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CSAT Preparation for General Studies is one of the important components of Civil Services. The IAS exam is one of the most prestigious exams of our country. Also, one of the toughest to crack. Yet each year lakhs of aspirants appear for the exam and the best among them make it to their dream destination.

Confusion to most aspirants is that they consider CSAT as a subset of UPSC prelims, ie. they treat CSAT as a synonym to the General Studies Paper 2 of the UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam. A few aspirants equate CSAT with the entire Preliminary Exam stage of UPSC CSE (ie. General Studies Paper 1 + General Studies Paper 2).

UPSC notification, syllabus, or question paper does not use the term ‘CSAT’ or ‘Civil Service Aptitude Test’ at all. This term is popularized on social media by students and other institutions.

Main aim of introduction of  CSAT in the year 2011 is to test the analytical skills, reasoning ability and aptitude of a candidate.


Controversy in Marking System (2015)

From 2011-2014, the total marks of both GS Paper-1 (General Studies Paper) and GS Paper-2 (CSAT paper) were considered for calculating the UPSC CSE prelims ranking (to qualify for the mains examination). However, there was a protest about including the CSAT for calculating the prelims ranks by a section of aspirants. The Centre asked UPSC to make a change in the pattern in response to this protest. In 2015, the CSAT was made a qualifying paper.


Present Scheme of Marking

Only the marks of GS Paper 1 will be counted for calculating the Prelims ranking.

However, candidates have to score a minimum of 33% i.e. 66 marks out of the 200 allotted for the GS Paper 2 paper (CSAT paper) in order to clear the Civil Services Preliminary Examination.


Prepare CSAT

Many candidates finds it diffcult to handle this subject because of their education background, time constraints or the other reasons. They needs proper planning and a clear strategy to cover the topics of CSAT. If you plan ahead and balance your efforts, you will be able to score very well in the CSAT. One must understand that- CSAT requires a good understanding and practice.

The CSAT paper is divided into a number of sections, which can be managed according to the level of each candidate. Here are some of the major sections of the paper and the strategy to deal with them:

Comprehension and Interpersonal Skills

The Comprehension has become a primary section in all recruitments. The toughness of the question in the comprehension section can managed, after the adequate amount of practice. But aspirants must improve their basic English. Reading newspaper reports, editorials and magazines will be helpful in sharpening your reading skills. The important aspect is practising the question from the comprehension section from previous years question papers. One can also attempt passages which are easy and topics which are familiar. Make sure you should create a habit of reading and referring to dictionary.

Logical reasoning

Logical reasoning hold an important part in CSAT. The difficulty level of the reasoning section in the CSAT paper is not high for any aspirants. Generally, a candidate can solve the questions if one is aware of the types of questions in the reasoning section. In order to attempt most questions effectively, one should practice at least 50 - 60 questions every day. The candidate should understand and read about the topics, concepts which are important. But, simple reading the questions and answers will not be helpful without practicing them.


Decision making section is an important section which tests the decision making skills. Since the questions are not technical and are situation based and generic one need to practice a lot of questions. The purpose of the section is to measure the use of logic and common sense in solving of problems confronted in administration. Daily practice and solving previous year question paper will help to cross this hindrance.

Basic Numeracy & Data Interpretation

The questions on Basic numeracy in the CSAT paper will be easy, since most of them are matriculation level. Regular practice and understanding of the basic concepts helps to score better. Logical reasoning needs more practice. Practising 40-50 questions from the section is a must. In order to succeed in data interpretation one need to learn and study the concepts of statistics. One of the positive elements is that toughness of the section is not high. Most of the questions are based from data table and bar graphs. Anyone who can understand the basic concepts can attempt this questions. Candidates with good practice along with the mathematical part of the section.


Directions For English section in CSAT

  • Improve your grammer.
  • Work your vocabulary to get help in comprehending the meaning of the passages.
  • Cram or Learn common idioms and phrases.
  • Become strong in newspaper, use other English books to get command over English words, phases, grammer etc.


Points To Remember In General

  • Solve previous year questions within timelimit.
  • Check your answers and improve your weak areas.
  • Regular tests to measure your performance.
  • Time management is most important of CSAT.
  • Solve mock tests and use same books for preparation
  • Solve SSC, Other UPSC exam papers like CAPF, CDS and all
  • Write down some maths formulas in a note
  • Write down some logic and reasoning in a note


Best books for CSAT

  • A Modern Approach to Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by Dr. R.S.Aggarwal
  • Cracking the CSAT Paper-2 - Civil Services Aptitude Test by Arihant
  • Analytical Reasoning – M. K. Pandey
  • General Studies Paper II 2020 for Civil Services Preliminary Examination by McGraw-Hill
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