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CSAT : To be or Not to be

Last few months there has been increasing incident of protest in Delhi against CSAT . People who are protesting wants CSAT to be scrapped completely along with demand that the change should be implemented from this year onward. The short term demand is to postpone the CSAT exam which is slated to be held on 24th August.

There are two issues which are being raised , first it is biased towards English medium students and second that it gives unfair advantage to people with engineering background because of nature of question being asked CSAT paper.

The CSAT paper consists of comprehension question based on English paragraph along with some other comprehension question. Now since this paper is of objective type and needs to be done in time bound manner , the English paragraph consumes more time for vernacular students giving away advantage to English medium students.This advantage can be seen from the number of selected candidates of non English medium getting decreased after introduction of CSAT. The other view says that its only of 10th standard , but since Civil services mains exam already consist of qualifying paper of 10th standard English , i don't see any need to test it in objective type paper. Further the need of knowledge of good English to be good civil servant is debatable.

Second issue is of giving unfair advantage to people with engineering background . On this issue my take is that when CSAT was introduced, the question based on aptitude were more compared to questions based on mathematics. But with time the questions based on mathematics increased , which obviously gave advantage to engineers and science students. The aptitude of understanding problem is certainly needed to be good administrator while the level of knowledge of  mathematics can be debated . The aim should be to test the aptitude and not mathematical skills and to do this question based on mathematics should be minimal and questions based on aptitude should be more.
There is need of detailed study to take decision on CSAT involving all stakeholders along with experts of the issues.

As far as postponement of current year's CSAT is concerned , It should not be postponed at any cost. Any change should be implemented from next year only. There are many candidates preparing for syllabus given in the current notification . And once notification issued , there should not be change in syllabus otherwise it may result in protest from other set of group. Further efforts and time of many candidates will be wasted. Postponement followed with change in syllabus of prelims may also result in judicial appeal , which will further delay the process. All in all postponement will only degrade the stature, raliability and esteem of UPSC and civil services exam and then there will not remain much difference between state PSC and UPSC.

We live in democracy where everyone have right to speak and protest and genuine voices needs to be heard. But while doing so we need to take care of those as well who are not speaking/protesting else the democracy will be converted into Mobocracy.


  1. ThePriest,
    UPSC changed its pattern 2 check diversity in selection. But only Engineers nd English medium students r taking itz benefit. Dat is discriminatory 4 all linguistic backwards nd Humanities students.
    Dat is nt a Matter of only about 9 questions of English Language. Bt dey provided complex, 2 difficult & wrong (many times) translation in Hindi... and yes a hindi medium Rural background student also can solve a paper of CSAT bt in competitive exams SPEED matters nd urban students r gud in it, bcoz of der gud schooling. Evn all standard news papers nd quality study material available in English only. Thus UPSC is nt providing a level playing field 4 all students.
    Students getting 185/190 marks in CSAT nd getting 44 marks in GS nd cracking prelims. Dat is clearly lowering d standard of Exam. How can any1 score 90% marks in an exam which is related 2 highest services in India ??
    Aftr selection IAS officers learn languages lyk Tamil, panjabi, kannad... etc evn dey r training french, german, Spanish, Chinese 2 IFS officers. dey can teach English as well as 2 dem.
    UPSC need structural reforms, der is no transparency in order 2 serve d interest of all. In democracy transparency required.
    GOI n UPSC sud b sensitive on d issue of CSAT.

  2. First of all, we should think whether the aptitude tests in current format really test the so called "skills" like aptitude, logical reasoning and analytical ability of the student. Aptitude tests were created with fond dreams. But now it has been reduced to a set of questions which can be answered by continuous practice of set of questions. Type of questions (train problem, age problem, speed/velocity problem, linear equation problem etc.) asked in a particular exam can be easily predicted by analysing previous year question papers. If a person practices on solving them, he will clear the exam. Myriads of coaching institutions and HR authors have written numerous books on "How to solve the questions easily". Ability to apply tricks, formulas and shortcuts are only tested, not the aptitude. CSAT in current format is not the scientific way of testing the aptitude skills. Questions are of predictable pattern and directly taken from other books with only certain data changed.

    1. If aptitude tests were so foolproof and really helped in picking up the right candidates, then the myriad of civil servants, doctors, engineers, scientists and armed force officers, who were selected to the aptitude tests of same pattern, would have made this country glorious long time ago. By this time we would have beaten USA, China and Japan.

  3. Aptitude test in civil services exams have been introduced only in 2011.....not before than that....Since our bureaucracy is not considered to be very efficient that's why there are experiments going on to get to correct pattern of exam,,,,

  4. Yeah I know that. But aptitude test was there in other exams conducted by UPSC like CDSE, CAPF, CMS, ESE, IES/ISS etc. I'm not only talking about UPSC scenario, but also the innumerable private employees also

  5. What is aptitude? Is aptitude an inherent ability/natural skill that a person possesses right from his/her birth? Or can it be improved by practising X std level mathematics/English? If aptitude can be improved over time, then why Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT) conducted by Indian Airforce (and many other international Air Forces) can be taken only once in a life time? If aptitude cannot be improved over time, then why General and OBC candidates get 6 and 9 attempts (and SC/ST get unrestricted attempts) in CSE? If aptitude of a person can be artificially improved, then why 6 or 9 attempts should not be provided to candidates taking PABT? Is the aptitude required for becoming an administrator/IAS the same as the one required for becoming a career police officer/IPS or a diplomat/IFS? If so why we need specially designed aptitude tests for CSAT/CSE, PABT, CAT/GMAT(MBA), GRE and why our Indian Army is conducting Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) test, Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), Emotional Reaction Test (ERT) etc. for recruiting its officers? Should we see aptitude tests just as a 'filtration process' for reducing the number of applicants for a particular job, as it is currently done by software industries? Or should it be seen as a tool for playing language politics? Finally, for taking critical decisions about abolition/retention/reformation of CSAT/Aptitude test, should we appoint an expert or a retired DoPT secretary?

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