The Strategic Guide to Cracking the UPSC CSAT || Oracle IAS


The UPSC Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) often instills fear among aspirants. However, with the right strategy and practice, it can actually be the easiest paper across UPSC exams. This comprehensive guide provides key insights into planning and preparing to clear the CSAT.

Disclaimer: While there’s no guaranteed way of cracking any competitive exam, this post aims to equip you with strategies to significantly enhance your probability of success in the CSAT.

Understanding the CSAT Paper: The CSAT paper comprises 80 questions over 120 minutes. The qualifying mark is just 33% – meaning you only need to solve correctly 27 out of 80 questions, which gives you 4 minutes per question. With focus and practice, this is very achievable.

Creating an Effective Study Plan:

  • Dedicate 1-2 hours daily for CSAT prep during the post-lunch dip when you feel a bit tired, similar to actual exam conditions.
  • Categorize topic-wise areas like verbal reasoning, quant/math, and logical reasoning. Identify stronger and weaker topics.
  • Refer YouTube for various CSAT playlists and choose sources apt for your learning style.

Learning Concepts and Practicing Questions:

  • For each topic, learn the underlying concept thoroughly first. Don’t rush to solutions.
  • Practice full concepts, not just specific questions – UPSC can twist questions based on same concepts.
  • Many concepts repeat over years across exams. Familiarity through practice is key.

Devising a Paper Strategy:

  • Use the “running/flipping through paper” technique in two rounds to first identify and solve easy questions, then move to moderate ones.
  • Skip difficult questions without wasting time to maximize attempt of solvable questions. Getting stuck hurts.
  • Mix question topics to keep your mind refreshed and attentive.
  • Practice mock tests with timers to understand your pace.

Overcoming Fear of the CSAT:

The CSAT tests your preparation, priorities, and pressure handling capabilities. With conceptual clarity and strategic thinking instead of aptitude, cracking it is very much achievable if you avoid common mistakes of overconfidence, no strategy and practice. Remember, UPSC provides you ample questions to qualify – you simply need to spot and attempt them. Stay motivated!


The CSAT may seem unpredictable and challenging, but is highly doable with an organized study plan, concept-focused practice, calibrated test strategy, and the right mental approach. Implement the tips shared in this guide, and success can be well within your reach!

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