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Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT)


The Civil Services Aptitude Test (earlier called as Civil Services Preliminary examination) is held by the UPSC for the selection of candidates for Civil Services (Mains) examination(Written and Interview). The examination is conducted, once every year, in accordance with the rules published by the Department of Personnel & Training. It is one of the most competitive examinations in the country. For example, in year 2008-09, approximately 7% of the candidates, who appeared for the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, could qualify for appearing in the Main Examination.

There are 24 services(or posts) to which recruitment is finally made through this two stage examination process(i.e CSAT followed by Mains examination). These 24 servcies include 3 All India Services, 16 Group A services, and 5 Group B services. The services which come within All India Services are Indian Administrative Service(IAS), Indian Foreign Service(IFS) and Indian Police Service(IPS). The services which come within Group- A are Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), Indian Defence Accounts Service, Indian Postal Service etc. The services which come within Group-B are Pondicherry Civil Service, Pondicherry Police Service etc. The number of vacancies corresponding to these 24 services(or posts) is liable to change every year. For example, in year 2004, the number of vacancies was 453 and it increased to 965 for the year 2010.

Eligibility Conditions:

The eligibility conditions, as given below, were applicable for Civil services (P) examination, 2010.

i) Age Limits : For, civil services (P) examination 2010, the criterion for agelimit was that, a candidate must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 30 years on 1st August, 2010. The upper agelimit is relaxable for certain other categories.

ii)Minimum Educational Qualifications: The candidate must have completed his graduation while appearing for preliminary examination. However, candidates who are in the final year are also eligible to apply for and appear in the preliminary examination. However, he need to submit proof of his qualification while applying for the main examination, if selected.

Number of attempts:

Every candidate appearing at the Civil Services Examination, who is otherwise eligible, shall be permitted four attempts at the examination.This restriction on the number of attempts will not apply in the case of SC/ST candidates. Also, the number of attempts permissible to candidates belonging to OBCs, who are otherwise eligible, shall be seven. IAS/IFS officers are not eligible to appear for the exam.


A candidate appearing for the exam will have to pay a fee of Rs 50. Female candidates and candidates belonging to SC/ST/PH categories are exempted from paying any fee.

Application Procedure:

The application for Civil Services (P) exam 2012 is ONLY through online mode. No other mode for submission of applications is allowed. The online application can be filled up to 5th March, 2012 till 11:59 P.M after which the link will be disabled. The detailed instructions are available on the website http://www.upsconline.nic.in for filling up the online application form. It is be noted that there are two different parts of filling up the application form -Part I and Part II.

It is mandatory to fill both the parts, otherwise your application will be rejected. Also, you will have to fill up Part I first and then Part II - in that same order. Before filling up the form, please go through the guidelines as issued by UPSC.

You can click here to access the same. Also, ensure that you have gone through the FAQs, as released by UPSC (click here for FAQs)

CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test)- Preliminary Examination- New Pattern.

The Preliminary Examination shall now comprise of two compulsory Papers of 200 marks each and of two hours duration each. Click here to download the new syllabus and pattern of the Preliminary Examination, applicable for Civil Services Examination (CSE) 2011 onwards:

Comparison: New Pattern & Old Pattern

The table below gives a comparison between the old pattern and the new pattern on different parameters like Marks, questions, marks per question, time, negative marking.

Old Pattern(till 2010) New Pattern(from 2011)
Name of the examination Civil Services Preliminary examination Civil Services Aptitude Test
Paper Paper 1(General Studies) Paper 2(One optional paper out of 23 subjects) Paper I Paper II
Marks 150 marks 300 marks 200 marks 200 marks
Questions 150 100/120 ** * *
Marks Per question 1 3/2.5** * *
Time 120 mins 120 mins 120 mins 120 mins
Negative Marking 0.33 marks 0.33 of the marks allotted to that question * *

Note(**): In Paper-2, the candidate had to choose one optional paper (out of 23 subjects). For Mathematics and Statistics, the number of questions was 100, while the number of questions for any of the remaining 21 optional subjects was 120.

Note(*): The number of questions, marks per question, and negative marking have not been released by UPSC till date.

Comparison: Past and Present (for Paper-I)

The table below gives the comparison between the old syllabus for Paper-I and the new syllabus for Paper-II. It can clearly be observed that the test area of 'General Mental Ability” which was there in Paper-I(old syllabus) has now been taken out from Paper-I and kept in Paper-II(as the next table indicates).

Old Syllabus-Paper I or General Studies(till 2010) New Syllabus -Paper I(from 2011)
General Science General Science
Current events of national and international importance Current events of national and international importance
History of India and Indian national Movement History of India and Indian national Movement
India and World Geography India and World Geography
Indian Polity and Economy Indian Polity and Governance
General Mental Ability Economic and Social Development

General Issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate chage

Comparison: Past and Present (for Paper-II)

The table below gives the comparison between the old syllabus and the new syllabus for Paper-II. It can be observed that Paper-II had undergone a major change in light of the fact that lots of new areas have been included, which were earlier not there in Civil services(Preliminary) examination.

Old Syllabus -Paper II(till 2010) New Syllabus- Paper II(from 2011)

Optional Paper(any one out of 23 subjects)
Interpersonal Skills including Comprehension Skills
Logical reasoning & Analytical ability
Decision making and Problem Solving
General Mental Ability
Basic Numeracy(Numbers & their relations, orders of magnitude etc)-Class Xth level, Data Interpretation(charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc)-Class Xth level.
English Language Comprehension Skills(Class Xth level)

Main Examination:

The candidates who clear the first stage of the civil services examination(i.e CSAT), will be called for the next stage(i.e main examination). In year 2008, the number of candidates who qualified for mains was approximately 7% of the total number of candidates who appeared for civil services preliminary examination. The Main Examination consists of a written examination and an interview test. The written examination will consist of 9 papers of conventional essay type.Out of these 9 papers, first two papers are only qualifying in nature.

Paper-I One of the Indian languages to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the eigth schedule to the constitution (Qualifying Paper). 300
Paper-II English(Qualifying Paper) 300
Paper-III Essay 200
Papers-IV & V General Studies (2 papers) 600 (300 marks for each of the two papers)
Papers-VI, VII, VIII & IX Any two subjects to be selected from the list of optional subjects. Each subject will have two papers. Thus, a total of four papers 1200 (300 marks for each of the four papers)
Total (Excluding the marks obtained in the qualifying paper) 2300

Number of Test Takers-Prelims & Mains

The table below gives the number of candidates who applied for civil services (prelims & mains) for different posts.

Year of Examination Number of Candidates applied for CS(Prelims) Number of Candidates appeared for CS(Prelims) Number of Candidates applied for CS(Mains) Number of Candidates appeared for CS(Mains) Total number of vacancies
2002 301585 157486 3430 3301 310
2003 316496 160784 5972 5750 457
2004 349020 174475 5565 5328 453
2005 345106 175202 5140 4923 457
2006 383983 195803 7692 7496 533
2007 333680 161469 9158 8886 734
2008 325433 167035 11669 11330 767
2009 409110 193091 12096 11516 875
2010 547698 269036 12491 - 920

Interview                                                           Top  Top

Candidates who obtain a certain minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the Main Examination will be called for an interview for a Personality Test. However, the papers on Indian Languages and English will be of qualifying nature. The marks obtained in these qualifying papers will not be counted for ranking. The number of candidates to be called for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled. The interview will carry 300 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).

Centres for Preliminary Examination:

The examination centres for the prelimainary exam usually are: Agartala, Gangtok, Patna, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Puducherry, Aizwal, Imphal, Port blair, Aligarh, Itanagar, Raipur, Allahabad, Jaipur, Ranchi, Aurangabad, Jammu, Sambalpur, Bangalore, Jodhpur, Shillong, Bareilly, Jorhat, Shimla, Bhopal, Kochi, Srinagar, Chandigarh, Kohima, Thiruvanathapuram, Chennai, Kolkata, Tirupati, Cuttack, Lucknow, Udaipur, Dehradun, Madurai, Vishakhapatnam, Delhi, Mumbai, Dharwad, Nagpur, Dispur, Panaji (Goa).

Important Dates:

1) Date of Notification: 2nd Feb 2013

2) Last Date for receipt of applications: 4th March 2013

3) Date of CSAT exam: 19th May 2013(Duration- 1 day)

4) Civil Services (Main) exam: 8th Nov 2013 (Duration -21 days)

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