5 Ways You Should Not Prepare for Your Civil Services CSAT Paper – Examination Pattern and Syllabus

The CSAT Paper or the Civil Services Aptitude Test is a part of the UPSC Prelims (Civil Services Exam – Preliminary). However, as per the Union Public Service Commission, it is referred to as General Studies (GS) Paper-II.

Hence, in the context of UPSC CSE Prelims, General Studies Paper-II usually referred to as the CSAT while in context of UPSC Mains, General Studies Paper-II is the Polity exam, etc. Candidates are often advised to understand the complete UPSC syllabus and the syllabus of CSAT in UPSC Prelims to avoid any chances of uncertainties.

UPSC CSAT Examination Pattern

CSAT was introduced in 2011 to test the aspirant’s analytical and logical skills. CSAT is the second paper in the UPSC Prelims phase. However, it is officially known as the General Studies Paper-II of prelims stage.

The CSAT exam pattern for UPSC 2021:

  • No. of questions- 80 Objective-Type (MCQ) questions
  • Negative Markings- Yes (1/3rd of the maximum marks for the question)
  • Time- 2 hours
  • Exam type- Offline
  • Date of CSAT exam- 4th October 2021
  • Language of CSAT exam paper- English/Hindi
  • Maximum Marks- 200
  • CSAT qualifying marks- 66 marks (33% qualifying as per the criteria)

CSAT Syllabus – General Studies Paper-II – UPSC Prelims 2021

Before starting your preparation for CSAT, one must go through the entire syllabus of CSAT previous year papers. The CSAT paper syllabus is divided into the following categories:

One of the trickiest areas of CSAT paper is comprehension while Basic numeracy, General Mental Ability, and Logical reasoning are of more severe difficulty and may take time to solve if not practised. Considering the uncertainty of CSAT paper and the low cut off, aspirants can follow the below-mentioned tricks to qualify the exam.

The CSAT syllabus for UPSC CSE 2021 as per the notification contains the following categories:

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills and communication skills
  • Logical reasoning skills and analytical ability (to solve the uncertainties)
  • Decision-making skills and problem-solving skills
  • General mental ability test
  • Basic numeracy (that contains- numbers and relations, orders of magnitudes, etc.) (Class Xth level), Data interpretation (charts, bar diagrams, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. – Class X level

Note- Check your eligibility for CSAT- UPSC Eligibility Criteria

UPSC CSE Prelims exam includes CSAT paper, i.e. GS carries 80 questions with a weightage of total 200 marks. As this a qualifying exam, aspirants usually overlook its importance. In this article, we have provided practical steps that will help to prepare for the CSAT paper.

UPSC CSE Prelims Exam GS Paper-II is a qualifying paper, and one only need 33% marks in CSAT (GS Paper-II) Paper to qualify the Prelims exam and to attempt the next phase. However, as we all are well aware of the uncertainty of UPSC CSE, this paper should not be over-looked just because it a qualifying paper. Introduced in 2011 Prelims exam, the CSAT paper has a smooth syllabus and a fixed exam-pattern.

But each year, the difficulty level of the CSAT is going up, and but there is no fixed pattern followed to frame the paper as each year papers comes with a distinctive level of questions.

Note- Avoid reading so many books at a time, as they will take more time- so instead focus on the notes and mock tests.

The Civil Services Aptitude Test (GS Paper-II), is a qualifying paper in the preliminary exam phase for the recruitment for Civil Services Exam, in the recent reports, the UPSC has recommended that the government should change the existing format of the prelims exam and remove CSAT, has been appreciated by the aspirants as they would have more time to prepare for Paper-I.

Prelims phase consists of Paper-I and Paper-II (CSAT). While Paper-I consists of 100 questions with subjects like history, geography, social and economic development, etc., Paper-II (CSAT) on the other hand has 80 questions on aptitude consisting of basic numerical, general mental ability and logical reasoning skills.

Candidates need to score the minimum of qualifying marks in Paper-II (i.e. 33%), and then only the marks scored in Paper-I would be considered for short-listing for the Mains Exam. Besides the time constraint, CSAT has been considered as disadvantageous to many candidates, who spend more time on preparation, unlike the urban and English-medium educated aspirants.

UPSC Civil Services Exam (Prelims) 2021 – CSAT Syllabus

Before beginning your preparation, you must go through the syllabus for the CSAT paper. The CSAT paper syllabus is broadly divided into the following categories:

One of the trickiest areas of CSAT paper is comprehension while Basic numeracy, General Mental Ability, and Logical reasoning are of greater difficulty and may take time to solve if not practised. Considering the uncertainty of CSAT paper and the low cut off, aspirants can follow the below-mentioned tricks to qualify the exam.

How Not to Prepare for the UPSC Civil Services Prelims CSAT Paper

Devoting your maximum time for the preparation of your GS Paper I is a key to clear the exam, but always divide the time as per the POMODORO Technique- allot a one-hour slot for the preparation of CSAT subjects as compared to Paper I, because the CSAT is defined and can easily be prepared if you dedicate one hour for its preparation daily.

  • Starting without Identify your Weakest Area: For identifying your weakest subject, you can solve previous year papers of UPSC Civil Service Exams. This will not only help you in practice but also know your strong and weak areas.
  • By losing self-control: Decision making is an essential part of the preparation of UPSC- aspirants have to make decisions when to start revision and when to stick with a particular subject, etc.  
  • Not being good enough to clear the exam: By starting with a negative mindset, you will always fail, and the complete journey of preparation will be like hell for you. Believe that you can do this and work for it. Giving your best efforts are required, and if you maintain the negative environment- you cannot achieve your desired goals.   
  • Lack of positive support and motivation: There will be a time when you will start doubting yourself, and you will lose motivation to keep moving forward with your preparation, but at that time you have to seek someone who can motivate you towards your goals- like your family and friends. Keeping yourself in good company will always provide you with the best results, so make sure you surround yourself with the ones who encourage you to achieve your goals.
  • Imbalance in personal life: Every single aspirant who is preparing for the exam has a personal life- but you have to prioritize your time as per your current requirements and if you want to achieve your goal.

Note- For a more detailed overview of UPSC CSE IAS, click on the link: UPSC CSE.

Risk factors associated with preparing in a wrong way:

  • Fatigue: It is often caused when an aspirant spends all the time preparing or sitting in one place to prepare, but this method is not always useful when it comes to better results.
  • Insomnia: Working overtime will only increase the stress level in the aspirant’s body, and due to which he/she fails to produce the desired results.
  • Excessive/ overstress: It can be caused due to a variety of reasons or maybe because he/she takes too much pressure while preparing, candidates need to be light-headed while preparing for something.
  • Anger/Sadness: The UPSC syllabus is very vague, and it can sometimes increase the frustration, but they have to prepare their mind in advance to cope with the stress that comes with the UPSC, and they need to have enough patience to wait for the strategy to work.

Summary/Overview

CSAT- Civil Services Aptitude Test is a part of the UPSC Prelims (Civil Services Exam – Preliminary). However, as per the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), it is referred to as General Studies (GS) Paper-II.

Hence, in the context of UPSC CSE Prelims, General Studies Paper-II usually referred to as the CSAT while in context of UPSC Mains, General Studies Paper-II is the Polity exam, etc. Candidates are often advised to understand the complete UPSC syllabus and the syllabus of CSAT in UPSC Prelims to avoid any chances of uncertainties.

Areas covered in this article

  • What is CSAT?
  • CSAT Exam pattern
  • How not to prepare for the CSAT exam

Note- For more details, click- https://www.upsc.gov.in/examinations/Civil%20Services%20%28Preliminary%29%20Examination%2C%202020

Learn more about Civil Services and State PSC Exams.

This post was last updated on October 31st, 2021 at 10:52 am

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