The Centre’s decision to keep English language comprehension skills section out of the merit list’s reckoning came as a big relief for civil services aspirants.
This was apparent on Sunday when many candidates, especially from Hindi medium background, were tension-free as they sat for the civil services preliminary test, conducted by Union Public Service Commission, at 71 examination centres in Patna.
The second paper, christened Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), carried six questions on English comprehension but many students did not even bother to look at the questions. Chandan Kumar, an IAS aspirant from Madhepura said: “As the English comprehension question in CSAT Paper II was not compulsory, I didn’t attempt them.”
The government notification says the merit list would be drawn using aggregate of marks obtained in Paper-I (200 marks) and those obtained after subtracting marks allocated to questions on English language comprehension skills in Paper-II (200). So, the students’ final scores would be calculated on the basis of their performance in Paper I, which consisted of general knowledge, and after deducting 15 marks for six English comprehension questions in Paper II.
The English language comprehension breather apart, the candidates were as satisfied with the other sections.
Students writing the CSAT paper at Magadh Mahila College campus claimed there were comprehension questions which were bilingual (in both English and Hindi), but, unlike in earlier years, the Hindi comprehension was not the Google translation that had confused many. However, the Hindi comprehension passage carried some tough Hindi words, generally used by Hindi literature students. IAS aspirant Ravi Ranjan said: “Some Hindi terms for things related to economics and science were difficult for general students to comprehend. Otherwise, the questions were not that tough.”
But the disenchantment with CSAT remains. Candidates still wanted it to be done away with, saying it favoured students with science and engineering background, as the questions were from logical reasoning.
Also, this year’s paper did not include decision-making questions. Swati Priya, another UPSC aspirant, said: “I was surprised that there were no questions on decision-making.” After all, the foremost quality of a civil servant was to take decisions, she reasoned.
The test was held a day after Supreme Court refused to stay or postpone Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2014. Candidates were also happy that Paper I (general knowledge) had many questions on history, geography and other social science subjects. The Civil Services Preliminary exam scores are used to shortlist candidates for the Civil Services Mains examination.