Do you know that an additional test, i.e., CSAT, was added in UPSC Prelims? It was included in the year 2011. To test the basic analytical skills of the candidates, the UPSC made it mandatory. But why was it considered important? The duties and responsibilities of a civil servant are significant, and one should be an all-rounder to take the responsibility into his or her hands.

However, many controversies and questions were raised about whether it should be included in calculating the rank. By 2015, the paper was announced as a qualifying paper.

If you are preparing to qualify for the civil services exam, you should have a proper grip on basic analytical skills. Many students neglect the importance of the CSAT paper and regret it later. To avoid this, a proper CSAT strategy for UPSC can help you easily.

What is CSAT in UPSC?

Stage one of the UPSC, i.e., Prelims, includes two papers, Paper-I and Paper-II. Paper-I is a very common paper, and almost all aspirants fully attempt it as it decides the rank. Paper-II, i.e., CSAT, is a qualifying paper. You have to score 33% to qualify for the prelims. If not qualified, even your high rank can’t make you through the first stage!

Syllabus of Prelims Paper

The paper-I includes questions from the following topics:

– History of India and National movement of India

– Physical Geography of India and the globe

– Indian polity and its governance

– Current affairs of India and overseas or foreign countries

– Social and economic development

– General Science

– Subject related to environments such as environmental ecology, climate change and    biodiversity

The paper-II, i.e., CSAT, includes questions from the following topic:

– Analytical ability and logical reasoning

– Problem solving and decision making

– Comprehensive skills

– Communication and other interpersonal skills

– Mental ability skills

– Data interpretation and Numeracy skill of class 10th level

Pattern of CSAT Explained

– Total number of questions is 80, and the type is objective.

– Maximum marks of the paper is 200.

– Each question carries 2.5 marks.

– Negative marking is included. One-third of marks are deducted for each wrong answer, so you have to be careful while attempting the questions.

– Language of the paper in English or Hindi. Candidates can choose their preferred languages.

– As said, 33% marks should be scored to qualify it. This means you have to score at least 66 out of 200.

– The exam is conducted through offline mode, and the total time given is two hours.

What is CSAT in the UPSC Marking Scheme?

The paper has a strict marking scheme. Each wrong answer comes with a penalty of 0.85 marks deduction. Therefore, double-check your answers while filling in the answers on the OMR sheet. The questions which are not attempted do not count as wrong answers. So, if you are not 100% sure about the answer, you can skip it.

How to Prepare for UPSC CSAT Paper 2?

The basic skills such as numeracy skills, decision making, problem-solving, communication skills, logical reasoning etc., that are tested in the CSAT paper are generally developed during school time. If you paid attention back then, it would not create many problems in practising. The questions are not hard to answer, and the level is quite basic. However, if you weren’t good at it, don’t worry. We have explained the proper CSAT strategy for UPSC here.

But before going through the strategy, take a test. If your marks are above 180, then there is very little need for preparation. If the marks are between 180 and 100, giving 3 days a week is enough. But, if your score is below 100, practice on alternate days. Below 66 is way too low, and daily practice would be a must then.

Tips for CSAT Preparation for UPSC

#1. Schedule your day and add at least one hour of practice for CSAT in it. There’s no need to practice it daily. Alternate days practising are enough. However, if you think that you are weak in this area, give one hour daily.

#2. Attempt previous year question papers every week. Enrol for a mock test and set a reminder. Observe your mistakes and note them. Keeping track of your weaknesses and strengths help you evaluate things more easily. Keep a journal for it.

#3. Make a list of the most asked and important topics and prioritise them. If you are done with those topics and have enough time left, work on other areas. It’s better not to work on areas where you feel it’s impossible to even after trying your every bit.

Some more Tips

#4. Learn from good books like Arihant publications, TMH publications. Going for other unpopular books could waste your time, so be strategic here.

#5. Proper time management is crucial for CSAT preparation for UPSC. Being irregular can hamper your score in the future. Hence, make a proper timetable and set a weekly or monthly goal. Make sure you stick to it and complete the goals.

#6. If you have a younger sibling, teach them. By this technique, you’ll sharpen not only your skills but your sibling’s skills too. This method is very effective when you are learning a new subject or topic.

Here’re Few more Tips

#7. Exercise daily and eat healthy food to sharpen your brain. Remember, the skill-sets required to qualify this paper need full functioning of the brain and body. If the brain is lousy, you will end up wasting a lot of time.

#8. If you are weak, then having a confident mindset here is very important. You should take this as an opportunity to learn and work on something new rather than taking it as a burden. With confidence, you can do anything.

#9. Look out for tricks and short-cuts for the questions. This helps save time. A personalised course can make your research easy.

#10. Lastly, prepare for it, but don’t over-prepare. You have to keep in mind that it’s a qualifying paper. Neglecting other paper’s preparation could cost you in the future.

Books for CSAT Preparation for UPSC

Analytical reasoning book by M.K Pandey

Modern Approach to Verbal and Non-verbal reasoning book by R.S Aggarwal

CSAT Paper II Manual book by TMH publications

Pearson CSAT manual book

Word power book by Norman Lewis

CSAT book by CI India

CSAT conceptual approach by P.N Roy Chaudhry


The CSAT paper is important to clear the first stage of UPSC, i.e., Prelims. Therefore, you should not neglect it. WIth UPSC Pathshala, you can skyrocket your CSAT preparation for UPSC. Here, with personalised courses and mentors, preparation will become super easy. Your doubts, weak points, ups and downs will be recorded to help you out more effectively. And not just CSAT, you can get access to the sources for all exams of UPSC.

Check the free demo class of UPSC pathshala. We have prepared thousands of students for the exam who have passed with flying colours. Want to join them too?

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Wondering how to prepare for UPSC CSAT Paper 2? Read this article about CSAT preparation for UPSC. You will not miss out on any important information regarding the paper.
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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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