Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) is conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) every year to select candidates for Civil Services Main Exam. Those who pass the Mains Exam and Interview can join prestigious Indian government services such as IAS, IPS, etc. CSAT has two papers:
Paper I: General Studies and Current Affairs
It consists of all the topics from old syllabus of Paper I except general mental ability. It also has new topics such as economic and social development and general issues on environmental ecology, bio-diversity, and climate change.
Paper II: General Mental Ability
Paper II of Civil Services Aptitude Test includes general mental ability (shifted from Paper I) along with comprehension, interpersonal skills including comprehension skills, logical reasoning & analytical ability, decision-making and problem-solving, basic numeracy, data interpretation and English language comprehension skills.
Exam Pattern of CSAT Paper II
There is a compulsory paper of 200 marks. The question papers is of objective type (multiple-choice questions). Paper II has 80 questions with each question carrying 2.5 marks each.
There are four alternatives for answers to every question. The question papers are set in both indi and English. However, questions relating to English language comprehension skills are tested through passages without proving Hindi translation in the question paper.
Negative Marking in CSAT
There is negative marking for incorrect answers for all questions except some of the questions where the negative marking will be inbuilt in the form of different marks being awarded to the most appropriate and not-so-appropriate answer for such questions. If you give a wrong answer, one-third of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.
Nationality: You should be the citizens of India for the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service.
Age Limit: You should not be aged less than 21 years and not more than 32 years. (In case of candidates belonging to SC/ ST category, the upper age limit is relaxable up to five years. In case of OBC candidates, the upper age limit is relaxable up to three years).
Educational Qualification: You should possess a degree of any of the universities incorporated by an Act of the Central or state legislature in India or other educational institutions established by an Act of Parliament.
Number of Attempts: You can apply to a maximum of 6 times. The candidates belonging to OBC category can apply for a total of nine times. This restriction on the number of attempts will not apply in case of Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe candidates.
CSAT General Ability Test Paper 2 Syllabus
CSAT Paper II: 200 Marks; Duration: Two Hours; Number of Questions: 80
• Interpersonal skills including communication skills
• Logical reasoning and analytical ability
• Decision making and problem solving
• General mental ability
• Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude etc.) (Class X level)
• Data Interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)
• English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level)
Marking Scheme: Total 80 questions have 200 marks, thus each question is of 2.5 marks. There is a negative marking of 33% or 0.83 marks. Decision making section doesn’t have any negative marking.
Strategy/ plan for Civil Service Aptitude Test
Step 1: 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 2: 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 3: Studying on regular basis.
Studying for short durations regularly will produce better results than studying for long hours only on weekends. Thus, a candidate appearing for the exam should devote minimum 4 to 6 hours weekly on aptitude. It can be 2 hours every alternate days 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 4: 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 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 5: 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 6: Mock Tests
Taking Prelims-based Mock Tests come in handy here and should be treated seriously.