CSAT Exam General Information

What is the CSAT exam?

The CSAT exam is conducted by the UPSC every year. The IAS exam has three phases- Prelims, Mains, and Personality test or Personal Interview. Among these, the Preliminary exam has two papers- General Paper I and Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), also known as General Paper-II. It mainly assesses the decision making, analytical, reasoning, and comprehensive skills of a candidate.

It must be mentioned as a precaution to avoid confusion that General Paper II of Prelims and that of Mains are different. CSAT is the General Paper II of Prelims whereas, for Mains, it is Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International Relations.

The CSAT paper is of two hundred marks. It has eighty multiple-choice questions, each carrying 2.5 marks. One-third of the maximum marks of the question, which is around 0.833 is deducted for each wrong answer. The time allotted for this paper is two hours.

The questions of this paper can be divided into the following categories:
- 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 and magnitude, etc. - Class X level)
- Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. - Class X level)

The questions in the CSAT paper are both in Hindi and English. However, the questions on English Language comprehension skills are not translated into Hindi.

Some aspirants ignore this paper thinking of it to be just a qualifying paper. This turns out to be a mistake. To ace this test, one must practice a lot. It is difficult to complete eighty questions within two hours without proper practice, especially if a candidate is weak in Mathematics, Reasoning, or English Language. ‘Practice’ is the key to hone analytical and comprehensive skills.