Tips to Prepare for Reasoning Questions in UPSC CSAT

The 2019 UPSC Prelims exam is scheduled to be held on 2nd June this year. As you would be aware, there are two papers in the UPSC prelims. These are:

  1. General studies paper I
  2. General studies paper II (CSAT)

The CSAT paper is a qualifying one with the candidate requiring to score at least 33% or 66 marks in it. Even so, it is important as you cannot totally ignore this paper. The scheme of the IAS prelims is given in the table below:


No. of Questions

Total Marks



Negative Mark

General Studies Paper I



2 hours



General Studies Paper II (CSAT)



2 hours




As you see, there is negative marking for incorrect answers here, so you will have to prepare well for this paper also so as not to jeopardise your IAS plans.

Reasoning skills are very important to be a good and effective administrator. Reasoning and taking decisions based on numbers and facts that you have in front of you is an essential part of a civil servant’s job. Hence, the UPSC assesses these skills in the CSAT paper. Basically, you have to organize, sort and interpret meaning from the data that you have.

Qualities required of a candidate to solve data interpretation and reasoning questions:

  • Ability to structure a problem.
  • Ability to try different approaches to a problem.
  • Ability to reason logically.
  • Ability to give full focus on the problem at hand.
  • Ability to manage time well. (this can come with test practice)


Reasoning questions can be classified under four headings:

  1. Data interpretation (line graphs, data/numerical tables, bar graphs, pie charts and combination charts)
  2. Data sufficiency
  3. Analytical reasoning
  4. Logical reasoning

Under this section, you will have questions based on syllogism, logical connectives, assumption/inference/conclusion, blood relations, direction, non-verbal reasoning, Venn diagrams, missing numbers, series completion, coding-decoding, seating arrangements, etc.

Example questions from 2013 UPSC civil services prelims question paper:

CSAT reasoning questions

CSAT 2013

Q) Five people A, B, C, D and E are seated around a round table. Every chair is spaced equidistant from adjacent chairs.

i) C is seated next to A.

ii) A is seated next to A.

iii) B is not seated next to A.

Which of the following must be true?

  1. D is seated next to B.
  2. E is seated next to A.

Select the correct answer from the codes given below:

  1. I only
  2. II only
  3. Both I and II
  4. Neither I nor II

Answer: C


  1. Q) Identify the fifth figure:










Answer: C


Take BYJU’S All India Prelims Test Series for practicing CSAT. With more practice, you can develop your speed and accuracy in your reasoning questions.

Visit BYJU’S Website for strategy and articles on free IAS prep and all the latest on UPSC IAS exam.

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