How to Prepare for CSAT UPSC?

By Durga Prashanna Mishra|Updated : September 4th, 2022

How to Prepare for CSAT UPSC? This question is searched among almost all the UPSC Aspirants who are facing the UPSC Prelims for the first time. CSAT or Civil Service Aptitude Test is the qualifying paper in the UPSC Prelims exam. CSAT, which is also known as General Studies-2, can be challenging for UPSC aspirants as it tests the aptitude, logical reasoning, and analytical ability of the candidates. CSAT is qualifying in nature, and it requires a different preparation strategy from GS Paper.

Candidates must note that preparing for CSAT will cost a lesser amount of time as compared to GS paper. Since the candidates need to score only 33% to pass the paper, they must follow a robust strategy where their valuable time can be saved. In this article, we have mentioned a practical strategy that would help you prepare if you follow diligently for CSAT for UPSC.

How to Prepare for CSAT UPSC- Step by Step Guide

Even if you crack General Studies I of UPSC Prelims and score above the cutoff while failing in CSAT Paper, your application will be rejected. This shows the importance that CSAT holds. So make sure you follow a rock-solid strategy that would help you to crack CSAT with ease.

Step-1 Take CSAT Seriously

As CSAT is a qualifying paper that requires only 33% quality, many candidates take it lightly. However, failing this paper means the candidates won’t be able to clear the UPSC Prelims. So take it seriously as you need to clear this paper at any cost.

Step-2 Evaluate yourself before you start preparation

  • By attempting last year's UPSC CSAT paper, you will understand what your strengths and weakness are.
  • If your score is very high, then start preparing for CSAT in the last 2-3 months. If you are on the borderline or your marks are not good.
  • Then start doing CSAT early. Let's say 6-8 months before the exam.

Step-3 Buy a comprehensive UPSC CSAT Manual.

  • There are so many CSAT manuals published but CSAT Manual by Tata Mc Graw Hill is one of the most recommended ones.
  • In this book, you will find that every topic is presented in a very comprehensive manner. You can practice and revise each topic in a brief period of time.
  • Apart from this, you can refer to some of the best CSAT Books for UPSC

Step-4 Attempt mocks regularly.

  • Mocks help in identifying the strong and weak areas after identifying the strong and weak areas.
  • Time-to-time mock helps in reducing the time to solve the question and the exam-related environment for pressure handling in the exam.

How to Prepare for CSAT UPSC? (Subject Wise)

The section covered in the UPSC CSAT Syllabus includes- Comprehension, Interpersonal skills, communication skills, Logical reasoning and analytical ability, Decision-making and problem-solving, General mental ability, and Basic numeracy. Let’s see how candidates can prepare for each section of the CSAT below.

Comprehension, Interpersonal skills, and Communication Skills

  • For the Comprehension section, practice regularly. Read Daily Editorials from the newspaper, which will be helpful for CSAT as well as General Studies papers also.
  • Read weekly or monthly magazines like Kurukshetra or Yojana
  • In the beginning, it might be difficult for you to understand the essence of the paragraph, or maybe an aspirant may find difficulty in understanding the vocabulary. But with sincere effort, it will become easy with time. During the exam, vocabulary and daily practice help in solving questions.
  • Along with reading newspapers, watch videos from Lok Sabha TV, and Rajya Sabha TV, and mark the keywords in the comprehension for better and quicker understanding.

Logical Reasoning

  • The key to understanding logical reasoning is to practice, practice, practice, and the best source to start is to do the previous year's questions. The previous year's question helps you to understand the demand of the UPSC from aspirants.

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);

  • For math-related problems, no need to worry; problems are simple. As mentioned by UPSC, the difficulty level is of 10th Standard.
  • First of all, learn the basics of the topic mentioned, such as time and work, time, speed, and distance.
  • Then go through the UPSC previous year's papers, and understand the demand of the UPSC.
  • The next step is to learn how to solve all the types of questions asked in the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers.
  • The last step is to practice questions by giving mocks and reducing the time taken to solve the question.

How to Prepare for CSAT UPSC with Non-English Backgroud?

Ever since the introduction of CSAT in 2011, there has been apprehension in the mind of UPSC aspirants who are from non-English backgrounds. There have been many instances of protests demanding CSAT be scrapped in the past. So if you are worried about your English language skills, then we have prepared a strategy that would help you to crack this easily.

  • Start with a basic grammar book and build a strong foundation in grammar.
  • After that, expand your vocabulary skills so that you won’t face problems in understanding the given text.
  • Learn common idioms and phrases.
  • Make a habit of reading newspapers daily as it will improve your vocabulary and sentence construction ability.
  • There are so many books and essays that are written in simple language. Read them and try to understand them as they will improve your English and give you ideas for other papers in both UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus.
  • The last and most important thing is practice. Practice and practice till you overcome your fear of English.

Best Books for CSAT Preparation for UPSC

With the right approach and strategy, you will also need to have the right CSAT Books for UPSC for an effective CSAT Preparation for UPSC. below we have mentioned some of the highly all-time recommended books that you shouldn’t miss while preparing for CSAT.

  • Analytical Reasoning- M K Pandey
  • Cracking the Civil Services Aptitude Test Paper-II by Arihant
  • A Modern Approach to Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by R.S. Aggrawal
  • The Mantra of CSAT Paper II by Gautam Puri
  • General Studies Paper-II for UPSC Preliminary Examination by Tata McGraw Hill


write a comment


  • CSAT is a qualifying paper in which you need to score 33% to qualify. So to prepare for CSAT without coaching, one must follow the right study materials. Candidates must check out the previous year’s question papers and prepare accordingly, and in addition, they must practice and give as many as mock tests possible.

  • Considering the difficulty level of CSA, candidates should start their preparation as soon as possible. The preparation of six months would be enough to crack this paper.

  • As we all know, the UPSC exam is one of the toughest government exams in the country. So the CSAT of UPSC can be a little difficult. But the good news is that candidates only need to score 33% to clear this paper.

  • The total marks for CSAT is 200, but a candidate needs to score only 66 marks or 33% of 200 in order to clear this paper.

  • If you are not good at maths and trying to ignore this part in CSAT, then you must perform best in reasoning and English because all you need is 66 marks only to clear UPSC CSAT.

Featured Articles

Follow us for latest updates