I have often heard students say, "I'm preparing for IAS exam". People know what IAS is so they understand what the student is trying to say. But technically it is incorrect. I wish students aspiring to be an IAS officer do not make these kinds of silly mistakes.
IAS stands for Indian Administrative Service. It is not the name of some exam but the name of one of the services you join if you crack a particular exam. The name of the exam is Indian Civil Services Examination. This includes 24 services, as of 20 13, and one of them is Indian Administrative Service. The other popular ones are Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Revenue Service (this includes two services- income tax as well as custom and excise service), Indian audit and account service, Indian Railway Service etc.
There is no doubt that Indian Administrative Service is the most sought-after service among all. You hardly find an aspirant who is willing to aim for anything less than IAS. However, everyone cannot realise their dream so they have to join other services. But this does not mean that the other services are not good. It's truly a misconception.
When students are taking the exam they are not well-informed about the services offered by the UPSC. So they just decide their preference on hearsay. But the truth is no service is meant for everyone and no person is meant for every service. This depends on a person's nature, desire, need and circumstances.
No job is complete. There is something lacking in every job. So it is better if you know some fundamental truths about the services being offered. It will help you in deciding the service that is right for you.
Civil Services exam allows entry to three main services-
(1) Top Indian services
(2) Group 'A' services
(3) Group 'B' services