Introduction 1
Reading Comprehension 3
LR & DI (Logical reasoning and Data Interpretation) 4
Reasoning 4
Data and GRaph interpretation 4
Quantitative aptitude / Mental ability 5
Conventional mental ability 5
English language (No Hindi questions here) 5
Decision Making (no penalty for any question) 5
Conclusion (again not looking for debates) 7
Speed calculation vs Speed reading 7
Engineer-science-MBA friendly? 7
Remove the caps and start from the scratch 8


CSAT Aptitude Paper-II had 80 questions worth 200 marks.(Exam on 12 June 2011)
Mental Ability
Verbal reasoning
Data interpretation
Decision Making
Number of Questions asked from each topic
% Wise topic breakup for CSAT 2011 Paper II (Aptitude)

Reading Comprehension

# of 4TFs
Lifted from
Right to Education (lifted from The Hindu editorial)
The Hindu editorial
Inclusive growth
Economic Survey 2009-10, Chapter “Micro-foundations of Inclusive growth”
Creative society
All 4
Manoranjan Mohanty, “Social Movements in Creative Society: Of Autonomy and Interconnection ” in people’s Rights
Country under Foreign domination
4 questions
Discovery of India by Nehru
Keystone species
4 question
All 3
Moral Act
  1. As you can see, Comprehension question =28 = more than any two of the remaining topics combined. So Comprehension for Aptitude=Climate Change topic for GS=HOT.
  2. In school exams, the comprehension questions are direct- simple 4 options and answer can be found directly from any single sentence. Here we find most questions are 4TF.
  3. 4TF means (4 statements: true or false) i.e. you’re given multiple statements and asked to identify how many correct/incorrect. These types of questions eat more time and energy because you have to read each sentence very carefully to make sure there is no hidden meaning inside it. Mere hasty superficial reading, may lead to wrong conclusions. You may need to re-read many passages again and again for each 4TF. (same was the case with GS paper…lot of 4TF questions)
  4. In UPSC prelim-question papers, paragraph is one first page then questions will be on 3rd page. (page #1=English, Page#2=Hindi translation) So you’ve to frequently flip the pages. And if it is a 4TF question, then you’ve to flip pages more number of times. So it requires practice.

LR & DI (Logical reasoning and Data Interpretation)


Family Tree. Paragraph about A,B,C,D,E is given – relate them to each other.
Description of Mr.X,Y and The standing in line, who is in front of whom.
2800 people taking part in a voting, some of them male and some of them female. Tabulate the data to answer the questions
70% male, 2/7th of them married. How many females are unmarried
All animals are carnivores
All trains run on diesel
All poets are poor
2*2 squares. Find the Missing number
A,B,C living in North,south etc. (Map direction)
Plane mirrors
Min Colors required to paint a big wheel with number of sectors
2*2 square. A going to B, how many ways
Number of triangles in a pyramid

Data and Graph interpretation

Number of questions
Age pyramids of 4 nations. Identify the nation with declining population
Population growth curve of ABCD
Pie Charts comparing diseases of two towns
Velocity of Train A and B (graph)
Disease graph-# of bacteria vs Time
Compared to BANK PO verbal-reasoning and Data interpretation questions, these are relatively easy. Hence For LR/DI portion, R.S.Agrwal’s Verbal and Non-verbal reasoning book is more than sufficient to get a grip on logical-reasoning and data interpretation. No special coaching is required for this.

Quantitative aptitude / Mental ability

Conventional mental ability

Word problem
Coin of Rs. 1 and 2, total amount 50 Rs.
Three persons walking with different steps
Time Speed Distance
  1. Two trains, ratio of distance covered by them.
  2. Graph showing speed and time of three athletes.
Venn diagram
% of students not playing Football
  1. Water of the tank will last for how many days
  2. Square divided into four rectangles.
Student: 3 tests with average N score
6 routes from City A to B
Penalty for Each day
As you can see, these questions don’t require mugging up tons of complex formulas for liquid mixtures allegation, partnership, moving railway and boat speeds etc. You don’t need to master the Chinese Remainder theorem or Vedic math formulas for high-speed calculation.

English language (No Hindi questions here)

He walked several miles
My toothbrush
Polar bear
These questions required only interpretation of simple English paragraphs and answer the question based on that. In this portion there was nothing complicatedlike Sentence correction in GMAT or complex synonyms-antonyms in CAT/Bank PO.

Decision Making (no penalty for any question)

  1. Meeting missed because boss did not tell you
  2. Local thug asking you to vacate the plot in Bollywood ishtyle.
  3. Project deadline, you met accident.
  4. Earthquake survivors alleging corruption charges against you.
  5. Boat prices high during flood.
  6. Vaccine for Gram-Pradhan
  7. Night shelters for homeless=increased thefts in area.
  8. Dowry case
These were quite complex than the mock-Situation reaction tests given in RS Agarwaal etc books, where the options are black vs white: good vs evil. Here most options are either in gray area or equally ‘white’.
More than one correct answer is possible depending on your approach (humane officer vs rulebook officer vs boy scout vs Jhola-chhaap NGO or Activistof pseudo-civil society vs Columnist of The Hindu/Frontline vs IPS officer of a typical South Indian movie (who is not bound by CrPC, IPC, Police manual or even Newton’s three laws).
Mr.Rulebook officer approach is not necessarily the bad option for every question and every situation e.g. in financial matters or subjects handled by different departments: there are rules to be followed, there is office-discipline to be maintained, there is division of work and separation of powers and they all exist for a good-reason.
Same way Mr. Humane-take-no-punitive-action officer approach may not be the ‘best’ answer for every situation. Officers are given discretionary coercive powers for a reason and they’re expected to exercise them according to the situation.
Similarly encroaching upon the jurisdiction of other Departments (even with good intentions) may have long term negative impacts as everyone starts to poke his nose in other’s business: it leads to chaos.
So selecting the “Superman(Lokpal!) cum Superjournalist cum superNGO cum judge-jury-executioner cum Mr.Poke-my-nose-in-everything-disregarding authority-&-rules“ approach for every question and every situation may not lead to the best answer. Like UPSC said ‘response will be evaluated based on level of appropriateness for given situation’
In these Decision Making questions : which is the best answer? Even the real-life officers with impeccable service record will have different answers, if you ask them to solve these…so only UPSC can tell and I don’t think they’ll release the official-answer-key for this. As JohnRambo said “These decision making Qs are too subjective, one could successfully argue on all four options.”

Conclusion (again not looking for debates)

Most people concluded that this was the easiest and cheapest of all aptitude paper they’ve ever seen. That happened because UPSC was testing the waters for the first time. You can be sure that next paper won’t be a total Pappu like 2011’s paper. because UPSC takes pride in its tough exams, when things become transparent or too easy or unambiguous- UPSC takes it as a personal insult :D
So How can (and may) UPSC increase the toughness of next aptitude paper In 2012?
  1. Increasing number of 4TF questions in comprehension. It’ll put candidates on panic because of the time limit. Even this time people had hard time going through the comprehension.
  2. Increasing the number and complexity of Decision Making questions (as there is no proper book/material available on this, it’ll keep coaching classes at bay. So for UPSC it is two birds in one stone.)
  3. Diversifying the English portion: not limiting it to just paragraph reading. May be some easy fill in the blanks etc. but I don’t think they’ll immediately toughen this up, in order to give the rural candidates a level playing ground.

Speed calculation vs Speed reading

  1. Speed calculation: A Must have skill for Bank PO and CAT. But for CSAT, simple mathematical understanding and accuracy in calculation is sufficient. You’re not required to memorize or calculate the cube roots of 16 digit numbers.
  2. Speed reading is going to be the must have traits from now onwards for Prelims. As you saw both GS and Aptitude paper had lot of 4TF question- they eat lot of your time in reading. God forbid, if UPSC decides to increase the number of 4TF questions even further- that’ll give very stressful time in exam-hall.

Engineer-science-MBA friendly?

  1. Some people had been saying that now Engineers, MBA and science-graduates are at advantage than Arts/Commerce graduates because of the changed trend. Is it really so? Let us see.
  2. In the GS paper, the science topics did not require subject specialization. Anyone doing proper preparation from NCERT,GS manuals could have solved majority of those questions. If they asked for chemical formulas of compound released in ATP cycle or the amount of light emitted by 50 CFL bulbs of xyz power-rating….then we could say yes it is friendly for them.
  3. So there no need for anyone to feel guilty for not being an engineer/science graduate.
  4. Similarly now there is enough time and idea on how to deal with the secret aptitude paper. So again being a non-MBA, non-CAT, non-Bank PO guy is not going to put you at disadvantage because now you have enough time to practice and master your aptitude skills in right direction, till now you had compiled a mountain of material on your desk, from internet and bookstores dealing with everything from CAT,GMAT,Bank PO, CDS,LIC,SSC everything because you did not know what kind of aptitude paper will be there. But now the 2011 exam is gone and you know what is worth doing and what is worth skipping.

Remove the caps and start from the scratch

What I’m trying to say is, this exam requires you to start from basics and removing whatever cap you’re wearing and start from scratch. I used to take pride “I’m a Pharmaceutical guy so I know all about science, biochem and medicines” and still my concepts about Artificial sweeteners/ Sugar-free are not clear and they asked a 4TF question= I’m fumbling for answers.
Similarly, I had mugged down Sprectum’s book on Gandhi-Nehru Tagore and other (50+) Personalities of Modern India. So I consider myself ‘freedom fighter specialist’ And yet a new freedom fighter Usha Mehta comes in GS 2011 and I’ve no idea about her!
So for 2012: Remove the caps and start from the scratch and basics. (true for any tough competitive exam)

No cut-off queries please

Please don’t ask about cut-offs via email / blog-comments because my answer remains the same as pointed out in my [Topicwise Analysis] of CSAT Paper-1 General Studies (click me).
Now some good opinions worth copy-pasting from Indianofficer forum
i made the mistake of not studying till pre result in my 1st attempt and paid the price by missing final selection by 10 marks, and it really hurt at that stage. so guys take care.
I don’t understand logic behind making paper II so easy. Given the difficulty level of questions, there should have been at least 120 questions in paper II. May be UPSC tried to make a level playing field so that students who are not so good at maths don’t have to lose out.
However, nothing can be said until results are out. It’ll be good if UPSC declares marks of candidates this time, so that there is no space for ambiguity and speculation.
Dude, stop worrying about cut-offs and start preparing for Mains. You’ve fair chances of clearing it. There are only four months left, and results will be announced in another one and half months. There is no point in speculating and wasting time.
you know what, you might not get selected because I am not the one to take that call, not even those who claim to score 80%. It is UPSC which shall decide not us, so why so much anxiety?
Just relax and work hard. You do not want to repent loosing precious time, do you?
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