty level of questions.

Preliminary Examination
The Prelims exam requires dedicated preparation, since a large proportion of candidates are eliminated in this stage itself. Furthermore, the cut-off mark for qualifying for IFS (Main) Examination is typically greater than that for Civil Services (Main) Examination.

Paper-1 requires complete coverage of the given syllabus from standard books, along with awareness of current issues of importance. The paper is a test of both knowledge and understanding of issues across a broad range of topics. NCERT textbooks of relevant subjects and standards are an appropriate starting point. Moreover, regular reading of one national daily is essential to develop the required general awareness.

Paper-2 focuses on testing one’s aptitude of mental ability, data interpretation, reasoning and comprehension. The foundation for this test rests upon basic numeracy, geometry and logic. Reading a newspaper helps in improving both reading speed and comprehension. However, proficiency in these skills can be developed only through regular practice of questions of similar pattern.

Main Examination
The Main examination is of subjective-type, and thus requires a different preparation strategy. Regular practice of writing answers is needed, with focus on speed of writing as well as quality of answers.

The ‘General English’ paper is of special importance as its score is included in the final marks, unlike the Civil Services (Main) Examination, in which English paper is only of qualifying nature. The various components in the ‘General English’ paper are essay, letter, report, précis, comprehension, vocabulary and grammatical problems. A good essay should provide a powerful context and analyze all aspects of the given topic, while offering both short-term and long-term perspective. Writing letters and reports requires awareness of the rules of structure and format. Précis-writing is an art of brief and comprehensive expression, and can be mastered only through regular practice. One can build strong comprehension skills and a rich vocabulary through extensive reading coupled with curiosity of learning new words. Last but not the least, knowledge of basic grammar rules would be useful in not only tackling grammatical problems but also improve overall correctness of expression.

The ‘General Knowledge’ paper seeks to test the general awareness and understanding of issues of current importance. The recent trend shows a shift towards shorter questions, but a greater number of them covering a broad range of topics. Besides the standard topics such as Indian history (ancient to modern), geography, economy, polity, etc., one must be aware of the various aspects of recent issues in India such as Government policies, programmes and laws, Supreme Court judgments. Familiarity with recent international events and their implications is also essential. There is a special focus on environmental issues – both domestic and international, and application of science and technology in everyday life.

The choice of optional subjects is crucial, and the candidate must opt for a subject based on one’s interest and aptitude. The format of papers is similar to Civil Services Examination with a mix of compulsory and optional questions. The syllabus of each optional subject can be completed within 3-4 months of dedicated study, and this should be followed with regular revision. Emphasis must also lie on ability to write brief and comprehensive answers as the space available is now limited after introduction of Question-cum-Answer booklets.

Personality Test
The Personality Test is the final stage of IFS Examination and is held at UPSC, New Delhi. Select candidates are invited for interviews based on their performance in the written examination. The interview board consists of one of the UPSC members as chairman and 3-4 other members. The average duration of an interview is about 25 minutes. Board is very cordial and seeks to establish a conversation with the candidate on topics of general interest and from one’s background. Interest in environmental and forests issues is an added benefit.
Personality Test is followed by a medical checkup and a walking test of 25 km for male candidates and 14 km for female candidates, to be completed in less than 4 hours.

Personal Experience
I am a Computer Science & Engineering graduate from IIT Delhi. I began the preparation for General Studies / General Knowledge by reading relevant NCERT books. For instance, Geography textbooks for Class XI and XII are a comprehensive resource. Free availability of NCERT books on NCERT’s website has solved the issue of their availability and accessibility to aspirants. For deeper study, I studied ‘India’s Struggle for Independence’ by Bipan Chandra, ‘Indian Polity’ by Lakshmikanth, ‘Indian Economy’ by Ramesh Singh, etc.

My optional subjects for IFS Examination were Chemistry and Forestry. My preparation for Chemistry was based on books such as Atkins’ Physical Chemistry, Morrison & Boyd’s Organic Chemistry, Huheey’s Inorganic Chemistry, etc. For the Forestry optional, I relied on ‘Indian Forestry’ by K. Manikandan & S. Prabhu. Besides the books, Internet proved to be a helpful resource for recent developments and miscellaneous information.

Indian Forest Service promises to offer a fulfilling public service career, with the added satisfaction of working in close association with Mother Nature. Eligible candidates should give this career option a serious consideration and begin dedicated preparation for the recruitment examination at the earliest.

About the Author,
Vikas Prajapati, IFS


  1. sir do they check flatfoot in medical test?

  2. Congratulations sir for clearing the exam. I am Vipul, did my graduation in Bachelor of Physical Planning from School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. I had APPLIED GEOLOGY and STATISTICS as one of my subjects in one semester each. Applied Geology in 2nd Semester and Statistics in 2nd and 3rd Semester. Am I eligible to write this exam?

  3. Sir I have a doubt,
    Can Indian Forest Service Officers get opportunity to join IB and RAW on deputation and what all adventure activities can a Forest service officer get engaged with ,I mean whether the officers get support on sports and adventure activities like mountaineering..etc.
    Are Indian Forest Service officers given personal weapons like police officers.

    1. Yes, IFS officers do have opportunities for such deputations; provided you have skills and abilities that these organisations require.

      IFS is an All India Service, in lieu of which the officers are entitled to all the perks, support and facilities that goes along with it; this includes support for adventure sports. (Kindly read :

      As far as weapons are concerned, Govt. of India does not hand out any personal weapons, for that one has to buy the weapon (with your own money) from a registered arms dealer and obtain an arms license from the District Magistrate to get it released.

      It is to be kept in mind that for IPS officers the weapon is as much a part of their uniform as the insignia on their epaulette; and hence they are provided with a Service Weapon. Notwithstanding the fact that IFS is not a uniformed service, the officers are imparted training in handling weapons ranging from side-arms to SLR's. The officers on field are provided with service weapons according to the threat perception of the division in which they're posted.

  4. Sir, I am a graduate in chem engg. which i also chose as one of my optional subject. I want your opinion on which subject out of botany, agriculture and forestry would be easier for a candidate like me with engg. background.

    1. As we've advised before, choosing an optional subject is a very personal decision. The decision should lie squarely on your interests and capabilities. Please go through the detailed syllabus of all these subjects and take the call; that's how most of us approached this.

  5. Sir how stritctly they check flatfoot in medicals... if knees touch, does it mean disqualification?

    1. The only input we can give is that the medical board does check for both flat foot and knock knees. None of us here are doctors or have any experience to tell by what standards a physician judges these parameters.

      We think this question can be better answered by your personal physician.

  6. how is the profile of an IFS officer for women ? are postings only in remote locations ?

    1. It's a common misconception that IFS officers are posted only in remote areas. While at the level of DFO, you are most likely to be in charge of a territorial division which means that your office will be in the district headquarters which would be a city, more often than not. As you rise up the hierarchy you are even more likely to end up in cities, unless you opt otherwise.

      While it is true that some cadres are more rural in setting and in case you are allotted to such cadres, you'll will have to serve in some remote areas. Even in this case you have plenty of options to switch to other wings of the department or take deputations; sometimes even out of your cadre. (The Managing Director of Kerala State Film Development Corporation is a lady IFS officer of the Tripura Cadre).

      IFS is an excellent profession for women. There are a number of lady officers who have excelled in this field and have made the nation proud with their work. Read up on officers like Ms. Neha Verma ( or Ms. Sonali Ghosh (

      Being an All India Service, your opportunities are vast and there are no metaphorical glass ceilings; for example the IG of Forests (IFS Division) at MoEF is a lady IFS officer. Also note that the Government of India is actively promoting and incentivising women to join the service, for example women do not have to pay any exam fees for appearing in the IFS exam and in Physical/Walking Test they have to complete only 14 kms in 4 hours whereas Men have to complete 25 kms.

      On the whole, IFS is an excellent profession for anyone irrespective of gender where you have the opportunity to perform the role of the policy formulator and work from the cities or take deputation to Project Tiger or Project Snow Leopard and spend your life in the lap of nature as a field official, and I don't think there are many professions that has such diverse roles to offer.

  7. Awesome initiative taken by you people to share us the knowledge about IFS. The biggest problem in India, to get into Public Services is to the lack of information. And you all are doing a great job bridging this gap. Thanks a lot !! And please keep sharing your knowledge.

    1. Thank you Ranjith, we'll surely keep this space updated and share as much as we can.

  8. Dear Sir

    I am a IFS aspirant. I have a doubt. Technically I am eligible to appear for IFS exam, I studied my Bachelors in Environmental Management with Mathematics and Chemistry as my core subjects. But the doubt is can I opt Zoology and Animal Husbandry as my optional papers for my mains?

    Thank you

    1. Yes you can. Your subjects at graduation level has got nothing to do with what you opt for the exam. It's entirely your choice.

      Having said that, UPSC does not allow certain subject combinations. Kindly check the IFS Exam Notification to ensure that Zoology and Animal Husbandry combo does not come in that list. Apart from that everything should be fine

  9. Thank you Sir

    I have gone through the optional papers details and found that Zoology and Animal Husbandry does not come in that list. I am preparing for CS(P) exam currently.

    1. You're welcome. All the best for the examination.

  10. Sir,
    Forestry as an optional.what are the book to be followed. I have got a set of photocopies derived from different books of FRI(as claimed by book seller) covering various topics.

  11. Sir.
    Forestry as an optional.what books I need to follow. I recently got a set of photocopies derived from books claimed to be from a library of reputed forest institute and covers various topics. Thanks

  12. Sir I m student of agriculture ...and want to appears this year .... Hw m going 4 GS paper preparation mains??

  13. Sir
    Which is the best coaching institute for IFoS preparation in Delhi?