Which Medium To Choose For Writing Civil Services Exam?

First published on: 2019-12-05 Written by Ajit Kumar Jha All Blogs

which-medium-is-best-for-upsc Which medium is best for UPSC Exams? Is UPSC biased in favour of English?

Under normal circumstances this question should not have arisen. However, it is our bias towards English that makes us think again and again whether we are doing a mistake by preferring a language other than English as the medium to write.

Let us ask few questions.

Does UPSC judge you unfairly over your choice of medium?

Is it true that disproportionately more students qualify from English medium? Please note, we are saying disproportionately more, not more. Is it true that the UPSC moderation takes into account the medium factor, so as to ensure an equitable intake?

If the answer to the first two the questions above is ‘Yes’, and the third is ‘No’ then we certainly need to bother over medium choice, but the plain fact is this is not even an issue to waste time on, except for the purpose of clarification.

But the Actual Figure may Surprise You

If you look at the number of candidates taking the exam from English vis-à-vis other languages from the past UPSC reports, the figure may surprise you. Nearly 90% students have English as their preferred language followed by Hindi and other languages. In 2015, about 14,500 students appeared for Main exam, of which nearly 11,800 wrote their exam in English and nearly 2400 wrote in Hindi. There was one student who wrote in Assamese. Bengali medium was the choice of 7 students. Among the rest, 119 chose Gujarati, 18 Kannada, 6 Malayalam, 169 Marathi, 4 Punjabi, 23 Tamil, 33 Telegu and 2 Urdu.

Given the figures above there is always a very high probability that the topper, the top ten toppers, the maximum qualifiers will be from the English medium. Occasionally, you may have one or two in the top ten merit list. It does not mean English language takers have an advantage or that they are brilliant. It is the power of numbers that is driving them to success. 

Points To Remember


    • Should you take the risk of preferring the language of advantage?
    • Does moderation method, employed by UPSC, actually level the playing field?
    • Like any other thing in India, UPSC too is biased in favour of English
    • But, you have no time to experiment.
    • You will most probably do well if you continue using your original medium  

Statistics may mislead you

Decision based on statistics can be highly erroneous. Statistics are supposed to make something easier to understand but when used in a misleading fashion can trick the casual observer into believing something other than what the data shows. That is, a misuse of statistics occurs when a statistical argument asserts a falsehood. In some cases, the misuse may be accidental. In others, it is purposeful and for the gain of the perpetrator. When the statistical reason involved is false or misapplied, this constitutes a statistical fallacy.

Don't go by the claims made by coaching institutes

Some of the coaching institutes go on to claim that English is the most advantageous language in the civil services based on the success rate of students from the English medium. On a closer examination, such claims turn out to be completely off the mark. Suppose there are 10,000 students writing the Main exam for 1000 final seats out of which 9000 are writing in English Medium and 1000 in the Hindi medium. Then, in the final selection, if there are 900 students from English medium and 100 students from the Hindi medium we would say the language does not offer disproportionate advantage or disadvantage.  

There is another question, suppose the language did offer some advantage but you are not well equipped to handle the language of advantage, should you take the risk of preferring this language over the language you have a command over? The answer is a clear ‘no’.

At times, you may have the problem of deciding which language I am good at because you may have done schooling in vernacular language while you went on to study the English language in college.

Like any other things, UPSC exam, too, is biased in favour of English

If you have studied your texts in English language in college, you should have no problem in choosing this language as the language to write answers in the main exam. The reason most of us choose to write in English language is not actually by choice but because our educational system especially in the college or the university stage is highly biased in favor of English. The text books, the question papers, the study material are all in English even if we may be conversing in Hindi or in any other language and the teachers may out of compulsion or habit communicate in vernacular in the class rooms. In other words, even if you feel, you are not up to the mark in English, you must choose the English language to write in if you have studied texts in English language and express yourself effectively in English in exams.

You have no time to experiment, or else, you will lose your precious time

If you have your entire background in Hindi or a Vernacular from school to college, you have no time to experiment with in the civil services exam. Stick with your original choice. You will most probably do well if you continue using your original medium but may likely land in a trouble if you decide to change the medium at the time of filling up the form.

There are some students who have a strong reason to change over to the English language because they claim they lack the study material in their language. The claim is partly true because English language books dominate the market. However, this claim is not entirely true. NCERT books are available in any Indian language you want. The subject optional you study is available in any Indian language. Newspapers are available in different languages and NBT books are published in major Indian languages.

You may not get the guidebooks in languages other than English, but why do you need them at all when they are all trash and sourced from books and newspapers you ought to study.

Download this note in PDF format. It’s FREE.

Tags: UPSC Medium of examination, Medium of answer writing, Which medium is best for UPSC, Which medium is best for UPSC, Which medium is best for IAS, Myths about the IAS exam