There has been changes in the way UPSC preliminary examination is conducted. Earlier, the pattern included one General Studies paper and one Optional paper. The optional paper was as per the students choice. The main problem with such a system was varying levels of difficulties in different optional paper, which often led to confusion and UPSC had to ‘scale up‘ an under-performing optional and ‘scale-down‘ an over-performing optional to ensure justice to all students. However, the question which never was answered is ‘How did UPSC decide which subject to ‘scale-up’ or ‘scale-down‘ ? Another painful fact is, they never release any data which can help students assess their performance.
Even an RTI will not yield expected result. This always left an element of doubt in the minds of those students who believed they had done well, but did not manage to clear the preliminary level exams to go to the next level. Even the CIC had directed UPSC to reveal the marks list of all candidates, but UPSC did nothing about it.
But now, with the introduction of CSAT, everyone’s on the same level playing field. CSAT – CSE too has two papers:
1> Paper 1 – General Studies 1 (100 questions),
2> Paper 2 – General Studies 2 (80 questions).
Both papers are for 200 marks each. Every student who competes in the exam gets the same question and there is no more scope for ‘scaling-up’ or ‘scaling-down’ anymore.
There were some flaws in the previous methods of conducting preliminary exams, which is evident and which is why there were reforms. Now after the reforms, since everyone is on the same level playing field, I think from now on UPSC should try and release the marks-list of all candidates.
A lot of State Public Service Commissions already release the data, for example Karnataka Public Service Commission releases Key answers once the exams are done, and they also entertain corrections if something is wrong.
It’ll be in students interest if UPSC follows the same pattern. It’ll at the least help students evaluate themselves and understand where they stand in the crowd. I only hope this change comes in at the earliest.