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Number of Rural Candidates Cracking Civil Services Exam Drops : Analyzing CSAT

The purpose of Civil Services Aptitude Test ( CSAT ), introduced two years back to bring symmetry in the highly seasoned Civil Services Examination ( CSE ), seems to have been defeated when checked the profile of recruits being trained at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration ( LBSNAA ), Mussoorie.

In the second year of post – CSAT era, there was a huge gap between the numbers of urban and rural candidates who made it in the Civil Services. A considerable drop has been recorded in the number of successful candidates with rural background in CSE 2012.

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S.NoSeat categoryNo. of seat (s)Category wise seat distribution
1Tripura State domiciled candidates78 seatsST-24
Reservation for Physically Handicapped & Ex-Servicemen categories will be as per State Government Reservation Policy.
2All India other than Tripura State Domiciled candidates20 seatsST-01
Reservation of Physically Handicapped & Ex-Servicemen as per Government of India Policy.
Note : In respect of Physically Handicapped category, the student having Locomotor disability of lower limbs as per MCI norms will be accepted. There should also be mentioned of Physically Handicapped category in the NEET mark sheet.

Also, the students from Science background have been found to have gained an upper hand with high margin during post – CSAT years.

Out of 269 members of the 2012 batch at LBSNAA only 73 have come from rural background. Their four – month foundation course started on 3rd September, 2013.

As revealed in the latest data on the LBSNAA website, only 31% of men and 15% of women recruits have a rural background.

A total of 63% to 67% of men recruited by LBSNAA has rural background in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 ( the year CSAT was introduced ), when taken together.

Only 11, i.e., 15%, out of total 71 women candidates selected in 2012 are having rural background. Whereas, in 2011 the condition was good with 52 out of 58 ( 90% ) woman recruits were from rural background.

On checking the profiles of the second post – CSAT batch, it has been found that while candidates from Science background including Engineering and Medical continues to have an edge over others, the number candidates from Arts background has dropped considerably. However, the number of recruits from Management and Commerce backgrounds shows an increase as per the data.

Even, when looked into state-wise status, the unevenness continues to persist in post-CSAT civil services exams. There is no student from Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Pondicherry among the top 269 successful aspirants of CSE 2012. Only 3 candidates were from Madhya Pradesh for 2012 batch and just 7 in 2011. In the years 2011 and 2012, the figures of successful candidates are 50 and 37 for UP, 22 and 14 for Bihar, and 21 and 15 for Kerala, respectively.

Gender – wise nothing much has changed from pre – CSAT to post – CSAT years. 28% and 18% women were recruited in the years 2009 and 2010, and that 22 and 26 per cent in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

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CSAT : Adapting to changes is the Real Test

Those expected to change the society will face the real test of adapting to changes in a few days. The Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) will be held on 12th June, 2011 and lakhs of aspirants are getting ready to take the test that comes in a new format from this year.

Given the intense competition and high stakes of candidates, who put in their precious time for preparation, they are concerned over the performance. Trainers, however, ask the candidates to see it as a challenge and gain confidence rather than worrying over the performance.

They remind that the new format is same for everyone so that should not be a concern at all. “The new format will not only test knowledge but also skills to adapt to the situation,” says V. Gopala Krishna, Director of Brain Tree that trains IAS aspirants.

Since the number of questions has not been revealed by the UPSC, it is expected that Paper – I will have 150 questions. Paper – II, which is the latest introduction, could have 120 questions. Mr. Gopala Krishna says there could be sectional cut – offs in Paper – II.

“Keeping this in view, they should answer all the sections. Certain sections like interpersonal relations and decision making could have differential marking.”

In the revised pattern, there are seven test areas in Paper – II. “The areas in Paper – I require a solid knowledge base. However, in Paper – II, the questions related to any of the seven test areas will test analytical, logical reasoning and conceptual abilities,” says Rajesh Saraf of TIME.

The seven test areas are :

  • Comprehension
  • Decision Making & Problem Solving
  • General Mental Ability
  • Basic Numeracy
  • Analytical Ability & Logical Reasoning
  • Interpersonal Skills including Communication Skills
  • English Language Comprehension Skills.

The “Comprehension” passages may be of any length and based on any theme. According to Mr. Saraf, the “English Language Comprehension” passages and questions are expected to be simple as they would be attempted by all candidates, including those who are not familiar with English and may be answering the exam in Hindi.

“Besides these, some other types of questions will include a short description of the situation where they will be asked to choose how they react in that situation.”

Paper – II will also have questions from various other topics like Data Interpretation and Data Sufficiency. In Data Interpretation, one needs to read, understand and draw necessary inferences from the data as given in various charts like Tables, Pie charts and Line graphs.

In Data Sufficiency, a statement would be given followed by two statements or three statements. Candidates have to identify which statement on its own is sufficient to answer the given question.

Mr. Gopala Krishna feels that those who have appeared for management tests like CAT are expected to fare well in Paper – II. So candidates should focus on Paper – I.

He expects significant number of questions from environmental sciences. He reminds the aspirants that speed is not a factor in CSAT and questions will be information – oriented.

Since there are no models to predict the pattern candidates can tackle it by staying fresh on the exam day. “No late nights before the exam and don’t be stressed out.”

However, Mr. Saraf advises candidates to take more mock tests in the left over 12 days as they help candidates gauge their performance with other aspirants.

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Preparation for CSAT

The time has come to sit down and start preparing for the most competitive exam in India. Aptitude tests have become an integral part of any competitive examination, especially if it is meant to select the people who would be the drivers of the Great Indian Growth Story.

Civil Services Aptitude Test, the new pattern of the Civil Services Preliminary exam, conducted by UPSC, need not cause heartburn among the lakhs of candidates who are set to appear for it.

A first step in any preparation should invariably involve understanding the syllabus. Now it is time to shore up your skills with some tips and tricks.

General Mental Ability

General mental ability is a basic measure of IQ which is used by psychologists the world over and is commonly found in most competitive exams. It involves tests of verbal and non – verbal ability.

Verbal ability is generally measured by means of verbal analogy where the relationships between words are tested. For example, if word A is related to word B, then word C is related to what? It is necessary first to determine the relationship between A and B and apply the same to C.

Here a good knowledge of synonyms and antonyms of standard words is required. But now is not the time to start gobbling up that dictionary. Most tests only involve words of general usage.

While reading the newspaper next time, try to understand words with the help of their context and usage.

Non – verbal ability may be tested by means of visual tests which involve choosing the picture which comes next in a sequence or which fits best in the given picture.

Many such questions based on visual ability are available in standard books on mental ability.

Coding and decoding is another type of question you might encounter which involves use of letters, numbers or symbols in a code that is to be deciphered.

So, give a free rein to all your aspirations to be a spy! But you don’t have to be a James Bond to solve them. All it requires close attention to the symbols given. It also helps to write out the whole alphabet and number the letters in a rough sheet so as to avoid careless mistakes.

Finding the odd one out in a given set of letters or words again involves first determining the relationship between the given set and choosing the one that does not belong to this set.

Other types of questions could be direction sense, time sequence and blood relation questions. One trick in solving these types of questions is to fit in all the information in the question into diagrams and tree models and then draw inferences from the same.

Logical Reasoning and Analytical Ability

These kinds of questions are part of logic which involves statements, conclusions and rules to arrive at the conclusions. You should arrive at the given conclusion based on the statements or state whether a given conclusion can be inferred from the statements.

Some basic rules should be kept in mind solving such questions. Never make any assumption other than what is already stated in the questions, however logical it might seem.

Choose only the conclusion which must definitely follow from the question, not that which seems “most likely”, and pay close attention to key words like “some”, “all” etc.

You might even use Venn diagrams to solve some of them. Extensive practice will help you crack these questions.

Numerical Ability and Data Interpretation

Numerical ability can be brushed up by refreshing knowledge of basic mathematics from school textbooks, starting from Class VI if required. Topics such as calculus and algebra can be safely ignored. Number sequence is a favourite in such tests.

Using simple arithmetic rules, a single or sometimes, two alternating number sequences are to be identified and the missing number chosen. Practising many such sequences would make it easy to identify them in tests.

In recent years it has been noticed that general mental ability requires adequate knowledge of probability, permutation and combinations too.

This topic can be easily covered by referring to NCERT books for mathematics for Class XI and XII.

Data interpretation skills can be improved by starting from the basics of statistics, which can be found in the NCERT statistics books, all of which are available online at http://ncert.nic.in/NCERTS/textbook/textbook.htm.

No preparation required

Interpersonal skills including communication skills cannot be easily tested in a written test. But the examiner can give real life situations and expect you to show your communication skills in choosing the right response by understanding the meaning conveyed in a passage.

Here the questions on comprehension, problem – solving and decision – making might easily overlap. In all such questions, it is important to read the hypothetical situation or an analysis of it carefully.

It is necessary to use both common sense and knowledge of how a good leader and administrator might react. Always analyse each of the alternatives given and evaluate their consequences with respect to efficiency and propriety.

Needless to say, this section should not require you to burn the midnight oil. A cool head is all it needs. In reading comprehension questions, don’t panic if you see a passage full of jargon.

Ignore the technical words and try to understand the gist of the passage in the first read. Then read all the questions and with them in mind, read the passage again, this time identifying the relevant portions for the answers.

One key fact which should be kept in mind while answering is that no outside knowledge is required and all the answers are right in front of you. For improving reading comprehension skills, it is advisable to read daily at least for an hour articles from magazines, newspapers or books.

Tips for Objective Questions

One basic strategy that experts say should be part of your arsenal is the art of elimination. If a question seems difficult or if you are hard pressed for time, it is recommended that you try to eliminate as many alternatives as possible based on your analysis of the question.

You should keep in mind the one – third negative marks applicable for a wrong answer. This means that out of four alternatives, if you have eliminated two, it’s a safe bet to choose any one of the other two.

Another trick is a basic strategy of problem – solving in psychology. It involves working backwards from the question starting from each of the alternatives.

The alternative which lets you arrive logically to the question statement is the correct choice. But this is possible only if you have enough time on your hands.

Hence, it is imperative that while practising you identify your strengths and weaknesses in terms of the topics in the syllabus. Easiest first is a time-tested strategy that should be used to get a good score.


There are many standard texts available for reasoning and aptitude tests in the market. It is advisable to choose a comprehensive one and practice the questions repeatedly instead of trying to solve new problems each time.

The trick is to solve a set and check the answers right away so as to correct the logical fallacies you have been using to solve them. Strategies for solving them can also be identified and kept at hand for reference later.

Mock tests with a time limit can be taken for each type of question. Many sample questions and tests are available online. You need not be a math geek to qualify in the Preliminary exam.

Anyone with the right amount of practice and a little common sense can do it. As Thomas Edison said, genius is 99 per cent perspiration and one per cent inspiration. So, time to hit those books, what say!


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