[Strategy] Comprehension for CSAT Paper 2: Rules, tips, assumption, inference, free practice material (500+ passages!)

Aptitude124 Comments

Laxmikanth (English)Laxmikanth Hindi
  1. Rule #1: Remove the garbage
  2. Rule #2: Leave Nothing for later
  3. Rule #3: Don’t push your luck
  4. Rule #4: Verify every option
  5. CSAT: P2: 2011 vs 2012
  6. English language test
  7. Assumption / Inference?
  8. Assumption?
  9. Inference?
  10. Practice: (500 passages ready for download!)
  11. Booklist for CSAT paper II?

Rule #1: Remove the garbage

In CSAT(UPSC) or CAT, the examiners don’t frame / write the passage on their own, they simply copy it from a newspaper column, article, science journal, book etc. They only frame the questions by themselves.

So Why do passages look difficult?

#1: Nature of Sentences:

  • The (original) authors who write for newspaper columns, books, journals- have a habit of using very lengthy and complex sentences, full of passive voice and sentence connectors.
  • Either your vocabulary is low and or you don’t read English regularly. Therefore it takes you quite some time to pause and grasp each statement.

#2: Nature of question:

  • In SSC/Bank type exam, one RC question is followed by four option A,B,C,D. for example:

Q1. According to the given passage, Dev Anand was born in

  1. blah blah blah
  2. blah blah blah
  3. blah blah blah
  4. blah blah blah

Hence, to answer one question, you’ve to know/find only one statement / fact. But in CSAT, CAT, often RC questions are 2TF or 4TF nature. For example

2TF4TF
2 Statement true/false4 Statement true/false
Q1. According to given passage, which of the following is true about Dev Anand?1. blah blah blah
2. blah blah blah
Answer choices

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. None
Q1. According to given passage, which of the following is true about Dev Anand?
1. blah blah blah
2. blah blah blah
3. blah blah blah
4. blah blah blah
Answer choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2, 3 and 4
  3. Only 1, 2 and 3
  4. Only 4
  • To answer a 4TF question, you’ve to know/eliminate four facts or statements.
  • So in a way, you’re solving four question and yet getting marks for only one question. (similar thing is happening in the General studies paper.)
  • This makes the RC-exercise very time consuming. You’ve to re-read several sentences again and again to verify/eliminate those 2 or 4 statements.

Therefore, in the light of these two issues (Nature of sentences + nature of question), your first rule / task while solving RC is: Remove the garbage.

How?

While reading the passage, Do any one of the following:

  1. Underline the important stuff using a red or green ballpen/gelpen or highlighter. (don’t use pencil/blue ballpen for underlining because then Important stuff is not easily distinguishable from garbage). OR
  2. Cutdown unimportant phrases/lines/words (=garbage) using a ballpen/gelpen.

For example

Original textCutdownUnderline
This is what leads to the idea of an enabling State, that is, a Government that does not try to directly deliver to the citizens everything that they need. Instead, it creates an enabling ethos for the market.This is what leads to the idea of an enabling State, that is, a Government that does not try to directly deliver to the citizens everything that they need. Instead, (such Enabling Government) it creates an enabling ethos for the market.This is what leads to the idea of an enabling State, that is, a Government that does not try to directly deliver to the citizens everything that they need. Instead, it creates an enabling ethos for the market.

^as you can see, after cutting down, we are left with important part only: “This leads to an enabling state. Government doesn’t deliver everything, instead it creates ethos for market.”

^This habit helps because

  • If you just keep reading without doing anything (with your hand), then you might miss an important phrase or word while reading the passage.
  • But when you’ve to underline/cutdown some part of text= you need to pay attention to each and every phrase/sentence.
  • Since you’ve underlined/cutdown=data is condensed/compressed.
  • So next time while you’re scanning through this passage (for looking 2TF, 4TF answers), it takes less time to wade through the data.
To see this rule in action: go through earlier article containing solved passages from 2011’s paper click me

Rule#1 (A):

Make a table, if there are questions on assumption / inference.

I’ll elaborate on this rule, in the later part of this article.

Rule #2: Leave Nothing for later

  • Suppose there is one passage with four questions.
  • You take 6 minutes to read passage and 30 seconds to solve each question. =total 10 minutes.
  • but fourth question is difficult/confusing/you’re feeling 50:50 for the answers.
  • And You decide “ok, I’ll come back to this question later, after finishing the paper”=problem

Because

  • When you leave question for “later”= it unnecessarily creates pressure on your mind. One part of your brain is now “occupied” in thinking “yaar I’ve to come back to that question again.” It affects your performance in other remaining question of the paper.
  • When you “come back” after finishing the paper, the passage won’t be in your memory. The momentum/understanding of the passage is lost or partially evaporated.
  • So you’ve to once again read or atleast glance through the whole data one more time.
  • When the paper’s timelimit is about to finish, your mind starts playing dirty tricks on you (out of the fear of imaginary cutoffs). So, if earlier you were feeling 50:50 between two options, now your mind will tell you to pick one option under that pressure.=you’re pushing your luck=negative marking may dig your grave.
  • Therefore, whenever you read passage do all questions at once, don’t leave anything for “later”.
  • If you can’t solve a particular comprehension question then leave it for good. Don’t put it on “I’ll come back later” list.
  • Same advice for data interpretation question- you’ve to re-study the graph/chart/table.

Rule #3: Don’t push your luck

  • In CAT, you don’t have to tick 60/60 questions to get 99+%ile.
  • Similarly in UPSC , you don’t have to tick 80/80 questions in paper-II to clear the prelims exam. (besides, marks of prelims are not counted in final merit list)
  • So please don’t have this “board exam” mentality ki “comprehension kaa har sawaal tick karnaaa hi hai” (I must tick every comprehension question because it is a comprehension question!).
  • If you can’t decide an answer, then don’t tick it. Move on to next question.
  • Trying to solve RC questions with “Gut-instinct” = You’re throwing good money after bad money via negative marking.
  • Please bear in mind: negative marking plays a huge role in all UPSC prelims. So never walk in the exam hall with “cut off mindset”.

Rule #4: Verify every option

  • Often the RC question-answers are set in such way that the moment you read option A, immediately your mind thinks “aha…this must be the right answer.”
  • And you tick it without actually going back to the passage to confirm/verify that answer.= big mistake.
  • You must verify all option A,B,C and D. don’t tick answer without verifying / confirming them with the original passage.
  • Because when you’re in stress and haste, sometimes your eyes see one thing but your mind reads it as something else. For example
Actually givenIn those years, Dev Anand worked as a surveyor, before that he was a clerk but Bollywood was his ultimate destiny.
Under stress and haste, Your mind reads it asDev Anand’s career  path= surveyor –> clerk –> Bollywood hero.(actually given clerk–> surveyor–>Bollywood hero).
  • Now if there is a question on Dev Anand’s career path, you’ll end up ticking the wrong answer (if you don’t confirm/verify every option with the given passage.)

CSAT: P2: 2011 vs 2012

In UPSC CSAT paper II (Aptitude), you’ll face the Comprehension in two sectors

  1. Passages to test your Comprehension power (the difficult ones) =passage+questions given in both English + Hindi.
  2. Passages to test your basic English knowledge (easier ones)= passage+questions given in English only.
20112012
PassageQsWords ApproxPassageQsWords Approx
Right to Education5250Education3150
Inclusive growth5250Western liberal3200
Creative society4100Pesticide6400
Foreign domination4200Climate6300
Keystone species4250Exotic species5350
Ecosystem3150Democracy3350
Moral Act3150Collectivities3150
00FDI3200
Total281350Total322100

Ok so in 2012, UPSC added only 4 more questions in comprehension (32-28=4), Then why is there so much hue and cry about comprehension?

Three factors:

  1. From 2011 to 2012, while the number of comprehension questions increased by just 14%, but the “size of passages” has increased by 55% [(2100-1350)/1350]
  2. Many of the questions are of 2TF, 3TF, 4TF type (=you are solving 2,3 or 4 “sub-questions” and getting marks for only one question= time consuming exercise.)
  3. 2011, the questions were straightforward.  2012: Now you’re also asked to identify assumptions, inferences, implications and themes of the passage. And in such answers, more than one choice appear “plausible”. Often you find yourself in 50:50 choice.

Combination of these three factors, makes CSAT passages difficult.

To put this bluntly: CSAT comprehension section looks tough because it is copying the structure of higher level aptitude tests like CAT and GMAT. (although with UPSC’s own peculiarities).

English language test

  • These passages are given only to test your knowledge of English language. (hence difficulty level easy compared to previous comprehensions) Hindi translations not given for these passages.
2011Qs2012Qs
He walked several miles3Jail3
My toothbrush3Camping3
Polar bear3Hero2
Total9Total8

Anyways, back to the discussion: what to do when Assumption / inference type question comes in the passage?

Assumption / Inference?

These questions are peculiar to GMAT passages.

So, whenever you’re asked a question on assumption / inference from the passage, you should prepare a very small table (containing keywords, shortcodes, summary only)

Gist:
Body1.2.
ProCon
1.
2.
1.
2.
3.

Please note: you don’t need to fill all cells. Just fill up some keywords/ data as per the situation.

Every passage follows this patterns

Assumption(s)==> Passage (body, text, pros, cons) ==> inference, implication, conclusion

Assumptions

They are “above the table” (Therefore not given in the passage explicitly.)But the passage is based on them (assumptions). If the assumption is taken away then whole passage/argument/case will collapse.

Inference/implication/conclusion

They’re “below the table.” They are based on the passage.

Consider this example passage.

GDP and Nuclear power

GDP of a country depends – among other things- on ready availability of electricity. Nuclear energy has played an immense role in the rise of manufacturing industries in France and Russia. Recently RBI lowered India’s growth forecast from 6.5 to 5.7%. Our PM must immediately clear the apprehensions and fear among people regarding the use of nuclear power.

Rule #1: remove garbage

GDP of a country depends among other things- on ready availability of electricity. Nuclear energy has played an immense role in the rise of manufacturing industries of France and Russia. Recently RBI lowered India’s growth forecast from 6.5 to 5.7%. Our PM must immediately clear the apprehensions and fear among people regarding the use of nuclear power.

Now rule #1 (a): Make the table.

Gist: We need nuke power for GDP.
Body:

  • GDP= depends on easy electricity.
  • RBI lowered GDP forecast.
ProCon
France, Russia grow thanks to nuke power.(Some) Indian people fear nuke power.

Above table is the summary of our passage.
Now let’s check sum questions

Assumption?

Q1. Based on given passage, which of the following is the valid assumption?

  1. Use of Nuclear power will lead to improvement in IIP and GDP of India.
  2. People are worried about the safety of nuclear plants.
  3. There is a gap between supply and demand of electricity in India.
approach:
  • As you can see, all of the given answer choices seem “logically” valid according to the given passage. But which one of them is the assumption?
  • We already saw that passages are based on assumption.
  • And if assumption is taken out of the equation, whole thing will collapse.
  • So, Try to visualize it as a courtroom drama.
  • The author is a criminal and you’re the public prosecutor.
  • You must give an argument that’ll completely destroy his entire premise/case. Thus the negative of your argument, will be his assumption. Let’s check
Given answer choiceNegative.
  1. Use of Nuclear power will lead to improvement in IIP and GDP of India.
The negative of this statement = Nuke power will not lead to improvement in IIP/GDP.But This is just a “filler” dialogue. It doesn’t totally ruin author’s case. So this answer choice is wrong. Move to next choice.
  1. People are worried about the safety of nuclear plants.
People think/trust that nuclear plants are safe.Ya but this statement doesn’t help us destroy author’s passage/case/argument. So this answer choice is wrong. Move to next choice.
  1. There is a gap in supply and demand of electricity.
The negative of given statement is:There is no gap between supply and demand of electricity in India. OR in other words,Electricity is easily available in India.If electricity is available easily then lowering of GDP forecast (by RBI ) is not due to short supply of electricty.
And therefore, PM doesn’t need to create awareness about Nuke powers.
Now, this totally destroys the whole premise/case presented by the Author. Therefore, answer C is correct assumption.

C is the final answer.

Inference?

Q2. What can be inferred from the passage?

  1. India largely depends on thermal power plants for the electricity generation.
  2. People are worried about the safety of nuclear plants.
  3. Use of Nuclear power will help improve India’s GDP.

Table remains the same.

Gist: We need nuke power for GDP.
Body:

  • GDP= depends on easy electricity.
  • RBI lowered GDP forecast.
ProCon
France, Russia grow thanks to nuke power.(Some) Indian people fear nuke power.

Assumption =above the table and Inference is below the table. (Meaning Inference is derived from the given arguments/case) hence Inference should stay close to table.
Let’s check

  1. India largely depends on thermal power plants for the electricity generation.
While this may be true as per our General Knowledge, but this is not given in the passage. (table)Inference must be close to the table. Inference must be derived from the table.
Hence, This is not a valid inference.
  1. People are worried about the safety of nuclear plants.
This is mere restatement of what is said already in the passage= not good as inference.
  1. Use of Nuclear power will help improve India’s GDP.
This is the right answer, because it follows the table.GDP= need easy electricity.
France, Russia grew because of Nuke plants.
Therefore, use of nuke power will help improve India’s GDP as well.

Practice: (500 passages ready for download!)

Since UPSC level practice passages are rare, hence for the practice purpose you’ll have to make do with whatever is available in the domain of CAT/GMAT. So,

Download this RC zip file:  (size about 6MB) use any one of the following link.

Google Docs download

  • It contains saved webpages of Pagalguy forum’s RC threads for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively. (in three separate folders)
  • Total about 290 webpages, if we assume two passages are given per web-page, these are more than 500 practice passages!
  • The zip file also contains one PDF file:  35 RC Passages with answers.pdf = basically it is a few selected passes from 2012’s Pagalguy RC Thread. Neatly formatted and arranged for practicing (the Foxit PDF highlighter/text-strikethru feature will help you apply Rule #1).
  • You can also use this following site for practice: http://codecoax.com/grerc/

Booklist for CSAT paper II?

  • CSAT is still in a nascent stage (UPSC has conducted only two papers so far.)
  • There is not enough databank of previous-questions / trends so that authors / publication houses can come out with decent books exclusively written for CSAT. (like they’ve for CAT or SSC type exams).
  • So, Whatever books/ material are available in the market right now are either
  • Watered down version of CAT/GMAT books (For example, Arun Sharma’s book for CSAT (by TMH publication.)
  • or Beefed up version of SSC/IBPS books. (released by most of the Jholachhap publication houses)
  • Since CSAT (Aptitude) = newly opened door so lot of publishers are trying to capture market and in that haste, quality is not maintained. (Books often have printing, typing mistakes.)
  • UPSC’s aptitude is (again) like Kungfu= You can use variety of booklists/studymaterial combo and yet succeed.
  • In this context: CSAT Paper II booklist = you should pickup based on your career-backup plan.
UPSC + CAT/CMAT as backup
  1. Maths
  1. NCERT class 7 to 10 Maths (freely available)
  2. Quantam CAT by Sarvesh Kumar OR Arun Sharma
  1. Comprehension
  1. How to prepare Verbal ability and Reading Comprehension by Arun Sharma
  2. The RC Zip file already given above.
  1. Reasoning
  1. Pagalguy threads on reasoning
  2. Coaching class booklets for LR and or Arun Sharma and other mock papersets books available in market.
UPSC + CAPF, SSC, IBPS, LIC etc as backup
  1. Maths
  1. NCERT class 7 to 10
  2. Fast track to Objective Arithmetic by Rajesh Verma
  1. Comprehension
  1. (for the SSC/IBPS passages solve their old papersets + for their grammar use SP Bakshi etc.)
  2. RC Zip file already given above.
  1. Reasoning
RS Agarwal’s OR BS Sijwali’s book on Verbal and Nonverbal reasoning.
UPSC alone + private job/business.
  1. Maths
  2. Comprehension
  3. Reasoning
  1. NCERT class 7 to 10
  2. CSAT Paper II Manual of TMH or Pearson
  3. The RC Zip file already given above.
  • In CSAT 2012, the paper contained some peculiar problems on Assumption, inference, syllogism and logic.
  • MK Pandey’s Magical book on Reasoning, contains some good basic foundation material in that regard. So if and when you’ve time and mood, go through it.
  • Article on How to approach Maths and Reasoning for CSAT= will be covered later.

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books
  2. Environment by ShankarIAS
  3. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  4. Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania (Hindi | English)
  5. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  6. Bipin Chandra: Post Independence
  7. Fast-track to Arithmetic Rajesh Verma
  8. MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning
  9. Disha’s Topicwise Paperset (Hindi | English)
  10. School Atlas
  11. Mains: Language papers
  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha


So far 124 Comments posted

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