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UPSC Civil Services: Here’s how to prepare for CSAT

Considering the unpredictable nature of the UPSC civil service exam, candidates should not overlook the CSAT paper and prepare for it well in advance.

Written by Sakshi Saroha | New Delhi I |
Updated: June 29, 2021 10:47:02 am
CSAT tips, upsc csat paperOne understated fact about the CSAT paper is the Importance of time management while solving questions in the exam. )Image: pexels/representational)

The Civil Service Aptitude Test commonly known as CSAT is a qualifying paper in the UPSC civil service prelims examination as aspirants need to score only passing marks. Scoring 33 per cent marks in a paper seems like a cakewalk but if you are aware of the unpredictability of the UPSC CSE, you know it will take diligent preparation to get the minimum marks. 

With less than four months spare for the prelims exam, this is the right time to begin your CSAT preparation. It is advisable to refer to previous years’ question paper to understand the exam pattern. Broadly, the CSAT paper tests a candidate’s logical reasoning and analytical skills, decision-making and interpersonal ability, general mental ability, and reading comprehension. 

Read | UPSC Civil Services 2021: Check detailed syllabus and exam pattern for prelims, mains

As compared to GS I, the CSAT syllabus is defined and can be easily prepared through practice. If a candidate devotes one to two hours daily for the preparation, he/she can easily qualify this paper. However, a planned strategy should be followed in pursuing each area covered in the paper. 

UPSC CSE Prelims 2021: Preparation tips, books recommendation for CSAT

As mentioned above, one of the best ways to prepare for CSAT is through previous years’ question papers. Once thorough with the paper pattern, aspirants should prepare each section separately.

Mental ability: The questions covered under this section majorly includes topics like time and distance, time and work, percentage, permutations, and combinations among others. Candidates can practice these topics from class 10-12 NCERTs. Apart from this, candidates can refer to quicker maths by M Tyra to practice shortcuts to solve these questions promptly in the exam.

Logical reasoning: It is often said that reasoning can be one of your strengths in the CSAT paper or may consume the most time to solve questions. Either way, only prior practice will help you save time in solving questions on exam day. Aspirants should solve mock tests and questions on various topics keeping the time frame in mind. It is advisable to keep a tab on how much time you take in solving these questions and improve it through practice. 

One good source to prepare reasoning shortcuts is advanced verbal reasoning by K Kundan.

Reading comprehension: Even though the comprehension asked in the CSAT paper is of moderate level, aspirants end up losing precious marks in the comprehension section by spending excessive time in solving a passage. The most effective way of preparing this area is by including reading in your daily routine. Read articles, columns, magazines like Kurukshetra, Yojana to improve your language skills and reading speed.

While solving a comprehension, mark important keywords while reading the passage. To identify the keywords, it is suggested to read the questions first. So when you go back to reading the comprehension keep marking those keywords you identified in the questions. 

One understated fact about the CSAT paper is the importance of time management while solving questions in the exam. A candidate should not spend more than two to three minutes if stuck on a certain question. It is better to jump to the next question than spend extra time on one question. Time management can be learned by solving the mock tests before the exam. 

Read | Complete strategy to revise UPSC Civil Services prelims exam syllabus in four months

Another important aspect is identifying your strengths and weaknesses related to a subject. While solving mock papers, identify which type of questions you are repeatedly attempting wrong and correctly, Analyze your performance in the mock papers. According to that, solve your strength topic first in the exam hall. If you are good at comprehension, solve those questions first and keep the time-consuming questions for the end. 

Considering the unpredictable nature of the UPSC civil service exam, candidates should not overlook the CSAT paper and prepare for it well in advance. A diligent preparation of three to four months will be sufficient to get through the paper. 

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