The Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) is the qualifying paper of UPSC IAS Prelims Exam. CSAT tests theÂ general aptitude of candidates where the minimum qualifying percentage is 33% of total marks. OftenÂ candidates are confused about the syllabus and the preparations of aptitude test for IAS. It must be pointed out here that unless one scores at least 33% marks in CSAT his/her GS paper wouldÂ not be evaluated. Therefore, although this paper is of qualifying nature, its position assumes significanceÂ as it happens to act as a window to enter into the UPSC Mains stage of the examinations. The syllabus for aptitude test for civil services is almost the same as the syllabus of exams like CAT, NMAT,Â XAT, etc. but there is a difference in difficulty levels.

Aptitude for UPSC exams cover topics like **1. Reading Comprehension** **2. Interpersonal Skills** **3. Decision Making and problem-solving** **4. Logical reasoning and analytical ability** **5. General mental ability test** **6. Data Interpretation** **a. Charts** **b. Graphs** **c. Data sufficiency** **7. General Mathematics** **a. Arithmetic** **b. Algebra** **c. Geometry** **d. Commercial** **e. Statistics, etc.**

## CSAT Paper 2 Preparation Strategy

**Step 1: Understand the pattern**

Before studying for the aptitude test for UPSC, one should know the pattern of the CSAT exam. Itâ€™s a 200Â mark paper with a total of 80 questions where each correct answer is awarded 2.5 marks and 0.83Â marks are deducted for every incorrect answer. Total time allotted for CSAT paper is 2 hours.

**Step 2: Analyze your strengths and weaknesses**

Analysis of oneâ€™s strong and weak areas helps the candidate to understand how much effort he/sheÂ needs to put in their preparation. One can pick up previous years paper and solve them. This will helpÂ them judge where their level of aptitude lies and how to work on their weak areas.

**Step 3: Focus on Basics**

They say for a building to stay erect, you need to have a strong foundation! For achieving success in anyÂ exam, the fundamental concepts play a vital role. Thus, candidates should plan their preparation in suchÂ a way that they work on the basics of the topics they find difficult and then learn the short cut methodsÂ to deal with them so that they can solve maximum questions in minimum time with accuracy.

**Step 4: Studying on a regular basis**

Studying for short duration regularly will produce better results than studying for long hours only onÂ weekends. Thus, a candidate appearing for the exam should devote a minimum of 4 to 6 hours weekly onÂ aptitude. It can be 2 hours every alternate day or 1 hour daily. This will help the candidates toÂ continuously be in touch with the concepts and then they will not have to take the pain of going throughÂ the same concepts again and again when the exam will approach.

**Step 5: Time management**

The candidates must always keep a track of time. While studying at home also, one should keep theÂ time limit while solving problems. The attempt of writing exam should be divided into three rounds-

**Round 1:** These questions are easy to solve and can be solved within seconds.

**Round 2:** These questions are a bit tricky and can be solved if the examinee can spend a little extra timeÂ on such questions after completing Round 1.

**Round 3:** These are the difficult questions which a candidate should try if they have time after solvingÂ Round 1 and Round 2 questions. One should understand that in order to attempt all the three rounds in a CSAT paper, one needs to beÂ quick. Speed and accuracy is the key here which can be attained by applying short cut methods, VedicÂ mathematics for speedy calculations and speed multiplications.

**Step 6: English & Reasoning**

- In this exam, one needs to focus on English Comprehension as 40-45% of the questions are asked from this area. If one is not confident enough in this area â€“ reading newspapers and the standard books will boost the confidence of the aspirants and increase the success percentages.

- Apart from English Comprehension, Data Interpretation is the second most important area in the syllabus which covers 10-15% of the questions asked. The difficulty level in this area is a bare minimum and X Standard knowledge would suffice.

- Logical & Verbal reasoning is an area where one can score even without much practice.

However, without regular practice sessions, one can tend to overlook his/her weak areas and sabotage his/her chances in the examinations.

**Step 7: Mock Tests**

Taking Prelims-based Mock Tests come in handy here and should be treated seriously. **Best of Luck!**

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