A Guide to the CSS Exam in Pakistan

Pictire showing students in CSS exam room

Every year, thousands of individuals from different educational backgrounds prepare for the CSS exam to join a government department and serve the country.

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Graana.com has compiled a comprehensive guide to taking the CSS exam in Pakistan below – including its rules and regulations, process, timeline etc. – according to the latest nomenclature.


What Is the CSS Exam?


Image showing CSS Exam letters


The Central Superior Services (CSS) Exam is conducted by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) for the recruitment of candidates as gazetted officers to hold BPS-17 positions in a certain department.

The candidates go through a defined process and, after they qualify, they are asked to join different services under the Federal Government.


Services Under Federal Government Through CSS Exams

The following are 12 federal government departments where candidates are generally posted after they qualify for the CSS exams:

  • Foreign Service of Pakistan
  • Pakistan Administrative Service
  • Police Service of Pakistan
  • Inland Revenue Service of Pakistan
  • Pakistan Customs Services
  • Commerce & Trade Group
  • Information Services of Pakistan
  • Military Lands & Cantonment Group
  • Office Management and Secretariat Group
  • Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service
  • Postal Group
  • Railways (Commercial & Transport) Group


CSS Competitive Exam Eligibility Criteria

In order to appear in the CSS exam, candidates must fulfil the following eligibility criteria.

Nationality: Pakistani National

Education: Bachelor’s degree with at least 2nd division from any Pakistani or foreign university recognised by HEC

Age Limit: 21-30 years with a 2-year upper age relaxation (32 years)


CSS Exam Structure

Previously, the CSS exam comprised four steps. However, due to a large number of candidates, FPSC decided to change the structure of the CSS exam recently and add a screening test.

It now consists of 5 steps, which are as follows:

  • Theory Test
  • Medical Test
  • Psychological Test
  • Viva Voce

Let’s discuss these steps in detail.


CSS MCQs-Based Preliminary Test (MPT)

According to the new CSS CE Rules 2020, an MCQs-based preliminary test (MPT) has been introduced for screening candidates for the competitive CSS exam. The test comprises 200 MCQs, each of one mark.

The following table shows the division of marks according to 5 different subjects:

Islamic Studies/Civics & Ethics*Islamic Studies Basics20
UrduGrammar Usage, Translation20
EnglishVocabulary, Grammar Usage, Comprehension50
General AbilitiesBasic Arithmetic, Algebra & Geometry, Logical Problem Solving & Analytical Abilities, Mental Abilities60
General KnowledgeEveryday Science, Current Affairs, Pakistan Affairs50


There is no negative marking and the candidates are required to score at least 33 marks. The MPT test is valid for only that specific year’s CSS exam.


MPT Eligibility Criteria

Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in any CSS subject with at least a second division are eligible to apply for CSS MPT. 


Theory Test

After a candidate has passed the MPT test, he or she is eligible to apply for the major part of the CSS exam, which is the theory test. Consisting of 12 papers (with 6 compulsory subjects and 6 optional), the test is spread over the duration of a week.

For each compulsory subject, the candidates need at least 40% marks and, for each optional subject, 33%. The FPSC has a list of optional subjects, each of different marks. Candidates can choose the subjects according to their educational qualifications.


Compulsory Subjects

The following table enlists the 6 compulsory subjects according to the division of marks:


Table showing distribution of marks according to subjects


General Science and Ability, Current Affairs, and Pakistan Affairs are usually grouped under the General Knowledge category. These three subjects are to be passed collectively by scoring 120 marks out of 300.


Optional Subjects

FPSC has divided the optional subjects into 7 different categories for a comprehensive distribution of the marks. The following is a list of these groups and the division of marks:


Group 1

These 5 subjects carry 200 marks each. Candidates can opt for 1 subject from this group.


Table showing marks distribution of Group 1


Group 2

The group consists of 6 subjects, with 2 subjects carrying 200 marks each and 4 of 100 marks each. Candidates can opt for 1 subject from this group.


Table showing Group 3 Marks Distribution


Group 3

This consists of 4 subjects, each carrying 100 marks. Candidates can opt for 1 subject from this group.


Table showing Group 3 marks distribution


Group 4

This group contains 5 subjects, each carrying 100 marks. Candidates can opt for 1 subject from this group.


Table showing Group 4 marks distribution


Group 5

This group consists of 7 subjects, each carrying 100 marks. Candidates can opt for 1 subject from this group.


Table showing Group 5 Marks Distribution


Group 6

This group also consists of 7 subjects, each carrying 100 marks. Candidates can opt for only 1 subject from this group.

Table showing Group 6 Marks Distribution


Group 7

This group contains 11 subjects, and each subject carries 100 marks. Candidates can opt for only 1 subject from this group.


Table showing Group 7 marks distribution


Medical Test

All the candidates are required to go through a complete medical examination and submit the reports to the CSS committee. Candidates who fail to meet the medical requirements are usually not recommended for the next step.

However, specially-abled candidates with visual, hearing, or speech impairments are allowed to take the CSS exams. Those with permanent visual impairment are aided by a helper (writer) at their special request. Moreover, visually impaired candidates are provided extra 15 minutes per hour during the test.

However, the Federal or Provincial Council for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons is required to verify the data before any such approval. 

Most CSS officers recommend a medical examination from a well-reputed medical centre before the test appearance.


Psychological Test

All those candidates who qualify for the viva voce are required to clear a psychological test where their attitude, personality, and abilities are assessed according to the requirements of the job. Keeping in view their aptitude for civil services, candidates must go through written tests and group assignments.

The psychological test does not carry any separate marks; however, the 300 marks of viva voce do take the psychological assessment of the candidates into account. Candidates not appearing in the psychological test are not recommended for the viva voce.


Viva Voce

To determine the suitability of the candidates who have cleared their written, medical, and psychological tests, a viva voce is conducted. The test usually carries 300 marks.

Candidates are assessed based on their moral and ethical qualities, alertness of the mind, intelligence, vigour and strength of character, and potential leadership qualities.

The candidates are expected to answer a few basic questions about Islam, Pakistan, and related subjects. Questions related to academic and extramural interests are also asked.

Candidates are required to secure at least 100 marks out of 300.


How to Apply for the CSS Competitive Exam?

The application process for CSS competitive exams is now easy as FPSC has introduced an online portal. The procedure consists of the following 5 stages:

Stage 1: Registration of the applicant 

Stage 2: Create/edit the profile of the applicant on the system

Stage 3: Applying online

Stage 4: Printing of computer-generated pre-filled form

Stage 5: Dispatch of computer-generated pre-filled form


Documents Required by FPSC

Once the candidates have registered online on the FPSC portal, they are required to apply online for the exam. After completing the online form, candidates have to print the pre-filled form and dispatch it to the FPSC office with the following documents:

  • Original bank treasury receipt
  • Recent 04 passport size photographs
  • Attested copy of CNIC
  • Attested copy of Matriculation Certificate showing date of birth (Provisional Certificate/Result Card/Marks Sheet is not acceptable)
  • Attested copy of Intermediate Certificate. Provisional Certificate/ Result Card/Marks Sheet is not acceptable
  • Attested copy of the degree(s)
  • Attested copy of self-domicile certificate
  • Certificate to be produced for candidates belonging to scheduled caste/Buddhist community 
  • Certificate for candidates from Provincial/Federal Tribal Areas and those belonging to Gilgit-Baltistan
  • Certificate from Kashmir Affairs Division for Azad Kashmir nationals
  • Certificate for minorities
  • Departmental Permission Certificate for government servants
  • In the case of ex-employees of the Pakistan Armed Forces, a No Objection Certificate from the relevant authority is required
  • In the case of disabled candidates, a certificate of disability from the competent authority is required


CSS 2022-2023 Exam Schedule

After introducing the new pattern, FPSC has released a timeline of all the important dates and activities related to CSS 2022-2023.

The following table enlists all these with their dates:


Advance Public Notice regarding the schedule of CSS 20231st July 2022
Advertisement regarding the schedule and receipt of online applications for MPT CSS 20237th August 2022
Receipt of online application for MPT CSS 20238th August to 22nd August 2022
Reservation of halls 10th September 2022
MPT/screening test and posting of answer key2nd October 2022 
Announcement of MPT result17th October 2022
Advertisement for written exam30th October 2022 
Receipt of online applications from MPT qualifiers30th October to 14th November 2022 
Receipt of hard copy of online application along with documentsUntil 24th November 2022
CSS Written Examination 2023 (commencement date)1st February 2023 


Cities Where Written CSS Exam Will Be Conducted

FPSC has designated exam centres across Pakistan. The following table enlists all those cities:

KarachiBahawalpurD. G. Khan
LahoreD. I. KhanFaisalabad

Instructions for Change of Test Centre

If a candidate wants to change his or her written exam centre, he/she can apply through the online portal.

However, approval of the CSS committee is essential before the candidate formally receives any confirmation about any change in their centre.


Cities for Interview

CSS interviews are usually conducted in 5 FPSC designated centres in 5 major cities:

  • Islamabad
  • Karachi
  • Lahore
  • Peshawar
  • Quetta


Fee Structure

The basic application fee for CSS competitive exam is pretty low; however, for different stages and activities, FPSC has provided the following fee structure:

ActivityFee (PKR)
Written exam2200
Re-counting of 1 paper500
Medical board 1400
Medical examination100



Here are some FAQs related to CSS Exam in Pakistan


What is the qualification for the CSS exam?

The qualification for the CSS exam is a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university or institution.


How many marks are required for the CSS exam?

To qualify for the CSS exam, candidates must achieve a minimum passing score set by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC), which administers the exam.


What are the CSS subjects?

The CSS exam covers a wide range of subjects including but not limited to English Essay, English (Precis & Composition), General Science & Ability, Current Affairs, Pakistan Affairs, Islamic Studies, and a variety of optional subjects.


Is the CSS test hard?

The CSS test is known to be challenging due to its comprehensive nature and competitive environment. It requires thorough preparation and a deep understanding of various subjects.


What is the salary of a CSS officer in Pakistan?

The salary of a CSS officer in Pakistan varies depending on the grade and position. CSS officers are appointed to various government departments and can earn a competitive salary along with additional benefits and allowances.


Which subject is considered the best in CSS?

The choice of the best subject in CSS varies according to individual interests, strengths, and career aspirations. Popular subjects among CSS aspirants include International Relations, Public Administration, and Law, among others.


How can I prepare for CSS at home?

CSS exam preparation at home requires a disciplined study routine, comprehensive study materials, and practice of past papers. Self-study, online resources, and joining virtual study groups or coaching centers can also aid in preparation.


What is the hardest topic in CSS?

The perception of the hardest topic in CSS varies from person to person, as it depends on individual strengths and weaknesses. However, subjects like Mathematics, Statistics, and abstract concepts in certain optional subjects are often considered challenging.


Does CSS have scope?

Yes, CSS offers a wide range of career opportunities and scope in Pakistan. CSS officers can be appointed to various government positions, including administrative, diplomatic, police, and taxation services, among others, allowing for diverse professional growth and impact.


For more informative articles, visit the Graana blog.

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