At first glance, the syllabus for the preliminary examination appears very vast. You should not let the scope or the ambit of the syllabus intimidate you. Remember, it is the same syllabus for everyone who aspires to get into the services. And every year candidates do get selected for the services. So, if they can get selected, so can you!

The question that has to be addressed is how do you go about preparing for the examination?

More than ten lakh aspirants fill out the form for the civil services examination every year. However, only about 50% of them appear for the examination. The others drop out.

There are two ways of looking at this bit of information. A faint hearted person will look at this data and say to himself – if so many people don’t even appear for the examination after having filled the form, because they probably felt that they could not make it, what chance do I have of making it into the civil services examination? Let me forget all about it.

The civil services are not for the faint-hearted.

A person with an optimistic outlook will, however, look at this data and chortle with glee. Just this bit of information has reduced his competition by half and his chances of making it into the civil services have gone up by 50%.

He will also tell himself that if half the people have dropped out, because they were intimidated by idea of the fierce competition involved, then it is likely that, with the passage of time, as the examination draws closer, more people may get disheartened and not prepare for the examination as rigorously as they ought to. If that number is, hypothetically, pegged at 50%, then his chances of making it through have brightened even further.

So, what this means is that the first thing that you have to do if you wish to appear for the civil services examination is to promise yourself that you will not give up, irrespective of what your colleagues, friends or so-called well wishers tell you. 

In the case of the civil services examination, perseverance is the key to success. Once you have promised yourself that you will not give up, irrespective of the pressures you may feel, you have won half the battle.

Now, you have to get ready for the examination.


Please remember, that there are three stages in the civil services examination.

STAGE 1 is the Preliminary Examination.

STAGE 2 is the Main Examination.

STAGE 3 is the Interview cum Personality Test.

The Preliminary Examination consists of two Objective Type papers. The papers are: General Studies-1 or Paper 1 and General Studies -2, also known as the Civil Services Aptitude Test or CSAT.

The Main Examination (Written) consists of nine papers of the conventional Essay Type questions.

The Written Examination is followed by an Interview for the Personality Test.

You have to clear the examination ONE STAGE AT A TIME.

Therefore, your preparation has to be so tailored that you focus on clearing each stage in which you appear.

It does not make any sense to carry out extensive studies for the CSE Main examination, while you are still preparing for the Preliminary Examination. You will only waste your time and seriously undermine your chances of clearing the Preliminary Examination successfully. And if you do not clear the Preliminary Examination, you cannot appear in the Main Examination.

Instead of doing this, you should prepare for the Preliminary Examination in such a manner that the preparation will help you, without consciously trying to do so, to create a sturdy base for the Main (Written) Examination. I will explain how you should do this in the subsequent pages.

There are five magic words which, if followed scrupulously, will not only help you to prepare for the Preliminary Examination, but will also lay a very strong foundation for the subsequent preparation for the Main (Written) Examination. These words are: READ, UNDERSTAND, ABSORB, LEARN and MASTER. The meaning of these words is self-evident. I do not have to adumbrate upon them. These words apply to all your preparations.

When you start your preparations, you can speak to your friends, colleagues and acquaintances, who have either already appeared in the examination, or are preparing for the examination, to see how they had prepared or are preparing for the Preliminary Examination. If they are ready to share their notes with you, then you should look at them carefully to get some idea of how they had prepared for the Preliminary stage. If you like the way they went about or are going about their preparation, you can emulate their method. If you do not like their way of preparing for the examination, you can work out your own way of doing so.

THE FIRST STEP towards IAS preparation

The first step towards preparing for the Preliminary Examination of the IAS is to go through the syllabus prescribed for this stage by the UPSC. Please read, understand and assimilate the syllabus. Then, you must try to find out is what kind of questions are asked in the Preliminary Examination. You can easily get to know about this by ordering the Question Papers of the earlier years from the UPSC. You can do this by going to their site: UPSC.

Similarly, you can also order the Answer Keys for these questions from the UPSC. To do this also you have to go to the site of the UPSC.

You should also order the Model Question cum Answer Booklet from the UPSC from the same address as given above, so that you can solve the questions as you continue with your preparations.

Once you have received the previous year’s question papers and their answer keys, you must read them very closely and intensively. This will help you to form some idea of the kind of questions that are asked, the logic behind the way the questions are framed, as well as the logic behind the way the answers to those questions have been arrived at.

Once you are armed with this information, you can get down to preparing for the Preliminary Examination in earnest.

Do remember that the strategy for preparing for the Preliminary Examination is to restrict your studies to the given syllabus. If you do this and frequently revise whatever you have studied, your chances of clearing the Preliminary Examination will be very bright.

Where do you start?

The Text Books prescribed by the NCERT for the CBSE are a good place to start your preparations for Paper I of the Preliminary Examination. These books are prescribed from Class 6 onwards in the schools that follow the CBSE pattern. Scholars, who are experts in their respective fields, have written these books in a simple and lucid style. A close study of these books will not only increase your knowledge but also help to improve your comprehension and understanding of various aspects of the subjects that you are preparing. You should make notes of whatever you study so that you do not have to open the books again and again. As time passes, you could collect additional information on the subject and add that to your notes and make them even more comprehensive. You must make sure that you look at your notes regularly so that, over time, the information contained in them becomes a part of you.

Some candidates do not prepare notes because of paucity of time. Such candidates should write the headings on the margins of the books they are reading to help them memorise the points. However, please remember, making notes not only helps you remember things properly, but also helps you to practice writing and increase your writing speed. Even though the Preliminary Examination is an Objective Type of examination, but the Main Examination is a Written examination and that is what you are targeting while you are preparing for the Preliminary Examination.

During the Main (Written) Examination, due to the paucity of time (the duration of each paper is only 3 hours), you will not only have to write fast, because of the length of the answers you are required to write, but you will also have to write neatly. This will be possible only if you have practiced writing extensively.

Paper I

General Studies


Now, let us look at the syllabus of Paper I. There are seven topics under Paper I. Let us try to deal with these topics one by one.


The first topic pertains to Current events of national and international importance. Preparing this topic is not as difficult as it looks. In order to prepare this topic in a meaningful manner you have to read at least one national newspaper every day. It should preferably be The Hindu. If you are unable to get The Hindu, then the Indian Express should be read. If you wish to read a Hindi newspaper, then you could read Dainik Jagaran, Dainik Bhaskar or Amar Ujala.  You must read the newspaper from cover to cover and you must read it very carefully. You must especially focus on news reports connected with the Polity and Constitution, International Relations, Economy, Security, Science and Technology, Environment, Social issues, Culture and Legal matters. Since you do not know which news item may figure in the examination, you cannot ignore any news report, howsoever insignificant it may appear.

The present pattern of the IAS Preliminary Examination lays a lot of emphasis on Current Affairs. Therefore, when you commence studying the current events, I would advise that even if you think you know something about the subject that you are reading about, you must try to forget that you know anything about it. You should take down notes about the subject that you are reading about as if you are reading about the matter for the first time. As you start making your notes, you will realize that you probably did not know the subject as thoroughly as you thought you did, because you will find nuances in the news report, which you had probably ignored earlier when you had read about the subject cursorily.

If the news report that you are reading refers to a related subject to make a point, then you must immediately search for that subject on the Internet and add the information that you collect to your notes. This will help you to understand the news report in its proper perspective. And since you would have also researched the topic, the information that you would have collected will get stored in your mind and stay there.

Once you have completed your notes on the various subjects covered in the newspaper on that day, you must read the notes you have prepared once again. This will help you to retain in your memory what you have learnt that day. 

A thorough reading of the newspaper in this manner will consume at least four to five hours. Do not get disheartened by the time it will take to read the newspaper, because it is time well spent. If you persist with this method of reading the newspaper, you will notice, after the lapse of a couple of months, that not only has your knowledge of various topics improved and become more accurate, but even the range of your knowledge and your understanding of how various subjects are interconnected has also increased substantially. And as you continue with this method of reading the newspaper, you will also notice that very soon you will not have to rush to the Internet to find out about various subjects as frequently as you had to do earlier, because the range and the depth of your knowledge would have increased manifold by then. Indeed, you will be able to hold your own in the event of any discussion on the subject, due to your having studied it so thoroughly. You will also realize that, as the days pass by and the range and the depth of your knowledge increases, the amount of time taken to read the newspaper thoroughly by you would also come down, because you would be able to understand the news reports in their proper perspective far more easily. This is called making solid preparation. It will pay you handsome dividends at the time of the examination.

Besides the newspaper, you must go through the issues of the magazines called KURUKSHETRA and YOJANA. These are government publications and they carry a lot of useful information. If you do not have the time to read both the magazines, then you must read at least one of them regularly. You must also make notes of whatever you feel is important in that issue of the magazine and add them to your overall notes on Current events of national and international importance.

Let me repeat. Please stick to one newspaper and one magazine while carrying out your preparations. Read them as thoroughly as you can. Then, revise and re-revise whatever you have read so that you are able to imbibe everything in such a manner that you can reproduce it during the Preliminary and the Main Examination. 

The India Year Book brought out by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting every year is a ‘must read’ while preparing this topic as well as many other topics contained in Paper I.

The Press Information Bureau (PIB) maintains a site on the Internet. Its address is www.pib.nic.in which carries daily updates of the work done by various Ministries everyday.

A site called Insights on India brings out a summary of all important news items of the day.

A site called PRS India brings out updates on various bills, acts and draft legislation.

You should also hear the news on the All India Radio and the talk shows on the Lok Sabha TV and the Rajya Sabha TV.

You should also read the special issues of the magazine, India Today.

All these sites, magazines and Radio and TV channels carry important information on a daily/monthly basis and can be perused/seen. You can make notes of whatever you feel is relevant. You can also download the information from some of the sites.

There are numerous other sites on the Internet, which claim that for some financial consideration they can help you to prepare for the Civil Services Examination. Among other things that they offer, they also claim that they will provide a daily summary of the news reports carried by the various newspapers everyday. It is entirely up to you to decide whether you wish to avail of their offer or not. I would, however, recommend that if you read even one national newspaper everyday, in the manner that I have suggested, go through either the KURUKSHETRA or YOJANA meticulously, read THE INDIA YEARBOOK, look at the INFORMATION BEING PROVIDED BY THE INTERNET SITES THAT HAVE BEEN INDICATED ABOVE and listen to the Radio and TV Channels mentioned above, you will be able to imbibe far more from them than what you would be able to imbibe from such summaries offered against a financial consideration.

Please remember, the information you collect by researching stays with you for life, because of the time and the effort you spend on collecting it.

TOPIC 2 : History of India and the Indian National Movement

Let us now look at the second topic. It pertains to the History of India and the Indian National Movement. The books prepared by the NCERT on Indian History are the best books to start your preparation for this topic. As you go through the books prescribed for the various classes, you will notice that the level of information provided at the lower classes till Class X, although very important and useful, is still somewhat limited. The scholars who prepared these books did this deliberately keeping in mind the classes for which the book had been prepared viz. Class VI to Class X. However, more information is added as you move to the History books prescribed for Classes XI and XII. Besides, at the end of each chapter, additional books have been mentioned for students who wish to know more about a particular subject.

It will not be a good strategy to read all these books, because of the limited time available at your disposal.

Instead of doing that, apart from going through the NCERT books, you can select one book for each of the broad periods of Indian History viz. Ancient, Medieval and Modern Indian History for advanced study. You should also select one book each for the Indian National Movement and India Since Independence. You can select these books after consulting your friends and teachers and study them thoroughly.

Generally, aspirants select all the books of NCERT for History from Class 6 to Class 12the books by RS Sharma for Ancient IndiaSatish Chandra for Medieval India, Bipan Chandra for Modern India, Indian National Movement and for the period pertaining to India Since Independence.

Some aspirants also read the books written by Romilla Thapar.

Some people read Ram Chandra Guha’s ‘India After Gandhi’.

Shekhar Bandopadhyay’s ‘From Plassey to Partition and the book brought out by Spectrum Publications on Modern India are also read by many aspirants.

On Art and Culture, the book prescribed for Class XI by the NCERT titled AN INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN ART deals with the subject quite comprehensively. It is a ‘must read’ for everyone.

Nitin Singhania’s book on Indian Art and Culture is also a useful book.

Please remember, the level of knowledge that is expected of you while answering the papers set for the Preliminary Examination Paper I is at best of the B.A. (Graduate) level. You are not expected to have the knowledge of an M.A. or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) on the subject. Besides, in the Preliminary Examination you have to attempt multiple-choice answers to questions. You are not required to write long, essay type answers. Therefore, very detailed studying of every aspect of the subject is really not required.

It is very important that you keep revising whatever you have read at regular intervals. Please remember, it is better to read less; but whatever you read must be revised as often as possible to ensure that you know it thoroughly. The questions that are likely to be asked will be based on both, facts as well as requiring analysis. Therefore, your preparation should be geared to meet these requirements so that you are able to answer the questions in the Preliminary Examination successfully.

TOPIC 3 : Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World

The next topic is Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.

Once again, the books prepared by the NCERT for Geography for school students from Class 6 to 12 are the best for your basic preparation.

Please remember, Geography must be studied with maps and an Atlas. These help to clarify many things. The ‘Oxford Atlas and the ‘Blackswan Atlas are quite useful. Either one of them can be selected.

In addition, you can select a couple of books on Indian Geography and World Geography for getting a little more advanced information. These books can be selected after consulting your friends and your teachers. Some of the better known authors are Goh Cheng Leong, Simon Adams, Robert D Kaplan, Majid Hussain, Savinder Singh, DR Khullar etc. You will have to make a very thorough reading of the books that you select.

Please remember, quite often the things that appear insignificant while you are reading the book find their way into the question paper. If you have not studied the book thoroughly, you will not be able to answer the question. 

It will also be useful to practice marking the location of places and geographical features like important rivers, lakes, seas, mountain ranges etc. on blank outline maps of India and the World while preparing for the topic of Geography. This will help you to form a good idea about the location of places and features in your mind and will come in handy while answering the questions. Therefore, you must be very thorough with your maps. This is only possible through practicing marking places, physical features, natural phenomenon like weather, sea-currents, forests, minerals etc. on blank maps again and again.

TOPIC 4 : Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues etc.

The next topic is Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues etc.

As the topic itself suggests, this is all about the Indian Constitution. Apart from reading the books prescribed by the NCERT on Polity, the Constitution of India will also have to be read. You must keep a bare act of the Constitution of India handy and consult it as often as time permits.

One or two standard commentaries on the Constitution of India will also need to be referred to in order to understand various aspects of our Constitutional System. Durga Das Basu’s book on the Indian Constitution is the standard reference book. But it is a huge tome. If you have the time you can take a look at it. However, the abridged version of Durga Das Basu’s book on the Indian Constitution makes excellent reading. Books written by authors like Subhash Kashyap, PM Bakshi etc can also be consulted.

If you feel that you do not have the time to read any of these books then there are a number of books written for candidates aspiring to appear for the Civil Services Examination. You could select one or two of them. Laxmikanth’s books on Polity and Governance are considered quite useful. Laxmikanth’s books are also available on PDF format on the Internet.

These books will help to clarify the Indian Constitution and the Political System that flows out of it. Things like the Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues etc. are all a part of the Constitution. Some of them were there right from the beginning when the Constitution was originally framed. Others were included over time through Constitutional Amendments. This will also help you to understand how Amendments to the Constitution of India can be made.

While you are studying this topic, you will notice that many of the things that you will be reading about also find a mention in the daily newspapers. This will help you to understand the topic in its proper perspective. The Constitution of India may only be a book. But it is a book that lives in the lives of the people of this land everyday. So, it is almost a living entity.

Let me repeat. In order to have a decent command over Polity and Governance, you must read the NCERT BOOKS on GEOGRAPHY from Class 6 to 12. You should supplement this with AN INTRODUCTION TO THE CONSTITUTION by Durga Das Basu or INDIAN POLITY by Laxmikanth. If you read these books thoroughly along with a thorough reading of the newspaper, you should be able to solve most of the questions in the Preliminary Examination.

TOPIC 5 : Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives etc.

The next topic is Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives etc. 

India’s tryst with Destiny commenced on 15th August 1947, in the famous words of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. In 1947, more than 70% of the Indian population was desperately poor. Their lot had to be improved. The Central and the State Governments of the country have been working since 1947 to raise the people out of poverty. They have been doing this through various poverty alleviation programmes that were initiated over time. The outcome of these programmes has been a mixed bag. Some programmes did well. Others did not. However, the efforts of the Government in this direction have not flagged.

This topic deals with various issues connected with economic and social development. To study this topic you will have to go through the development programmes and welfare schemes that were launched by the Central and the State Governments from time to time.

The NCERT books dealing with the subject prescribed for classes IX onwards are a must read for this topic.

Ramesh Singh’s book on the Indian Economy is a very useful book on this topic. It is available in the PDF format on the Internet.

Candidates must also go through the Economic Survey that is brought out by the Ministry of Finance every year. It is in two volumes – Volume I and Volume II. If you do not have a background on Economics and find the subject difficult initially, then you can start by going through the first few pages of Wikipedia on Indian Economic Survey. It contains the Economic Survey in an abridged form and has been written in a simple style. It will help you to understand the subject. Then you can move on to the Economic Survey proper. The Economic Survey brought out by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India is an absolutely ‘must read’ for all candidates aspiring for the Civil Services Examination.

The candidate must also have some idea of the work of the Finance Commission appointed by the President of India under Article 280 of the Constitution of India. Among other things, the Finance Commission recommends how the resources collected by the Central Government are to be shared with the States.

The Annual Budget of the Government of India also has to be looked at, especially the portion that contains the ratio of sharing of expenditure on Centrally Sponsored Schemes by the Central and the State Governments.

You should also go through the latest Five Year Plan.

There is a site that provides details of the Major Initiatives taken by the Prime Minister of India. It is a useful site for getting updates on the Initiatives taken by the Prime Minister of India. The site is called PM India.

Candidates should look at it regularly to update their information.

Books like, “Textbooks for Sustainable Development – A Guide to Embedding” brought out by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development could also be consulted.

Some candidates also consult:

Indian Economy since Independence by Uma Kapila.

Indian Economy by Dutt and Sundaram.

Presentations on subjects dealing with Economics by mrunal.org

The next topic is General issues on Environmental ecology. Bio-diversity and Climate Change.

This is a critical sector and is very much in the news.

The NCERT books on Science for Class XI and XII contain some chapters on Environment. These should be read. Many toppers go through a book titled Environment’ by Shankar IAS Academy.

Jairam Ramesh has prepared a very useful note on Critically Endangered Species. This must be read.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has carried out a number of surveys. These are the Tiger Survey, the Elephant Survey, the Survey of Biosphere Reserves, the Survey of National Parks, the Survey of Wetlands of India etc. These contain useful information about the status of all these subjects. They should be consulted. There is no need of making an in-depth study of these surveys, but the broad items of information contained in them are quite useful.

In addition, the Ministry of Environment and Forests brings out a Forest Survey every year. This contains detailed information about all items pertaining to the subjects that are looked after by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. If you can manage to read this book, it will provide very useful information. However, if you do not have the time to do so, then you must make an effort to at least go through the Introductory Chapter of the Forest Survey.

There is a plethora of material on Environment and Ecology on the Internet. There are scholarly articles on the subjects by numerous persons including L Schipper, M Pelling, WN Adger, EL Tomkins, K Kern, M Linder, KL O’Brien, Amdt Hampe, Kathy J Willis, CD Thomas etc. These could be consulted.

The Paris Accord on Climate Change is a very critical subject. It was negotiated by representatives of 196 countries at Paris in December 2015. It is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with Greenhouse Gas Emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance, starting in the year 2020. As of 2018, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement and 179 countries have become parties to it. It must be studied carefully. Please remember, the G20 countries are responsible for 74% of the global Greenhouse Gas emissions.

The current stand of the United States of America vis a vis the Paris Accord is very important in the present context.

The world leaders meet frequently to discuss the issues connected with this subject and these are extensively covered in the press.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Government of India deals with India’s policy and approach on these issues. The literature published by them can prove very useful for appreciating India’s stand on these issues.

Very useful information is also available in ‘Environmental Ecology’ by Edgar and Showick Thorpe published by the Pearson Publication. A few books on the same subject have also been brought out by the McGraw Hill Publication.


The next topic is General Science.

The books prescribed by the NCERT for General Science for the CBSE will be very useful for understanding the basic principles and theories and must be studied carefully. All the General Science Books prescribed for Class 6 to Class 10 must be studied. In addition, the books on Biology and Chemistry for Class 11 and Class 12 must also be studied.

If you have the time then you could probably supplement your knowledge by going through General Science for Civil Services Preliminary Examination Paper I by McGraw Hill Publication. If you can find the time, you may also consider reading “Science and Technology in India” by Ashok Kumar Singh. 

A careful and methodical reading of the material that has been mentioned above will ensure that you clear the Preliminary Examination, Paper I, with flying colours.

Points for General Information

Paper I has duration of two hours or 120 minutes. You have to answer 100 questions in 120 minutes. Each question carries 2 marks. Negative marking is done for incorrect answers. If you give 1 incorrect answer, then you lose 1/3 or 0.33 marks out of the marks assigned to that question.

Negative marking can bring down the total marks secured by you and may even lead to your not clearing the Preliminary Examination. This obviously means that you cannot write answers on the basis of guess work as it may lead to a severe penalty in the form of deduction of the marks secured by you.

If you have to reply 100 questions in 120 minutes, it means that you get a little more than 1 minute to answer each question. This means that you have to adhere to a very tight schedule of time management. This is possible only if you have carried out extensive practice during mock papers and are thoroughly familiar with the topics on which the questions are likely to be asked. So, attempt as many mock papers as is possible. The more you practice, the easier it will be for you at the time of the Preliminary Examination.

Please remember, you are not likely to find time to revise your answer sheet. You may also not find time to attempt a question that you may have left out. Therefore, try to answer each question as it appears, in the sequence in which it has been set in the question paper.

It is also possible that you may not know the answers to all the questions. Please do not get daunted by this. If you get 60% of the answers correct, and do not try guess-work for the answers to the questions you are not sure about, there is no reason for your name not figuring in the list of candidates who are permitted by the UPSC to appear in the Main Examination.

Suggestions given by IAS Toppers TO PREPARE for the Preliminary Examination:

• Get very familiar with the syllabus.

•Basic understanding of the subject comes from reading and re-reading a topic.

•Read a single source, but read it thoroughly.

•If possible, read this single source again and again to completely master it.

•There is no need to carry out extensive research on a single subject.

•Avoid reading too many books.

•Writing practice cannot be neglected. But before that you must have complete basic knowledge about that specific subject.

•Go through the previous year’s question papers.

•It does not matter if you cannot complete the syllabus 100%; but you must be completely thorough with whatever you have completed.

•Even if you have not been able to complete 100% of the syllabus, stay calm. Going into a panic is only going to distract you and make you nervous.

•Please remember, the sentence, ‘I have completed the syllabus’, can never be completely, factually correct by any candidate, because of the vast syllabus of the IAS examination. It is more of a hyperbole to intimidate competitors.

•Read as many books prepared by the NCERT for the CBSE as you can. They are excellent for preparing for the IAS examination.

•Inculcate the habit of thinking.

•Read at least one newspaper thoroughly everyday.

•‘Aunty GOOGLE’ is very generous with her help. Consult her as often as you need to. If necessary, pester her till she answers your question to your satisfaction.

•Self-study is the best study.

•Please keep faith in your own intelligence and capacity for hard work.

•Coaching institutions cannot guarantee that you will get into the IAS.


Aptitude TesT


This paper is a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%. The marks secured in this paper are not counted for deciding whether a candidate has cleared the Preliminary Examination. However, if a candidate fails to secure at least 33% marks in this paper, he/she is deemed to have not cleared the Preliminary Examination.

This paper tests a candidate’s


•Interpersonal skills including communication skills;

•Logical reasoning and analytical ability;

•Decision making and problem solving;

•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).

Let us try to analyse why the UPSC wants to test these qualities among candidates?

As an officer of the Civil Services, especially the All India Services, an officer is required to comprehend things easily. This requires a certain level of general mental ability and a certain level of education.

Once the officer has comprehended the issue he/she would be required to initiate steps to set things in motion to deal with the matter

To be able to do so, the officer is required to be possessed of interpersonal skills, including communication skills so that he can not only convey in clear terms what is required to be done, but is also able to persuade his colleagues to do it in a particular manner.

Some times, this may require that the officer may have to convince his colleagues. To be able to convince his colleagues, the officer should be able to analyse the matter and then explain to the others why the course of action being proposed by him is the logical course to follow.

During the course of service, an officer will also be required to take numerous decisions to solve the problems of the people. So, he is required to possess the capacity to take decisions that will enable him to solve problems. This aspect needs to be tested and hence the inclusion of this topic in the paper.

All India Service Officers are required to be possessed of high mental ability in view of the nature of their work. That is also tested in this paper.

Apart from field assignments, All India Service Officers also have to hold assignments in the Secretariat, both at the State Government level and the Central Government level. During the course of these assignments, they have to prepare the budgets for their departments, prepare schemes that are to be implemented by their Departments, analyse the Reports that may have been prepared by experts for their Department, report matters to the Cabinet and so on. They are, therefore, required to possess skills pertaining to basic numeracy and data interpretation. The data could be in the form of numerals or charts, graphs, tables etc. They have to be able to interpret and explain the data available with them.

So, basically, this paper has been included to test whether a candidate who is aspiring for the Civil Services possesses the minimum pre-requisites that are required to be present in an All India Services Officer. That is why candidates who do not obtain the minimum marks of 33% in this paper are deemed to have not passed the Preliminary Examination.

While answering the questions in Paper II depends primarily on the attributes that are present in you, there are a few books that may help you to hone your abilities further. Two books can be considered. The first is “Analytical Reasoning” by MK Pandey. The second book is “Verbal and non-verbal reasoning” by RS Aggarwal.

Arihant Publications has also brought out a book titled “Cracking The CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test) Paper 2”.

There are various books by Access Publications and McGraw Hill Publications on this subject, which can help the aspirants to understand the pattern of CSAT Paper-2.

A careful and close reading of these books is likely to help you to sharpen your abilities further and may prove useful in preparing for Paper II.

The “15 Steps Programme, 15 Practice Sets CSAT Paper 2” published by Arihant Publication for Paper II are also extremely important. They will help you to practice how to answer the questions that are likely to be asked during the examination.

Paper II is of two hours or 120 minutes duration. 80 questions have to be answered in 120 minutes. Each question carries 2.5 marks.

There is negative marking in this paper too. For each incorrect answer 1/3 or 33% of the marks assigned for that question will be deducted.

Negative marking can bring down the total marks a candidate may have secured substantially. And if it results in the candidate securing less than 33% marks in this paper, then, irrespective of how the candidate may have fared in Paper I of the Preliminary Examination, he/she will be deemed to have not passed the Preliminary Examination and will not be permitted to appear in the Main Examination.

By now you must have realized that you have to work very hard and systematically to prepare for the Preliminary Examination so that you can clear it and advance to the stage of the Main (Written) Examination of the Civil Services Examination. The key to success is ensuring that whatever you study, you study thoroughly.

Do not waste your time in trying to read a bit of everything. This will be of no use to you. Besides, you have very limited time. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day. You cannot stretch them.

Therefore, if necessary, read from only one source, but make sure that you revise and re-revise whatever you read so that it becomes a part of you and you have no difficulty in recalling it at the time of the examination.

So, get ready.


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