Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), generally called General Studies Paper-2, was introduced in the year 2011 as a part of the Civil Services Exam (Preliminary) Examination in order to test the analytical skills, reasoning ability and aptitude of a candidate. The total marks of both Paper-1 (General Studies Paper) and Paper-2 (CSAT paper) were considered for arriving at the final order of merit (IAS prelims ranking) of the candidate to qualify for the mains examination. However, there was a protest about including the CSAT in the ranking order by a section of the aspirant-community and the UPSC made a slight change in the pattern in response to this protest. In 2015, the CSAT was made a qualifying paper. Under the present UPSC scheme of examination, candidates have to score a minimum of 33% i.e. 66 marks out of the 200 allotted for the CSAT paper in order to clear the Civil Services Preliminary Examination. Only those candidates who manage to get a score of 66 or more in GS Paper-2 and also surpass the UPSC-prescribed cut off marks in GS Paper-1 are allowed to appear for the civil services mains examination.
The CSAT syllabus comprises of the following topics:
- 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)
- English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level).
UPSC CSAT Marking Scheme
The CSAT paper consists of 80 questions which the candidate has to finish in the allotted time of 2 hours only. Each question carries 2.5 marks in this paper making the total to 200 marks for the IAS CSAT paper.
UPSC CSAT Negative Marking
Candidates must remember that there is negative marking in the CSAT paper. For every incorrect answer, the candidate is penalised 1/3rd of the total marks allotted to that question, i.e., 0.833 marks will be cut. If a question is not attempted, i.e., the candidate leaves it blank on the OMR sheet, no marks will be cut for that question.
Strategy for CSAT for UPSC:
Candidates should not ignore the CSAT paper thinking it is only a qualifying paper. If candidates feel that their general English comprehension and basic math skills are not up to the mark, they should spend a decent amount of time on the CSAT paper. This holds true especially for aspirants 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 adequate number of UPSC CSAT previous years’ question papers will do. But if candidates do not practice the question papers, it would be very difficult to complete the 80 questions in the prescribed time limit of two hours. 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.
For candidates to increase their speed in solving the maths questions in the CSAT paper, they can take help from certain well-used maths tricks. We have discussed some of them in an article on this website, the link is mentioned below in the box. 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 doubly important for candidates to practice mock test papers or enrol for a reliable CSAT test series.
CSAT Books for UPSC 2019
- CSAT Paper – 2 Manual by TMH
- Analytical Reasoning – M. K. Pandey
- Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R. S. Aggarwal
Also read for UPSC CSAT Preparation: