CSAT Preparation Strategy

CSAT is the Civil Services Aptitude Test. It was introduced in the year 2011 as a part of the UPSC Civil Services Exam (Preliminary) to test the analytical skills, reasoning ability and aptitude of UPSC Civil Services Aspirants. Since 2015, CSAT is only a qualifying paper, all you need to do is to score more than 33% in this paper i.e. more than 67 marks out of 200 to clear this paper.However,scoring even qualifying marks can be an issue for many aspirants and many a times despite doing very well in GS Paper I, many aspirants fail to clear prelims because of their poor performance in CSAT.

What is CSAT?

CSAT stands for Civil Services Aptitude Test. It is a part of the UPSC Prelims (Civil Services Exam – Preliminary).

CSAT Exam Pattern (UPSC 2020):

CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test was introduced to test candidates’ analytical skills. It is the second paper in the UPSC Prelims. The CSAT exam pattern for UPSC 2020:

o Number of questions: 80 Objective-Type (MCQ) questions
o Negative Marking: 1/3rd of the maximum marks for the question
o Time: 2 hours
o Date of CSAT exam: 4th October 2020
o Language of CSAT exam paper: English/Hindi
o Maximum Marks: 200
o CSAT qualifying marks: 67 marks (33% qualifying criteria)


CSAT Syllabus:

The CSAT syllabus for UPSC 2020 comprises of the following broad categories:
 Comprehension
 Interpersonal skills including communication skills
 Logical reasoning and analytical ability
 Decision-making and problem-solving
 General mental ability
 Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. – Class X level)

Areas To Focus During Preparation

It generally depends on your educational background.This is not to say that only those with a specific background can score high in Paper-2; it is just that we all have been in touch with a certain skill set for a long period of time – which becomes our forte and need to work on the gaps. For e.g. relatively speaking, engineers are more in touch with Mathematics (equations, calculations etc.) and Data interpretation than a Political Science graduate. Similarly, humanities graduates are more in touch with comprehension skills – reading large amounts of text, verbal reasoning; communication skills etc. Therefore, no matter what background you are from, you will have an edge on a certain skill area; and at the same time, you will need to work on other skill areas. So, engineers will need to work more on comprehension and interpersonal skills; and a political science graduate will have to work more on Mathematics and Data interpretation.

Best books for CSAT (GS Paper II):

The books recommended by IAS toppers for acing the UPSC Prelims – CSAT (GS Paper II) are given below:
o GS Manual Paper-II by TMH
o Concise CSAT by Madhukar Bhagat – TMH Publications
o Cracking the CSAT Paper 2 – Arihant Publications
o Analytical Reasoning – M. K. Pandey
o Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R. S. Aggarwal

CSAT Preparation strategy for UPSC CSE Prelims 2020:

o Do not ignore it even though it is only a qualifying paper.
o You can improve your general English comprehension by improving your vocabulary and daily reading of English newspapers like The Indian Express and The Hindu.
o In case you are weak in Arithmetic and Logical reasoning then you should focus on it. basic math skills are not up to the mark, they should spend a decent amount of time on the CSAT paper.
o While attempting the Paper start from your areas of strength like if you are strong in Reading comprehension then you should attempt that part first and then go on to attempt Maths and logical reasoning questions
o Do not attempt less question thinking that you have crossed 33% marks, attempt as many questions as you can and make full use of 2 hrs time given to you.
o Remember, candidates should score at least 66 marks. If they do not qualify, even very high marks in the GS paper I will not help them clear the IAS prelims stage.
o Questions from data interpretation, logical reasoning, etc. are generally easy but if the candidate is unfamiliar with them, answering them can be a tricky affair. This is where practice becomes essential.
o If you are unable to solve a particular question then don’t waste too much time in thinking over it. Move on to the next Question. Remember that every question whether easy or hard carries equal weightage so just due to paucity of time don’t miss on solving the easy ones just because you wated too much time on difficult questions.


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