Next year would be Nilesh's first shot at the Civil Services Examination but he doesn't know where to start.
The government has decided to replace the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination with the Civil Services Aptitude Test from 2011 but hasn't been able to finalise the details of the new examination paper so far.
"There is less than a year to go for the examination… It is not fair… when are we going to prepare for the examination," said the 22-year-old Delhi University graduate.
The decision to give the examination a few face lifts was cleared at the instance of the Union Public Service Commission by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this February.
The PM's approval to UPSC's proposal comes nearly a decade after the YK Alagh panel on examination reforms submitted its report. Over the next few years, UPSC first expressed reservations but later accepted the broad point.
The preliminary examination consists of two papers: the first is on general studies and is common to all; candidates can then choose the second paper from a list of 23 subjects.
UPSC wanted to replace the second paper with an aptitude test to grade the cognitive skills of the aspirants rather their ability to memorise.
"There is no cause for anxiety since all candidates will be placed at the same level of advantage or disadvantage," said a UPSC official. Nearly 3.8 lakh aspirants apply for the preliminary test each year, but only half of them appear for it.
The official said a committee headed by former UGC vice chairman SK Khanna — tasked to recommend detail the specifics of the aptitude test —recently submitted its report.
"I would say the commission is up and running… It would be able to finalise the syllabus soon," the official said.
Sources said the Khanna committee had pointed out that there were going to be limits to how far the commission could test cognitive skills.
"There are certain skills that do not lend themselves to be evaluated in an objective-type format ....," the source said.
Ethical and moral dimensions of decision-making, one of the primary ingredients in the reform, would come under this category.
In light of these limitations, it is being suggested that UPSC continue with the optional paper and only tweak the general studies paper to incorporate analytical reasoning or comprehension.