Pattern changed, for the better

IN LIMELIGHT Bedre Manjunath gives a cursory glance of the newly changed Main Exam pattern of the UPSC
Last Updated 13 March 2013, 12:27 IST

A welcome change is introduced in civil services exam patterns. The report of the Committee, under the chairmanship of Prof Arun S Nigavekar, former chairman, UGC, was examined by the Department of Personnel and Training and then presented before the Prime Minister for final approval.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has approved these changes. The decision came on the recommendation of a committee constituted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

No Qualifying Test Papers!

The new pattern of Civil Services (Main) Examination 2013 has no qualifying test papers. In the earlier pattern, those candidates who cleared the first (preliminary) examination had to appear in two qualifying papers to test their language skills at the CS (Mains) exams: English and a regional language. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) disqualified 705 civil service aspirants in the Civil Services (Mains) Examination for flunking the Class X level language papers in 2011. Half of the 705 candidates failed the English paper while another 272 failed in the Hindi paper. In 2010 too, 1264 of the 11,865 candidates (10.6%) who appeared in the exam had failed the language papers. These marks were not counted for ranking successful candidates. But aspirants who failed the language test were never told how they performed in the 7 other papers: essay, general studies, and optional subjects.

Restriction on choosing language medium of writing

Candidates will have the option to answer all the question papers, except Section 2 of the Paper-I (English Comprehension and English Précis) in English or Hindi. If the candidate has had his / her graduation in any of the following language mediums using the particular language medium for qualifying the graduate level examination, then he/she may opt for that particular language medium to answer all the question papers. They are: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. In the interest of maintaining the quality and standards of examination, a minimum number of 25 candidates should opt for a specific language medium for answering the question papers in that language medium. In case there are less than 25 candidates opting for any approved language medium (other than English or Hindi), then those candidates will be required to write their examination either in Hindi or in English only.


The candidate will be interviewed by a Board that will have before it a record of the candidate’s career. The number of candidates to be summoned for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled (earlier this ration was 1:3). He/she will be asked questions on matters of general interest. The object of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to judge the mental calibre of a candidate. In broad terms, this is really an assessment of not only his/her intellectual qualities but also social traits and his/her interest in current affairs. Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.

The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed, and purposive conversation, which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate. The interview test is not intended to be a test of the specialised or general knowledge of the candidates either, which has been already tested through their written papers. Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own state or country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of well-educated youth.

List of Optional Subjects for Main Exam

Candidates may choose any one optional subject from amongst the list of 48 subjects given (25 Optional Subjects in Group – 1, and 23 Literature Subjects in Group – 2).  A candidate can opt for the literatures of a language (22+1), indicated in Group - 2 as an optional subject, only if the candidate has graduated in the literature of that particular language as the main subject.

Group – 1
Agriculture / Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science / Anthropology / Botany / Chemistry / Civil Engineering / Commerce and Accountancy / Economics / Electrical Engineering / Geography / Geology / History / Law / Management / Mathematics / Mechanical Engineering / Medical Science / Philosophy / Physics / Political Science and International Relations / Psychology / Public Administration / Sociology / Statistics / Zoology

Group - 2
Literature of any one of the 22 + 1 languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, English.

(Published 13 March 2013, 11:08 IST)

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