The current pattern of the civil services preliminary exams was conceived in 1979 on the recommendations of the Kothari Commission. Since then, for 41 years, the preliminary pattern sustained with only some minor changes once in ten or fifteen years. But from 2011 onwards, civil services aspirants should prepare themselves for a sea change in how they prepare for the preliminary examination as the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has received the Union Government’s approval for introducing the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) pattern.
So what will the CSAT be like?
- CSAT will have two papers common to all candidates with no optional paper
- There will be a paper to test the candidate’s aptitude for the prestigious civil services from the ethical and moral dimension
- The age limit could be lowered
- The number of attempts could also be reduced
- More emphasis on understanding and analysis than memorizing
What will be the impact of these changes?
- IAS candidates can no longer neglect the General Studies paper and rely solely on optionals to see them through
- UPSC might give preference to younger candidates with high motivation and zeal in the interview
- Coaching classes notes will not be enough to clear the CSAT exam
- Candidates with low moral and ethical aptitude will get weeded out, which is not happening currently
How should you prepare for the CSAT exams?
- Focus more on decision-oriented analytical questions
- Be prepared to answer situational questions faced in real life by the civil servants
- Questions will be more dynamic than at present
- Spruce up your general awareness and mental ability
Also, it’s certain that the mains pattern of the UPSC IAS exams will change from 2012 onwards after the introduction of UPSC CSAT exams in 2011. Most probably the civil services mains will also have common papers for all to eliminate the present practice of scaling which is detested by many candidates and public figures as well.