Aaj.tv Logo

By Mushtaq Ghumman

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Government has decided to introduce Screening Test to filter the serious candidates for Central Superior Service (CSS) prior to written examination from the year 2022, official sources told Business Recorder.

Last week, the Establishment Division apprised the Cabinet that Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) holds CSS Competitive Examination annually for recruitment to posts in BS-17 in 12 Occupational Groups/Services, mandated under Section 7 of FPSC Ordinance, 1977. Over the years, the number of applicants for CSS Competitive Examination (CE) had increased. FPSC had observed that from 1998-2019, on average, the number of applicants increased by 10 percent annually and for the years 2020 & 2021, a surge of 69 percent was seen as compared to previous years. This had resulted in decline in passing percentage and increase in processing time.

In line with the Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms (CCIR) decision, FPSC was directed to revisit the CSS CE system through studying international best practices and incorporating views of various stakeholders.

Screening/preliminary tests are held in SAARC countries to filter candidates for main exams.

In order to effectively manage the increase in number of candidates and to reduce the processing time for CSS (CE) from 20 months to 12 months, FPSC intends to introduce Screening Test which would also help to filter the serious candidates for the written exam. The proposed format for the screening test essentially consists of compulsory subjects of CSS examination, which are as follows: (i) Islamic studies and for non Muslims (they might either opt for Civics & Ethics or Islamic Studies - 20 Marks; (ii) Urdu: Grammar usage, translation- 20 Marks; (iii) English: vocabulary, grammar, usage, comprehension- 50 Marks; (iv) General abilities: basic arithmetic, algebra & geometry (SSC level), logical problem solving, analytical abilities and mental abilities - 60 Marks and; (v) General Knowledge: everyday science, current affairs and Pakistan affairs- 50 Marks.

The matter was earlier considered in Cabinet meeting held on December 10, 2019, wherein the proposal for introduction of screening test prior to written exam was not approved. The main observations / reservations of Cabinet Members were as under: (i) AT/GRE type test could be a disadvantage for candidates from under developed areas; (ii) legal tenability as the change was being introduced after exam announcement; and (iii) belated announcement was unfair to candidates.

The FPSC had addressed the observations of the Cabinet by taking the following steps: (i) the proposed format of Screening Test mainly consisted of compulsory subjects of CSS examination and it does not have any similarity to SAT/GRE format; (ii) FPSC intended to hold Screening Test well before the announcement of CSS CE-2022 examination, therefore, the question of legal tenability and unfairness to candidates would not arise; and (iii) passing threshold of Screening Test had been capped at 33 percent which would enable most of the candidates from all areas of Pakistan to qualify for the proposed Screening Test.

In support of the proposal, FPSC conducted a statistical analysis of past five years and it was evident from the said analysis that most of the candidates including from Balochistan and Sindh had scored at least 33 percent marks in compulsory subjects in written part of the examination. This data further supported the idea of holding a Screening Test prior to written CSS examination.

In addition to this Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Service Commission (KPSC) also held a screening test in order to sift the serious candidates prior to written examination of Provincial Management Service (PMS). Therefore, the idea of FPSC to introduce Screening Test prior to written examination of CSS was justified.

The Cabinet was informed that since, FPSC had now addressed the earlier observations of the Cabinet made during its meeting held on 10.12.2019, therefore, the Cabinet was requested to approve the proposal of FPSC for introducing Screening Test prior to CSS written examination w.e.f. CSS-2022 through insertion of sub rule (A) after Rule 10 of CSS CE Rules, 2019 as per draft notification containing comparative statement, under rule 16(1) of Rules of Business, 1973.

During discussion, some of the members apprehended that this would be a disadvantage to the candidates from backward areas, besides doubling the expenditure for them. It was explained that the data gathered from previous examinations allayed this concern as sizeable number of candidates from backward areas passed the CSS exam.

On a query about candidates taking exams two times, it was explained that the screening test will be undertaken in one day only.

After threadbare discussion, the Cabinet approved the proposal of the Establishment Division.

This article first appeared in Business Recorder