Changes in the UPSC Civil Services Exam

The civil services exam is conducted by the UPSC every year in order to recruit officers into the Indian civil service. There are a host of services candidates can get into. But the most coveted ones are the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). The UPSC has introduced changes in the pattern in recent years that were met with both resistance and open armed-welcome. The most recent change was in 2015 when the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) was made a qualifying paper buckling under huge pressure from aspirants. Again, there are several rumours going on about possible changes further.

The Baswan Committee had recommended that the upper age limit of the UPSC exam be reduced from the present 32 years. People supporting the reduction of age suggest that the rigours of the training module can be taken better when a person is younger and in his prime. They also say that an older person entering the service will have far less number of years in service. But this move will definitely find opposition from people who believe that such an age reduction will mar the efforts of many candidates who have been preparing for many years now. It will also hamper aspirants from rural areas.

Another change that is being talked about is the possible removal of the optional subject papers. Many believe that the optional subjects should be done away with since it greatly increases the subjectivity element in the exam. Since there are a wide variety of subjects that one can choose as optional, all the candidates are not examined on a level-playing field. For example, there is a huge difference in the method of correction and marking in history and mathematics or engineering. Experts also suggest that the optionals should be replaced with more importance on subjects like public administration, polity and economics that are bound to be useful in a civil servant’s job. Aspirants also say that their subject knowledge has already been tested in their graduation exams and that it is a burden on them during IAS preparation.

Another change that is hoped by many aspirants is that the UPSC reveal the answer key to the prelims exam before the mains exam itself, and not after the final results are out as is the current procedure. This would help many candidates know exactly where they stand after the prelims and can help them in their preparation better. However, the UPSC has not made any move that indicates such a change in the near future.

IAS aspirants all agree on one thing – that any change should be brought about considering the plight of candidates who would be affected by such a change. A window of at least a year ought to be given to candidates to adjust to the change as most of them invest many years (in their prime) in preparing for this mammoth exam.

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