‘Sir, will the exam be postponed’

COVID-19 Top story

UPSC Civil Services Examination candidates are apprehensive the exam will be put off because of the Covid-19 situation

Shoby Krishna G

Candidates preparing for Civil Services Examination 2020, scheduled to be held on May 31, are unsure whether the exam will be held as planned or deferred like other competitive exams.

Jayasree TM, an aspirant who is preparing for her fourth attempt, shared: “Owing to the lockdown, many (candidates) have moved to their homes from hostels. They don’t have access to coaching institutes.” Uncertainty over the exam being held on schedule has added to their tension.

“Before the coronavirus situation, I used to study for 12 hours; now, I study for just eight hours. I’m taking time to meditate and stargaze so that I can handle the stress.”

On the other hand, Lavanya A, a fresher who graduated last year and is going to give her first attempt in 2020, said: “UPSC aspirants are used to being in quarantine mode, with or without coronavirus, as they confine themselves in a room or study hall for preparation. But the new disruption is that many students who are in their homes do not have all the books. This is hindering their preparation.”

The uncertainty has led to the students’ rigorous preparation phase suffering.

Dr Divya T, who gave up working as a dentist after two attempts to prepare for the exam full time, has a different take. “I have been preparing from my home in Tamil Nadu for a few months. This will be my fifth attempt. So the Covid-19 situation has changed nothing with respect to exam preparation. People staying in hostels may have problems with respect to food availability and other issues,” she shared.

“I would be glad if the exam was postponed as more time will be available for revision. I am preparing with the thought that the exam won’t be deferred.”

Ganesh Kumar P, who worked as a freelance teacher in a coaching institute in Chennai, is preparing for the exam from New Delhi. “Some of my students have been calling me as they are worried whether the exam will be conducted as per schedule. As an aspirant, I feel my productivity has plummeted due to the psychological impact of staying away from home. Usually, during the month before the exam, I go to coaching institutes twice a week to write subject-wise mock tests. But due to the lockdown, that has not been possible,” he said.

Ramnivas R, who gave up preparing for the exam after clearing the Mains twice, said: “The Covid-19 situation has put everyone in jeopardy.” Students’ preparation is affected. Many students, especially first-timers, are anxious about the examination. They all have the same question: “Sir, will the exam be postponed?”

Ramnivas added: “In these times, UPSC must take students into confidence and engage them. It must communicate well with the aspirants so that they are aware that UPSC cares for them.”

The Civil Services Exam, consisting of three stages – Preliminary, Mains and Personality test – is conducted annually. UPSC, in a public notice, announced that Personality tests for the candidates who qualified the Mains examination 2019 have been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The final results for 2019 will be announced after the completion of the Personality test.

On April 11, The Print quoted a senior official from UPSC saying that it was still too early to decide on postponement.

Vaishanvi Shankar, managing partner of Shankar IAS Academy, said: “Ten days of the interview is still left, only after which the final results for 2019 will be announced. The chances for UPSC to conduct a Preliminary exam for 2020 without releasing earlier results are very remote. To our knowledge, we haven’t had a situation like this. Even when there were floods in Chennai in December 2015, the Mains exam was not postponed.”

On April 10, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted about the candidates’ apprehensions and tagged minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions Jitendra Singh, under whom UPSC functions, seeking a clarification.


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