How to Prepare for CSAT Paper-II: Aptitude?

The Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) is the qualifying paper of UPSC IAS Prelims Exam. CSAT tests the general aptitude of candidates where the minimum qualifying percentage is 33% of total marks. Often 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 would not be evaluated. Therefore, although this paper is of qualifying nature, its position assumes significance 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, 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. It’s a 200 mark paper with a total of 80 questions where each correct answer is awarded 2.5 marks and 0.83 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 one’s strong and weak areas helps the candidate to understand how much effort he/she needs to put in their preparation. One can pick up previous years paper and solve them. This will help 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 any exam, the fundamental concepts play a vital role. Thus, candidates should plan their preparation in such a way that they work on the basics of the topics they find difficult and then learn the short cut methods 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 on weekends. Thus, a candidate appearing for the exam should devote a minimum of 4 to 6 hours weekly on aptitude. It can be 2 hours every alternate day or 1 hour daily. This will help the candidates to continuously be in touch with the concepts and then they will not have to take the pain of going through 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 the 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 time on such questions after completing Round 1.

Round 3: These are the difficult questions which a candidate should try if they have time after solving 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 be quick. Speed and accuracy is the key here which can be attained by applying short cut methods, Vedic 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 – 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!

Also, see:

How to solve Blood relations-Logical Reasoning questions
Tips to Prepare for Reasoning Questions in UPSC CSAT
How to Solve Data Interpretation Questions in CSAT?


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