A third timer myself, I wholeheartedly agree that the Civil Services examination system favours rote learners (“Only crammers need apply,” Nov. 24). It may be useful to bring home certain other aspects. First, the counting of regional languages as optionals for the mains. Language answer scripts are valued by experts from respective regions. This results in higher marks for these options when compared to options like, say, Sociology and Political Science. At the final stage, seven panels conduct the interview resulting in subjective variations in the marks. It is not the lack of dedicated youth but the lack of an updated evaluation method that obstructs governance.

Uma Gokul, Ernakulam

The Civil Service Main exam, as designed and conducted now, not only does not address the UPSC’s vision but also extends an undeserved and undesirable advantage to crammers and speed-scribes over candidates with superior intellectual understanding. The latter would need reasonable time to imbibe the essence of the questions, recall and synthesise the concepts, and organise the answers. It is time the Main Examination format was modified.

K.A. Kumar, Thiruvananthapuram

I agree that the candidates are not given enough time to answer the questions. In this year’s Mains, for instance, each question was unique. Almost everyone I spoke to said he or she had found it difficult to give facts and opinions for each question. That said, there are no source materials from where one can blindly lift opinions and arguments. In fact, the worst affected this year will be those who followed the coaching centres. 800 out of 2000 may be mediocre marks in school exams but in the Civil Services examination, it is a reasonably good score.

E. Sundaravathanan, Gudiyattam

Choosing the best possible set of words from the flux of ideas flowing in the mind, that too in a short period of time, is also a test of a candidate's ability to write his or her opinion instantly. A complete test of one’s thinking is taken care of by the essay in the Mains exam.

Gopalkrishna, Mysore

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Only crammers need apply November 24, 2012

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