Criteria for CSS Essays

The Central Superior Services (CSS) examination conducted by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) of Pakistan is a competitive exam for recruitment to posts in the civil service of Pakistan. One of the key components of this exam is the essay paper. The criteria for evaluating CSS essays are stringent and require candidates to demonstrate a high level of proficiency in several areas. Below are the detailed criteria used by the FPSC for assessing CSS essays:

1. Understanding of the Topic

A clear understanding of the topic is fundamental. Candidates must demonstrate that they fully grasp the essence of the essay prompt. Misinterpreting the topic can lead to off-point arguments, resulting in significant markdowns.

  • Relevance: Every part of the essay should relate directly to the topic. Irrelevant content can be detrimental.
  • Depth of Understanding: Demonstrating insight into the nuances and complexities of the topic is crucial.

2. Structure and Organization

The essay must have a coherent structure, containing 2500 to 3000 words. This includes a clear introduction, a well-organized body, and a concise conclusion.

  • Introduction: The introduction should outline the main argument or thesis of the essay. It should set the stage for what follows.
  • Body: The main body should be divided into clear paragraphs, each dealing with a specific point or argument. Logical flow and cohesion between paragraphs are important.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion should summarize the main points and restate the thesis in light of the discussion.

3. Content and Argumentation

The content must be rich, relevant, and well-researched. Candidates should present arguments logically and substantiate them with evidence.

  • Argumentation: Each argument should be logically sound and supported by facts, examples, or citations where appropriate.
  • Evidence: Proper evidence should be used to back up claims. This could include data, quotations, and real-world examples.
  • Balance: Different perspectives on the issue should be considered. Showing an understanding of counterarguments and addressing them strengthens the essay.

4. Critical Analysis and Insight

Beyond presenting information, candidates must analyze and critique it.

  • Analysis: Essays should not just describe but analyze issues. This involves breaking down complex topics and discussing their implications.
  • Insight: Original thought and insight are highly valued. This could involve identifying underlying issues, suggesting novel solutions, or providing a unique perspective.

5. Language Proficiency

Proficiency in the English language is critical. This includes grammar, vocabulary, and overall fluency.

  • Grammar and Syntax: Correct use of grammar and proper sentence structure are essential. Grammatical errors can detract significantly from the essay‚Äôs quality.
  • Vocabulary: A varied and precise vocabulary can enhance clarity and impact. However, overuse of complex words should be avoided.
  • Fluency: The essay should read smoothly, with clear and concise language.

6. Presentation and Formatting

Good presentation can make a significant difference. This includes neat handwriting (for handwritten essays), proper formatting, and logical arrangement of content.

  • Handwriting: For handwritten essays, legibility is crucial. Poor handwriting can make it difficult for examiners to assess the content.
  • Formatting: Proper use of paragraphs, headings (if applicable), and indentation helps in presenting the essay neatly.
  • Length: Staying within the word limit is important. Essays should be concise yet comprehensive.

7. Originality

Originality and authenticity are highly regarded. Plagiarism or over-reliance on memorized content can lead to disqualification.

  • Original Thought: Candidates should strive to present their original thoughts and analyses rather than reproducing textbook material.
  • Plagiarism: The FPSC has strict policies against plagiarism. Essays must be the candidate’s own work.


Writing a CSS essay is a comprehensive task that requires a blend of clear understanding, organized structure, logical argumentation, critical analysis, language proficiency, neat presentation, and originality. Candidates must prepare thoroughly, practice regularly, and refine their writing skills to meet the high standards set by the FPSC. Mastery of these criteria can significantly enhance the chances of success in the CSS examination.

Read also: Most Important Essays

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