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Test Taking Strategies – CSAT Paper II

Test taking strategies for the CSAT is how you plan to spend your time. Strategies should be only looked as tool with which you can improve your performance but only with strategies and without good subject knowlege one cannot get a good score. To perform well in the exam one should have good subject Knowledge, Skill and Speed. However, one very important point you should keep in mind is that test-taking strategies cannot be a substitute to the effort that should go in from your side for your preparation for the CSAT. Your preparation and practice is what will help you increase your knowledge levels, speed, and accuracy in all the test areas. The strategies discussed here will only help you do well in the exam and improve your scores that you can get based on your preparation level.


The CSAT paper is a two hour test. The sample questions given by the UPSC are generally not very difficult but there is always an exceptionally high emphasis on the speed and accuracy required to solve the questions in the paper. Among the 3 lakh candidates expected to take the CSAT this year, one should be able to score a certain number of marks more than the average to qualify. Hence, you have to aim at crossing a minimum cut-off mark to be eligible to get a call for the next stage.


The paper conducted by UPSC for CSAT papers may not be very simple infact it may be difficult. A lot of students worry about their performance when the paper is difficult. However, they forget that all the students writing the exam also have the same difficult paper in front of them. It is relative performance that matters. What this means is that it is not the absolute marks that matter but it is your position (or rank) among the test-takers that matters. If you can score better than a certain group of students in an easy paper, you will be able to score better than them even in a difficult paper. If you can keep this in mind and let the difficulty level not worry you, you will be able to perform much better. In short, the difficulty level of the paper will affect your performance only if you let it happen.


Whatever be the difficulty level of the test paper, there will always be enough number of easy questions in the paper. If you focus on these easy questions and answer them, you will get a pretty good score. If you can answer all the easy questions, you will get a score good enough to help you get through the first stage. Remember that the CSAT is an extremely competitive exam with more than 3 lakh students taking the exam and there is room for but only few will be selected. Most of the students who aspire to crack the CSAT are the ones who have seriously been preparing for it – just like you have been doing. The levels of preparation and dedication could be the same but what could give YOU the edge over a lakh of others is how you use the crucial two hours of the test.


The number of questions in the exam -Paper II may be 80 or 100 or 120 or may be anything else. information regading the exact number of questions in CSAT has not been released by UPSC. It is only known that for the year 2011, 80 questions were asked in Paper II. So, in this scenario, when clear cut information is not provided by UPSC, the need for a strategy for attempting questions emerges. Unless a clear-cut strategy for attempting the test is in place, there is every chance that one may miss out on very easy questions which may be at the end of the paper and instead end up solving all the difficult questions that may have been given at the beginning. It is imperative to realise that there is no rule that says that the difficult questions will be at the end of the paper or for that matter that the easy questions are at the beginning of the paper. Then why should there be any discrimination while attempting the questions? The common tendency among students is to start the paper from the very first question. Much as it may be the best starting point, it loses its relevance if all the questions in a particular set are not read. By not reading a question or a set of questions, one is obviously at a disadvantage when compared to a student who carefully plans out the time in solving easy questions first.


Distributing the time available over various areas is required because there will be easy questions spread across the test paper and across different areas. Again, unless you spend certain amount of time on each area, there is a very high chance of your missing out on easy questions in some of the areas.

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