ISLAMABAD: The Federal Public Service Commission’s (FPSC) recently published report – comprising observations of examiners who evaluated written papers in the Central Superior Services (CSS) exams of 2016 – paints a dismal picture of candidates’ level of scholarship as well as educational institutions’ level of instruction.
“Below average, unnecessary details, attempting paper without preparation, poor writing skills, lack of critical thinking, inappropriate expressions and failing to understand the question(s),” are some of the common observations of the examiners who went through answer sheets of candidates.
The report released earlier this week discusses the discrepancies and failures of the education system besides offering its suggestions.
In 2016, as many as 9,643 candidates sat the CSS written examination. However, only 202, or 2.09% of them, qualified which is the lowest percentage of successful students since 2011.
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The subject of English continued to haunt the candidates as the examiners found it to be the hardest nut to crack. Among the three compulsory subjects – Essay, English (précis and composition) and Islamic studies – the first two turned out to be seriously disappointing for the examiners.
About 7,841 candidates or 81% of the total candidates failed In English Essay.
“The performance [of candidates] was unsatisfactory; ideas were random and the argument was without any logical reasoning or research-based facts,” the report says.
The examiners also observe that neither there was any coherence nor creativity in answers and the candidates were not able to build argument from multiple angles with substantiated facts.
In English Composition, some basic mistakes were made related to tenses, capitalisation, punctuation and spelling. About 8,894 (92%) candidates could not pass the paper.
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The examiners underline that it was imperative to communicate to institutions of higher education to take appropriate measures to enhance English language proficiency at the graduate level.
Most of the candidates attempted the Agriculture and Forestry without any preparation and scored zero out of 80 marks. “Many [candidates] could not write even a few lines on grain management or environmentally controlled poultry houses”.
In Balochi, performance of 70% of candidates was weak. They lacked analytical and creative writing skills while the candidates had done selective study in the case of Chemistry and had given unsatisfactory answers.
Interestingly, most candidates performed well in Anthropology and Criminology. Candidates had, however, poor understanding of European History. They used inappropriate expressions and demonstrated poor writing skills.
“Some of the deficiencies were that the candidates either did not know how to attempt the question paper or lacked in-depth knowledge and understanding of subject,” it says.
It notes that most candidates could not establish connection between the ideas of French philosophers and the French revolution and they rarely touched the real point.
In the paper of Economics, 80% candidates fared poorly; their approach was non-serious and they appeared in the paper without serious preparation. It says they mostly relied on their general knowledge instead of understanding nature of questions.
The evaluators of English Literature paper observed that there was a tendency in majority of the candidates to reproduce summaries of specified texts. “Many candidates despite having understanding of the subject were not able to express themselves.”
With regard to Governance and Public Policy paper, the examiners recommend that candidates should consult proper text or recommended books instead of relying on their own observations or analyses or just the newspapers.
Interestingly, any candidates did not understand what was meant by ‘rational’ in the context of International Relations while commonality of content and similar mistakes indicated that a number of candidates had attended coaching classes from specific centres.