Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Civil Services Examination, Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) conducted by Union Public Services Commission (UPSC)
by Brijesh Singh (IASaspirants.firstname.lastname@example.org)
About author: Brijesh CP Singh is post graduate in Management from Indian Institute of Management, Indore (IIM Indore) and in History from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut. He is regular contributor to various articles on Civil Services Examination. Visit my Google profile.
IAS aspirants / Civil Services Examination candidates often have questions and doubts related to UPSC and Civil Services Examination. Often they ask these questions with their
(ii) "bhaiya" who have either prepared for Civil Services Examination or is preparing for Civil Services Examination;
(iii) relatives; and / or
(iv) teachers, professors, coaching institutes.
However, often it is seen that they either do not have enough information to respond to these queries or often have personal believes and biasness. As a result the IAS aspirants query remains unresolved or leads him to trouble in future. Here we address some of these queries. Search and find response to your queries and if you do not find it here then send us email.
Question : Is there any restriction on number of attempts one can make in Civil Services Exam? If yes, what is the restriction on number of attempts in CSE
Answer : Yes, UPSC has put restrictions on number of attempts one can make in Civil Service Examination. These are based on the category, and are given below:
General Category - 4
Other Backward Classes (OBC) - 7
Scheduled Castes / Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) - No restriction
Question : Is there any relaxation in number of attempts for physically handicapped ?
Answer : No. However physically handicapped candidates belonging to SC, ST and OBC categories will be eligible for relaxation in number of attempts provided to such categories.
Question : Can a candidate who has completed his education from an open school/ University apply for Civil Services Examination ?
Answer : Yes, provided it is a recognized University and the candidate possess the educational qualifications prescribed for the exam and is otherwise eligible.
Question : Whether a candidate belonging to a community included in the OBC list of states but not in the Central list of OBCs is eligible for age relaxation, reservation etc. for Civil Services Examination ?
Answer : No. Only candidates belonging to communities which are included in the Central list of OBC's are eligible for such concessions in Civil Service Examination.
Question : Can a candidate choose an optional subject, which he has not studied at graduate/post graduate level for Civil Services Examination ?
Answer : Yes. Choice of optional papers have no relation with the subjects taken during studies.
Question : If a candidate has applied for the CS(P) Examination but has not appeared at any paper in the CS(P) Examination, will it be counted as an attempt?
Answer : No. An attempt is counted only if a candidate has appeared in at least one paper in CS(P) Examination.
Question : Is a candidate who has done his graduation without passing class X and class XII eligible for Civil Service Examination?
Answer : Yes.
Question : Can a candidate write different papers of Civil Service (Main) Examination in different languages?
Answer : No, Candidates have the option to write their answers either in English or in any one of the Eighth schedule languages.
Question : Can a candidate write the Civil Service (Main) Examination in English and take the interview in Hindi or any other Indian language?
Answer : If a candidate opts an Eighth schedule language for the CS(Main) Examination he will have the option to take the interview in same language or in English.
Question : After the written examination, on what criterion is the answer books sent for evaluation? Is it on Roll no. basis or based on center of examination? That is, will a particular examiner/set of examiners get to evaluate answer books only of a particular center or a particular group of Roll nos.?
Answer : Mixing of the answer books received from different venues is done before sending them for evaluation. Computer-based randomized fictitious code no. is given to each answer-book before evaluation.
Question : Are answer books segregated/sorted based on community of the candidate?
Answer : This is not done at any stage of the evaluation process.
Question : Is it likely that my evaluated performance suffers because my answer books were evaluated by a 'strict' examiner, while another candidate benefits as his answer books were evaluated by a 'liberal' examiner?
Answer : The Paper Setter, who is an eminent person in his field, normally acts as the Head Examiner, and wherever the number of candidates in a particular subject is very large, the Commission appoints Additional Examiners for valuation of answer books.
To achieve uniformity in valuation, where more than one Examiner is involved, the Commission arranges a meeting of the Head Examiner with the Additional Examiners after the Examination is over. At this stage, they discuss thoroughly the question paper, the appropriate answers and decide the standard of evaluation.
To further bring about uniformity of assessment inter se the Examiners, the following procedure is undertaken:
The Head Examiner conducts a sample survey of answer books of each Additional Examiner to verify whether the uniform standards of evaluation evolved in the meeting of Examiners have actually been followed. Depending on the standard adopted by the Additional Examiner, the Head Examiner may confirm the awards without any change if the Examiner has correctly followed the standard decided upon, or may carry out upward / downward moderation as considered necessary to ensure maximum possible degree of uniformity in the evaluation process.
Therefore, the aspect of inter examiner variation in standards of evaluation in a Paper affecting candidates performance is taken care of adequately.
Question : Can I know the 'question-wise' marks awarded to me for a paper?
Answer : In a competitive examination, what is relevant is not the absolute performance of a candidate, but his/her relative performance that in fact determines whether the candidate qualifies and , if so, his/her position in the merit list. Accordingly, as already explained above, the evaluation process does not end after initial evaluation by an Examiner. Moderation, wherever applied, is on the total award initially given (the so-called 'raw marks') and not on question-wise basis. Therefore, once the evaluation process is complete, neither 'raw marks' nor 'question-wise' marks subsist. What subsists is the candidates total score in a paper awarded at the end of the evaluation process and this award is normally made available to the candidate in due course on the Commission's website through a query-based application software.
Question : Are there any open Examinations where subject-wise/paper wise marks of each candidate are not made accessible/available to him/her?
Answer : Yes; in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination. This is because the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination is simply and purely a shortlisting/elimination exercise to select candidates for the Main Examination and as such the scores obtained in this Examination are not communicated to candidates.
Question : Can I know the marks of other candidates who took the Examination from the Commission?
Answer : It is important to remember though a Constitutional Body, the Commission's role is advisory. The Examinations it conducts are for recommending candidates to Government based on clear requisitions received from Government. Therefore, as regards those who have finally qualified in an Examination, the detailed results, application/biodata forms of all such are sent to the concerned Ministry/Department for all further processing. Therefore, once these results are sent to the concerned Ministry/Department, the concerned Ministry/Department becomes the natural and proper custodian of these results and it would only perhaps be proper for queries pertaining to the results of qualified candidates to be addressed to the concerned Ministry/Department.
As regards candidates who do not qualify finally, the right of information of a citizen has to be balanced against the right of privacy of an unsuccessful candidate who has not qualified for appointment to public service. The feedback received by the Commission shows that there are candidates who do not want their marks to be in the public domain. While a case can be made out for having the marks of those who qualified finally for public appointment in the public domain, no such public interest argument can be invoked for candidates who have not qualified and there is no reason why such candidates scores should willy-nilly be forced into the public domain.
Question : If the overall marks of two or more candidates are equal, how is relative merit between such candidates decided?
Answer : 'Tie-breaking' principles are applied to decide inter se merit among candidates having the same overall marks. These principles adopted by UPSC are:
TIE PRINCIPLES - Wherever the two or more candidates have secured equal aggregate marks, the tie(s) is/are resolved in accordance with the principles approved by the Commission, viz.,
(i) Candidate securing more marks in the Compulsory Papers and the Personality Test put together is to be ranked higher;
(ii) In case where the marks mentioned at (i) above are equal, the candidate senior in age is to be ranked higher; and
(iii) In case where the (i) and (ii) above are same, then the candidate getting more marks in the compulsory papers is to be ranked higher.
Question : Wherever evaluation standards are set or moderation is applied, are these different for different mediums (languages) in which a particular subject/paper Examination is written?
Answer : No. The evaluation standards/moderation for a Paper are not medium-specific. In other words, if the Rules of the Exam provide that a Paper can be written in any of language, say, English/Hindi/a recognized Indian language; then the medium in which a candidate writes the Paper will not be a factor in determining evaluation standards or the moderation to be applied.
Question : Is it possible that evaluation/assessment could be affected by the knowledge of a candidates identity?
Answer : No. Before evaluation, the Roll no. written on every answer book is detached and computer-based randomized fictitious code no. is given. At no stage of the evaluation process (including the moderation stage) is the actual Roll no./identity of the candidate known to any of the Examiners/officials associated in the process.
Question : How can I choose an optional subject?
Answer : Though there are no hard and fast rules, however one should select optionals, which one is familiar with, or has at least studied duration graduation or post graduation, if applicable, level. If you are not comfortable with a particular subject, it is requested that you should not select the subject as an optional. But the choice should not only be as per your interests but also be based on the availability of the study material. Even science and engineering students take up subjects like history, sociology, anthropology, geography, political science, psychology and public administration because there is a huge amount of study material available in these subjects. Also keep in mind that you may have been proficient in a subject, but lack of touch may make it tougher to crack technical subject where freshers may do better. The competition is among the people who have opted for the same subject. One should top in his/her subject to succeed in the examination. The Point is, if you are an electrical engineer with 2 years of experience go for a new subject like public administration or sociology or psychology.
Analyse the syllabus of previous years and the question papers, and analyse past year trends. Get some feedback/advice from seniors and fellow students who are well versed in the subject. Remember no subject is bad. History is good if you can spend more than 4-5 hours everyday. Geography is a good option if you can spend at least 4 hrs every day. Public administration more than 3 hours. Sociology, more than 2 hours and so on.... So, it all depends on how much time you can spend a day and your liking of the subject. You have a very good memory then a technical subject may help else a social subject would be better. Lastly look for overlap in subjects like, sociology and public administration; history and political science etc.
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