A beginner's guide to BCS | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 21, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 21, 2018

A beginner's guide to BCS

If you've ever wondered how you can join government service and change things as an insider, this article is for you.

What is BCS and who is eligible to apply?

In simple terms, BCS is the examination you need to pass, to get an appointment in government services. The exam happens nationwide, is highly competitive, and has three core stages that take approximately two years to finish.

To sit for the BCS, you need to have completed at least an undergraduate degree. The exam is open to Bangladeshi nationals only, between ages 21 and 30. You cannot have more than one third class equivalent final grade in your undergraduate and graduate degrees.

The preliminary exam

If you were surprised that the BCS exam takes two years, here is why: the examination is a three-phase process including a very thorough background check of the candidates who make it through. The first phase is known as the preliminary examination, which weeds out the weak by testing for deficiencies in basic subjects. This part is completely multiple choice based, and tests your skills in language (Bengali and English), Mathematical and analytical reasoning, general knowledge, ethics and governance, and, for some reason, geology. The entire section is marked out of 200 and has 200 questions.

The written exam

Those making it past Phase I move on to the main phase, which is far more rigorous and includes nine compulsory subjects. This includes all the subjects you thought you had left behind, starting with Bengali, English, and Bangladesh Affairs, each of which has two parts. You must also sit for a paper each in international affairs, mathematical and mental ability and general science to get through this stage. Each paper is marked out of 100, making the total mark for this section 900.

If you're applying for a technical cadre job instead of a general one, however, the two Bengali papers are replaced by just one, and the general science section is omitted. Instead, you will need to sit for two extra papers relevant to the post you apply to. The total mark remains the same for both general and technical cadres.

Viva voce

Most people don't survive the first two stages of BCS. For those who do, the viva is the final stage, with a total mark of 200. This stage is a standard verbal interview, albeit with extremely low success rates.

Final selection

Candidates are chosen on the basis of their total mark in the written part and viva, initiating a set of verifications by the police and the NSI, as well as medical tests. Upon completion of these processes, the final list of appointed candidates and the cadres they have made it to is published, thus ending the BCS examination for that session.

The BCS exam is attended by over two hundred thousand candidates every year. The process also takes a lot of time to complete, which means a significant amount of uncertainty for a candidate. In addition, the syllabus is very thorough and involves a lot of preparation. While government service can be rewarding, you should also take these factors into consideration before signing up for the exam.


Tasmiah is a fresh graduate from IBA, DU. She likes food and makes stressful choices. Reach her at thaque440@gmail.com.

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