With a chance to score heavily, the Civil Services Aptitude Test has become vital for cracking the UPSC.

With the change in the syllabus of the UPSC preliminary examination two years back, students who wish to clear this prestigious examination are now required to take two papers on General Studies. While General Studies Paper I retains the outline and broad characteristics of the earlier General Studies paper, the novelty and game changer now is the General Studies Paper II, also known as Civil Services Aptitude Test.

Both the papers have a weightage of 200 marks each, but it is now clear that the GS Paper II is much more ‘scoreable’ than Paper I because of its elements of traditional aptitude, reasoning, comprehension and so on.

So how do you organise your preparation for the GS Paper II?

First things first

Get a hold of the types of question you need to prepare.

Exposing you to questions of all possible categories and from all possible subjects is one of the key ways to prepare for CSAT. While doing this, adopt the following steps in order to gain an advantage over your competitors:

For every question type/topic,

i) Understand the nuances of the question type/topic, as also the width and the depth of questions that can be asked on the same

ii) Develop your thought process to tackle questions within a topic

iii) Identify and eliminate any errors in your thought process

iv) Try to improve the quality of your reactions, find shorter ways to think and solve questions from the topic

For this purpose, organise your preparation into the following areas:

Basic Numeracy: This topic has to be studied under the following categories

a) Numbers: Consisting of the chapters of Number Systems and Progressions

b) Word Based Problems: Consisting of the chapters of Averages, Alligations, Percentages, Profit and Loss, Interest, Ratio and Proportion, Time and Work, Time Speed and Distance.

c) Counting based chapters: Permutations and Combinations, Probability, Set Theory

Data Interpretation: Questions on this topic typically ask you to interpret information which is presented in the form of line graphs, bar charts, pie charts, tables and/or a mixture of the above. Questions are then asked about the information provided and you would need to answer these based on the data provided.

Logical Reasoning: This is again a very important area on which to focus your preparations. Questions under logical reasoning can be classified under Puzzles, Linear Arrangements, Circular arrangements, Blood relations, Sequences and Series, Direction test, Mathematical Symbols Numerical puzzles.

Comprehension: Under comprehension you are provided with a passage of anywhere between 250 to 1,000 words, and are asked to solve questions based on the content of the passage. Typically, you would encounter two kinds of comprehension based questions:

a) English Comprehension: These questions have to be solved in English by all candidates and hence do not have a Hindi translation to them.

b) General Comprehension: The comprehension questions are also translated into Hindi. However, these questions are quite tricky and complex in nature & hence you need to focus on your ability to understand the nuances.

Interpersonal Skills & Communication skills:

Questions under this category test your ability to structure language and your verbal skills. Since, these questions are also translated into Hindi, you should only focus on such questions of verbal ability which have the potential of being translated into Hindi.

Decision Making: These test your ability to think logically as an administrator in the context of a real life situation.

Exposing yourself to questions on each of these categories would take you a long way towards cracking the General Studies Paper II of the UPSC.

The writer is one of the authors of Tata McGraw-Hill’s recently published title, General Studies Paper 2 (also know as CSAT) for Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2013.