Thursday, 3 September 2015

Strategy for English paper of IFS (Main) Examination

Unlike the Civil Services Exam, English marks COUNT here. While I started my preparation, in a short period I realized that it takes much less time to push 120 marks in English to 150 compared to scoring those 30 extra marks in hardcore science subjects like Mathematics or Physics. So I decided and put about 10 hours effort on the English paper.

I got a score of 154 (which is on higher side with many getting around 130), but what I want to say here is that I rate myself as not so good to average in English and yet I scored this "very good" marks.

Compared to Civils English paper, Letter writing and Report writing are two new things in the paper and the Grammar questions are also different. So these three need a completely novel approach.

For letter writing the templates in this site are good to memorise and use.

Do remember that the format may be different between UK, USA and Indian styles of Letter writing; So cross check with the format but the content in above site is good to use for majority of Letter writing questions that we get in the exam.

Similarly, search for report writing and there are few key words that you need to remember in report writing and those things should be mentioned along with the narration of the incident. I will give the links for those soon.

The most important part in english paper that brings huge difference in scores is Essay (which amounts to 100 marks). Here you should understand the difference between a General Essay and an Essay for evaluating English. Here in English Essay, the importance is not given to your innovative catchy thoughts, or how balanced you are in your opinions but to the way you use English sentences and how accurately you use various adjectives to describe a situation or opinion.

For this I read words from Norman Lewis

I read all the words at the back of the book and wrote various adjectives that are moderately difficult/frequent in use and that i felt i can use with variety of essays in my mind. The catch here is that these words should not be forcefully inserted in the essay but just use few good words from your decently large list so that they describe the situation more perfectly and accurately.

When I went to write the exam I observed few more things that are very important.

  • The grammar questions are relatively lengthy compared to Civils English Grammar (there were no one word or fill in the blank kind of questions, we had to write lots of sentences). It takes a lot of time but be patient and be accurate as they are essential for good scores.

  • Have ample time for precis and dont attempt it at the end. It needs a lot of analysis to cut short to a third and write in your words; So see to it that you have ample time, with a pleasant frame of mind and no hurry while doing. Ideally it can be done towards the middle of the paper.

  • Compared to Essay in Civils, English paper of IFS will require you to write 400 words extra to adhere to word limit. So even if you finish English paper of Civils in 2hr 30 min you may have tough time finishing IFS English paper in 3 hours. In fact I had to compromise on my Essay and while the given word limit is 800-1000 words I hardly wrote some 600 words. So don't be lazy like you are in Civils and try to be a little fast to finish the paper perfectly.

Finally, Do remember to solve the question papers that came in the preceding five years' IFS examination to get a hang of the paper.

Wishing you the very best

Aditya M, IFS

Post originally published in the blog 'Controversial Thinking' ( on 1st March, 2015


  1. Sir which is the best state to work as an ifos officer??

  2. Tricky question, it all depends on your personal preference.

  3. Hi.
    I have flat feet and am wondering whether this would fuel disqualification. I can easily walk about 12kms though(havent tried more than this yet) please let me know.
    Thank you.

    1. Well, they do check for flat foot during the medicals. If you do complete the 25km Walking Test then you may try and convince the medical board, the ultimate call regarding disqualification lies with them.

  4. Thank you sir.This article is very helpful.

  5. any sample report?? will be of great help..

    1. The findings of the Board are not intimated to the candidates; the report is directly sent to the Ministry.

  6. PK Mukherjee book is unavailable in the market. which book can substitute this book? or if you have a copy, can you please sell it to me?

  7. PK mukherjee book is unavailable in the market. if you have a copy of the book, can you please sell it me? if you dont have one, which book can best substitute it?

  8. sir can i give my interview in tamil

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