Sunday, November 13, 2011

Analysis of CSAT Syllabus

Earlier (prior to 2010 preliminary exam) most of the questions asked were data like nature. One needs to memorize lot of facts and figures. Indeed, previous exams have evaluated candidate's donkey faculty - how much data he/she can carry!!!

Now it’s totally different. In the new CSAT besides asking few factual based questions most emphasis would be in evaluating candidate's ability to analyse issues, Reasoning ability and decision making skills and his/her capacity put a sharp eye on the world around Syllabus forms very important part of exam as the nature of questions will be asked under the frame work of syllabus. So let us go into details of nature of new syllabus:

·         The nature of questions from Indian History and Geography will remain more or less same. History may include Ancient, Medieval and Modern History of India. As in the current trend most of the questions would be asked from Modern India (1857 uprising to 1947 Independence) especially from Indian national movement. However we must ready to face questions from contemporary history (till 1960 or 1990) as well.

·         Under the chapter of Geography same question pattern may remain however more emphasis may be on Indian geography (Human) and geographical issues related to current affairs.

·         In section under Indian Polity, along with the previous nature the governance issues will be asked. (It means constitutional, legal, administrative and other issues emerging from the politico-administrative system prevalent in the country)

·         The scope of economy has expanded enormously under CSAT. Earlier candidates were tend to neglect economy altogether as there were few questions have been asked in exam. On seeing the new syllabus we can say besides economic development, questions related to National policies and social issues would also be asked. Also its scope is not restricted within Indian economy; we may expect questions from India's economic relation with world (Bilateral trade and International Institutions such as WTO, IMF etc.). However emphasis would be in Indian Economy.

·         Questions under General Science would remain almost same as previous year trend. It includes Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Emphasis would be given on Biology especially like Human physiology, Nutrition and Diseases.

·         Regarding the General issues on environmental ecology, bio-diversity and climate change, few questions have been asked in previous year exams under topics of geography and Current affairs. However special mention made in the new syllabus illustrates its importance in current global politics and policies. So we must go into the current issues related to environment, Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate change but it is not necessary to go deep into the subject matter.

·         Under the section of Current event of National and International importance, the focus of the issues will be more or less same as previous year. However there will be less emphasis on data based questions such as personalities, books, years, institution etc. We may have to look a little deeper into root cause, impacts and associated details of important current issues.

·         Mental ability part in old syllabus is separated in to a full Aptitude Test paper and replaced the optional subject. In this paper besides Logical reasoning & analytical ability, the scope has been widened to include Interpersonal skills and English comprehension.

This is the most worrisome issue for the students belong to Arts degree and rural background. However the questions would be asked from 10th standard level only. So there is no need to worry or panic. Any person who is willing to learn can acquire these skills in a matter of few weeks. Just put your mind and heart into in.

Broad composition of Old and New Syllabus:

NEW CSAT Syllabus
OLD Syllabus
(Paper 1) - General Studies (200 marks) Duration: Two hrs.
(General Studies) (150 marks / 150 Queries) Duration: Two hrs.
·   Current events  of national and international importance
Current events of national and international importance
(In current events, knowledge of significant national and international events will be tested.)
·         History of India  and Indian national movement
History of India and Indian National Movement
(In History of India, emphasis will be on broad general understanding of the subject in its social, economic and political aspects. Questions on the Indian National Movement will relate to the nature and character of the nineteenth century resurgence, growth of nationalism and attainment of Independence.)
·         Indian and World Geography-
(physical, social, economic, geography of India and the world)
Indian and World Geography
(In Geography, emphasis will be on Geography of India. Questions on the Geography of India will relate to physical, social and economic Geography of the country, including the main features of Indian agricultural and natural resources.)
·         Indian Polity and governance -
(Constitution, political System,  panchayati raj, public policy, Rights issues, etc.)
Indian Polity
(Questions on Indian Polity and Economy will test knowledge of the country's political system and Constitution of India, Panchayati Raj, Social Systems )
·         Economic and social development-
(Sustainable development, poverty, inclusion, demographics, social sector initiatives etc.)
Indian Economy
(Questions on Indian Economy will test knowledge of the economic developments in India.)
·         General science.
General Science.
(Questions on General Science will cover general appreciation and understanding of science including matters of everyday observation and experience, as may be expected of a well-educated person who has not made a special study of any particular scientific discipline.)
·         General issues on environmental ecology, bio-diversity and climate change
 - that  do not  require subject specialization

Not given in old syllabus, however rarely few questions have been asked in previous year exams under topics of geography and Current affairs.
(Paper II - Common Aptitude Test)
(200 marks) Duration: Two hrs.
·         Comprehension
·         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)
·         English language comprehension skills (Class X level)
General Mental Ability
(On general mental ability, the candidates will be tested on reasoning and analytical abilities.)


In this part your ability to grasp the contents of passage in a relatively short span of time is being tested. You are expected to read the given passage, understand its contents properly and answer the questions given at the end of the passage. So you need to develop speed reading skills and at the same time to develop accurate comprehending skills of the contents of passage.

What is the difference between Comprehension and English language comprehension skills?

In comprehension one may expect long passage from variety of topics which demands candidate’s assimilation power of contents. Especially in civil services perspective a bureaucrats often face situation to comprehend the Governments Policy documents which often runs 100s of pages. His/her ability to comprehend quickly increases administrative efficiency.

Whereas in English language comprehension basic working skills of the candidate with English knowledge (10th std level) would be tested.

The main reason to mention English comprehension separately in the syllabus is due to bilingual nature of Prelim question papers (Hindi/English). The passage under "Comprehension" is translated into Hindi for candidates opted to write exam in Hindi. Where as in "English language comprehension" passage is provided in English only. It is mainly to test English knowledge of candidates who were opted to write Preliminary exam in Non English.

So one may expect nature of questions under Comprehension and English Language Comprehension is no different. However English Language Comprehension may test candidate’s grammar and vocabulary skills.

English language comprehension skills (Class X level) Here in the English language comprehension skills your Grammar and vocabulary ability would be tested through paragraph comprehension.

In the paragraph comprehension you may expect to 

i.                identify Inappropriate idiom or vocabulary mistake or contradiction in the passage
ii.              identify grammatical mistakes in the passage
iii.            understand on meaning of a word or phrase in the passage

For Example: (Assume a passage was given)

1. From the above passage which of the sentence given below would be correct 
A. As a matter of fact, Shaila come into the room while you were talking about her.
B. As a matter of truth, Shaila came into the room while you are talking about her.
C. As a matter of fact, Shaila came into the room while you were talking about her.
D. As a matter of truth, Shaila came into the room while you were talking about her.
Ans: c - As a matter of factShaila came into the room while you were talking about her. Exp: We use 'as a matter of fact' idiomatically.

2. From the above passage which of the sentence given below is grammatically correct 
A. When Rohit was about to close his shop he heard the phone rang. 
B. When Rohit was about to closing his shop he heard the phone ranged. 
C. When Rohit was about to closed his shop he heard the phone rang. 
D. When Rohit was about to close his shop he heard the phone rings. 
Ans: d

3. The phrase 'Go to the brink' in the passage means 
A. Retreating from extreme danger.
B. Declare war on each other.
C. Advancing to the stage of war but not engaging in it.
D. Commit suicide.
Ans: c

4. The word 'Irrepressible' in the second line means 
A. incompatible
B. strong
C. oppressive
D. unmanageable
Ans: D

Data Interpretation: 

Bureaucrats and Government executives must face lots of facts and figures in everyday business. Normally these facts are presented in more compact and precise forms such as 

1.      Tables (known as data tables)
2.      Charts (Pie, Bar, Pert etc)
3.      Graphs (2D and 3D)
4.      Diagrams (Geometric or Venn diagram)

An Administrator must possess basic skills on deciphering the data from the above mentioned precise forms of tables, charts etc which enhances his/her administrative efficiency. This ability is known as data interpretation. So IAS Prelim/CSAT exam test the candidates ability of data interpretation.


Question: These questions are based on following pie chart, which gives the details of percentage of energy source of India.

1.    The third largest energy source of India is...?

A. Coal
B. Oil
C. Gas
D. Hydro and Nuclear
Ans: c

Note: Question may not be always direct. You may need to compute answers before arriving conclusion. Look the example below


Question: These questions are based on following table, which gives the details of Distribution of paper industry in India during 1996 especially state wise no of mills, its production capacity in thousand metric ton and Percentage of mills of all India it possess.

No. of Mills
Production capacity ( in ‘000 MT)
Percentage of all India
Andhra Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
All India (Total)

1. Which of the state has highest productivity with respect to number of mills it possesses?
A. Maharashtra (10.19)
B. Andhra Pradesh (22.47)
C. Gujarat (6.71)
D. Uttar Pradesh (4.94)
Ans: B

Note: Also there may be few questions unable to interpret using available chart or tables. It needs careful attention however it is very easy.

Data sufficiency:

In this section the UPSC tests the ability of the candidate to identify whether the data given are sufficient to answer the question or not. Although data sufficiency was given as a topic under Data Interpretation its scope also extends from mathematical based quantitative ability questions to non-mathematical based simple reasoning under Analytical Section.

Since these questions require candidates to identify the sufficiency of data, you must stop at the stage of determining the sufficiency of data and you are not expected to solve the problem completely.

Like Assertion and Reason which all Civil service aspirants have prior knowledge from the old question pattern, this data sufficiency questions also have set of directions?

For example:

Raju is the tallest boy in the school. Is he the tallest student in the class?

1. Sonia is the tallest girl in the class.
2. Sonia is shorter than Raju.

Choose A:  If statement 1 alone is sufficient and statement 2 alone is sufficient to answer
Choose B: If statement 1 alone is sufficient and statement 2 alone is not sufficient to answer
Choose C: If statement 1 alone is not sufficient and statement 2 alone is sufficient to answer
Choose D: If both the statements are sufficient to answer
Ans: D

However there are 3 different sets of Directions as they are appearing in different examinations. 
If the UPSC did not mention the set of direction earlier in the oncoming notification, then we must prepare for all sets of directions.

Basic Numeracy:

Numeracy is the ability to reason with numbers and other mathematical concepts. To be numerically literate, a person has to be comfortable with logic and reasoning.

According to Department for Education and Skills (UK), it is a proficiency which is developed mainly in mathematics but also in other subjects.  It is more than an ability to do basic arithmetic.  It involves developing confidence and competence with numbers and measures.  It requires understanding of the number system, a repertoire of mathematical techniques, and an inclination and ability to solve quantitative or spatial problems in a range of contexts.  Numeracy also demands understanding of the ways in which data is gathered by counting and measuring, and presented in graphs, diagrams, charts and tables.

Numerical aptitude tests are increasingly becoming an essential part of the application process for graduate and professional jobs. These tests demonstrate a candidate's ability to deal with numbers quickly and accurately.

Some of the areas that are involved in numeracy include: basic numbers, orders of magnitude, geometry, algebra, probability and statistics.
  • Number : Calculations, orders of operation, fractions, decimals, and percentages
  • Algebra : Formulas, inequalities, equations, coordinates, graphs and sequences
  • Handling data : Recording and representing data, measures of average, probability and relative frequency
  • Measures : Reading and converting measurement units, perimeter, area, volume and time
  • Shape and space : Shapes, transformations, angles, triangles, lines, polygons, symmetry, circles, Pythagoras' theorem

Logical reasoning and analytical ability:

The Logical Reasoning (LR) section of the CSAT/ IAS Prelim tests your ability to analyze the logical foundations of a given argument. 

When you are solving a problem you can use a strategy that is called LOGICAL REASONING. Logical thinking exercises help us learn the process of elimination or deductive thinking. Most problems give a variety of conditions and you must use an "if"-"then" approach. It's important that you read the whole problem, and choose the best hint or clue before starting to solve the problem. When practicing logic with reasoning making a chart or drawing a picture are good strategies. Now here is an everyday problem to solve using Logical Reasoning. 

The main idea behind LR is to be use the information and preconditions to make a conclusion. It broadly includes both Verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

Few important Topics of Logical reasoning and analytical ability includes..

·         Number Series
·         Essential Part
·         Matching Definitions
·         Logical Problems
·         Letter and Symbol Series
·         Analogies
·         Making Judgments
·         Logical Games
·         Verbal Classification
·         Artificial Language
·         Analyzing Arguments

Mental Ability:

This section is already known to all IAS aspirants as it covers the types of problems earlier studied under General studies. So, we don’t explain this. The questions from this section would include:

Height and Distance
Time and Work
Time and Distance
Problems on Trains
Boats and Streams
Simple Interest
Compound Interest
Profit and Loss
Problems on Ages
Volume and Surface Area
Problems on Numbers
Problems on H.C.F and L.C.M
Decimal Fraction
Square Root and Cube Root
Surds and Indices
Ratio and Proportion
Permutation and Combination
Chain Rule
Pipes and Cistern
Allegation or Mixture
True Discount
Banker's Discount
Stocks and Shares
Races and Games
Odd Man Out and Series

Interpersonal skills including communication skills:

Generally this interpersonal skill has subjective conation and the examiners usually test candidate’s interpersonal ability during interview (known as personality test in civil services exam).

Introducing this topic in objective type questions is a new experiment in civil service exam. No MBA exams do have questions based on interpersonal skills.

The role of administrator is to bring in synergy between Talents, ability and energy which are most important factors for efficient working of organization which has been lacking in government services. To bring in this new change government machinery an administrator must possess exemplary interpersonal and communication skills.

In Preliminary exam one may expect questions in interpersonal skills from

1. Work relationship
2. Group communication
3. Listening skills
4. Verbal and Non-verbal skills
5. Leadership and management skills

Decision making and problem solving:

Decision making and problem solving is a capacity of an individual which is dependent on his/her mathematical, logical and verbal ability. Generally decision making and problem solving in objective type exams has not been treated as a separate topic special emphasis of this topic would mean candidates can expect questions which testing their “ethical and moral dimension of decision-making”.

More clearly, it will be the test to sideline bookish candidates. The decision making ability or ability to analyze may be mostly judged from the topics of Public Administration. The moral and ethical aspects, of decision making may be judged from psychological parts like Motivation, Conflict-management, Administrative behavior, Human behaviour, Psychology of individual as well as Social-psychology to understand crowd behavior, Management by objectives and so on.

Apart from the aptitude ability candidate must possess moral and ethical qualities which are most vital part in taking correct decisions.

Among other qualities understanding the context of the problems is very important quality for the correct solutions to apply. Individual perception varies according to their prejudice and biased orientation which distorts correct understanding of the context of problem itself.

For example there is probably no generally correct answer to questions like, "Which is more important, telling the truth or preventing harm?" A lot depends on context. In some cases, it is probably more important to tell the truth. In others, it is probably more important to prevent harm. A number of factors make up the context, including factors of time and place, the type and nature of the relationships involved other people's reasonable expectations, and the relevant history of the situation. A standard example of a context in which it seems right to lie is this: you are a citizen of Nazi Germany, 1940. You are hiding a family of Jews in your attic. The German police come to your door and ask whether you know the whereabouts of that particular family of Jews. This seems a clear case in which preventing harm seems more important than telling the truth.

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