General Studies (Paper- I), being the more difficult counterpart, is the centre of attention for most UPSC civil services exam candidates. They spend all their time and energy preparing for Paper-I that they completely forget that CSAT-Paper-II is of equal marks and the real deal breaker. Is this the strategy with which you wish to take the UPSC prelims in 2015?
To clear any exam, it is not about just the hard-work that you put in; prepare to strategize smartly.
Majority of the candidates who are unable to clear the prelims are heard saying that "I did not prepare aptitude in an exhaustive manner, only mugged up a few formulas and "read" a few sums." Is this preparation strategy fair for an exam that is as important as the GS exam?
Believe it or not, CSAT is the Game Changer in the UPSC prelims. Ever since the introduction of CSAT in 2011, the overall exam cut-off has risen each year. This is because this section is extremely scoring IF YOU PREPARE FOR IT!
Instead of practicing simple questions on logical reasoning, analytical ability, basic quantitative aptitude, people have been trying to do a PH.D on culture, science and environment. Despite their months of constant efforts, they are able to score an additional 10-15 mark (which means 5-7 questions if they are lucky). The GS-MCQs are so tough that mugging up so much of information does not translate into much gain.
On the other hand, well planned preparation in maths can easily help raise your score by at least 30 marks (around 12 questions), giving you a competitive edge over the crowd.
Students from Hindi medium backgrounds who have always felt that they are at a disadvantage ever since CSAT was introduced, must now buckle up and polish their aptitude skills. You have to accept that CSAT is not going to get scrapped. From 2012 to 2013, the proportion of questions in comprehension has reduced and maths has increased. Rather than complaining, they must start practicing sample tests and mock question papers if they wish to clear the exam.
What can we learn from analysis of last 4 years of UPSC prelims exam?
- There is no separate cut-off for GS and CSAT exam; which means both are cumulatively important. In 2013, the overall cut-off for prelims was 241 but the individual cut-offs are guessed to be 30 for GS (15 correct answers) and 70 for CSAT. This shows the increased importance of CSAT.
- Well prepared candidates from maths/engineering/MBA background find the CSAT exam very scoring, thus pushing the cut-off higher each year.
- Based on the difficulty level of the questions, you don’t need to waste time on Vedic maths tricks for speed maths, cube roots, square roots, mugging tables, etc.
- Practice more of logical reasoning and data interpretation questions in a time bound manner. The questions asked in the exam are not very difficult but seem like they are because of the time pressure. Train your mind to think quickly. Make this your primary preparation strategy for UPSC Prelims 2015.
Predictions for UPSC Civil services CSAT exam 2015:
- Increased weightage of analytical and logical reasoning questions can be predicted for 2015 CSAT exam.
- Higher overall cut-off for Prelims exam because of better scores in CSAT exam
- Expect an improvement in difficulty level of questions on maths and data interpretation to screen students with better analytical skills.
- A hopeful improvement in quality of English to Hindi translation of Reading Comprehensions