How to Prepare CSAT for UPSC Prelims

How to Prepare CSAT for UPSC Prelims
08 Jan

How to Prepare CSAT for UPSC Prelims

The Civil Service Aptitude Test also known as CSAT is a qualifying paper in the UPSC Civil Services Prelims exam. Aspirants need to achieve a minimum of 33% marks in this paper. It may appear to be a walk in the park, but if you are familiar with the UPSC CSE uncertainty, you know that getting the minimum marks will require thorough preparation. You need to have a well-thought-out strategy to master the CSAT paper.

First of all, it should be noted that CSAT takes significantly less time compared to GS paper 1. You only need to get a minimum of 66 marks out of 200 to pass the paper. So, there is no need for you to spend a significant amount of time preparing for it. It examines a candidate's logical reasoning, analytical capabilities, judgment, interpersonal and reading comprehension skills. To help you clear the CSAT paper, we have prepared the following strategy. This method is very practical and should be followed consistently.

UPSC Prelims Exam Pattern

Exam Marks Total Duration No. of Questions
GS Paper 1 200 120 Minutes 100
GS Paper 2 (CSAT) 200 120 Minutes 80
  • A total of 2 hours and 80 questions are included in the UPSC CSAT paper.
  • The paper consists of 200 questions carrying 2.5 marks each.
  • There is a negative marking of 0.83 marks for each incorrect answer. No marks are deducted if a question is left unattempted/unanswered.

UPSC CSAT Syllabus

  • Comprehension
  • 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)

Tips to Prepare for UPSC Paper 2 (CSAT)

1. Take UPSC CSAT very seriously

  • Since CSAT is of a qualifying nature, most of the students take that for granted. As a result, even after scoring high in General Studies Paper-I, these candidates did not qualify for the Mains examination.
  • Make sure you devote enough time to CSAT preparation while preparing for Prelims. The CSAT syllabus is well-defined and can be easily prepared with practicing. One to two hours of daily preparation is all that is needed to pass this exam. Review your notes or solve a CSAT mock test each Sunday in order to stay on top of your game.

2. Analyze yourself before starting the preparation

  • Knowing your strengths and weaknesses in relation to the CSAT paper is essential before beginning preparation.
  • Try to solve previous year papers and review them to identify your weak points. This will give you an idea of how prepared you are.
  • If you score above 100 marks, you are well above the qualifying standard and don't need to prepare. However, if your score is less than 100, you should identify your weak areas and then opt for topics that are simple to prepare.
  • It doesn't matter how low your score is. Begin working on the areas that need improvement immediately, and everything will go as planned.

3. Get a comprehensive UPSC CSAT manual

  • Many CSAT manuals have been released by reputable publishers. The CSAT Manual by Tata Mc Graw Hill, on the other hand, is the one most often suggested. The usefulness of a booklet like this cannot be overstated. It is a one-stop destination for all of your prep needs.
  • You don't have to read the entire book from beginning to end in order to benefit from it. The book is split down into sections, and you may pick and choose which sections you want to read based on your interests. This book covers a wide range of subjects thoroughly. In a matter of minutes, you can practice and revise each topic.

4. Practice Online Mock Test Series

  • Candidates who are unable to score well on the CSAT paper should take a test series from a trustworthy coaching centre. Taking a test series can help you prepare for the CSAT since it keeps you on top of your game while also familiarising you with the CSAT exam pattern & syllabus.
  • Practice for at least an hour a day. Depending on your needs, this can be cut down to 3-4 hours each week or to one mock paper per week.
  • It's not enough just to know the subject; you must be able to solve the problems in the allotted time. As a result, the most important thing is to keep practicing! Mock exams are the greatest approach to get meaningful practice.
  • Improve your speed and accuracy by taking practice tests every Sunday.

Best Strategy to Prepare UPSC CSAT

Tips to prepare for English Comprehension

  • Regularly read Hindu Editorials to improve your reading and comprehension abilities.
  • To improve your grammar, read Wrenn Martin's English Grammar and Composition or SP Bakshi's Objective General English.
  • To improve your reading and comprehension abilities, as well as vocabulary, you might read short English books.
  • The best way to learn new words is to read a lot or use Flash cards or Vocabularly modules.

Tips to prepare Maths and Logical Reasoning for CSAT

  • The first step is to become familiar with the fundamentals of each subject. We also provide CSAT classes for that purpose.
  • Examine the previous year's papers to get a sense of how much material you need to cover on each subject.
  • Keep practicing to remember what you've just learned.

Aspirants find Maths extremely tough and time-consuming to prepare all of the topics for CSAT prelims. There's no need to cover everything in advance. In order to prepare this topic, use the table below and select the most important topics. Use the past year's paper to evaluate the difficulty of the questions.

Most Important Topics for CSAT Prelims Moderate Important Topics  Less Important Topics

Linear Equation, Number System, Profit Loss, SI-CI, Ratio Proportion, Variation, Speed Time Distance Work, Averages, Alligations, Data Interpretation, Geometry: Area Volume Perimeter

Arithmetic Progression, Polynomial Factorization, Coordinate Geometry

Permutation Combination, Probability, Statistics, Trigonometry



Let's review some fundamentals before we wrap up this strategy. It's important to maintain a sense of calm, focus, and motivation while revising. The more you revise for CSE preparation, the better you remember what you've learned. As a result, we urge you to revise at least once every week, if not more frequently. Because you can't cover everything at once, you'll need to stay calm and collected. So, take it one step at a time, and keep your focus and discipline. The more you can ease up, the better off you will be in the long run. Be careful not to push too hard yourself. Never start a topic you can't finish on the same day. Rather than rushing through unfinished work, it's better to take the time to go back and rewrite your draughts. In the end, keep yourself motivated by telling yourself that you can succeed. Throughout the entire CSE year, you must maintain a high level of motivation. You must never lose that motivation because if you do, your everyday studies will become tedious and you won't be able to enjoy the process of preparing for the CSE at all. Final thoughts: 'uncertainty is most painful,' which is accurate because you have no idea how the Prelims exams will be set. As a result, have confidence and rely on the method that many others have used to great effect. Begin your preparations as soon as you finish reading this article. Wishing you the best of luck!

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Best Regards, Sriram's Team