IAS Preliminary Examination 2012:Strategy for paper-II (CSAT)
Paper-II of civil services preliminary examination is of two hours duration and 200 marks. The topics covered under this paper include Comprehension, Logical reasoning and analytical ability, Interpersonal skills including communication skills, Decision making and problem solving, General mental ability, Basic numeracy, Data interpretation, and English Language Comprehension skills. Here it is important to make a distinction between Comprehension and English Language Comprehension as a distinction has been made by the UPSC in terms of the level of the questions and the objective of the question.
Brief Analysis of IAS preliminary examination 2011
The preliminary examination of 2011 consisted of 80 question of which 27 were from Comprehension, 9 form English language and comprehension, 15 from Logical Reasoning Analytical Ability, 2 from Data Interpretation, 15 from Basic Numeracy, 4 from General Mental Ability and 8 from Decision Making and Interpersonal Skills. This pattern should be kept in mind while preparing for the examination but at the same time enough flexibility should be incorporated in the strategy as UPSC might make some modifications and give different weights for these sections in 2012. One should as a rule try to capitalize on one’s strength be it quantitative area or the English portion and perform average on the weaker section.
While practicing comprehension students should keep in mind that they should select passages from different areas like Science, Philosophy, Economics, Art and Litterateur etc. This will equip them in dealing effectively with any kind of passage that they might encounter in the examination. A suitable source for practicing comprehension is picking up passages from any standard Year Book for civil services or the ones that are available in the coaching material packages. The focus of the preparation should be on the developing the comprehension skills as opposed to building impressive vocabulary. So the student should endeavor to identify what is stated, what is implied, what is the summary, the style and tone of the passage in the comprehensions exercises they practice.
English Language Comprehension
The questions under this section were relatively simple and thus they should be done right at the beginning. They can be easily identified in the paper as they will be the only comprehension question provided in English without translation.
Logical Reasoning and Analytical Ability
The 2011 examination emphasized more on the analytical ability question as opposed to logical reasoning questions. The analytical ability questions were asked from familiar areas and in familiar form. They covered areas like relationships, direction, rank, critical path etc. Students would do well by covering this area from standard text books or coaching material available in the market. Two sources should be more than enough to get confident on this section. Logical reasoning questions were more difficult and asked in a form that was time consuming so if this style is repeated in 2012 examination then they should attempted in the last few minutes of paper.
Questions asked under this section were different from the ones that generally appear in MBA examination or in banking examination. The emphasis was solely on understanding the chart and the data presented as opposed to doing fast calculation. This pattern is likely to continue in coming years as it serves well for the kind of aptitude that UPSC is looking for in the students.
This section covered areas like arithmetic, algebra and geometry. Most of these questions required basic understanding of mathematical concepts. These questions though relatively simple required conceptual clarity and thus this is what should be emphasized while practicing section.
General Mental Ability
The questions under this section cover areas like sequence, series, progression, venn diagram, permutations and combination. Question here also were not very complicated and a basic understanding was good enough to solve them. The students should practice this section from standard text books covering these areas and one should try to avoid very lengthy question some of which are of the types appearing in MBA examinations.
Decision Making and Problem Solving
Questions falling under this section are compulsory and have no negative marking rather every option will fetch some marks, the highest being 100% and lowest being 25% (as there are 4 options for every question). These questions are more of common sense nature so too much time should not be wasted on them during preparation. While answering these question students should evaluate options based on administrative rationale, equity, fairness, justice, impartiality and integrity in the decision chosen