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UPSC Civil Services exam twice a year? What are the challenges and benefits

UPSC Civil Services exam twice a year? What are the challenges and benefits

Experts suggest that there are two ways to implement this. One would be to reduce the syllabus or to wrap up the interview process in one month by increasing the number of panels conducting interview in a day.

The UPSC takes nearly 14-15 months to complete the Civil Services recruitment cycle process. The exam is divided into three stages — prelims, main and personality test and an appearing candidate failing at any of the stages need to reappear for the stage 1 — preliminary exam next year. 

Criticising the long recruitment period, a Parliamentary Committee has recently suggested the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to reduce the UPSC CSE cycle.

“The Committee is of the opinion that the duration of any recruitment examination should not ordinarily exceed six months as long and protracted recruitment cycles waste prime years of a candidates’ life besides taking a toll on their physical and mental health. The Committee, accordingly, recommends that UPSC should take steps to reduce the duration of the recruitment cycle significantly without compromising the quality,” the report said.

However, is it possible to reduce this cycle to six months without compromising the quality? 

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Sriram Srirangam, founder and director of Sriram’s IAS said that to maintain the integrity and fairness of the process, it is important to ensure that every individual is given a fair chance. Hence, reducing the time between every stage of the process will not be of much help.

“The entire cycle, from the initial stages to the final results, follows a structured timeline. The process commences in February and concludes in late May next year, with various stages in between. The prelims take place in late May, and the results are usually announced in 20 days. The mains exams are held in September ensuring several months for evaluation and analysis. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that the interview process, which plays a vital role in candidate selection, requires a significant amount of time. 

From the end of December, when the main results are declared, until the end of May, when the final results are announced, this interview process spans almost six months. The duration is necessary due to the substantial number of candidates who need to be thoroughly and authentically interviewed,” Sriragam said.

“Maintaining the integrity and fairness of the process is of utmost importance, ensuring that every individual is given a fair chance and that justice is not compromised. Therefore, it is imperative that the interview process is not rushed or shortened, considering the magnitude of candidates involved and the importance of maintaining the integrity of the selection process,” he added. 

A research report by service provider Geniehelpme revealed that other exams conducted by the UPSC like CDS, NDA and AFCAT exam conducted by Indian Air Force are conducted twice a year and reflect a similar or better success rate than the Civil Services exam. 

As per the report, in 2022, about two lakh students appeared for the AFCAT exam, out of which only 10,000 got called for AFSB procedures showcasing a high competition. The exam is conducted twice every year. Last year, the exam recorded a success rate of 0.05 per cent.

Similarly, the National Defence Academy exam is conducted twice a year, and in 2022, more than three lakh aspirants appeared for the examination. Around 8,509 candidates cleared the NDA (II) 2022 written exam and faced the SSB interviews for their respective services recording a success rate of 0.02 per cent. 

Meanwhile, in Civil Services 2022, a total of 11.25 lakh candidates appeared for prelims while 13,090 candidates appeared in the mains exam of which 2529 candidates qualified and appeared for the interview. A total of 1022 candidates were finally recommended showing a passing percentage of 0.08 per cent. 

When compared to the UPSC Civil Services exam, the AFCAT, CDS, and NDA exams have much shorter recruitment cycles but it does not mean that their selection process is hasty, rather it selects the best-talented youth who serve the country by defending its frontiers.

“A short recruitment cycle may prove to be a boon for budding officers. If tests are designed in such a manner that all the prerequisites needed to administer the country in the future are properly evaluated within a period of 7 to 8 months,” Naveen Pruthi from Geniehelpme and a Civil Services exam tutor highlighted.

However, Sarmad Mehraj, UPSC tutor at BYJU believes that the exam cycle should be shortened to complete the process in a year. But conducting exams twice a year may not be prudent. 

“To reduce the recruitment time, changes need to be implemented in cutting down the syllabus of the exam. Optional subjects should be scrapped to ensure a level playing field. While the changes made in 2013 are good and should continue,” Mehraj said. 

So how can the recruitment cycle be reduced?

Experts suggest that there are two ways to implement this. One would be to reduce the syllabus or to wrap up the interview process in one month by increasing the number of panels conducting interviews in a day.

Retired IAS officer JK Dadoo opined that with prelims being an MCQ-based exam, should not take more than 15 days to evaluate thereby reducing the gap between the Prelims and Mains. However, given the various subjects in the Mains, the declaration of the results cannot happen overnight. 

“It takes at least two months to evaluate theory papers given each individual paper is checked impartially with utmost care. In the interview round, there are six boards with six members each; this can be increased to 10 boards and if they are given a target of interviewing 10 candidates every day, then a total of 1000 candidates can be interviewed in 10 days. Presently, it takes over two months to complete the interview process, which can then be considerably reduced to select candidates in the final round,” he explained. 

Meanwhile, Mehraj of Byju’s said that reducing the exam syllabus and scrapping the optional subject will be one option to conclude the exam within a year.

“The recommendations of the parliamentary committee are apt given the recent exam pattern in the last few years. Instead of cramming it all, students’ focus should be on understanding the basic of each. For instance, sports as a category was often overlooked by aspirants. For the second time in as many years, sports-related questions have stumped the aspirants. Previously, questions on DRS and Goal Line Technology were asked in Mains but it was purely from a technology standpoint. Who knows movies as a segment may be added in subsequent years. It’s necessary to define the syllabus and stick to that,” he pointed out.

Source: the Indian Express

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