Civil Services Preference List – Filling Out the Form the Right Way

The Civil Services Preference List in your Detailed Application Form (DAF) decides your career and destiny. A lot of times, due to negligence, ignorance and lack of knowledge, candidates make the wrong choice. To help all aspirants, we are sharing the optimum service priorities.

Civil Services Preference List

All India Civil Services

  1. Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
  2. Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
  3. Indian Police Service (IPS)

Group ‘A’ Civil Services

  1. Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
  2. Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS)
  3. Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS)
  4. Indian Corporate Law Service (ICLS)
  5. Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS)
  6. Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES)
  7. Indian Information Service (IIS)
  8. Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS)
  9. Indian Communication Finance Services (ICFS)
  10. Indian Postal Service (IPoS)
  11. Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS)
  12. Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS)
  13. Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS)
  14. Indian Revenue Service (IRS)
  15. Indian Trade Service (ITS)
  16. Railway Protection Force (RPF)

Group ‘B’ Civil Services

  1. Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service
  2. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands Civil Service (DANICS)
  3. Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands Police Service (DANIPS)
  4. Puducherry Civil Service (PONDIPS)
  5. Pondicherry Civil Service

Things to Consider While Filling Up Your DAF

  1. The Detailed Application Form needs individual attention and customized filling.
  2. The DAF is not like filling up your resume and cover letter, the more achievements, the more you will score. So, please do not try to fake any accomplishment or write for the sake of writing or filling up the form. If there is no achievement to mention, don’t create one just to look good on paper, no hobby then doesn’t write a fake one.
  3. Be specific. For some, music might be their hobby, but they will expect you to know about music and its history/roots in detail. You might like to cook, but they will ask you anything related to the kitchen (about preservatives, masalas, cooking recopies, types of cuisines, etc.). So better to avoid writing such open-ended things. Write specific things only which you know you can prepare.
  4. Writing something and not able to justify the clear meaning sends a very wrong impression. When you are filling DAF make sure you write less but meaningful words you are confident.
  5. This is a personal choice depending on what you want from your life. What matters to you? You can decide accordingly.
    • Balanced life?
    • Quality work?
    • Power & Infrastructure?
    • Delhi Posting?

A Brief of the Civil Services Preference List

  1. IAS- Good work, Good Infrastructure and highly respectable. The issue is interference and work pressure. If one wants a very peaceful life and a tension free life, then consider it.
  2. IFS- Work as diplomats. Excellent services, especially for people who like to travel, pursue intellectual hobbies. You will have other terms in a foreign country and India. Yes, do consider from a family perspective and secondly from the perspective that if you want paraphernalia, you will not get it.
  3. IPS- Mostly work is in law and order domain. Contains a lot of power, infrastructure is good and paraphernalia. However, IPS is a very tough job/role, and not everyone is suitable for it. It needs a lot of patience, sacrifice in personal life and has maximum interference. So choose accordingly.
  4. IRS IT and Customs- My advice would be to choose IT over customs (stable cadre, timely promotions, decent infra and pleasant places of postings) However work can appear to be annoying due to a desk job which is restricted to the taxation. The customs, on the other hand, is having more of a variety.
  5. IRTS vs IAAS- IRTS is IAS of railways. A lot of human resources under you. Good infra and facilities. However, the issue is a very hectic life, especially if you are in the operations side as you have to manage the timely running of trains.

    IAAS, on the other hand, is a different yet challenging service for a few. It audits almost everything in the government. Remember it is not just an auditing of accounts here but a broader purview. Also stable posting, reasonable working hours, postings in state capital and Delhi plus a lot of foreigners visits and yes it includes timely promotions.

    Plus, everyone needs to fears an auditor. However, one won’t be able to enjoy the executive powers like an IRTS. So decide accordingly-  what kind of life you want and what you can do.
  6. Accounting Services:
    • IRAS- Best among accounting services. Total financial power in railways. Good infrastructure, work-life balance and good postings. Plus, a lot of opportunities for deputation due to finance.
    • IDAS- This is also an excellent service. A lot of financial power in the defence sector. Good infrastructure, work-life balance and good postings. Plus, a lot of opportunities for deputation due to finance.
    • ICAS- This is more of accounting service. It has the responsibility to consolidate the accounts of all the Dept. except a few. Posting in Delhi. However, housing, the car can be an issue.
    • IPTAFS- This service has lost a lot of groundwork due to BSNL and the MTNL separating from DoT. So the major work is collecting spectrum allocation and licence fee. Infrastructure issues are also there.
  7. Railway services- Railway services have good infrastructure and facilities. Housing, car and workforce is not an issue.
    • IRPS- Not much work, dealing with unions and personnel management.
    • RPF- I would suggest to fill it among the bottom five services. It’s like paramilitary force (Railway Protection Force)
  8. IPoS- Good service. Administration of all post offices. Good infra and facilities. Plus, post offices are getting modernized so new work is coming up.
  9. IDeS- This is a service where you work as CEO of cantonments/defence estates. There is a massive infrastructure at your disposal, excellent facilities. However, growth is stagnant, and work is not as dynamic. Also, you will have to move a lot, and due to which you will not always work in the cantonments, HQ postings and other postings are there as well.
  10. ICLS and ITS-  Both are new-age services with postings in Capital cities and Delhi. ICLS are regulators of the corporate sector. They also implement company law and are involved in the Registration, M&A, and the Liquidation etc. This service seems to have a promising future later in the future, but as of now, it is not preferred as much. Reasons include -The Infrastructure problem, regular desk work and stagnation as the top level.

    IT, on the other hand, they deal with trade policy implementation—officers working closely with traders and exporters and also working in SEZ, policy work and some International exposure. So work is exciting and promising.

    The issue with both services is similar. These are comparatively very new service & do not have an essential infrastructure as compared to postal, defence and railway services. So car, housing, and the other facilities might be a little problem at first, also at senior level stagnation issue.
  11. IoFS- Not much of an idea but their scope is more or less related to the management of ordinance factories. Infra won’t be much of an issue. But usually filled among bottom few services.
  12. DANICS & DANIPS- These are like the state civil services where the promotions are better as compared others. Which is why many people prefer them at the bottom because they are Group B services. However, in terms of power, work, and infrastructure, these are better than many groups.
  13. Indian Information Service- This is like a PR and Marketing job profile if put in simpler terms. Most officers work in various media units which are under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting such as DD News, All India Radio, etc. and can even get posted with various Ministries as a spokesperson to handle the Ministry’s information and communication needs and help in policy formulation. So work-wise this is an excellent service, plus majorly you stay in Delhi. Infrastructure, car housing is again an issue.
  14. AFHQ + Pondicherry Civil Service

CADRE Preferences

Aspirant’s Common Choices

  1. Most preferred services:
    • IAS – IFS –IPS – IRS IT –IRS Customs – IRTS /IAAS
  2. Less preferred services:
    • AFHQ, Pondicherry civil services, RPF, IoFS, IPTAFS, ICLS
  3. Middle Category:
  4. As per the previous year stats:
    • ICAS, IIS, ITS
  5. Most people adjust DANICS & DANIPS as per one’s convenience. Some candidates prefer them after Railway, Defence and Postal while majority put it at the end. Decide as per your own choice.
    • Delhi Posting: ICAS and IIS
  6. It is a service where the infrastructure won’t be an issue (Apart from the most preferred services):
    • IRAS, IRPS, IPOS, IDES, and  IDAS.

All Cadres

  • UP: Has a great work environment and opportunities as most people don’t prefer to go there, but the infrastructure is a bit challenging for non UP candidates.
  • Bihar: Mostly UP and other states are considered extra backwards.
  • MP, Rajasthan, Haryana: These are the excellent cadres. Balanced ones. People usually prefer them.
  • Punjab: Mixed reviews about the cadre.
  • Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, Odisha: People carry a lot of misconceptions about these places. These are some nice cadres to work plus good infrastructure. But the Naxal problem is prevalent only in certain areas. Another issue is that – these are little backward areas and people prefer metropolitan cities. 
  • Uttarakhand and Himachal: DIt includes some decent cadres to work but has some terrain issues. Not everyone likes the hill posting, so keep that in mind.
  • Northeast cadres: Mostly all people fill them as the least preferred posts in their preference due to factors like distance, culture, hills, personal life etc. Assam-Meghalaya is the most preferred choice among northeast cadres.
  • J&K: considered a tough posting. Hills + security concerns etc.
  • West Bengal and Kerala: Work-wise ordinary, but their political setup is different so many people don’t prefer these cadres. So decide accordingly.
  • Andra and Telangana: It has some competent cadres to work. Mostly North Indians prefer them most among southern states.
  • Karnataka: Good cadre.
  • Tamil Nadu: The state services are dominant here, so at times they hold essential posts in the district.
  • Maharashtra: Good cadre.
  • Gujarat: Mixed reviews.
  • Gamut: Mixed reviews. The good thing is you get to stay for long in Delhi.

Seven Points to Help You Fill the Detailed Application Form (DAF)

  • Firstly, go over and understand each service (Above mentioned) and see what kind of work awaits you once you get into it (As per you skills). Study the job profiles and choose as per your preference and in which you can do a better job.
  • Ask yourself what kind of work and life you wish for and what kind of constraints you can handle. Forex, if you don’t like to live abroad or if you have language barriers, the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) might not be a good fit for you.
  • If you are unable to decide even after going through all the details about posts, write down your strengths and weaknesses and compare them with each service on offer. Do you consult your friends and family for their opinions?
  • The decision should be yours in the end. Because only you know your skills and your interests better than anyone.
  • You can also read about the salary and perks of each service if that is the motivation factor for you, but don’t let that be your only criterion for deciding the service preference list.
  • For most of us, the IAS would be the first choice. Simply because of the respect and stature gave to IAS officers in India. Easily, this is the most prestigious among all the services. Again, some have preferred the IPS or the IFS over the IAS.
  • We will not be so outrageous as to give you a set preference list od posts and ranks. You have to figure it out as per the nature of the service and as per your skill set. But we will provide you with a set of rules to keep in mind while giving out your preference list for services.


Filling out the Detailed Application Form (DAF) has to be done with the utmost care and diligence. Candidates must fill in their care and service preference list in the DAF. Once done, you cannot change it. This is essential that it can also effectively decide what you do and where you are for the next few decades of your life.

Areas covered in this article

  • UPSC Civil Services List and Brief
  • Cadre Preferences
  • 7 Points to Help candidates Fill the Detailed Application Form (DAF)

Relevant Links