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RTI: Expert Committee formed to revise Eligibility, Scheme & Pattern for CSE

RTI Reply by UPSC on Pattern Change

In a reply to an RTI filed by ForumIAS Members, UPSC has clarified on September 21 the below things:-

1). UPSC has resolved to constitute an expert committee to look into the eligibility, syllabus, scheme and pattern of UPSC examination.

2). The members of the committee shall be :-

a). Sri B.S. Baswan
b). Shri B N Navalawala
c). Dr. Hari Pratap Gautam
d). D. Anil Sahasrabudhe
e). Prof. Peter Ronal deSouza
f). Prof. B Mahadevan
g). Shri M.P. Tangirala, Additional Secy ( Examination ) , UPSC

The Committee’s mandate & Analysis: [What it means to you]

Point 1: Effectiveness of the pattern – The committee will evaluate the effectiveness of the existing scheme of examination, after reviewing recommendations of previous committees, in selecting suitable candidates keeping in mind factors like:-

  • Need for inclusiveness in selection process, fair mix of candidates from different disciplines,
  • Skill -sets commensurate with the modern times which require an efficient & effective civil service
  • Trainability of the selected candidates

Key points here are,

  • Need for inclusiveness
  • fair mix of candidates

From the past few years, students from the engineering and medical streams have increasingly ruled the UPSC exam. Success rate of candidates from medical & engineering backgrounds has indeed been very high. Committee might recommend some changes to the pattern, to select a fair amount of candidates from each stream and eliminate this dominance of few specific streams.

Neither a veteran nor a fresher will be too much affected by any changes introduced under this point because pattern in any case will not be changed drastically. They might reduce the weightage of aptitude further.

Point 2: Examination of current pattern

  • Whether there is a need for prescribing different papers for selection to different services covered under this exam – Service specific papers might be introduced. Like Pub-ad for IAS & Law for the IPS aspirants. In such a case, a fresher and a veteran who has not read such subject previously will be affected as they would have to read the entire subject from the beginning. Those candidates who have read such subjects during their graduation or as a part of their optional preparation would have  considerable advantage over the others.
  • The number of papers in each stage – Number wont matter that much as the type of the papers. Optionals might be removed but until a decision is made one should keep preparing his optional to avoid any last minute debacles.
  • Mix of compulsory and optional subjects – A process where each candidate has to prepare a specific set of compulsory papers has been widely discussed. If implemented it would help create a proverbial level playing field for this exam. There has been rumors, suggesting that Pub-Ad might be included in this list of compulsory subjects. In my opinion, any subject introduced under this scheme will favour a certain number of candidates. Namely those who have studied it earlier. So both, freshers and veterans who haven’t will suffer a dis-advantage.
  • Their structure i.e. Objective or subjective – Any change introduced here wont affect candidates much as aspirants giving UPSC are accustomed to both the styles.
  • Duration of papers – The Mains exam has been deemed by few candidates as unfair in terms of duration of exam. So, any change introduced to increase the duration will be welcomed by both the veterans and freshers alike.
  • Broad areas to be covered in each paper – This point relates to overall syllabus. Any changes addition or reduction of the syllabus will have to be dealt equally by all the candidates.
  • Medium of the exam – According to data released by the UPSC, the number of non-English medium candidates appearing in the Civil Service exams in 2008 was (5,082), in 2009(4,839), in 2010 (4,156) and in 2011 (1,682), showing a trend of gradual decline.

The number of candidates who wrote in Hindi medium in 2008 was 5,082. This number fell to 1682 in 2011.  In Telugu language 117 candidates wrote the exam in 2008, this number fell to 29 in 2011.  In Tamil language 98 candidates wrote the exam in 2008, their number fell to 14 in 2011. In Kannada language 14 candidates wrote the exam in 2008, this number fell to 5 in 2011.

On the contrary the number of English-medium candidates has sharply increased during 2008- 2011 period. The percentage of English medium candidate in 2008 was (50.57%), in 2009 (54.50%) in 2010, (62.23%) and in 2011 (82.93%).

The final results also indicate the falling numbers of the Hindi and vernacular medium candidates. So, taking cognizance of the above facts, committee might recommend changes to create a level playing field for Hindi & vernacular medium candidates. Any positive changes introduced shall be welcomed by both the freshers and veterans of the Hindi/Vernacular medium.

  • Marking scheme, Weightage of marks & evaluation system – Any changes introduced here will equally affect both veterans and the freshers.
  • To make the exam pattern holistic & free of any inherent bias against any candidate from any stream subject, language or region – All the changes talked above, if implemented shall result in a bias free and impartial exam process.

Point 3: Shortening the duration of the exam – Aspirants have complained regarding the time consuming and lengthy exam process, again and again. Committee’s decision to shorten the time duration would bring much needed respite to the candidates, both fresher & veterans alike.

Any changes made to the reserve and waiting list mechanism shall benefit the candidates who have hopes of getting a seat but are left in limbo and confusion due to ambiguous rules.

Point 4: Suitable time-frame: This is the most important step in my opinion as an unclear time-frame only creates speculation and confusion. A pre-set time period to implement the revised pattern shall give rest to mindless speculations. It will help many aspirants to plan their preparations accordingly.

Point 5: Eligibility criteria: The most controversial and discussed topic is the eligibility criteria.

  • Minimum & Maximum age limits, Number of attempts– Age limits & number of attempts have been relaxed since 2014. The question bothering everyone & esp the veterans who have crossed 30 is whether or not this relaxation shall continue. The decision to lower the age limit by 4 years was of the UPA government. Current government has categorically stated that it does not intend to follow up on UPAs policy. In November 2014 the current govt refused to lower the age limits for the UPSC exam. Moreover, any changes in the age & attempts which affects prospects of thousand and lakhs of candidates of the voting age shall not be without any political repercussions.  We can only hope that such radical policy changes. If, at all are implemented, they should be phased , giving enough time to the veterans and freshers alike to align their preparations with the new policy. This age change eligibility should not be via the Prelims Notification and at least 1 year forewarning should be given to aspirants, if attempts at age reduction happen.


  • Review of eligibility criteria of already selected candidates who wish to re-appear for the exam – This point shall affect those who are resolute to better their ranks to get IAS. Except for IAS & IFS (Indian Foreign Service), one can re-appear for the civil services exam. Once selected for IAS or IFS, one is not entitled to write the exam again unless he quits the service first.


  • However, with large number of IPS and IRS people writing the exam, and migrating to IAS ( This year we had record number of IRS probationers qualifying for IAS ) , the departments – revenue and Police have created roadblocks, if not completely prohibited their existing cadre  in IRS and IPS  from writing the exam again.  In absence of a clear cut policy, such department level roadblocks are unfair to the person affected.  Such a clearly define policy is needed.

Point 6: Periodic updation of syllabus:

Committee will suggest a system to design & periodically update syllabus of each paper while considering following things,

  • Unitization of syllabus
  • proper coverage of content
  • Balance across subject papers

The above measures shall ensure,

  • The syllabus is comprehensive
  • Up-to-date
  • Suitable for a competitive evaluation of the candidates


Point 7: Review of logistical requirements & constraints: Half the number of candidates do not even appear for the preliminary exam. Keeping in mind the above fact the committee after reviewing the logistical requirements & constraints shall suggest relevant improvements.

Candidates who reside in rural areas and face difficulties in reaching the far away centers would welcome this step wholeheartedly as their precious time and energy is wasted during long journey to reach their examination centers.

With CAT and now IIT also computer based, will UPSC move to a computer based examination system?

Point 8: The committee can also examine,

  • Any other matter which it considers relevant to the process of selection, or
  • any other matter which may be referred to it by the government or the commission

Point 9: Assistance from professionals & institutions: The committee may take help from experts, institutions & academic professionals as it may consider necessary, in consultation with the commission.

Point 10: Timeline of report submission: The committee shall file its report within 6 months of its constitution.

Changes if any in the exam pattern, if recommended by the Committee, will hopefully, only take place after due deliberation – and not randomly like this year – by a last minute notification. In times of so many changes brought in UPSC – and in fact – in our times, we can only hope that aspirants should be made aware of changes at least one year ahead, much before the Prelims Notification – especially in the case of age reduction or attempt reduction.

Aspirants commit a minimum of 1.5 years in UPSC prep, and last minute changes disrupt the whole plan.

Also, any steps that UPSC may take in the direction of reducing the time taken for the entire exam cycle will be very relieving .

Lastly, kindly check the link below for latest update on this issue by the pib,

Snapshots of the RTI reply,

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3

Should not UPSC forewarn Students at least 1 year in advance in case of any decision on eligibility, attempts and age, or should it be done via the Prelims Notification – barely 2 months before the exam? What do you think?

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  • Exam abhi baki hai mere dost
  • सोनम गुप्ता “upcoming BANKER”

    will there b any change????????

  • Sweety Shetty

    Generalized view.

  • Baba Ramdev

    Economics and political science graduates have an edge because in both prelims and mains, a good amount of questions are directly or indirectly related to Economy or polity – for now at least. Engineering and Science background candidates have quite a disadvantage in both the cases. And since the weight of current affairs is on the rise, no one seems to be in a position of permanent advantage.

  • Dr.RajnikantYadav

    I am getting 127 in gs acco to 5 diff keys and 90 in csat acco to 2 diff keys …………….STILL I AM NOT
    SELECTED !!!!!!!! during exam i had properly filled both omr sheets without any mistake in roll no/ centre no / booklet no …….during exam supervision staff had messed in answersheet distribution and columns to be filled by them… PLEASE SUGGEST ME WHAT TO DO,,,,, I in no possible way am falling short in marks ………yesterday sent upsc a letter + an email today + constantly talking with upsc

    please help me

  • Dr.RajnikantYadav

    one of my friend suggested me this forum and told i will surely get proper suggestions in it….. so i registered here …………. please help me .. students in my institute and elsewhere getting 112-115 in general category are selected for mains and I with 127 in OBC category am thrown out…..

  • Dr.RajnikantYadav

    I am getting 127 in gs acco to 5 diff answer keys and 90 in csat acco to 2 diff keys …
    STILL I AM NOT SELECTED !!!! during exam properly filled both OMR sheets without any mistake
    in roll no / centre no / booklet no ………….during exam supervision staff in my room had messed with answersheet no and colums to be filled by them …….. I AM AT MY WITS END to come to term with this disaster forced upon me by upsc………….. I REQUEST YOU ALL PLEASE SUGGEST ME HOW CAN I MAKE UPSC UNDERSTAND THIS ……….. I have already sent them a letter + an email + regularly talking with them

  • mains2015

    apna kaam hai mehnat karna no if’s and but’s


    Being a medico doesn’t mean that they are biased towards us. I had also chosen sociology, just for the sake that medical science would be my fortay but what if I should challenge myself with some other subject so i opted sociology and yes, the exam pattern needs a change in terms of timings doesnt matter, how much would the content may be!

  • nitesh10001

    student who has potential to do hard work and smart work will pass cse exam .it does not matter to hi m what ever will be change in pattern. so friends lets do hard work .

  • xxbee

    Reducing the age will spell doom for candidates so it must be deferred.. also age has never been a criteria for better administration and integrity because what matters is dedication and will power in the services… further greater the age higher the wisdom is a general experience.. look at UPSC members who are all retired servants… further pub ad portion is already in paper 4… rest literature and engineering and commerce and science optional subjects can be mixed in a manner with defined essential syllabii to compensate for optional removal… greater dynamics and level playing field will result after optional removal.. lets hope a better sense will prevail

  • wireshark

    Engineering n medicos crack in large numbers cuz our education system and enployment avenues are biased towards des disciplines… So mostly d creme opt for them. So a natural corollary. But having said that.. There are many bright students opting for other disciplines too.. As we can c students of top colleges of these disciplines lik tiss du jnu n many state universities are also finding place in top ranks… Jus because sum1 doesn qualify we can’t keep blaming that there is a bias…


    If a particular aspirant is greying his hair, that is her/his concern or decision. After due deliberation, government has granted multiple attempts to all categories and greying one’s hair is certainly not the criteria which you have immaturely mentioned. I don’t expect some aspirants who are in their earlier 20s could understand the pain of veterans.

  • Ashishkp

    removal of optional subject would be a welcome decision from all strata of aspirants as it would save lot of time, money and above all confusion. as far as engineering and medical background aspirants are concerned they dont have any edge in the current pattern and if commision really desires to lessen their chances of selection then there are only two options left either make their graduation marks eligibility criteria above 90% or straightaway exclude them from appearing in test.

  • Maheshb95

    Age reduction as to informed atleast in advance by 2 years, because many things are invested including human effort. It should be noted that the toppers immaterial from which back ground they come, it is/was only because of their hardwork. Indeed the whole pattern is heavy inclined favouring towards humanities students. So, the board should take a note of these hard groups of students and a engineering/medical paper has to be made compulsory paper, then humanities students will understand how tough it is to deal with those subjects. Like wise humanities students will learn a bit of calculus and anatomy.

  • Niharika Jain

    More Engineering and medical students qualify because they are hard working and intelligent. There is nothing in the exam which favours them. On the contrary, everything is against them. Everyone knows engineering and science subjects are butchered. They get top ranks by taking humanities subject. So, whatever is the pattern their number will be more in the final list. No pattern can stop intelligent and hard working students.

  • ravi singh baghel

    Well, these are just a recommendation which is not binding, there would be many addition and deletion before it is put before the candidates. To my notion lowering of age is welcome gesture because preparing for UPSC is something like you won’t realize when even your mustache growing “grey” . But Govt must wait for a few years before implementing this because there are lakhs of student who has given their “jawani” in preparing. This would be one of the biggest disaster in candidate’s life. Coming to syllabus ” UPSC crack karna hai to karna hai” we shouldn’t fear of syllabus updation/deletion/addition, ultimately the ground reality will remains the same

  • kps

    The recommendations of the committee are _not_ stated to be binding on the Commission. I don’t believe that there will be any major changes in the pattern by 2016 as these things are known to create law and order situations. Although any recommendations deemed too important to be put off may be applied even if they are radical in nature.

    In case the changes are minor they will come out in the notification itself. In case of dropping of optionals or other major changes it _may_ issue a notification in advance.

    I’m hoping the optional subjects are dropped altogether. That would make life easier.

  • Mission_2016

    Even if the committee recommends certain radical changes such as drastic age reduction to 26 etc,removing optionals,making certain subjects compulsory,the reforms will not take place without a 5-6 year window;there will be political repercussions;what the committee should do is to make the syllabus as clear as possible,reduce the time taken to complete the entire process of the examination,and recommend standard articles to follow while preparing for the exam.Most importantly,reducing the number of attempts or age limits will annihilate the dreams of lakhs of aspirants and will deprive the government of their talents,and will add to the woes of our best minds running away to the foreign soil.This was one of the reason that age limits,number of attempts and appearing in the exam while working in an allied service was allowed.It will further increase unemployment;many leave their lucrative jobs for being an IAS,PM’s visit to Silicon valley might come handy in this scenario (startup ecosystem does not exist in our country;syllabus backdated and unskilled).The median age of a candidate qualifying is 27 years.The changes going by the recommendations of ARC,if implemented will not be before 2019 (there are elections in states and govt. is being attacked from all sides for every “pathbreaking” initiative that they are willing to take.This will spell a disaster for them).

  • upsccracker

    Can should possible graduation with 50 % as minimum eligibility criteria for applied ??

  • VJS

    It’s obvious that UPSC should inform atleast a year in advace so that students can be prepared:
    1. Many students are preparing while leaving their job, if informed a year in advance and if one is not eligible, one can leave this whole UPSC thing and can start concentrating on other work.

    2. Many students are also enrolled in various coaching centres who charge lakhs of money (I don’t know how much is useful as I haven’t enrolled in any). Many a times money is borrowed by students, so this money would be saved and could be utilized in other work which could give results.

    3. It is also required for those who are eligible, as in above case, if Pub Ad becomes compulsory, those students who are preparing for it will have an edge and those who are not will lay behind just for the lack of time (if notified too late). If goal is to make level playing field, then time should be given accordingly.

    More points could be added.

  • Supreeth Reddy

    There will no change in this year examination with only 2 months remaining. After the committee report then changes might take place for 2016 or later.