How will CSS Exam be conducted: New reforms unveiled
CSS is the exam which aims to recruit Pakistan’s mainstream bureaucracy. Recently, there is ongoing regular debates about the mechanism for conducting CSS exam pertaining to its formation of exam, group based exam, cluster system, and most importantly CSS exam’s screening test for upcoming exam in 2021.
Advisor for Institutional Reforms and Austerity of Pakistan, Dr. Ishrat Hussian gave an interview to Ansar Abbasi of The News. He talked extensively about the reforms in the bureaucracy. He gave a detailed outlook of the future bureaucratic structures and systems from civil servants’ induction, recruitment, training, performance, promotion, compensation and retirement to institution building, devolution, accountability and service delivery. But he did not provide a rough timeline of these reforms.
Govt’s Top Civil Service Reformer Unveils "Reform Agenda" 🙂
Government’s top adviser on civil service reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain unveiled the variety of changes being made in the country’s bureaucratic structures and systems from civil servants………https://t.co/xG3R4QA2ug
— Federal Public Service Commission Islamabad (@FPSC_Islamabad) May 10, 2020
Talking about recruitment, Dr. Hussain said that the government plans to introduce pre-requisite of domain knowledge to the appear in civil services exams. Domain knowledge will help the recruiter to organize the the candidates for specific groups. Currently bureaucrats who do not possess specific knowledge about the job rely on clerks or juniors.
He said, “We have to move towards a blended approach in which the relative strengths of the generalists and specialists are optimally utilised. Therefore, at the time of induction, we create incentives for candidates to match their preferences with some prior domain knowledge. There would be no restrictions of any academic qualification to apply and appear at the Central Services examination. You may be a doctor or an engineer, but if you want a career in Foreign Service, you must appear at International Relations and International Law as optional papers. If you prefer to work in the Police Service, you must have chosen papers on Criminology and Civil & Criminal Procedural Codes as optional subjects.”
According to Dr. Hussain, a screening test will also be conducted before written exam. He conveyed the difficulty that Federal Public Service Commission faces while assessing written papers of at least 16,000 candidates. It is important to mention that in CE-2020 of 39,000 students who had applied for it, around 20,000 candidates sat in twelve papers.
Dr. Hussain said FPSC will conduct screening test containing multiple choice questions (MCQs). He said it will help to eliminate a lot of people at the screening stage based on the regional/provincial and other quotas. He said the screened candidates, say 2,000, will go through a psychometric test modeled on the British Civil Service. After this round, the candidates will appear at compulsory and optional subjects’ written exams, and then the interviews.
Based on Dr. Hussian’s interview we can say that candidates will have to select occupational groups according to their optional subjects. Students who select International Relations and International Law can apply for Foreign Services. For another instance, students who want to join Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) will have to opt Political Science. Although nothing is final; students will have to wait for FPSC’s response on it.
FPSC to introduce Computer Based Testing (CBT)
Another major development can be seen in FPSC’s decision to hire consultancy firm to digitize the testing system, as the request for proposal document on reveals. FPSC has taken this decision to improve the situation of its workload. In a screening test of Customs Intelligence Officer, FPSC cleared around 80,000 students in 2019 but their final exam is yet to be conducted. FPSC has to announce results of numerous tests it conducted in 2018, 2019 and 2020
According to the document, FPSC “intends to ascertain computer based testing (CBT) backed with digitized question data bank for speedy disposal of work without compromising quality, security, secrecy and integrity.”
The document describes that there are two streams for induction/selection of candidates for various posts i.e., General Recruitment (GR) and Competitive Examinations (CE) and that the appearance of candidates in examinations/tests conducted for both the streams is mandatory. In GR both descriptive MCQ based papers are administered and Competitive examination CSS comprises of subjective questions along with Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs).
The proposed CBT will cater the MCQs as well as the descriptive test/examination being conducted by the Commission.
FPSC’s digitizing project comprises of following two components of Development of Question Data Bank (based on prometric testing paradigm) and Computer Based Testing by establishing computer futuristic iBT based testing labs in ten major cities across the country.
The computer based exam is possible in Pakistan. Agha Khan Board uses the same advance method to check the papers of their candidates, however the adoption of computerized system may take 3 to 4 years. The document allocates two years for the project.
FPSC’s aim to use advance technologies is appreciable. It shows that the institution is serious to resolve the matters of delayed results.