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.

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:

  • CE CSS MPT
  • 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:

Subject Syllabus Marks
Islamic Studies/Civics & Ethics* Islamic Studies Basics 20
Urdu Grammar Usage, Translation 20
English Vocabulary, Grammar Usage, Comprehension 50
General Abilities Basic Arithmetic, Algebra & Geometry, Logical Problem Solving & Analytical Abilities, Mental Abilities 60
General Knowledge Everyday Science, Current Affairs, Pakistan Affairs 50

 

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 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:

 

Activity Timeline
Advance Public Notice regarding the schedule of CSS 2023 1st July 2022
Advertisement regarding the schedule and receipt of online applications for MPT CSS 2023 7th August 2022
Receipt of online application for MPT CSS 2023 8th August to 22nd August 2022
Reservation of halls  10th September 2022
MPT/screening test and posting of answer key 2nd October 2022 
Announcement of MPT result 17th October 2022
Advertisement for written exam 30th October 2022 
Receipt of online applications from MPT qualifiers 30th October to 14th November 2022 
Receipt of hard copy of online application along with documents Until 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:

Karachi Bahawalpur D. G. Khan
Lahore D. I. Khan Faisalabad
Islamabad Okara Gujranwala
Peshawar Rawalpindi Sialkot
Abbottabad Sargodha Multan
Gilgit Muzaffarabad Sukkur
Khuzdar Quetta Hyderabad
Skardu Larkana  

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:

Activity Fee (PKR)
Written exam 2200
Re-counting of 1 paper 500
Medical board  1400
Medical examination 100

 

For more information, you can visit the official FPSC website and download the CSS guide.

For more informative articles, visit the Graana blog.