CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test) constitutes the second paper of preliminary examination for civil services of The Union Public Service Commission. This paper is only of the qualifying type (Minimum 33%) and the marks are not considered for the final cut off. This tests an aspirant on vivid cases of problem solving skills, Interpersonal skills, decision making, Logical reasoning and Analytical abilities , Reading Comprehension etc to name a few. Reading Comprehension is accorded the most weightage in this paper compared to all other areas with questions ranging from 25-30 each year. A strategy in place can help overcome the difficulties an aspirant might face while encountering the high level reasoning topics in the Comprehension segment.
- Language and the content of the CSAT comprehension is more advanced than the comprehension passages included in Banking, insurance and State PSC’s. Hence makes it tough to comprehend and requires high level reasoning, inferring skills and practice to decipher the passages and answer accordingly in a time bound manner. This demands one to scale consistently over a period of time.(Not straight forward questions)
- Most passages selected by the UPSC are from the editorials in prominent newspapers. The nature of the passages found in CSAT paper is of the same nature found in these editorials. The tone and the tenor of the passage is nothing similar to what a layman is accustomed to.
- Practising from the previous comprehensions from UPSC papers 2011 – 2015 can aid in the preparation and also solving the prelims test series will help an aspirant to have a better understanding of the pattern.
- A realistic timeframe in this segment is 1.5 minutes per question. CSAT paper constitutes a total of 80 questions and the time available for the same is 120 minutes. Usually 3 to 4 questions per passage can be expected so that leaves one with 5 to 7 minutes per passage in the comprehension segment. So extensive reading and a strategy in place comes in handy to adhere to this timeframe.
- First reading is the most important and preferably has to be the only reading. Hence it is extremely crucial to take it slow by reading every line, processing every word and marking the important points. Try noting down the assumptions and premises of the passage. These 2 steps will help quickly eliminate the redundant options and prevents one from reading the passage repeatedly, thus saving precious time.
- It is important to grasp while reading what the author/passage is implying, the central theme of the passage and the inferences that can be drawn. Else it might pave way to inane mistakes like fusing up facts and inferences with the central theme.
Sources for reference: The Hindu, Indian Express, Frontline, Yojana and EPW Areas to focus on: Arts, science, Economics, environment and climate change, administration and governance and philosophy. A lot of practice supplemented by careful reading will help one achieve better results. Hope these pointers give certain clarity in reading comprehension.