Published: 07th January 2021
APPSC exams go digital to do away with answer sheets, candidates to take up test on tablets
The Commission has also made it simpler and easier for the candidates by introducing a one-time registration process for applying to all notified posts based on their qualifications
Government job aspirants in Andhra Pradesh will take up the APPSC recruitment tests using tablets, thanks to the new digital initiative to do away with answer sheets.
The Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) has virtually revolutionised the examination process for various state government cadre posts by going fully digital.
Tablets have replaced the conventional question papers for recruitment tests related to Group-1, Group-2, Group-3 and other cadres in the state government and the written answer sheets of Group-1 mains are scanned and digitally evaluated.
The Commission has also made it simpler and easier for the candidates by introducing a one-time registration process for applying to all notified posts based on their qualifications.
Impressed by its neighbour's initiative, the Tamil Nadu government decided to emulate the APPSC in conducting its own recruitment tests.
"This is the first time in the country that we have revolutionized the whole process by going paperless and introducing online examinations. The new system ensures complete transparency, leaving no scope for any malpractice, while also eliminating a lot of logistics burden connected with the recruitment exams," APPSC Secretary P S R Anjaneyulu, IPS said.
"On Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy's directions, we studied the pattern followed by institutions like IIT and IIM in conducting the examinations. We then streamlined our recruitment process to remove the problems encountered previously. We have thus come up with the path-breaking digital initiatives like carbonless OMR barcoded answer sheets for objective type exams," Anjaneyulu, who devised the new system, explained.
Importantly, it also cuts down vastly on the time taken to complete the recruitment examinations and leaves little room for possible litigation.
The APPSC has outsourced prime tasks like question paper setting to an internationally reputed professional agency, with anonymity being the key.
The agency is also responsible for fixing the examination centres, mapping the candidates and supplying them with Tabs under the direct supervision of the Commission authorities.
On average, about 60,000 candidates appear for the Group-1 preliminary exam and about 10,000 for the mains.
For Group-2 and others, the number will be over two lakh.
Hitherto, upon issuing a notification for any recruitment, the Commission used to appoint professors from different universities in the country for setting up the question papers.
The question paper manuscripts were then moderated and translated into Telugu and other necessary languages before they are printed.
Different sets of question papers were required to be printed and the actual one used to be selected by draw of lots on the day of the examination.
"Dispatching these question papers in sealed cartons in large numbers to the districts with police security and then keeping them in safe custody and finally delivering them to the exam centres all this was an onerous task. All these risks are eliminated in the digital mode and complete security and transparency is ensured as there is no scope for any leakage at any stage," Anjaneyulu said.
The question papers are set by subject experts chosen at random, who remain anonymous.
The question paper lands on the (exam) centre server at 9.50 am and the hall server at 9.55 am from where it finally lands on the candidates' Tabs dot on time at 10 am, who gets to open it using a password.
At the end of the stipulated time, the server shuts down and the questions vanish, marking the completion of the test.
"Anonymity (of those setting the question paper) and confidentiality in every step like moderation, preparation of answer keys and finalization of objections, if any, are the most critical aspects of the whole process. The Commission staff work in close coordination with the outsourcing agency and constantly monitor the activities at every stage to ensure timelines are adhered to," the Secretary added.
"Since this is the first-of-its-kind initiative in any Public Service Commission in the country, we have detailed the process to the Union Public Service Commission seeking its suggestions for any improvement. Our objective is to conduct the recruitments in the best manner possible and meet the standards set by the UPSC," Anjaneyulu said.