Aptitude Test for IAS

Refreshing change
Have an aptitude for IAS

THE Union Government’s decision to replace the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination with the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) is welcome because it will test candidates on their analytical abilities rather than their capacity to memorise. Significantly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been playing a notable role in administrative reforms, has approved the Union Public Service Commission’s proposal for an aptitude test. The rationale behind the new method of examination is to assess to what extent the candidates for services like the IAS, IFS and IPS have the aptitude and motivation to do something good for the country rather than ending up as square pegs in round holes. Though the bureaucracy has strengthened the democratic polity, there is often tardiness and failure on its part to deal with situations. In the absence of enterprise, initiative and commitment on the part of some recruits, especially when they become Deputy Commissioners or Superintendents of Police, the cutting edge of administration suffers from negativity, insensitivity and irresponsiveness.

Over the years, many panels, including the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2005) have advocated laying greater emphasis on the candidates’ aptitude than on their knowledge of the subject, arguing that specialists or experts in any particular subject like political science or economics may not necessarily be good civil servants. Though the UPSC is yet to prepare the modalities for the aptitude test, the proposal for the preliminary examination is to have two objective type papers that are common to candidates of all disciplines. While the General Studies paper might be suitably changed, the Aptitude Test paper may assess the candidates’ quantitative aptitude, verbal and non-verbal reasoning and awareness of administration.

The aptitude test will be introduced in the 2011 Preliminary examination. The second and third stages — Main and Interview respectively — will remain the same till an expert committee submits its report on the entire system. The new system will provide a level-playing field and equity as all candidates will have to attempt common papers unlike the existing format. While efforts to attract the right people for the right positions in the civil services are welcome, what matters most is the sincerity of officers in delivering the goods and making a perceptible change in the quality of life. 

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