Conceding the demand of civil services aspirants for more time to adapt to the changes effected in the Civil Services examination pattern in March 2013, the government on Monday approved two additional attempts for all candidates with effect from the current year.
A Department of Personnel and Training order issued on Monday said the Central government had approved “two additional attempts for all categories of candidates w.e.f Civil Services Examination, 2014, with consequential age relaxation of maximum age for all categories of candidates, if required”.
The relaxation in number of attempts comes as a relief to lakhs of aspirants aggrieved by the “sudden” change by the UPSC in the pattern and syllabus for the Civil Services Mains exam 2013. The UPSC had notified the revised pattern on March 5 last year, doubling the number of papers for General Studies and substantially increasing its weightage vis-a-vis optional subjects, months ahead of the Mains 2013 exam.
Incidentally, a group of civil services aspirants had recently protested outside Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s residence against the short notice given to them to adapt to the “drastic changes” in the Mains exam pattern. They had demanded three extra attempts and a relaxation of three years in the age limit. On January 30, Gandhi met a delegation of these aspirants and agreed that their grievance regarding the pattern change was justified. He assured them that steps would be taken to redress the grievance.
Civil services candidates, who now get just four attempts to write the prestigious exam, will now get six attempts. OBC category candidates, who are allowed seven attempts as per the rules, can now take the exam nine times. There is no cap anyway on attempts by a candidate of the SC/ST category.
There have been precedents of UPSC allowing extra attempts in view of major changes in the exam pattern. In 1979, when the pattern was revised substantially, UPSC had allowed three fresh attempts to all otherwise eligible candidates, irrespective of the number of prior attempts.
The Civil Services Examination (Preliminary), 2014 is tentatively scheduled to be held on August 24 this year.
A general category candidate who has attained the age of 21 years but not attained 30 years may apply for the civil services examination, as per eligibility mentioned in the notification. The upper age limit is relaxable up to a maximum of five years for candidates belonging to SCs or STs categories and up to a maximum of three years for candidates of OBC category.