e general trend of last few years has shown us that there has been a clear shift in the way candidates from different backgrounds have been performing in the civil services examination. In fact, if we go by the data provided by UPSC in their annual reports, we can clearly see that candidates from technical background, especially engineers have dominated the IAS examination from 2010 onwards. You can read more about it here.
IAS aspirants from across the country have been wondering about this recent trend but are unable to evaluate the key reasons or factors, which may have led to this phenomenon. Below, we shall try to evaluate the same and find out the 5 key reasons help engineers to crack the UPSC Civil Services (IAS) Examination easily.
CSAT – Civil Services Aptitude Test
The key factor which has triggered the interested of candidates from technical backgrounds, especially engineers in the civil services examination has to be the CSAT prelims format. CSAT which expands to Civil Services Aptitude Test was introduced by the UPSC in 2011.
Prior to the implementation of 2011, the IAS prelims exam was conducted on the basis of recommendation of Kothari Commission. It comprised of a general studies paper of 150 marks and an optional paper of 300 marks. However, UPSC implemented CSAT format for IAS prelims exam in 2011, which was aimed at testing the logical reasoning, analytical ability and English language prowess of the candidates. Currently, the IAS prelims stage consists of two compulsory papers i.e., CSAT I and CSAT II which carry weight of 200 marks each.
Candidates from humanities background have complained that the CSAT has been designed by technocrats in such a manner that it would favour candidates from technical backgrounds. In fact, the entire premise on which CSAT has been designed is inspired from GMAT, CAT, XAT MBA entrance tests, which rely heavily on technical skills of a candidate. The impact of CSAT favouring civil services aspirants from engineering background can be clearly seen in the rise in the success ratios displayed in table 2 above.
Lack of lucrative employment opportunities in engineering domain
While many may choose to ignore this fact, but it is one of the many reasons that has pushed engineering graduates to look for career opportunities in alternative fields. With engineering colleges sprouting almost in every major city and town of the country, the influx of engineering graduates is not in sync with the core engineering jobs being generated in the country. In addition to this, the quality of engineering education in the country under scrutiny as many technology firms have stated that the Indian engineering graduates do not have the necessary skills to be employable. Even those who are being hired or placed through campus placements do not enjoy remuneration as commanded by their peers abroad. In addition to this, due to the evolutionary nature of technology, not many engineers are able to keep up with the latest happenings and develop necessary skill sets required for long term and stable employment.
All these factors combined have compelled engineers to look for lucrative and stable career options in alternative domains apart from the field of engineering, especially in public sector undertakings. The impact of this can be clearly seen in the banking sector, which has seen a significant increase in the number of engineers joining banking industry latterly. On similar lines, engineers have also come to dominate the civil services and IAS examination in last 5 years. Looking at the current trend, this phenomenon is likely to continue for the next decade.
Availability of Humanities subjects as optional
Traditionally, subjects related to humanities stream have been termed as the scoring subjects in the IAS exam with high success ratio. Despite the rise in the number of candidates from technical backgrounds taking up civil services, this trend has continued to be true as denoted in table 3. In fact, majority of the engineering clearing the civil services examination have chosen humanities subjects as their optional for the IAS main examination. Having sound technical background and picking a ‘high scoring’ optional subject from humanities gives them the double sided advantage as they are comfortable in handling questions from both spheres.
For the benefit of candidates, we have listed the top 10 optional subjects for IAS main examination 2013 below:
Having not only the basic understanding but in-depth knowledge of technical as well as humanities subjects surely acts as an added advantage for the candidates leading to outstanding results.
Experience of appearing for competitive examination
Another very important factor that acts in favour of engineers who appear for the civil services examination is their familiarity and experience with competitive examination. Majority of the engineering graduates would have had to go through some or the other national or state level engineering entrance examination to secure admission to their respective engineering colleges. In fact, JEE Main and JEE Advanced, which are the cornerstone of engineering entrance examinations in India is conducted to shortlist and recruit candidates to the premier IITs and NITs across India. Similarly, popular private engineering colleges like BITS Pilani also have BITSAT to grant admissions. Moreover, all respective state governments have started conducing entrance examinations for allotment of engineering seats to aspirants.
On the other end, when it comes to humanities students, they are generally provided admission to even the most reputed universities and colleges on the basis of the merit list. This merit list is prepared on the basis of their marks in qualifying examinations which is mostly Class 12 Board examination. Therefore, apart from the regular board examinations, candidates from humanities background do not have any prior experience of taking up any national level competitive examination.
In short, the majority of engineering graduates taking up UPSC IAS exam would have some level of familiarity with competitive examinations which acts as a very viable advantage in their favor.
Being from a technical academic background, it is quite normal for engineering students to have a more tech-savvy nature. This stems from the fact that the engineering syllabus is designed in such a manner that promotes objective thinking and pin-pointed mindset to exam preparation. In other words, they have better deductive reasoning that aids in better understanding of the syllabus and examination pattern of IAS exam. So, when it comes to preparation for IAS exam, engineering graduates are able to pick up topics and points that are most relevant from examination perspective and provide pin-pointed answers for the questions.
On the other side of the spectrum, students from humanities background are known more to have an analytical mindset. Their academic syllabus and examination pattern at graduation level is also designed from a point of view, wherein they have to refer vast amount of reference material to form one viable answer. As we are all aware, the UPSC syllabus is so extensive that such an approach to studying doesn’t serve the purposes and acts as a disadvantage for the aspirants.
These are just some of the most common reasons because of which engineers have started dominating IAS examination not only in terms of the overall participation but also when it comes to success ratio. If you think, we missed out any other relevant reasons, do let us know.