How to Prepare for CSAT UPSC? - CSAT Preparation for UPSC

By Durga Prashanna Mishra|Updated : January 8th, 2023

The tips and strategies for UPSC CSAT preparation are crucial for all aspirants studying for the Civil Services exam 2023. 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 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. In this article, get the subject-wise strategy of how to prepare for CSAT UPSC along with the list of best books.

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 for CSAT preparation for UPSC where their valuable time can be saved.

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How to Prepare for CSAT UPSC?

Even if you crack General Studies paper 1 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 of UPSC CSAT preparation that would help you to crack the exam with ease. The steps of how to prepare for CSAT UPSC 2023 are shared below:

Step-1: Take CSAT Seriously

As CSAT is a qualifying paper that requires only 33%, many candidates take it lightly. However, failing this paper means the candidates won’t be able to clear the UPSC Prelims. Hence, candidates are advised to prepare hard for CSAT as well, along with the GS paper 1.

Step-2: Evaluate yourself before you start CSAT preparation for UPSC

  • By attempting UPSC CSAT previous year question paper, get to know your strengths and weakness, which is crucial before beginning CSAT preparation for UPSC.
  • If you get a good score while solving last year’s paper, give less time to preparation, say the last 3-4 months. But, if your scores are average or below average, then give the appropriate amount of time on CSAT preparation to boost your performance.

Step-3: Buy a Comprehensive Manual

  • There are so many 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, for UPSC CSAT preparation, 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, which will be fruitful in doing CSAT preparation for UPSC.
  • Time-to-time mocking helps in reducing the time to solve the CSAT question and provides the exam-related environment beforehand.

CSAT Preparation for UPSC: Subject-Wise Strategy

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 to prepare CSAT for UPSC by focusing on each of these sections below.

Comprehension, Interpersonal, and Communication Skills:

  • Solving comprehension questions might look easy, but it also requires practice and speed. For the preparation of this section in the UPSC CSAT exam, it is advised to read editorials from the newspaper. It won’t only help in CSAT preparation for UPSC but also in General Studies preparation.
  • Read magazines like Kurukshetra or Yojana. Check monthly current affairs magazine for UPSC here.
  • Focus on boosting vocabulary by solving more and more questions.
  • Refer to videos from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV to enhance your comprehension and communication skills.

Logical Reasoning:

  • The best way to prepare logical reasoning for the CSAT exam is by practicing questions from the previous year's question papers.

General Mental Ability:

  • The syllabus for this section includes Basic numeracy and Data interpretation which includes topics such as numbers, relations of numbers, orders of magnitude, graphs, charts, data sufficiency, tables, etc. The difficulty level of questions is of matriculation level.
  • Start with learning basic mathematical topics such as speed, time, distance, time and work, etc.
  • Try and solve various questions from the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers.
  • At last, reduce the time taken to solve questions by practicing more mock test papers.

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 for UPSC CSAT preparation 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 books for effective CSAT Preparation for UPSC. below we have mentioned some of the highly recommended books 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

How to Prepare for CSAT UPSC without Coaching?

If you don't want to be dependent on coaching institutions for your UPSC CSAT preparation, follow these simple tips and tricks to crack the paper with ease:

  • Follow the complete and latest syllabus and pattern for Civil Services Aptitude Test.
  • Go through previous year papers to evaluate the difficulty level of questions, trends, and type of questions asked.
  • Use online resources and CSAT study material to prepare for the exam at home without coaching.
  • Prepare a timetable by giving time to the preparation of all subjects, and adhere to it.
  • Solve as many questions as possible from the last year’s papers to get a hold of time management and performance.


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FAQs on How to Prepare for CSAT UPSC?

  • 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 CSAT, 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 preparation, then you must perform best in reasoning and English because all you need is 66 marks only to clear UPSC CSAT.

  • The difficulty level of comprehension in CSAT paper is higher than in the SSC, banking, and other competitive exams. Therefore, to prepare for CSAT comprehension, candidates must work on their vocabulary, reading and comprehension skills. Read newspapers, and solve comprehension questions from previous year's papers to score well in this section.

  • UPSC toppers generally follow a strategy where they first analyze their performance by solving mock papers or previous year questions and then decide a time to be allotted for CSAT preparation. For some, 3 to 4 hours of daily study is required, while for others, solving one mock test weekly works.

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