The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will be conducting the examination in June after a gap of three years.
The preliminary tests for 2016, 2015 and 2014 were held during the month of August, a senior UPSC official said.
The preliminary exam for 2013 was held on May 26 that year.
The civil services preliminary examination, 2017, will be held by the Commission on June 18, as per an official order.
The number of vacancies to be filled on the result of the examination is expected to be approximately 980 which include 27 vacancies reserved for those in physically handicapped category, it said.
"The final number of vacancies may undergo change after getting firm number of vacancies from cadre controlling authorities. Reservation will be made for candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Physically Disabled Categories in respect of vacancies as may be fixed by the government," the order said.
The civil services examination is conducted annually by the UPSC in three stages -- preliminary, main and interview -- to select officers for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), among others.
The Commission has also notified rules for the civil services examination 2017.
The last date for receiving the applications for the preliminary test is March 17, 2017 till 6 pm.
"Candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified for admission to the civil services (main) examination will have to apply online again, in the Detailed Application Form which would be made available to them. The main examination is likely to be held in October, 2017," the UPSC said.
As per the notification for this year's exam, a candidate must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years on August 1, 2017. He must have been born not earlier than August 2, 1985 and not later than August 1, 1996), to appear in the preliminary exam.
The upper age limit is relaxable for certain categories of candidates.
"Every candidate appearing at the examination who is otherwise eligible, shall be permitted six attempts at the examination. Provided that this restriction on the number of attempts will not apply in the case of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates who are otherwise eligible.
"Provided further that the number of attempts permissible to candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes, who are otherwise eligible shall be nine. The relaxation will be available to the candidates who are eligible to avail of reservation applicable to such candidates," the exam's notification said.