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CSS exam: a civil servant’s view


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THIS is apropos of Abdul Saboor Nizamani’s letter ‘CSS exam: the official view’ (June 1).

He says the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) does not employ any biased approach in examining candidates and that the FPSC ensures uniform assessment of all candidates by engaging one examiner for one subject.

I beg to differ with his clarification on the following grounds: there is no denying the fact that some subjects in Central Superior Services (CSS) examinations are very low-scoring and others are high-scoring. For example, many science students never opt for their previously studied academic courses and rely on subjects pertaining to history, regional languages, Arabic and geography.

A cursory look at the latest marking trends proves that certain subjects which are not very relevant to a civil service are highly rewarding while subjects like economics, public administration, statistics, computer science and law. which have a growing application in civil service, are comparatively low-scoring subjects. I have never heard of anyone scoring above 70 per cent in Economics, and yet every Tom, Dick and Harry scores 75 per cent and above in regional languages.

The favouritism practised by some subject specialists and the apathy shown by others during marking of optional subjects of the CSS is in marked contrast to the policy of fair and transparent FPSC so acclaimed by the writer.

To quote another example, I would like to know which post-graduate university in Pakistan, apart from UET, Lahore, includes in its syllabus tensor analysis as a course on applied mathematics.

I have yet to come across a single teacher who knows how to solve partial differential equations with Monge’s method. The crux of my argument is that it is time the FPSC adopted a uniform system of compulsory and optional subjects by identifying subjects bearing significance in policy-making like economics, sociology, information technology, public administration, professional ethics, logic, and administrative law. And then devise an advanced system of online examination whereby any number of candidates could be examined in real time. The GRE international examination is one such model to follow. The FPSC needs to remove the role of luck factor by adopting technology-based comprehensive assessment of candidates. Quizzes posted by FPSC interview panels remind one of Qudratullah Shahab's satirical remarks on ICS vivas.

Reliance on antonym, synonym, pair of words, etc, usually filter out quite brilliant candidates (50 per cent candidates flunk English precis and composition) because they don’t know that ‘Cajun’ is a French-Canadian descendant or ‘veld’ is a South African grassland.


Comments (12) Closed

Atif Jun 03, 2012 03:19pm
Junaid got failed in CSS exams and crying over spilt milk. Please note that after you pass CSS and get allocation you are sent to best universities/institutions to get MBA or other needed education. Role of CSS exam is to asses as to how much focus a person can put on a particular topic/subject which is important for the individuals going to take hold of key diplomatic positions in future. Its not a BA / MA degree.
Asif Nawaz Jun 03, 2012 03:20pm
I agree.
Mansoor Sajid Jun 03, 2012 04:07pm
Fuuly support what is expressed by Junaid. The basic standard and deliverables for such exams must be pitched higher in order to find candidates of higher caliber who coupled with proper training would turn out as asset for the country.
khadija Jun 03, 2012 01:06pm
true! luck factor filters out the brilliant candidates and has given the chance to such people who were better not to be a CSP officer. moreover, one drawback in the 2012 Current Affairs objective paper was that it was a hotch-potch of bygone history (i am not rejecting the importance of history rather my focus is on the relevance of the question paper be it objective or subjective)
Arsalan Soomro Jun 04, 2012 12:52pm
More than 60% of CSS officers are from Lahore alone whereas Lahore has less than 5% of population of Pakistan. Let the Civil Service Academy be shifted to Karachi for next 64 years and do justice with all the people.
Saqib Syed Jun 03, 2012 10:55am
Junaid's suggestions are very practical and should be implemented to maintain a balance in testing system for future leadership of the country. Testing criteria should be standardized to judge the candidates with single yardstick. Number Marathon in regional languages is an alarming indicator which should be curbed to discourage regional biases in federal service of Pakistan.
shams Hussain Jun 03, 2012 11:12am
.While i do not ascribe any malintent and compliment FPSC for upholding merit. Time has come to have a full review of the entire process of examination and selction in line with present day challenges,The number of subjects should be reduced and the distiction of compulsory and optional subjects should be discontinued.Similarily the occupational groups have lost their meaning with the DMG now renamed as Pakistan Adminstrative Services replacig the CSP virtually defeating the purpose behind 1974 Civil Service Reforms.The Ishrat Committee has done a useful work .The need for a prestigious and strong civil service cannot be overemphasised.Their is a dire need for depolitisation of the civil services and maintaining their Federal outlook.The monetisation of perks will take away the incentive from Civil Servant to toe the line of political masters,The rampant corrution can be reduced if not eliminated if the Civil Servants selected after the overhauled system are given market rates to attract the best talent once the hallmark of Civil Service.Promotions should be intrinsically linked to training and external evaluation.The FPSC should have a role in postings,training and accountabilty of Civil Servants.FPSC should have the right to fire any civil servant who is found to lack in performance.
naseer ud-din Jun 03, 2012 03:25am
i endos the opinion , optional subjectmust be replaced with compulsry subject to imrove the present grave issue of one optional subject is promoting the position and contrary to it the other subject is humiliating a position holder and potential candidate,
Rafey Jun 03, 2012 07:09am
I agree with the Junaid, testing should be in relevant subjects.
naveed hussain Jun 03, 2012 09:33am
I also agree with Mr. Junaid. It should be noted that every person who has had some experience with css exams is complaining of the double standards and scoring patterns except FPSC officials, who are adamant in repeating their arguments about the not so real transparency method used in css exams. I request the FPSC officials to analyze the dms of the candidates since 2009 and see for themselves that many of the candidates who scored exceptionally well in 2009 were given pathetic score in the same subjects in 2010. Is it just our imagination or is there any truth in it? Well to get the answer a research team should be formed.
Zulfiqar Jun 03, 2012 07:07pm
Atif, bro ... you are wrong. He was 20th in Pakistan in CSS 2010.
Rose Jun 04, 2012 02:04am
Subjects are not critical but your interest in subject is important. Basically the students should be able to know almost every important issue on this earth. I would like to mention that in my opinion students opting Urdu score 100% and this can not be totally unbiased. It helps Muslims to get unnecessary edge over others