Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Should CSAT be removed due to unscrupulous demand?

It extremely saddens me to see the news of the Govt. urging the UPSC to postpone the most coveted examination of the country – UPSE (Union Public Services Examination), conducted for recruitment to All India Services (IAS, IPS, IFoS), other Union Services.

Since I have been in this field for quite sometime, I would like to analyse the demands raised by a section of UPSE aspirants –

Firstly, for the people who are not aware of the scheme of exams: UPSC’s Preliminary Examination consists of 2 sections:
1.     Section A: 200 marks (General Studies, which involves History, Geography, Economy, Ecology & Environment, General Science, Polity and Current Affairs)
2.     Section B: CSAT (Aptitude Test) which has Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, General Mental Ability, Decision Making)

Now coming to the main discussion-
Sr. No.
Contention of the Students demanding removal of CSAT
Counter Argument

It is filtering out students from Hindi and Regional Language Background, ie., Less no. of Hindi Language and Regional Language Students are passing the exam
This Argument has been supported with statistics projecting that the number and percentage of students passing the UPSE from Hindi Language Background has actually reduced.

However, only a part of the Statistics is being projected.
The number of students appearing for UPSE with Hindi Medium of Instructions is also reducing.
(Plus the number of students schooling with English Language Instructions is drastically increasing as compared to the students schooling with Hindi Language Instructions. So, the number is bound to decrease)

As per 63rd UPSC Annual Report 2014 (Page 104), only 1950 of 12,200 students have appeared for the MAINS Examination (General Studies Papers) of 2012 in Hindi Language.

That means only 16% students have appeared in Hindi Instructions. Out of the total candidates passed 13-15% belong to students of Hindi Medium.

Further, a lot of students from Hindi Language Background are also appearing in English since they find the level of difficulty of Hindi Language in General Studies too high.

So this ground for cancellation of CSAT seems to be out of order.
Translations into Hindi Passages are wrongly provided
This is the main topic which should gain attention that it deserves.

Many of the Questions are translated using software Programs, due to which the students from Hindi Language Background are suffering.

The seriousness of this topic should be recognized at the earliest and appropriate measures should be taken at the earliest.

By making unscrupulous demands (of removing CSAT), they are actually neglecting this important matter.
Only Engineers / Doctors are passing
This argument is also baseless.

The questions asked in Prelims Examination (General Studies or CSAT) is of Class X (10th) Level.

Till Class 10th, no one is an engineer or doctor. Questions are based on Time- Distance-Speed, Area and Volume, Profit and Loss, etc. The questions are not at all based on Engineering Mathematics involing Trigonometry, Calculus etc.

Plus Reading Comprehensions and Logical Reasoning help in understanding if the candidate is actually able to gauge the strong and weak arguments.

The most important and beautiful part of entire Civil Services Exam is the Decision Making Questions which test the character of an individual. (Hindi Translations are provided)

All this is not Engineering or Doctor Stuff. In fact Engineers and Doctors are from Non Humanity background and they work hard to brush up all the concepts and appear for the exam.
If they can brush up their General Studies, People with Humanities Background should also brush up their Class X level Mathematics. In the end, UPSE is a complete package.
CSAT is making the exam more clerical
If this argument holds true, UPSC should provide Calculators at the exam hall.

Aptitude and Clerical are at extreme opposites. Aptitude is being able to know what is rational and logical (which is being tested by the current CSAT exam).

This is one of the most important aspect of any Civil Servant.
The students who have cleared the exams are not worthy of passing
I think only UPSC has the authority to decide if the candidate is worthy of passing.

Such statements should be avoided

Above of all,
Can you think of any exam where the students 'demand' a particular format for Exam? Since when have we (students) become so irrational? 

If you find rationality in the counter arguments, I request you to please sign up our petition to the Prime Minister and the Government to not listen to such unscrupulous demands raised by the students –

Also, Please help me spread the word. Please share this article. Thanks.

UPSE Aspirant.

(P.S.: I know people might have different views, I request you to please propose your disagreements in non-filthy and non-derogatory manner. Thanks.)


  1. I am a civil service aspirant and there has been an issue about CSAT and Government of India set up a committee to look it in to the issue. CSAT was introduced in 2011 and the civil service preliminary exam consist of two parts paper 1 consist of questions in history, geography, polity, science &technology, environment, social issues for 200 marks it has total of 100 questions 2 marks for each question and paper 2 has comprehension, English, mental ability, quantitative aptitude, decision making for 200 marks with 80 questions each carries 2.5 marks. Previously in 2010 instead of paper 2 one optional paper was in the exam. This exam takes nearly 2years for completing one cycle up to the publication of final results so it is a time consuming process suppose one candidate failed in 2013 preliminary exam for which result comes in august 2013 he has to wait 2014 may to write next attempt and final result after mains and interview will be in 2015 may so it nearly takes 2 years. After introduction of CSAT cut-off is constantly increasing each year in 2011 it was 190, in 2012 it was 209 and in 2013 it was 241 out of 400 marks ie 200 in paper 1 and 200 in paper 2. So the increase in cut-off is due to increase of marks scored by candidates in paper II and not because of increase of score in paper 1.This CSAT is favouring candidates like engineers, doctors and urban English medium background and put humanities and non English medium people at back foot. For example if I scored 100 in paper 1 and 130 in paper 2 I can’t qualify but others who scored 180 in paper 2 and around 60 in paper 1 is able to qualify this exam. Why the paper 1 is more important? because every candidate spent more time to master the above mentioned subjects and mains exam is the continuity of prelims but unlike those good in paper 2 I have to dedicate more time to paper 2 for maths and English comprehension. I can improve up to certain level and score decent marks but unlike those engineers humanities people can’t score 180 so they are in a disadvantageous position. Every one aware that general studies is the core of civil services exam without out any rational paper1 carries 2 marks each question with negative score for wrong answers for all 100 questions but paper 2 has 2.5 marks each and 72 out of 80 questions have negative marking and remaining 8 questions have no negative marks for wrong answers. How can you mix apples and oranges and say both are equal. So this civil services preliminary exam is heavily loaded in favour of paper 2 (CSAT). Even if you calculate percentage of marks of the selected candidates most selected candidates obtained 65-75% of his marks from paper2 and 30-35% of marks from paper 1.so it is not even 50-50 marks from each paper. So my suggestion is to make paper2 (CSAT) as qualifying paper i.e. fix some minimum percentage of marks and consider only paper 1 marks for making list. Paper 2 has no role in mains and mains exam is continuity of paper 1 (general studies) so number of questions can be increased from 100 to 150 in paper 1 so the total score will be 300 marks. Moreover for every non serious candidate one serious candidate get eliminated and it reduces competition at the mains exam. At this stage it is difficult to tamper with pattern of exam like removing paper 2. Another important thing is please don’t postpone the exam which is scheduled on august 24 to more than 2 weeks already this exam is conducted very late due to elections and it also creating so much pressure on candidates.

  2. @Karthick- I can pick four points from your reply -

    1. You say weightage of questions in CSAT is more than General Studies. Well this is bound to happen. Because if they would have asked 100 questions in CSAT (to keep weightage 2 marks per question), the time available to solve one question would have reduced. Therefore people would be able to solve only lesser questions in 2 hours. As it is, People are not able to complete 80 questions (Remember, engineers would have much better speed)
    Therefore, if you want same weightage per question, then your score would fall drastically. Thus, one should be thankful and not complaining.

    2. You have mentioned about non-serious candidates being selected at the cost of serious candidates. Well, I don't think anyone in this world has the right to comment on whether a candidate is serious or not! So if a candidate is getting selected, according to UPSC yardstick, one has to respect that fact.

    3. You say Humanities is the theme of Mains Exam. Therefore CSAT should be removed at prelims level. Let me put 2 views on this:
    a. Firstly, UPSC wants people with complete package to represent the country. Thus, at the First level, they check the aptitude. Thereafter, of the chosen candidates, the best with humanities are tested, interviewed and selected. Thus the candidate who is chosen is having perfect aptitude and desired level of knowledge.

    b. Further, the rating scale in the scheme of Exams is out of 2025, of which only 1000 is humanities (4 papers of GS - dont include Essay); The others being - Candidates Field of expertise (Optional), Essay and Soft Skills (Interview). Therefore, the weightage of humanities in mains is less than 50%. So why the cry for 50% weightage in prelims?

    4. You say there is a Problem in CSAT (gauging by you suggestion to make it qualifying). What if the other subject is made qualifying? Wouldnt it be discrimination against people with Science Background? The Fact is - People who are from Science Background are, GENERALLY, the ones who perform well in School Academics. Their Aptitude is better since they practice thereafter. However, their Humanities is decent enough because they were good at it in School. Therefore Complete packages are, GENERALLY, found in them. (I am a person with humble Commerce Background and I have come to terms with it). So, whatever is there right now, seems perfect.

    ABOVE ALL, can we demand the exam to be as per our level of preparation? Or should it be the other way round?

    I hope you find reasonableness in my reply.