KAS Exam

‘4.1 lakh to take KAS exam on Saturday; clash of date with bank test puts candidates in a fix’

– The New Indian Express

This was the headline of a news report on the first edition of the Kerala Administrative Service (KAS) exam. After all that rush on the Kerala PSC website, the preliminary examination just got over. With over four lakh applicants and more than 80 per cent of them actually turning up, KAS prelims made history. 

But why is it such a big deal? What makes the KAS exam different from the usual Kerala PSC exams? If there are people who still don’t know what this hurry bury was all about, this article is for them. Let’s start with introducing you to Kerala Administrative Service (KAS). 

What is Kerala Administrative Service (KAS)?

Kerala Administrative Service (KAS) is Kerala’s own body of top-level bureaucrats or civil servants. The official page of Kerala Administrative Services defines this executive wing as ‘Kerala’s own Civil Service’. KAS officers come second in line when it comes to the rank and administrative authority inside the state, with IAS holding the top position. Its structure and mode of functioning resembles that of Indian administrative service and is expected to handle similar kinds of roles with authority and expertise. The recruitment to Kerala Administrative Service (KAS) is through KAS exams, which is conducted by the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Kerala. Other than this, senior government officials can either be promoted or transferred to KAS after completing a certain number of years in service. 

Why KAS?

The first edition of Kerala Administrative Services (KAS) exam saw a huge turnout. The applicants were not only the people who are looking for government jobs but also people who are currently in lower-level positions in government institutions. And unlike other Kerala PSC exams, more than 80 per cent of the applicants actually attended the exam. 

There are a few reasons for this. Earlier, qualified individuals had to wait in the long queue of promotions for years to reach higher-level positions. But KAS makes it easy for them. If selected through this route, the candidates will join Kerala Administrative Service as a second gazetted officer. The posting will be in any of the 30 important departments under the state government. That’s a lot for someone who is used to writing other PSC exams.

Moreover, first gazetted officers with the relevant experience can move up the ladder if they qualify through exams for stream two. 

And also, there is a chance for those who get selected through KAS exams to get promoted to Indian Administrative Service (IAS) after a few years of service at the state level. That too, in Kerala Cadre. Now, how does that sound? 

KAS Exam

As I already mentioned, the KAS exam is a state-level competitive exam conducted by Kerala PSC to recruit qualified candidates for Kerala Administrative Service. The first edition of KAS exams was conducted in 2020 and is expected to continue for years to come. The recruitment will be based on the number of vacancies. The exam will be conducted for three streams. Stream one can be attempted by everyone while stream 2 and three are only for government employees who meet the eligibility criteria.


The minimum eligibility to appear for KAS exam is to have a bachelors degree from a recognised university. You will be able to attempt the exam for stream 1 with this qualification. But for stream 2 and stream 3, you should also complete the prescribed time period in a government position. Stream two is for government officers who have completed their probation period. Stream 3 exams can be attempted only by first gazetted officers. 

For stream 1, the age limit should be between 21 and 33 years. But this is different for those who qualify for stream 2 and stream 3 exams. For stream 2, the maximum age limit is 40 years and for stream 3, it’s 50 years.

Exam Pattern

Now, let’s get to the main part. KAS exam pattern. 

Just like the Indian Administrative Service exam, KAS exam also has three stages. The first stage is the prelims, followed by the mains and finally the interview round. 

The prelims stage is a written examination. It consists of two objective type multiple-choice papers, carrying 100 marks each. You will have 90 minutes for each paper. When it comes to the syllabus, the first paper will be all about general studies. The second paper has two parts. The first part is allotted to general studies and the second part is designed to test the candidate’s language ability in both English and regional languages. This is just a qualifying paper and the marks scored here won’t be considered for the final rank. So, that’s about it.

Now, about Mains. It’s going to be a bit more complex than the Prelims. I believe that’s obvious. It is again a written examination stage. Here, you will have 3 papers instead of two. But ticking the right choice won’t be enough this time. All three papers will be descriptive type. The time allotted for each paper will be for two hours. Though the questions will be in English, the candidate can choose to write in either Malayalam or English. 

The final stage is the interview round. Like most other competitive exams for administrative role, the candidate will be interviewed by a panel of experts from different departments. Here, a candidate’s aptitude, reasoning skills, general knowledge, verbal skills, etc will be tested. That’s the end of this three-stage process and on successful completion of the interview round, you will join the Kerala administrative service under various departments on the basis of the rank obtained. 

What after KAS?

Training, posting, salary

The recruitment drive is on the basis of the number of vacancies available in various positions. The rank list is valid for one year. So, the positions that are expected to become vacant in the next one year will also be considered. After selecting the candidates, the UPSC will recommend the names to the government. This will be followed by an 18 months training period.

The candidates who were selected through this way will take-up job roles in various departments under the government of Kerala. Currently, the posting will be in around 30 departments functioning under the state government. This includes 

    1. Common Categories (Administrative Officer, Finance Officer, Divisional Accounts Officer, Superintendents etc)
    2. Civil Supplies
    3. Urban affairs
    4. Commercial Taxes
    5. Stationery
    6. Commissionerate of Entrance Examinations
    7. State insurance
    8. Social justice
    9. Co-operative department
    10. Finance Secretariat
    11. National employment service
    12. State lotteries
    13. Administrative Secretariat
    14. Culture
    15. Industries and Commerce
    16. Labour
    17. Kerala State Audit
    18. Land Revenue
    19. Registration
    20. National Savings
    21. Panchayat
    22. Kerala State land use board
    23. Rural development
    24. Sainik Welfare
    25. Scheduled Tribe development
    26. Scheduled Caste development
    27. Survey and land records
    28. Treasuries
    29. General Education
    30. Tourism

You can be sure of one thing while joining KAS. Along with reputation and a top-level position in the government, you will also get paid well. The expected average starting salary if you get into Kerala Administrative service is around Rs 40,000. So, you will go home at the start of every month with a fat pocket. And also, after 8 years in service, you will have the chance to move to Indian Administrative service. Now, that’s a real jackpot. 

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This article was about the newbie in town, the Kerala Administrative Service Exam. I hope we were able to cover almost everything about it, including what it is, why is it creating a lot of fuss, eligibility and what after clearing the hurdle? We hope the illustrated analysis has powered up your insights and widened your perspectives about the KAS exam. Always remember that you make your own destiny. Make sure that you invest time and thought before making your life-changing decisions.

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