If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. Here, Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu portrays the best strategy to vanquish the foe. While preparing for UPSC Prelims examination, we come across several enemies. Most of the times it will be General Studies Paper II-CSAT and sometimes for some people, it will be their companion who is preparing for the same examination. Why should you compete and conquer your friend rather competing with yourself and polish your knowledge? Why are we not taking any effective measures to beat him? Because we don’t know who is the real foe- whether it is subject or our approach.
Know Exam pattern: General Studies Paper II (CSAT)
Civil services examination is known as the toughest exam conducted in India by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission). There are three steps where an eminent panel of Civil servants selects the efficient candidates to the prestigious Indian government services such as IAS, IPS, etc.
The first stage is Civil Services Preliminary Examination consist of two papers- General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II (CSAT) of 200 marks each. General Studies Paper I comprises 100 questions with each question carrying 2 marks each while General Studies Paper II has 80 questions with each question carrying 2.5 marks each. The question will be of multiple choice and objective type. General Studies Paper II- CSAT is a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%. Even though you only need to score 33% marks in CSAT Paper- II, it can become a little difficult because of the unpredictable nature of questions.
Why has CSAT emerged as a villain?
- Contrastingly in 2014, General Studies Paper II (CSAT) UPSC increased the difficulty level and number of Comprehensions, Basic numeracy, General Mental Ability, and Logical reasoning.
- Decision-making questions which were of 20 marks and Class X level English comprehension questions were removed.
- Time-consuming nature of questions and lengthier paper
Know your Syllabus: General Studies Paper II (CSAT)
- Interpersonal skills including communication skills
- Logical reasoning and analytical ability
- Decision making and problem-solving
- General mental ability
- Basic numeracy (Numbers and their relation, order of magnitude etc. of Class X level)
- Data interpretation (Charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc of Class X level)
How to crack General Studies Paper II (CSAT)
The Comprehension has become an integral part of every competitive examination today. The General Studies Paper II (CSAT) 2013 exam contained 8 questions from the Comprehension part. Thus, it is an important part of the CSAT paper, and must not be left.
Reading and understanding the passage is an art. Most of the reading comprehension questions were inferential in nature and required a thorough reading of the passage. Candidates need to develop a reading habit to troubleshoot the problem arises in comprehension. Reading newspaper editorials, magazines like Frontline, Yojana is more than enough to sharpen your reading skills. One has to read in detail with a sheer mind. If you are not able to get the meaning of the article completely, make a resolve not to move from the same until it is done.
Reading with understanding consumes time. But if one is practicing it daily then he can increase the reading speed with understanding. While reading a passage, underline the keywords, new terminology etc which may help while answering questions.
The vocabulary, the complexity of articles, reading speed, extracting the actual meaning and subject-matter is the common bugs which make comprehension a difficult area. At this point, dictionary plays a vital role. Develop a habit of reading/ referring to a Dictionary and applying it in daily life conversation. If you have a smartphone, install a dictionary that makes reference very easy.
Knowing a passage and extracting the actual meaning is the another issue. One has to understand the given passage objectively and thoroughly. When you read an article, read it with a preconception and examine carefully to extract the essence of passage and understand author what to tell us. This will ease the process of answering the questions like-‘Important message conveyed by the passage’, ‘With reference to the passage, the following assumptions have been made’, ‘The author’s central focus is on’ etc.
- Interpersonal skills including communication skills
Interpersonal skills are the skills we use every day to communicate and interact with other people, both individually and in groups. Communication Skills, Listening Skills, Stress, Management, Assertiveness, Decision Making, Problem Solving, Verbal Communication and Non-Verbal Communication are the basic Interpersonal skills.
- Logical reasoning
The level of difficulty of the reasoning section in the CSAT paper is not high. A candidate can solve the questions if one is familiar with the types of questions in the reasoning section. There is no need of searching books exclusively for logical reasoning. Daily practice and solving previous year question paper will help you to crack this barrier.
- General mental ability, Basic Numeracy & Data Interpretation
This is the area where most of the candidates feel uncomforted especially if they are not good at mathematics. But the reality is you need not master in mathematics to crack the CSAT. The questions on Basic numeracy in the CSAT paper are of the Class X Level. According to the trend, it is very important to give special attention to this area. The previous year question paper clearly shows that the scrapped English Comprehension (Class X level) questions have replaced with Comprehension and General Mental Ability questions .Daily practice can only bring you success. For some questions, you can even apply common logic to solve the question. Understanding of the basic concepts and formulas will enable to crack this section. Refer to a book which covers the topics comprehensively like Quantitative Aptitude by R S Aggarwal, Cracking CSAT- Arihant Publications or GS Manual TMH. Knowing the principles and concepts of statistics are enough to deal with data interpretation section.
Throughout your study ensure that you are giving enough practice time and attention for General Studies Paper II. The best strategy would be to solve 10-15 questions daily starting from now, especially complex comprehensions. Along with that start solving the previous year question paper also. Start loving CSAT; if you can love your enemy, you already have victory.