The format of the Civil Services Examination, arguably the most competitive test in the country that selects IAS, IPS and allied officers, is set for a makeover.
Each year, around 4 lakh aspirants apply for the exam for about 1,050 available posts.
Government is set to reduce the weightage given to optional subjects by half - from 1200 out of 2300 marks to 600. At the same time, weightage for general studies will be increased to 1200 marks from the current 600.
PM Manmohan Singh is expected to clear the revamped version this week, enabling the Union Public Service Commission to notify the examination that has already been delayed by three weeks.
The extreme variations in scores between optional subjects have been a subject for debate for a long time.
For instance, there are optional subjects such as public administration and political science in which candidates expect to score much higher than ones who take, say civil engineering or mathematics. As a result, candidates end up opting for subjects on the basis of perceptions of scores rather than what they graduated in. The UPSC hopes to reduce this distortion.
The reduced weightage of optionals will be given to General Studies - which is common for all candidates - to provide a level playing field for them. The government had in 2011 similarly revamped the preliminary examination when it had made general studies the focus of the qualifying examination rather than subject knowledge.
The UPSC has a three-tier selection process to select civil servants.
The first is the preliminary exam, an objective-type exam which serves as a screening test.
Those who clear this are entitled to appear for the subjective-type main examination.
About one-fifth of those who take the main examination get called for a personality test.