Central Superior Services (CSS) Examination Pakistan

The Central Superior Services (CSS) examination is one of Pakistan’s most esteemed and competitive exams, designed to evaluate candidates’ merit, qualifications, and capability to serve as senior civil servants in the federal or provincial government. Administered by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC), the CSS exams serve as the gateway to prestigious careers in Pakistan’s bureaucracy.

Application and Examination Timeline

Application Period:

  • The application window for the CSS exams opens from September to October each year.

Examination Period:

  • The exams are conducted annually in February and March.

Candidate Statistics

  • Applicants: Over 100,000 candidates apply for the CSS exams each year.
  • Success Rate: Approximately 15% of the applicants pass the exams, meaning less than 15,000 candidates are selected annually to join the civil service.

CSS New Subject Groups 2025

In 2023, the CSS examination has updated its subject groups to better align with the evolving requirements of civil service roles and to provide a more comprehensive assessment of candidates’ skills and knowledge. Here is an expanded overview of the new subject groups introduced:

Group I: Compulsory Subjects

  • English Essay: Tests the ability to articulate thoughts coherently and logically.
  • English (Precis and Composition): Evaluates command over the English language.
  • General Science and Ability: Assesses basic scientific knowledge and quantitative/analytical skills.
  • Current Affairs: Gauges awareness of national and international events.
  • Pakistan Affairs: Tests knowledge about the history, culture, and politics of Pakistan.
  • Islamic Studies / Comparative Religion: Focuses on Islamic studies or comparative religion for non-Muslim candidates.

Group II: Optional Subjects

  • Business Administration
  • Public Administration
  • Governance and Public Policy
  • International Relations
  • Political Science
  • History of Pakistan and India
  • Islamic History and Culture
  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology
  • Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Law
  • International Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Environmental Science
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Economics
  • Statistics
  • Mathematics
  • Pure Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Anthropology
  • Criminology
  • Zoology
  • Botany
  • Agriculture and Forestry
  • Veterinary Science
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Political Philosophy
  • Urban and Regional Planning

Passing Criteria for the CSS Examination

The Central Superior Services (CSS) examination is highly competitive and requires candidates to meet specific passing criteria to progress through the stages of the selection process. Here’s a detailed explanation of the passing marks and the overall requirements to succeed in the CSS examination:

Written Examination

The CSS written examination consists of two types of subjects: compulsory and optional.

Compulsory Subjects:

  • Each compulsory subject requires a minimum passing mark of 40%.
  • There are six compulsory subjects:
    • Essay
    • English (Precis and Composition)
    • General Science and Ability
    • Current Affairs
    • Pakistan Affairs
    • Islamic Studies / Comparative Religion

Optional Subjects:

  • Each optional subject requires a minimum passing mark of 33%.
  • Candidates choose from a wide range of optional subjects grouped into various categories. The total marks for optional subjects are 600.

Aggregate Marks:

  • To be eligible for the interview stage, candidates must achieve an aggregate score of 600 marks out of a total of 1200 marks in the written examination.
  • This aggregate includes both compulsory and optional subjects.

Interview (Viva Voce)

The interview stage, also known as the Viva Voce, is crucial for the final selection and consists of 300 marks.

  • Interview Passing Marks: Candidates must pass the interview to be considered for allocation. No specific minimum mark is mentioned for passing the interview, but performing well in the interview significantly impacts the overall ranking and allocation.

Total Marks and Successful Candidates

  • Combined Total: The combined total for the CSS examination, including the written exam and interview, is 1500 marks (1200 for the written exam + 300 for the interview).
  • Successful Candidates: In recent times, candidates who score between 650 and 700 marks in the written examination and at least 150 marks in the interview tend to secure a place in the final list of successful candidates. These candidates generally find their names in the merit list and are allocated to various civil service groups based on their preferences and merit ranking.

Detailed Breakdown

  • Compulsory Subjects:
  • Total Marks: 600
  • Passing Marks: 240 (40% of 600)
  • Optional Subjects:
  • Total Marks: 600
  • Passing Marks: 198 (33% of 600)
  • Overall Written Exam:
  • Total Marks: 1200
  • Aggregate Passing Marks: 600
  • Interview (Viva Voce):
  • Total Marks: 300
  • Passing Marks: Not explicitly defined but must be passed to qualify.

Preparation Strategies

Subject Selection:

  • Choose optional subjects based on interest, background knowledge, and scoring trends.
  • Ensure a balanced selection to maximize marks.

Consistent Study Routine:

  • Develop a comprehensive study plan covering all compulsory and optional subjects.
  • Allocate specific times for revision and practice.

Practice and Revision:

  • Regularly solve past papers and take mock tests.
  • Focus on essay writing and precis writing to enhance skills.

Current Affairs:

  • Stay updated with national and international news.
  • Read newspapers, magazines, and online resources regularly.

Interview Preparation:

  • Improve communication and presentation skills.
  • Participate in mock interviews and group discussions.
  • Be well-versed with current issues, personal background, and subject knowledge.

Study Material:

  • Focus on recommended books, research papers, and reliable online resources.
  • Regularly read newspapers and current affairs magazines.

Coaching and Guidance:

  • Join coaching centers if necessary for structured preparation.
  • Seek guidance from successful candidates and mentors.


  • Solve past papers and take mock exams to get a feel of the actual test environment.
  • Practice essay writing and precis writing regularly.

Time Management:

  • Develop a study schedule that covers all subjects adequately.
  • Allocate more time to weaker areas and revise regularly.

By adhering to these guidelines and understanding the new subject groups, candidates can enhance their preparation and increase their chances of success in the CSS examinations.