Despite the strong demand for scrapping CSAT, a section of students and experts believes that doing away with it may not be a good decision.
“I don’t think there’s a viable alternative to CSAT. The level of CSAT, anyway, is not very difficult when you compare it to exams such as Staff Selection Commission, Bank PO, CAT, etc. The objective of the exam is not to create a level-playing field. Why is a level-playing field not expected for exams such as JEE, PMT? Just like the objective of these exams is to choose potentially good engineers and doctors, irrespective of the fact that some students may be disadvantaged on the account of not being able to attend coaching classes for the same, the objective of the CSAT is to select able administrators,” says Munish Sharma, who got all-India rank 2 in the civil services last year.
Experts believe that the CSAT is the most important screening procedure for the main exam, which tests aspirants on a number of aspects. “Such a candidate must have the necessary analytical and logical reasoning abilities. CSAT does create a level-playing field among aspirants from all backgrounds. No prior knowledge of any subject is required to answer a majority of the questions. As per the notification by UPSC, the questions are of Class 10 level. There are three broad areas — maths, English and reasoning. When it comes to the test area of English, the UPSC has clearly specified that all questions will be based on reading comprehension.
“This is unlike many other entrance exams in which a formal knowledge of various other topics is tested. In CSAT, a candidate is just expected to be able to read the passage, draw the core essence and answer the questions. Even in maths and reasoning, the questions are designed to test basic analytical abilities, everyday application of maths,” says Rajesh Saraf, course director (UPSC CSAT), TIME, Hyderabad.
Saraf says that the CSAT was introduced after careful deliberations and analysis of many other exams conducted in other countries like the Canada Public Service Commission and UK Public Service Commission. “It has now become imperative to test the candidates on analytical skills, core arithmetic skills and basic comprehension.
Many committees were formed in this regard. Before the exam is scrapped, it is important to get into the finer details. In the present context, the protest comes from higher weightage being given to English questions. Scrapping the exam may set a wrong precedent. In case of a new format being created, there may be another group of people protesting,” he adds.