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Here’s the Secret to Ace CSAT for UPSC Prelims 2023

Nov 19, 2022

Here’s the Secret to Ace CSAT for UPSC Prelims 2023

Due to its qualifying nature, CSAT paper is taken causally by many aspirants. Many candidates make the mistake of thinking they can clear the CSAT paper by just attempting comprehension questions. That is a big mistake. 

And because of mistakes like that, we come across many instances where candidates excel in the UPSC-GS Paper-I but fail to perform in the CSAT paper. According to the latest exam pattern, the qualifying mark for CSAT is 66 marks out of a total of 200 on the CSAT paper. This means that you have to score a minimum of 33% to clear the CSAT paper. 

The CSAT paper should not be taken for granted or attempted casually because its level of difficulty changes every year. If you want, here is a look at the CSAT 2022 answer key. Go through this after solving the question paper and see how many you get right.  

In this post, we will go through the CSAT Strategy for the UPSC Prelims examination and a few additional tips to boost your CSAT scores in the Prelims exam. 

But before we begin with the CSAT Strategy for UPSC Prelims, let us go over a brief introduction to what is CSAT including its full form, UPSC CSAT syllabus and important books. This will give you an idea about the role of CSAT in the UPSC Prelims examination

What is CSAT?

The full form for CSAT is Civil Services Aptitude Test. It is also known as General Studies-II and it is a qualifying paper for UPSC Prelims. To qualify, candidates need to score a minimum of 33% or 66 marks out of a total of 200 marks in the exam. 

The CSAT paper was introduced in the year 2011 as a part of the Civil Services Examination (Preliminary) to test the analytical skills, reasoning ability, and aptitude of a candidate. 

Now let us look at the UPSC CSAT syllabus. 

UPSC CSAT Syllabus 

The CSAT syllabus consists broadly of the following categories:

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability 
  • Decision-making and problem-solving 
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numerical ability (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc. - Class X level), and Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. - Class X level). 

As you can see, the UPSC CSAT syllabus looks short and easy enough at first glance. This misleads most aspirants towards taking a casual approach. However, a casual approach might push you towards failure. 

Hence, a consistent and planned strategy is essential to master the CSAT syllabus. For example, mock tests are one of the best ways to ensure success in the CSAT paper.

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Next, let us go through the list of important books for CSAT. 

CSAT Books for UPSC

Given below are the important CSAT Books for the UPSC Prelims exam:

Analytical Reasoning by M. K. Pandey

One of the most recommended CSAT books for UPSC, it contains easy-to-understand language that helps you understand the concepts easily. It also contains several handy tricks you can use to quickly solve analytical problems. 

The Mantra of CSAT Paper II by Gautam Puri

This is a great CSAT book to practice for the exam. It contains solved CSAT papers of the previous years and also has sample exercises you can use to enhance your preparation. 

Tata McGraw Hill  - General Studies Paper-II for UPSC Preliminary Examination 

This CSAT book is the ideal choice for candidates who are targeting both the UPSC CSE and the State PSC exams. The book contains sample question papers based on the latest exam trend and a detailed analysis of the previous year’s question papers. 

Before we move to the next book, here is a video you must watch to ace your CSAT paper in the UPSC exam. Learn the key strategies to ace both GS-I and CSAT from UPSC 2021 topper, AIR-12, Mr. Yasharth Shekhar. 


If you would prefer to read a blog based on the video with added tips for Prelims preparation here is the blog about Mr. Yasharth Shekhar’s UPSC CSE Prelims strategy in more detail, 

A Modern Approach to Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by R.S. Aggrawal 

This book is an excellent resource to bring clarity of concept with regard to directions and non-verbal reasoning, basic analogy and analytical reasoning for CSAT. 

Cracking the Civil Services Aptitude Test Paper-II by Arihant 

Topics like data interpretation, decision-making, general mental ability, analytical ability and problem-solving skills among others have been explained clearly in this book. The sample sets included here would help you enhance your time-management skills, accuracy, and problem-solving ability. 

If you are a fresh aspirant preparing for the UPSC CSE 2023, the information given above is crucial for you. You must also be familiar with the UPSC exam calendar for 2023. Now let us look at the preparation strategy for CSAT. 

How to Prepare CSAT for UPSC CSE Prelims 2023

The syllabus for the CSAT paper is quite defined and easier to complete as compared to the General Studies Paper-I. If you devote an hour or two towards preparation daily, you can clear this paper without any difficulty. 

Given below are some strategies you must follow to prepare thoroughly for the CSAT paper. 

#1 - To master the comprehension section of the paper, make reading a part of your daily habit. This is essential because even though the difficulty level of comprehension questions is moderate, candidates still end up losing 30-40 marks in comprehension. 

#2 - The best way to increase your accuracy over comprehension is to read simple English novels to expand your vocabulary. At the same time, you can read the editorial section of newspapers and other weekly magazines like Kurukshetra and Yojana. 

#3 - To ace the topics under the Mental Ability section such as time and distance, time and work among others, practice questions from previous years' questions (PYQs). In addition to this, you can practice from various Quantitative Aptitude books. The strategy can be used for Logical Reasoning questions as well. 

#4 - Another technique to boost your CSAT scores is by going on to YouTube and practising SSC-CGL logical reasoning questions by watching their videos. Write down a question as soon as it appears on the screen, pause the video and attempt to answer it yourself, and only then play the video to know the answer. 

Now that we are done with the preparation part, let us look at a few tips to supercharge your CSAT preparation and boost your scores. 

Tips to Boost Marks in CSAT Paper 

To clear the CSAT paper easily you need to plan on two levels.

First, you need to plan your studies before the exam and second, you need to plan how you will attempt the CSAT paper during the exam. 

Let us start with the pre-exam strategy. 

CSAT Strategy Before The Exam

More than half of the aspirants make the mistake of not reading for CSAT because they feel the paper requires no reading. In addition to the comprehension section, you also need to read and understand the formulae. 

To give your mark sheet that extra boost, follow the tips given below. 

Finish the CSAT syllabus. You can do this easily using PrepLadder’s CSAT Videos. 

Practice all PYQs of the past 4-5 years. You can access it with just one click by going to ‘Past Exams’ in the PrepLadder App. 

Make crisp notes of all the formulae and shortcuts and keep them aside for revision. 

Last, read short stories and regularly follow the editorial section of any major English newspaper.

Now let us look at what you need to do on the day of the CSAT exam. 

CSAT Strategy On Exam Day

First, revise the notes of the formulae you prepared earlier. 

CSAT paper is often difficult to complete due to the lack of time available. Therefore, start the exam with a lot of energy so that you can complete as much as you can. 

Do not be frustrated about being unable to solve math questions. If you are unable to solve the question in one go it is better to move on from it. Avoid trying complex equations and solutions as these will waste your time. 

When you arrive at the comprehension section, read the entire comprehension fast in one go and then attempt to solve the questions that follow. 

That is everything you need to know about improving your CSAT scores and scoring above average. 

And with that, we have come to the end of the blog post. Follow the tips given above and you will soon find your CSAT scores reaching 120 and above. 

To help you kickstart your CSAT preparation, download the PrepLadder App and build conceptual clarity by watching the CSAT videos. 

And it is not just CSAT, you can make your UPSC journey easier with the PrepLadder App. Our leading UPSC Faculty like M.Puri, Vivek Singh, Himanshu Sharma and Hemant Jha will help you with every subject and paper to take your preparation to the next level. 

The App has high-quality study tools, concise, effective and well-planned video lectures by the Dream Team, high-yield QBanks and PrepTests based on the real exam pattern, and PYQs. 

Everything you need to ace the UPSC CSE is available on the PrepLadder App. 

Keep following our blog for more interesting posts like Here’s the Secret to Ace UPSC Prelims CSAT. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to keep up with the latest information about the exam.  

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Auther Details

Arindam Goswami

Arindam is a Content Marketer who looks after the Medical Super Specialty segment, specifically the NEET SS category, at PrepLadder. He aims to help aspirants crack exams and realize their dreams through his work.


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