[Nigvekar] Prelim Reforms: Less Comprehension in CSAT, Take Online exam, two years’ validity, transparency (Part 2 of 4)

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Mrunal’s UPSC GSM3-2020 Model Answer lecture: Science Technology, Internal Security Border Management Questions from last Mains Exam Solved!
  1. Prologue
  2. Shocker#1: CSAT paper-2 has too much comprehension & English
  3. Shocker#2: CSAT is Pro-Engineer & Anti Humanities
  4. Shocker#3: UPSC members are more “reformist” than Nigvekar!
  5. Combine Prelims +Mains to reduce time span
  6. Add more exam centers
  7. CSAT: there Need for Transparency
  8. Conduct Prelims online to reduce time span
  9. Give Prelim score card with 2 year validity
  10. Why Minimum 50% in graduation?
  11. One cycle of UPSC =15 months wasted
  12. Download Full Report of Nigvekar


Highlights of [Nigvekar] Committee on civil service exam reforms: this article series has four part

  1. PART1: What inputs Nigvekar got from eminent people including Dr.Kalam, CAG , CIC, various UPSC members, + age attempt related issues.
  2. PART2: prelim reforms.
  3. PART3: mains reforms.
  4. PART4: Interview reforms.

First let’s check the shockers (shocker in the sense that UPSC’s official research wing admits it.)

Shocker#1: CSAT paper-2 has too much comprehension & English

(ch3. Page46, Input from UPSC’s own research wing)

  1. In CSAT Paper II: too many questions were asked from comprehension section, it needs to be reduced slightly in favor of other type of aptitude questions.
  2. Remove the separate English comprehension section from Paper II, because it benefits more to urban background English medium aspirants.
  3. CSAT pattern is a little bit advantageous to urban candidates.
  4. It will be better to reduce the English part in CSAT, and instead set bit tougher questions in the compulsory English paper at mains level.

Shocker#2: CSAT is Pro-Engineer & Anti Humanities

(Ch3 Page46: Input From UPSC’s In-house Research Wing)

  • CSAT structure is not proper because humanities stream students cannot perform better in this system.
  • Only one cluster of science stream (=Engineers) enters the mains exam in this structure.
  • CSAT Paper II has raised doubts about the competence of non-math background and non-English background candidate in taking this exam successfully. Since contents of CSAT paper is not a part of general (humanities) curriculum, it has given edge to science background candidates.
  • The CSAT Paper-I (General studies) is difficult compared to paper-II (Aptitude test). The candidates who are good in general studies, are at disadvantage, because they can’t get any edge with general studies.
  • On the other side, candidates good in paper-II(Aptitude) gets advantage, & they can make though the exam even without much study of general studies.
  • Aspirants with Engineering background formed the major chunk of aspirants who qualified the prelims in the first attempt. (Ref. Ch3, Page54)

Annex-1, Page 151

  • The Preliminary Examination pattern introduced from CSE, 2011 seems to be skewed in favour of candidates from science background. Our endeavour should be to provide level playing field. There should be equal weightage in all the sub-sections.
  • In the CS (Main) Examination, candidates are mainly corning from science background. There is actually a testing of cramming capacity since the curriculum is too large.
  • We should try to have persons with basic skills like leadership quality. The compulsory papers suggested by the Alagh Committee are more relevant. E-governance should also be added in the scheme.

Shocker#3: UPSC members are more “reformist” than Nigvekar!

26/2/2012: Nigvekar interacts with UPSC members: Rajni Razdan, Alka Sirohi, KK Paul, Nirmal Sharma, et al. During the meeting, following suggestions came. ( as per Committee report Page135 onwards)

What UPSC members recommended What Nigvekar accepted in final recommendation
  1. Prelims and mains can be clubbed together. (= just one exam, and then interview)
  1. In UK and France, there are no optional subjects. We should follow the same method. (=remove optionals)
Nope. he kept one optional subject
  1. Remove the regional language paper.
nope. he recommended “count language paper makrs in final merit list”
  1. Age limit : 21-26
yes- actually went ahead and said 25 age
  1. Fix Minimum marks or percentile in graduation. Don’t let everyone apply for the prelims.
yes- minimum 50% in graduation
  1. Online prelims, score card with two years’ validity. (= senior player need not appear in prelims again).
agreed for online prelims but disagreed on two years’ validity!
  1. Review exam system after every five years.
  1. re-design interview system to assess the “SOFT QUALITIES” of candidates- e.g. emotional quotients, man management skills, and leadership qualities etc.
  1. Psychological testing of candidates- on the model of Defense institute of psychological research.

Anyways, let’s check the report:

Nigvekar Committee prelim CSAT reforms

Combine Prelims +Mains to reduce time span

(Input from UPSC members Rajni Razdan, Alka Sirohi, KK Paul et al, from Page135)

  • Combine prelims and Mains exam to reduce the time to conduct exam.
  • (Because) Time span of the exam should be compressed. This will attract youths from other professions to take the examination, who do not participate because of sacrifice of time.
  • Nigvekar himself: silent on whether he agrees or not.

Add more exam centers

(input from UPSC’s own research wing, Ch3.Page51)

  • The number of exanth ation centers for boili the civil services preliminary and mains exam should be increased, covering more tier II cities, so that the rural people can get easy access to the venue.

Nigvekar himself: silent on whether he agrees or not.

CSAT: there Need for Transparency

(Input from UPSC’s own research wing- from Page: 49)

  1. If possible Xerox copies of preliminary paper answer sheet should be provided to candidates. Some state public service commission have already adopted this system.
  2. Candidates marks must be displayed and cut off mark be shown. Use carbon copy answersheet sheets, so that candidates can take that copy along with them.
  3. Compulsory language paper in Civil Services Main examination should carry weightage in total marks. Because language gives insight about the society.

Nigvekar himself: silent on whether he agrees or not.

Conduct Prelims online to reduce time span

  1. UPSC should switch over to an on-line mode of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination in a time bound manner. (Because) Quite a few of the good candidates may not be interested to stay indefinitely in a selection process which is stretched too long. (Nigvekar himself on Page98)
  2. UPSC should critically and urgently examine, how the Preliminary Examination can be conducted on-line like the GRE/GMAT Examinations worldwide. Full use of modern technology should be made. ON line Preliminary Examination should be introduced by the UPSC as early as possible.

Nigvekar himself recommended in Ch6

Give Prelim score card with 2 year validity

(Input from UPSC’s own research wing- from Page48)

  • The Prelims can be made on-line with a validity of two years.
  • Candidates who once passed preliminary examination should not be required to appear in the same for next 2 attempts.
  • This will help candidates to prepare for the Civil Services (Main) Examination.
  • (similar suggestion from UPSC members as well)

Nigvekar himself silent on whether he agrees or not.

Why Minimum 50% in graduation?

Nigvekar recommends that people with less than 50% in graduation, should not be allowed to sit in UPSC exam. He explains the reasons in ch4, page 67 onwards

#1 toppers have more than 50%

  • From the statistical analysis of topper profiles from 2007-2011, it can be seen that almost all candidates who are successful in the CS (Main) examination have obtained more than 50% marks at the graduation level.
  • Keeping this in view, it is logical to prescribe a certain minimum standard in the graduation degree for determining the eligibility of candidates.
  • This would serve a twin purpose. First quite a few non serious candidates would be filtered out at the initial stage itself.
  • These would be those candidates who have, in any case, almost no chance of success in this fiercely fought competitive examination.
  • This would therefore reduce the number of candidates applying for this examination.

#2 Non serious junta (presumable) has bogus academic record

  • At present, only around 50% of the candidates who apply for the civil services examination actually appear in it. It is a fair assumption that most of the candidates who apply and then do not appear in the examination are non-serious candidates with probably low performance in their graduation level examination.
  • This would therefore reduce the logistic burden of the commission significantly.

#3: Juntaa shouldn’t prepare UPSC at the cost of College exams

  • More importantly, it would also be beneficial to these candidates since, instead of spending a huge amount of time, energy and resources for preparing for this examination, where their chances of success are minimal, they could more gainfully look for other career opportunities and avoid frustration.
  • This would also put more value on the University education system with candidates giving it due care and attention and applying themselves towards a better performance at the graduation level. The committee during its course of interaction with various persons got a positive feedback in this regard that there must be some minimum percentage of marks fixed to take care of the fact that the candidate has a consistent academic record.

One cycle of UPSC =15 months wasted

  1. The total time taken in the entire selection process is about 15 months at present.
  2. This is quite long and makes the entire selection process quite arduous as compared to any similar process offered in Private/Public Sector.
  3. This acts as a disincentive to some of the bright candidates and dissuade them from joining the civil services because of their financial compulsory and family responsibilities.


What eminent people suggested (in appendix of report) what Nigvekar accepted
combine prelim + mains nope
remove DAF form. Ask everything in prelim form itself. so that mains can be conducted immediately after prelim result. nope
minimum marks in graduation yes, 50%
conduct exam online yes

Download Full Report of Nigvekar

For the public record, I’ve uploaded entire report here:


But I don’t recommend you download his report (and waste your internet bandwidth). The reasons are following:

  1. Total 50 MB in size. Hardly *that* useful for exam.
  2. ch1 talks about evolution of civil service exam- from British Raj till now. The summary already available in 2nd ARC reports. This chapter contains deep Ph.D, that useless for studies (Even for Public Administration).
  3. ch2 talks about the recommendations of Committees before Nigvekar (Kothari, Khanna, Alagh etc. but their summary also available in 2nd ARC report- in more eye candy fonts. This pdf has bad quality. (Because UPSC itself gave low quality Xerox to me.)
  4. Ch3, 4, 5, 6 and annex 1 is/will be covered in my [Nigvekar] series four articles.
  5. Annex 2 deals with recruitment system in USA, France etc. = useless because that syllabus topic was helpful in MCQs of Public Administration prelims. But now prelims doesn’t have Public Administration or any other optional subjects.

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17 Comments on “[Nigvekar] Prelim Reforms: Less Comprehension in CSAT, Take Online exam, two years’ validity, transparency (Part 2 of 4)”

  1. I heard that prelims syllabus and mains syllabus will be same from this year onwards. Another back-breaking move by UPSC to reduce reliance on coaching centres. Now we will know the exact syllabus for prelims, of course including current affairs.

  2. धन्यवाद महोदय! CSAT के लिए आनलाइन परीक्षा होनी चाहिए।

  3. Sir why 50% in graduation. I like to tell you serious fact . when i was in my final year B.com. 2006 all question paper was leaked and published in Newspaper. I never took exam that particular year because there was major problem in our house. All my friends and some of them who never attend classes passed successfully. The university never bothered to stop and never showed any interest in giving re- exam.
    So everyone got 60 above.

    Mrunal sir please suggest me on this I have scored 40%. By following your blog from 2 years i am strictly preparing . I am not Ambani’s son or Narayan Murthy;’s son in law. why Mr Nigvekar cannot Understand problem like Us. Of course we cannot afford to go Delhi and study. To become good cricketer no need to go Lords and watch game.

    Sir Please suggest Me. I am tensed.

  4. I will never be able to understand why should minimum percentage is required? ? Is not upsc satisfied with their test format??
    Also ..online exams should be avoided after iims tryst with cat..

  5. prelims scorecard suggestion are OK and i definitely ignored the online suggestion because it is not comfortable and analysis the question paper because each and every questions i scroll the mouse and my eye concentrate whether the computer display or rough work paper. it is not time saving and most of the question i will left out then very important think is rural students are totally affected . I request the government please analysis the nigvekar report and take a decision to implement Don’t play the Indian youngsters life this is not a politics because most of the candidate coming from rural government school and college When the central government give the equal education for every citizen then u can do anything

  6. I dont think they can ever impliment minimum percentage in this paper.
    Reasons are as follows-:
    1. According to previous mrunal post the report of this nigvekar commitee was sent to government on oct 2012. So it means that whatever change govt had to accept it was implimented in 2013.
    2. Any change in this regard needs govt sanction. In this year govtcant afford to take such decision when they are relaxing the standards of age.
    3. If it is implemented it will sound against a certain section which will put fingers on upsc and govt.
    I secored 48% in my graduation this does not means that I am incompatible. As in words of gr8 mrunal bhai these uncle jis cant decide my fate in civil services.

  7. Could it be possible that this secret dossier that you un earthed caused the current mayhem.

    Some conspiracy theories say upsc made it all happen. All fabricated so they can bring in another round of change which were not allowed last time.

    Can we really see more ppl failing in mains compulsory exam after this?

    has upsc met it’s match or was it all calculated? to release this report.

    well what ever it is. the clock is ticking

  8. Is the latest chaos regarding csat really going to delay the pre exam this year?? Will this postponing of exam also mean the change in the exam pattern by any ways? When is this three member panel scheduled to submit its report?? Really confused…plz help..

  9. I think if CSAT is removed it will be level playing ground else its moreof pro-engineers and pro-english medium
    since so many comprehension question, for regional language studied student it is really set-back
    whether it is hindi or south language, both have to suffer
    i pray god please at least from 2015 there will no CSAT so that regional language student can keep the hope of becoming civil servant. By looking at some of the report regional language people are selected in negligible way since all regional language student are filtered out in the name of CSAT.

  10. DEAR Sir,Marks in Graduation should not be s criterion.I am an arts student.I studued in Calcutta Unuversity which is infamous for many reasons.I know a lot of good students who score less than 50% due to the lack of mugging skill.

  11. What’s the relation between knowledge and marks? Even if there are more students with 50+% in graduation who crack ias, what about those who didn’t score 50+% and were still able to crack it? Some are just late bloomers, some just cannot score because of the lame education system which focuses more on rattafication than knowledge and some who were forced to study a subject in which he/she wasn’t interested to begin with as parents in India think science is the most supreme subject. Akbar was a great administrator and he was an illiterate. First improvise our beloved education system so that it can produce more innovators than cows. Yes, many who score less than 50% are careless but people change with time. Moreover, Marking scheme of every university is different. Some are lenient while some are extremely strict.

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