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CSAT strategy For UPSC Prelims

  • Categories
    General Studies
  • Published
    16th Jun, 2021

Civil Services Aptitude Test or CSAT is officially regarded as the General Studies-II paper in UPSC Prelims exam. Although the nature of paper is qualifying, students must need to have a pre-planned strategy to ace this paper. As this paper needs only to score more than 33% or 66 marks out of 200 marks in UPSC Prelims paper hence it is required to have a thorough knowledge of the weightage of each topic or section and subsequent preparation tips can help you sail through it smoothly.

CSAT Exam Syllabus

The UPSC CSAT Exam syllabus as prescribed by the UPSC in their notification consist 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)

CSAT Exam Pattern & Marking Scheme

  • The UPSC CSAT paper consists of 80 questions and the time allotted for the paper is 2 hours.
  • Each question carries 2.5 marks in the CSAT paper making a total of 200 marks.
  • There is a negative marking in which penalty for incorrect answers. For every incorrect answer, the candidate is penalized 1/3rd of the total marks allotted to that question, i.e. 0.83 marks will be deducted.

However, if a question is left unattempted/unanswered, no marks will be deducted.

Books and Resources

Aspirants should adopt a smart approach while preparing for CSAT paper. Apart from this they should also work on topics that seem doable. The following books can be sufficed for the preparation of CSAT.

  1. CSAT Manual by TMH publication
  2. Basic Numeracy book by RS Agarwal
  3. NCERT book of maths from 10th Standard

However the books and resources could vary from person to person. The key to secure good marks in this paper is consistent practice. Hence practice as many questions as you can from these manual-like books. However, be careful of the wrong answers in these books. Giving mock and attempting previous year question papers could also be a good way to practice.

CSAT Strategy

Candidates should never ignore the CSAT paper thinking it is just a "Qualifying paper".

If candidates feel that their general English comprehension for CSAT and basic math skills are not up to the mark, they should spend a decent amount of time to practice questions of CSAT. This often remains true especially for aspirants hailing from the humanities and arts background who have not been in touch with such subjects ever since their school days.

For those candidates who are at ease with the type of questions asked in the CSAT paper, practicing the adequate number of UPSC previous years question papers for CSAT will do.

But if candidates do not practice the CSAT question papers, it would be very difficult to complete the 80 questions in the prescribed time limit of two hours.

It is to be noted that 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.

For those candidates who want to increase their speed in solving math questions in the CSAT paper, they can take help from certain well-used maths tricks.

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.

Also, some of the CSAT questions are lengthy and rather time-consuming. It becomes dually important for candidates to practise mock test papers or enroll for a reliable CSAT test series.


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