1. Chart: Analysis of all CSAT papers so far
  2. [Section I] Comprehension for CSAT
    1. Step1:  Finish theory
    2. How to prepare high level reasoning?
    3. Step#2: Move hands while reading passage
    4. Step#3: Maximum practice
    5. Comprehension: Why read Non-GS columns?
    6. What about the English passages?
  3. [Section II] Reasoning for CSAT
    1. [Block 1] High level (HL) reasoning in CSAT
      1. Sample questions: Logical Connectives
      2. Sample questions: Syllogism
    2. [Block2] Arrangement
      1. A1: Blood relation
      2. A2: Grouping: People vs clothing/city/occupation/relation
      3. A3: Line Sequence / Comparison problems
      4. A4: Arrangement: table Circular / Rectangular
      5. A5: Conditional Team selection
      6. A6: Scheduling lectures, events, journey
      7. A7: Direction sense test
    3. [Block 3] Reasoning: Non Verbal
    4. [Block 4] Reasoning: Misc. Topics / Low priority
      1. M1: Missing number pattern
      2. M2: Sequence Series
      3. M3: Coding decoding
      4. M4: Logical Venn Diagrams
      5. M5: Calendar
      6. M6: Data Sufficiency (DS)
    5. [Block 5] Reasoning: Totally Ignore these topics
  4. Study schedule for the remaining days
  5. Why people can’t finish paper?
    1. P1: Start with English passages
    2. P2: Don’t keep counting black circles in OMR sheet
    3. P3: Don’t come back for “sets”
    4. P4: Keep “sitter” Questions for the end
  6. Become data processor NOT data collector
  7. Booklist for CSAT exam Paper II?
    1. Backup#1: Banking, insurance etc.
    2. Backup#2: no competitive exam
    3. Backup#3: higher difficulty exams
  8. Book related doubts
  9. Appendix1a: Sacred cutoffs of CSAT prelim exams
  10. Appendix1b: Minimum Passing marks in CSAT prelims
  11. Appendix2: Download links

Prologue to a mile long article

Yes, Just like YOYO Honey Singh, I’m also  alive. and [Current] series will be resumed soon but first, How to prepare for CSAT paper II (aptitude) in a systematic and time-bound manner – that too via selfstudy?

  1. Comprehension and Reasoning You’re here
  2. Mathematics & Data Interpretation: high priority topics
  3. Decision Making + Mathematics: Medium & low priority topics

Structure of CSAT paper II (Aptitude)

  • Total Questions: 80
  • Total Marks: 200
  • Marks for correct answer: 2.5
  • Negative marking: Yes MINUS 0.83 marks. i.e. -33% of correct answer.
  • Sectional cutoffs: No. They combine marks for both paper I and paper II to select candidates for next stage the Mains exam.

Four Sections of CSAT Paper II (Aptitude)

  1. Comprehension (i) to test your understanding (ii) to test English
  2. Reasoning
  3. Mathematics
  4. Decision making (without negative marking)

Chart: Analysis of all CSAT papers so far

CSAT Aptitude Paper 2 Analysis overall
CSAT Aptitude Paper 2 Analysis overall pie
From above charts, it is evident that in all three years, maximum number of questions have come from Comprehension. So, let’s start with that.

[Section I] Comprehension for CSAT

CSAT comprehension internal breakup

HL: High level reasoning (Find assumption, inference, central theme in the passage)

Reading Comprehension 2011 2012 2013
Comprehension passages (printed in both Hindi and English) 28 32 24
Passages to test your English knowledge (printed only in English) 9 8 8
Total 37 40 32

UPSC comprehension passages are tougher than banking, insurance, staff selection and State PSCs because:

  1. CSAT comprehension don’t ask straightforward who, when or where type of MCQs.
  2. Even when they ask “what” and “why”, you can’t find answer directly from a single sentence of the passage. They test your understanding of the entire passage.
  3. In CSAT 2011 and 2012, one passage would contain set of 5-6 MCQs. But in 2013, one passage contains barely 2-3 questions. Hence you’ve to read more number of passages to get same amount of MCQs. Similar trend in sitting arrangement and data interpretation sets. [Same trend in CAT- upto mid-2000s, one passage 5 MCQs, nowadays 1 passage contains barely two MCQs.]
  4. They even ask High level reasoning questions within the passages. (Find assumptions / inferences)

Step1:  Finish theory

You’ll encounter the High level reasoning topic within Comprehension segment, for example:


  1. Which of the following assumptions are valid? then 2-3-4 statements given
  2. With reference to the passage, which of the above assumptions is/are valid?


  1. What does the author imply?
  2. What does the passage imply?
  3. Which one of the following statements conveys the inference of the passage?
  4. Which of the following inferences can be made from the passage?

Central theme*

  1. Which of the following statements constitute central passage of the theme?
  2. What is the essential message being conveyed?
  3. Which of the following best describes the thoughts of the author?
  4. Which one of the following statements constitutes the central theme of this passage?

These are examples of HIGH LEVEL REASONING.
*as such “central theme” is not high level reasoning question, but to confuse you, they provide assumptions and inferences as wrong options.

Passages Questions 2011 2012 2013
Comprehension passages High level reasoning (HL) Find assumption, inference, central theme 10 8 8
other MCQs e.g. finding meaning of a phrase, cause-effect etc. 14 24 20
A. Subtotal: Comprehension 28 32 24
B. English passages i.e. those easy passage given before Decision Making segment, and only printed in English. No Hindi translation give. 9 8 8
Total MCQs A+B 37 40 32

Many candidates don’t need to practice comprehension at home. And in the exam, they make silly mistakes by mixing up facts, assumptions, and inferences with the central theme. You need a strong grip over high level reasoning theory to tick correct option in this section.

How to prepare high level reasoning?

  • Recommended Book: Analytical Reasoning by MK Pandey (BSC Publication)
  • RS Aggarwal also covers these topics but MK Pandey’s explanations and examples are much more refined and lucid, particularly for comprehension angle.
  • CSAT Manuals by TMH, Pearson, Arihant etc. also cover, but not in a thorough manner.
  • As such MK Pandey is written for Bank exams, hence not all chapters are important for UPSC. Do selective study in following sequence
Chapter Title Topics to focus
1 basic of logic How to identify conclusion?– he has given list of keywords on page 6.
2 some information tips Logical connective theory explained on page 19 and 20. He did not use the word “Logical Connective”. He calls them “hypothetical reasoning”. But either way it’s important for both CSAT and CAT. After that read following article:

3 Assumptions
  • Page 29. When assumption is invalid?
  • Page 30. When assumption cannot be out rightly rejected?
  • page33. Difference between implications and assumption.
  • All the practice exercises + read the full explanation given in the answers- why he classified something as “Assumption”? Otherwise in the comprehension you’ll always endup in 50:50 doubt.
  • Page 53: Exercise 3C, particularly the end part questions dealing with assumption in passages.
5 Evaluating inference
  • Page 119-122: how to avoid confusion while deriving inference?
  • Page 127 onwards: all the question passages. Also read full explanation given in the answers.
10 Cause Effect Page 287 onwards: differentiating between immediate cause vs principle cause. It’ll help particularly in the passages related to science, environment or economy.
6 evaluating the given course of action This will also help indirectly in the Decision Making Questions:

  • Page 168: how to determine whether a suggestion action reduces or solves the problem?
  • Page 171: how to determine if suggestion solution is practical or not?
  • Page 172: are you solving the problem or creating a new one?

After above “Core” theory is done, go through following:

  • Ch.4 Forcefulness of the arguments.
  • Ch.9 Strengthening and weakening the arguments
  • Ch.8 Punch line.

So far, UPSC hasn’t asked GMAT like questions about “strengthen/weaken arguments in the given passage”. But nonetheless, above theory will help you digest the passages better.

Step#2: Move hands while reading passage

ManhattanGMATTM is a prominent coaching class in USA(!) Their comprehension tips are worth implementing for CSAT. While reading the passage, do two things:

  1. Note down the assumption & premises on the margin, in a short-hand note.
  2. Highlight the important phrases. (GMAT/CAT done online, their software has this facility. You can do the same even on paper question paper via pen / highlighter)

This helps quickly eliminating options without having to re-read the whole passage again and again, thus saving precious time during the exam. To see practical demo, go to following links. Their instructor Stacey Koprince showed her own notes and thought process while reading the passage:

  1. Passage: Language of the leader
  2. Passage: Meteor showers part IPart II
  3. Passage: Multinational corporations

Additional tips from the same instructor:

  1. How not to read the passage? 90% focus vs 20% focus
  2. How to find the “central theme” / “central point”?

Once this is over, time for maximum practice. How?

Step#3: Maximum practice for Comprehension?

  • As such every publication house has released a separate book on comprehension. But I’m not impressed with their content vs MRP.
  • Most of their tips are just “bolbachhan” without telling specifically do this or do that.
  • Then they give 20-30 practice passages and charge 200-300 rupees. But the quality of their passages doesn’t even justify 50 rupees for the book.
  • If you can get such books from library then do borrow and practice. Otherwise don’t waste money buying such ‘special comprehension books for CSAT’.

For practice you can use following resources:

  1. Last three years CSAT papers- to get a taste of the difficulty level of UPSC. (download links given in appendix of this article)
  2. 500 passages gathered from pagalguy.com’s old threads related to CAT preparation for year 2011 and 2012. (download links given in appendix of this article)
  3. Pagalguy thread for CAT RC discussion 2013
  4. this website got another 250 passages: codecoax.com/grerc/

You can find many more resources by just a google search. e.g. just type “1000 comprehension passages” But keep in mind just ~3 months left. Don’t get fixated over RC. You’ve to prepare & practice other topics as well.

Comprehension: Why read Non-GS columns?

  • UPSC examiner doesn’t write new passage himself. He merely cut-pastes the passages from prominent English newspapers and academic books. From his side, he only designs the MCQs, and gives Hindi translations.
  • Therefore, irrespective of your medium in mains exam, you have to read English newspapers and magazines.
  • Just because you finished college in English medium, doesn’t automatically make you master of English. Avoid such overconfidence.
  • The English textbooks you’ve read for engineering, medicine, pharma or commerce – they’re *NOT* the same English that UPSC passages will contain. Therefore, you’ve to get yourself familiar with the sentence flow and vocabulary of such academic / column type passages.
  • Otherwise, in the exam, you’ll take 15 minutes just to read one passage, while other players finish the same within 3 minutes. In past exams, many candidates failed to finish entire paper, only because of this reason.
  • To get a taste of comprehension passages, the best place is the Book review segment within Hindu, Indian express, Frontline and EPW. Because they first talk about the book, then about the contemporary issue dealt in the book e.g. arts, economics, science, environment, philosophy etc.


  1. indianexpress.com/tag/book-review/
  2. thehindu.com/books/
  3. epw.in/book-reviews
  4. frontline.in/books/ (requires free registration)

of course it doesn’t mean you’ve to read all four each day. Just keep an eye as and when you get time. Most candidates avoid such articles/columns in newspaper, thinking “this is not important for General studies syllabus”. But Keep in mind-Comprehension is a perishable skill that must be polished with regular reading of such “non-GS” English columns.
By the way,

What about the English passages?

  • Yes, what to do with those easy passages given before decision making questions? (i.e. printed only in English and not in Hindi)
  • As such no separate preparation necessary. Because MK Pandey is entirely in English. So once you’re done with that theory, you’ve automatically gained knowledge of such easy English passages.
  • But still for practice of such passages, you may go through papersets of Bank and SSC exams (only if you’ve time left!)

Anyways, enough of comprehension, let’s move to the next segment of CSAT paper II:

[Section II] Reasoning for CSAT

Type Reasoning Topics 2011 2012 2013
High Level Syllogism 3 5 0
Logical connectives 0 2 0
assumption / inference / conclusion 0 5 0
Subtotal: High level Reasoning 3 12 0
Arrangement 1 case vs. many questions 0 5 11
1 case 1 question 1 7 5
blood relation 3 1 0
Direction sense test 1 0 0
Sub Total: Sitting Arrangement 5 13 16
Non-Verbal reflection from mirror 1 0 0
min. colors required to paint 1 0 0
which figure next 0 2 3
Cube figure 0 2 1
Subtotal: Non-Verbal 2 4 4
Misc Venn Diagrams 1 1 1
Missing number pattern 1 0 3
Subtotal: Misc 2 1 4
Total Final Total Reasoning 12 30 24
% weightage in Paper II 15 37.5 30

[Block 1] High level (HL) reasoning in CSAT

CSAT Aptitude Paper 2 Analysis reasoning
UPSC asked no syllogism / logical connectives in 2013, but they filled up the quota of “high level reasoning” by asking 8 such MCQ (find assumption, inference etc) within 32 comprehension MCQs.

High level reasoning (HLR) 2011 2012 2013
Standalone MCQs within reasoning section 3 12 0
HLR-MCQs within comprehension section 10 8 8
total HL reasoning 13 20 8
% weightage in CSAT Paper II (out of 80) 16% 25% 10%

We’ve already prepared the high level reasoning for comprehension i.e. logical connectives, assertion, reasoning, central theme –from MK Pandey’s book. Only one important topic left = Syllogism.


  • For this, refer to MK Pandey’s Chapter 11 page 301 onwards.
  • Start with mastering “two statements”. e.g. all cats are dogs, all dogs are pigs then which of the following conclusion is valid? then move to three statement and four statement syllogism.
  • MK Pandey has explained two methods to solve syllogism: AEIO method vs Venn diagram. I prefer AEIO, some prefer Venn diagram, and you can pick whichever you find more comfortable. Either way, do all the exercises and read the answer explanations in his book.

If you prefer AEIO method, then:

If you still have time and mood, you can get additional practice from RS Aggarwal’s book. But that’d be an overkill because only ~3 months left.

Sample questions: Logical Connectives

(Prelim 1995) Which of the following can be inferred from the statement that “Either John is stupid or John is lazy”?

  1. John is lazy/therefore, John is not stupid
  2. John is not lazy/therefore, John is stupid
  3. John is not stupid/therefore, John is lazy
  4. John is stupid/therefore, John is not lazy

(CSAT 2012)
Examine the following statements:

  1. I watch TV only if I am bored
  2. I am never bored when I have my brother’s company.
  3. Whenever I go to the theatre I take my brother along.

Which one of the following conclusions is valid in the context of the above statements?

  1. If I am bored I watch TV
  2. If I am bored, I seek my brother’s company.
  3. If I am not with my brother, than i’ll watch TV.
  4. If I am not bored I do not watch TV.

(CSAT 2012) Consider the following statements:

  1. Either A & B are of same age or A is older than B
  2. Either C & D are of same age or D is older than C
  3. B is older than C

Which of the following conclusions can be drawn from the above statements?

  1. A is older than B
  2. B and D are of the same age
  3. D is older than C
  4. A is older than C

Sample questions: Syllogism

(Prelim 1998) consider following statements:

  1. all members of Mohan’s family are honest
  2. some members of mohan’s family are not employed
  3. some employed persons are not honest
  4. some honest persons are not employed.

Which of the following inferences can be drawn from above statements?

  1. all members of Mohan’s family are employed.
  2. all employed members of Mohan’s family are honest
  3. the honest members of Mohan’s family are not employed
  4. the employed members of Mohan’s family are not honest.

(CSAT 2011). Examine the following statements:

  1. All animals are carnivorous.
  2. Some animals are not carnivorous.
  3. Animals are not carnivorous.
  4. Some animals are carnivorous.


  1. 1 and 3
  2. 1 and 2
  3. 2 and 3
  4. 3 and 4

(CSAT 2011) Examine the following statements:

  1. All trains are run by diesel engine.
  2. Some trains are run by diesel engine.
  3. No train is run by diesel engine.
  4. Some trains are not run by diesel engine.


  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 1 and 4

(CSAT 2012) Consider the following statements:

  1. All artists are whimsical.
  2. Some artists are drug addicts.
  3. Frustrated people are prone to become drug addicts.

From the above three statements it may be concluded that:

  1. Artists are frustrated
  2. Some drug addicts are whimsical
  3. All frustrated people are drug addicts.
  4. Whimsical people are generally frustrated

 (CSAT 2012) Consider the following statements:

  1. Only those who have a pair of binoculars can become the member of the birdwatcher’s club.
  2. Some members of the birdwatcher’s club have cameras.
  3. Those members who have cameras can take part in photo-contests.

Which of the following conclusions can be drawn from the above statements?

  1. All those who have a pair of binoculars are members of the birdwatcher’s club.
  2. All members of the birdwatcher’s club have a pair of binoculars.
  3. All those who take part in photo-contests are members of the birdwatcher’s club.
  4. No conclusion can be drawn.

[Block2] Arrangement

CSAT Aptitude Paper 2 Analysis reasoning

  • Within arrangement, I also include blood relation and direction sense test because in all such sums, you’ve to drag a chart/diagram in the rough sheets to get the answer.
  • MK Pandey has covered them under Chapter 20 “Problem solving”. For additional practice you can use RS Aggarwal’s chapter 5, 6 and 8.

A1: Blood relation

  • (1998) A to F are members of a family consisting 4 adults and 3 children. A and D are brothers, A is doctor. E is an engineer married to one of the brothers and has two children B is married to D and G is their child. Who is C?
  • (2009) There is a family of 6 persons A, B, C, D, E and F. There are two married couples in the family. The family members are lawyer, teacher, salesman, engineer, accountant and doctor. D, the salesman is married to the lady teacher. The doctor is married to the lawyer. F, the accountant is the son of B and brother of E. C, the lawyer is the daughter-in-law pf A. E is the unmarried engineer. A is the grandmother of F. How is E related to F?
  • (CSAT 2011) A is the brother of B, C is the father of A, D is brother of E, E is the daughter of B Then, the uncle of D is?
  • MK Pandey Chapter 20 from Page 612 onwards. Understand the concept of “backtracking” and how to draw family tree- especially for complex problems like “A is wife of B who is not an engineer” etc.
  • then do all exercises in 20A (page 628 onwards). but it is only for “warmup”. The real UPSC level sets begin from Exercise 20B and 20C. First solve them on your own, then understand the full explanation and technique shown by MK Pandey.
Page Questions combined problem of blood relation plus __. Explanation
633 12-19 intelligence comparison 670
635 27-31 Weight comparison. 673
638 51-55 Sitting arrangement + age comparison. 680 (but he did not explain this one, just gave answer)
643 79-83 Trait comparison. 687-688
653 50-54 occupation 705
653 55-59 occupation 705
655 70-73 nothing 706
660 111-115 nothing try yourself
662 132-135 surnames 709

For additional practice, you may refer RS Aggarwal Ch. 5 Blood relations (page 261 onwards) .
To complicate the question, often the examiner doesn’t ask straightforward blood relation but embeds it in the problem related to grouping- people vs. relation vs occupation vs car color and so on. Hence our next preparation should focus on:

A2: Grouping: People vs clothing/city/occupation/relation

(Prelims 2010) Gopal, Harsh, Inder, Jai and Krishnan have Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Cuttack, Delhi and Ernakulam as their hometowns (Not necessarily in that order). They are studying in Engineering, Medical, Commerce, Economics and History Colleges (Not necessarily in that order). None of the five boys is studying in his hometown, but each of them studies in one of the cities given above.Further, it is given that:

  1. Gopal’s hometown is Ernakulam.
  2. Harsh is not studying in Ahmedabad or Bhopal.
  3. Economic college is in Bhopal.
  4. Inder’s hometown is cuttack.
  5. Krishnan is studying in Delhi.
  6. Jai is studying in Ernakulam and the History College4 is in his hometown Ahmedabad.
  7. Engineering College is situated in Ernakulam.

**then you’ve to solve four MCQs about who belongs to which city and college.

  • (CSAT 2012) Three persons A, B & C wear shirts of Black, Blue and Orange colours (not necessarily in the order). No person wore shirt and pant of the same colour. Further, it is given that, A did not wear shirt of black colour. B did not wear shirt of blue colour. C did not wear shirt of orange colour. A did not wear the pants of green colour. B wore pants of orange colour. What were the colours of the pants and shirts worn by C respectively?
  • (CSAT 2013) In five flats, one above the other, live five professionals. The professor has to go up to meet his IAS officer friend. The doctor is equally friendly to all, and has to go up as frequently as go down. The engineer has to go up to meet his MLA friend above whose flat lives the professor’s friend. From the ground floor to the top floor, in what order do the five professionals live?

How to prepare? In MK Pandey Chapter 20:

Page Questions understand his technique explained in page __
599 ex1 602
632 1-5 667
638-39 51-55 680 although has no explanation
657 88-92 707
658 98-102 707
663 140-144 710
664 145-149 710

A3: Line Sequence / Comparison problems

You’re given information about people standing in a line / cars parked / marks or height or wealth of people in a sequence, then you’ve to solve the MCQs. observe samples:

  • (Prelims 2010) P, Q, R and S are four men. P oldest but not poorest. R richest but not oldest. Q older than S but not than P or R. P richer than Q but not S. Arrange these men in descending order of their age and richness.
  • (CSAT 2011) In a queue, Mr. X is fourteenth from the front and Mr. Y is seventeenth from the end, while Mr. Z is exactly in between Mr. X and Mr. Y. If Mr. X is ahead Mr. Y and there are 48 persons in the queue, how many persons are then between Mr. X and Mr. Z?
  • (CSAT 2012) Rama scored more than Rani. Rani scored less than Ratna. Ratna scored more than Rama. Padma scored more than Rama but less than Ratna. Who scored the highest?

How to prepare? In MK Pandey Chapter 20:

Page Questions understand his technique explained in page __
608-09 Point (3), Ex.7 609-10
633 12-19 670
635 27-31 673
644-45 91-95 689
645-46 96-100 690
649-51 25-36 699-700
654 65-69 706
660 116-121 708
661 122-126 708-709

Additional practice: RS Aggarwal ch.6 on puzzle tests.

A4: Arrangement: table Circular / Rectangular

(2000) A to F are sitting on a circular table. A is between D and F. C opposite of D. D and E are not on neighboring chairs. Which of the following must be true? (then various possibilities given

(CSAT 2013) Five people A, B, C, D and E are, seated about a round table, every chair is spaced equidistant from adjacent chairs. C is seated next to A. A is seated two seats from D. B is not seated next to A. Which of the following must be true?

  1. D is seated next to B.
  2. E is seated next to A.
  3. Both  1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

How to prepare? In MK Pandey Chapter 20:

Page Questions understand his technique explained in page __
604-05 Ex5, Ex6 606-608. pay attention to definite information vs comparative information vs negative information and how he utilizes all three of them to make the arrangement.
637 39-43 677-678 observe how he prepares diagram to accommodate complex info-  gender vs marital status vs position on a circular table
640 62-71 681-684. again observe how he prepared diagram to accommodate complex info of gender vs profession vs intelligence vs position on a rectangular table.
654 60-64 This is for self-exercise.
655 74-77 this is for self-exercise
659 108-110 708
661 122-126 708-709

Then RS Aggarwal Ch 6

A5: Conditional Team selection

  • (CSAT 2013) A tennis coach is trying to put together a team of four players for the forthcoming tournament. For this 7 players are available: males A, Band C; and females W, X, Y and Z. All players have equal capability and at least 2 males will be there in the team. For a team of four, all players must be able to play with each other. But, B cannot play with W, C cannot play with Z and W cannot play with Y. Then 3 MCQ given
  • (CSAT 2013) The music director of a film wants to select four persons to work on “different aspects of the composition of a piece of music. Seven persons are available for this work; they are Rohit, Tanya, Shobha, Kaushal, Kunal, Mukesh and J aswant. Rohit and Tanya will not work together. Kunal and Shobha will not work together. Mukesh and Kunal want to work together. the only MCQ given.

How to prepare? MK Pandey Chapter 20:

Page Questions understand his technique explained in page __
621 Ex14 621-623. Obverse his shortcut method, he focuses on the options that are  blatantly violating the selection rules, thus he eliminates  wrong options quickly.
636 32-38 674 to 676
643 84-90 688- important don’t misread the last condition!
652 44-49 703 to 705
658 93-97 this is for self-exercise

Then RS Aggarwal Ch.6 Type 5: from page 356 onwards.

A6: Scheduling lectures, events, journey

Observe the pattern of MCQs asked in previous CSAT exams:

  • (CSAT 2012) Guest lectures on five subjects viz., Economics, History, Statistics, English and Mathematics have to be arranged in a week from Monday to Friday. Only one lecture can be arranged on each day. Economics cannot be scheduled on Tuesday. Guest faculty for History is available only on Tuesday. Mathematics lecture has to be schedules immediately after the day of Economics lecture. English lecture has to be scheduled immediately before the day of Economics lecture.  ***then MCQs start**

How to prepare? In MK Pandey Chapter 20:

Page Questions understand his technique explained in page __
634 20-26 671-673
638 44-50 678-679
641 72-78 684-687
651 37-43 702
656 78-82 706
659 103-107 708
662 127-131 709

For additional practice, RS Aggarwal Ch6 “Puzzle test” (page 288)

A7: Direction sense test

Sample questions from previous prelims
(2009) A person travels 12 km due North, then 15 km due East, after that 15 km due West and then 18 km due South. How far is he from the starting point?

  1. 6 km
  2. 12 km
  3. 33 km
  4. 60 km

(2010)In a meeting, the map of a village was placed in such a manner that south-east becomes north, north-east becomes west and so on. What will south become?

  1. North
  2. North-east
  3. North-west
  4. West

(2011) The houses of A and B face each other on a road going north-south, A’s being on the western side. A comes out of his house, turns left, travels 5 km, turns right, travels 5 km to the front of D’s house. B does exactly the same and reaches the front of C’s house. In this context, which one of the following statements is correct?

  1. C and D live on the same street.
  2. C’s house faces south.
  3. The houses of C than 20 km apart.
  4. None of the above

How to prepare?
MK Pandey doesn’t deal with “Direction sense test” topic. For this consult RS Aggarwal Chapter 8.

[Block 3] Reasoning: Non Verbal

CSAT Aptitude Paper 2 Analysis reasoning

Non-Verbal 2011 2012 2013
reflection from mirror 1 0 0
Min. colors required to paint the given figure. 1 0 0
which figure next (similar to those SSC/Bank question) 0 2 3
Cube figure – which side will have what color / number / alphabet. 0 2 1
Subtotal: Non-Verbal 2 4 4
  • MK Pandey doesn’t cover non-verbal reasoning
  • Preparation source: “A modern Approach to verbal and non-verbal reasoning, RS Aggarwal” (S.Chand Publication)
  • solve all the chapters given under in the non-verbal reasoning section of that book-Even chapters related to paper cutting and paper folding type MCQs.
  • Reason: UPSC is full of uncertainty.  Similarly nothing prevents them from asking “paper cutting / paper folding” type questions. So practice a few sum from each variety.
  • Reserve the practice quota of non-verbal, for the last month before exam. Because even if you begin right now (June), your skill/dexterity will perish by August end. Besides you cannot really makes revision “notes” for this topic. (Except a few points in cube theory- number of faces, how many smaller cubes if “x” number of cuts are made etc.)
  • Just like “find missing number” MCQs, these should also be done at last during the exam. Sometimes particularly in the cube questions, candidates cannot crack the pattern and unnecessarily waste 10-15 minutes for a one MCQ. Avoid doing that. Save these non-verbal reasoning questions for the end.

[Block 4] Reasoning: Misc. Topics / Low priority

Odd ball topics = Not regularly asked in large amount. You cannot see a ‘pattern’ over the years- unlike sitting arrangement or assumption-inference.

Reasoning Misc. 2011 2012 2013
Missing number pattern 1 0 3
Venn Diagrams 1 1 1
total 2 1 4

M1: Missing number pattern

(Prelim 2006) find the missing number “X” in following series

fig1 fig2 fig3
16 64 64
9 18 25 25 18 1 9 18 1
36 16 X

Answer choice: 4 / 16 / 25 / 36.
(CSAT 2013) find the missing number “X” in following series

figure 1 figure 2 figure3
84 81 88
14 12 18 9 ? 11

The missing number (?) in figure 3 is? Answer choice: 7/16/21/28

  • Preparation source: RS Aggarwal Ch16: “Inserting the missing character” Page 628 and practice the sums
  • Tip: in the exam, solve these sums in the end. Because sometimes it may take 10 seconds, and sometimes even after 10 minutes of trial-error you may not see the pattern. So don’t waste too much time.

M2: Sequence Series

(1995) consider the series given below. 4/12/95, 1/1/96, 26/2/96,… The next term of the series is

  1. 24/3/96
  2. 25/3/96
  3. 26/3/96
  4. 27/3/96

(1998) .Which one of the following satisfies relationship Dda:aDD:Rrb: ?

  1. DDA
  2. RRR
  3. bRR
  4. BBr
  • In the missing number questions we saw UPSC asked it twice- 2006 and 2013. So far UPSC hasn’t asked sequence/series- but nothing prevents them from asking, especially under the aegis of Chairman DP Agarwal, to break the backs of coaching classes and senior players. Therefore, you should prepare such ‘chillar’ topics as well.
  • Don’t live under overconfidence that “just because xyz topic was not asked in last three exams, so UPSC will never ask it in future exams.”

Preparation Source: RS Aggarwal,
Chapter 2 number analogy, following types

  • Type 8: number analogy
  • Type 9: Alphabet Analogy

Chapter 3: Classification, following types

  • Type 4: choosing odd numerical (indirectly helpful in missing number)
  • Type 5: choosing the odd letter group

M3: Coding decoding

(1999) In a code language, ‘SOLID’ is, written as ‘WPSLPIMFHA’. What does the code ‘ATEXXXQIBVO’ refer to?

  1. EAGER
  2. WAFER
  3. WAGER
  4. WATER

(2000) In a certain code, MARCH is written as OCTEJ, how is RETURN written in that code?


Preparation Source: RS Aggarwal, Chapter 4.
Optional: MK Pandey Chapter 17 and 19 on coded relationships and inequalities

M4: Logical Venn Diagrams

There are two type of Venn diagram questions

  1. Mathematical: in a society 30% people drink coffee and 50%….we’ll see about this in next article under Maths strategy.
  2. Logical: you’re given a complex Venn diagram, without any quantity or percentages. It contains overlapping of squares, rectangles, circles and triangles, then you have to identify which of them are both singer and painters etc.

In last three exams, UPSC asked both type of  Venn diagrams. They also asked such MCQs in 1996, 1998 and 2001. Hence should be prepared.
Preparation Source: RS Aggarwal, Chapter 9 Logical Venn diagrams.
What to do with mathematical Venn diagrams? we’ll see in next article under Maths strategy.

M5: Calendar

Sample questions from previous prelims
(2008) March 1, 2008 was Saturday. Which day was it on March 1, 2002?

  1. Thursday
  2. Friday
  3. Saturday
  4. Sunday

Preparation source: My article under Aptitude series- click me
By the way, I consider Permutation, combination, probability, clock angles and mathematical Venn diagrams as part of mathematics. We’ll see them in next part.

M6: Data Sufficiency (DS)

Not seen in recent times, but has been asked in pre-CSAT era, as part of age / sitting arrangement / blood relation type problems.  Observe
(2006) P, Q, R, S and T live in a five storied building (ground+4), and each of them resides on a separate floor. Further,

  1. T doesn’t reside on topmost floor
  2. Q doesn’t reside on ground floor
  3. S resides on one story above P, and one below R.

To know which person resides on ground floor, which of the above statements are sufficient?

  1. only 1 and 3 sufficient
  2. only 2 and 3 sufficient
  3. 1, 2 and 3 are sufficient
  4. 1, 2 and 3 are insufficient.

(2006) they gave four dice figures. and asked which of them are sufficient to find out the numbers opposite to each other.

How to prepare DATA SUFFICIENCY?

  • Prepare data sufficiency ONLY after learning all the theories in reasoning and mathematics- particularly age problems and number system.
  • MK Pandey Chapter 7, Page 203 onwards
  • (optional) RS Aggarwal’s chapter 17 on data sufficiency. Although that’ll be overkill, because MK Pandey’s chapter is far better and thorough than RS Aggarwal.

[Block 5] Reasoning: Totally Ignore these topics

You may “Ignore” because these topics are not seen in UPSC exams so far. They’re mainly reserved for Bank exams. Again I use the word “may” because DP Aggarwal may ask It for breaking the backs. but sometimes you’ve to take calculated risk hahaha

Topic What does it contain? RS Aggarwal MK Pandey
  1. Analytical decision making or
  2. Eligibility Tests
  • In a big paragraph, first you’re given recruitment conditions. Then 4-5 “Cases” where you’ve to take appropriate action e.g. select candidate, refer to manager etc.
  • This type of questions not seen in UPSC, hence ignore.
18 Ch.12
  1. Input-Output or
  2. Sequential Output Tracing
  • First you’re given an example: input, step I, II, III, IV, V then output.  Then you’re required to do similar for given 4-5 MCQs.
7 Ch. 13, 14, 15 and 16

Study schedule for the remaining days

Random preparation based on mood swings = road to #EPICFAIL.
Proceed in following manner.

Month What To Prepare Why?
June upto Mid July high level reasoning + comprehension Comprehension practice & mock tests will only cause frustration IF you don’t finish high level reasoning theory first.
maths: with emphasis on recording all the calculation errors and shortcuts in your “diary of mistakes”. Because it has so many topics, you’ve to start early. Besides, concepts related to HCF, LCM, Time-speed-distance etc will remain for longer duration in memory -Compared to dexterity over non-verbal reasoning or data interpretation.
Mid July to August 9
  • Data interpretation (DI)
  • sitting arrangement
  • Nonverbal reasoning
  • misc. topics under maths & reasoning
  • Comprehension practice
Hardly contain any theory. Even if you ‘finish’ entire DI today itself, your skill/ dexterity will get rusted by August. Hence reserve the quota for Mid-July to Mid-august.
  • August 10 to 23rd (14 days) should be spent in revision.
  • Practice aptitude after dinner. That way your hands keep moving and brain doesn’t feel sleepy. Allot your fresh hours in daytime to general studies preparation.
  • For comprehension, make a resolve to solve at least 3-5 passages on daily basis. Download zip file from bottom.

Why people can’t finish paper?

In past exams, many candidates have failed to finish entire aptitude paper within two hours duration. Why?

  1. They don’t read columns in Hindu, IE, frontline, EPW etc. Hence they take 10-15 minutes to read a passage, which a CAT/GMAT-master can finish in barely 3-5 minutes.
  2. At home, they don’t study high level reasoning theory. So for every assumption /inference type question they’re 50:50 doubtful. YET they don’t skip it, they just keep pondering over it for another 10-15 minutes.
  3. At home, they don’t study maths out of fear, and study reasoning in a casual manner. So to cross the imaginary cutoffs they come back again and again on same comprehension passages, even when they’re unable to solve it, and repeat point #2.
  4. They take too much time solving non-verbal reasoning and sitting arrangement questions. Even after creating the diagram for sitting arrangement / blood relation- their diagram doesn’t match with any of the answer choice, so they spend another 10-15 minutes in fixing It, re-reading the entire caselet.
  5. At home they only “read” the sums from books and mugup formulas. But in real life exam, they make silly mistakes in every multiplication, addition, subtraction and division. So they’ve to redo the same question multiple times.

To avoid such firefighting and epicfails:

  1. Be thoroughly prepared for Maths, reasoning and English.
  2. Keep a wrist watch in the exam hall.
  3. Observe following principles:

P1: Start with English passages

Donot start with first page of the question paper. But, immediately open 4th or 5th last page…it’ll contain those “English testing passages” (= those passages without Hindi translations). Solve them first because it’s the easiest section in the entire paper. Let’s assume cut off is xx. Then you’ve already filled up your tank by 8 correct questions.
Now your brain and hands are warmed up, open first page and start with 1, 2, 3, 4…
For the first ~65 questions, UPSC doesn’t have ‘sections’. You’ll come across comprehension, reasoning and maths questions at random intervals.
Some people first mark the page number / Question numbers of comprehension passages on the rough-page. Then begin solving all passages one by one. I don’t recommend this method because:

  1. You’ll end up wasting precious moments in just flipping through pages.
  2. You might accidentally miss a single maths /reasoning question hiding between two comprehension sets.

So, just move with the flow Q no. 1, 2, 3, 4…so whatever maths, reasoning or comprehension question you face in that sequence, either solve or skip or put on ‘mark-n-review’.

P2: Don’t keep counting black circles in OMR sheet

Ideally you should count the black circles in OMR sheet only once, in those last 5-7 minutes before exam ends.
But most candidates keep counting their black circles, after every 20-30 MCQs or every 30-45 minutes- “how many did I attempt? (imaginary) cutoff cross hogaa ki nahi?”
This is a bad habit  because:

  1. You are wasting precious time in a non-productive activity.
  2. Creates stress on your subconscious brain, prompts you to tick answers based on “gut-feeling”, even where you’re 50:50 doubtful.
  3. You try to “Fit” wrong formula/ logic in to solve tough MCQs in maths/ reasoning.
  4. You keep coming back to the “sets” again and again.

P3: Don’t come back for “sets”

Scenario: a passage contains 3 questions. You solved 2 MCQs confidently, but in one MCQ you’re 50:50 undecided. You mark its number on the last page of question paper, hoping “I’ll come back at the end of the exam”.
This is a bad idea for two reasons

  1. When you come back, the understanding of that passage would have evaporated from your short term memory just like Amir Khan in Ghajni. You’ll have to spend another 3-5-7 minutes re-reading the passage.
  2. In the last few minutes before exam ends, person is usually under fear-factor of “Cutoffs” so, even if he is 50:50, he ticks answer on “Gut feeling” just to overcome that imaginary cutoff. In UPSC, usually Gut-feeling answers are wrong answers. So don’t dig your grave in negative marking.

Same applies to blood relation, sitting arrangement, Data interpretation type “sets”. Solve the entire set in one go. Avoid coming back for a single unsolved MCQ from such set.

P4: Keep “sitter” Questions for the end

  • Whenever you come across find missing number, find coding-decoding, find analogy; OR
  • Non-verbal questions like find next figure in the diagram, what will be the number / color on xyz face of dice….
  • For all such questions, note their page number on the rough space. Only when you’re finished with other questions, begin solving these questions. (this is one type of “marks and review” in online exams)
  • Reason: sometimes it may take 1 minute, sometimes 10 minutes to crack the pattern in such MCQs. You don’t want to break mental-rhythm during middle of the paper with such bumpy-road MCQs, reserve them for the last lap.
  • Same advice for any unconventional maths/reasoning questions. Donot break rhythm to solve something that you’ve never encountered before at home. or you’ll end up throwing good money after bad money.
  • Remember: You’re not required to tick 80/80 MCQs to qualify for Mains. UPSC will give you only 2.5 marks whether you solve a given question in 1 minute or in 10 minutes. So learn to prioritize and make best use of time.

*you’re welcome to add more principals in the comments below*

Become data processor NOT data collector

  1. UPSC introduced aptitude paper in 2011. At that time, people spent countless hours on net, gathering tonnes on PDFS and webpages related to other higher level aptitude exams (CAT, GMAT etc.) hoping that UPSC will ask tough questions from it.
  2. But now three years have gone, the paper analysis so far reveals that yes UPSC asks tough aptitude questions, but they’re not that tough. You can solve most of them through traditional aptitude books. You don’t have to download terabytes of material, pdfs, movies, softwares meant for CAT/GMAT etc. You don’t have to be on 24/7 internet gathering material for aptitude. So stop that material collection activity and get start practicing from the traditional books.

Booklist for CSAT exam?

Aptitude Book choice depends on career backup (in case you fail UPSC). Don’t waste on money separate set of books for every exam. CSAT Aptitude is a curious combination of both higher and lower level exams than UPSC. So, books meant for both type of exams, work just fine with slight jugaads.

Backup#1: Banking, insurance etc.

Jobs: IBPS, SBI, Staff Selection (SSC), CAPF (Assistant Commandant), AFCAT, LIC, NICL-AAO, ACIO, FCI, State PSC lower level, & other central government or PSU jobs.
In that case, use following book combination for the CSAT paper II

  • Maths: Fast track to Objective Arithmetic by Rajesh Verma
  • Reasoning: RS Aggarwal OR BS Sijwali
    • if you’re buying second hand then RS Aggarwal because contains more practice Qs than Sijwali.
    • if you’re buying brand new then BS Sijwali – because ~Rs.200 cheaper than RS Aggarwal and yet covers all topics with good number of practice questions.
  • Comprehension: MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning (for assumption –inference and high level reasoning) then maximum practice using online resources.
  • English grammar: Objective General English by SP Bakshi (Mind it: this is not asked in CSAT Paper II but sentence correction / grammar important for non-UPSC aptitude exams.)

Backup#2: no competitive exam

Plan: If I cannot clear UPSC then I’ll simply go back to private sector job/ business.
In that case use any CSAT Manual by Tata Macgraw Hill (TMH), Arihant or Pearson etc. (Whichever you can find cheaper second hand.)
As such I don’t have good opinion about such aptitude manuals because they’re hardly useful for non-UPSC exams:

  1. They don’t contain detailed trigonometry, quadratic equation= useless for SSC, CDS, SCRA, CAT etc.
  2. No logarithms, no coordinate geometry, no geometry beyond area-volume-perimeter = useless for CAT, CDS and SCRA.
  3. Their Data interpretation sets don’t have lengthy calculations and peculiar problems seen in banking exams = useless for IBPS and SBI exams. Then you’ll have to buy another paperset or DI book.
  4. They usually avoid input-output, eligibility test topic asked in banking exam. = useless for IBPS, SBI and LIC/NICL exam, you’ll have to buy another book or paperset at that time.
  5. Very few questions on non-verbal reasoning = not sufficient practice for SSC, insurance and Banking.

Therefore, if you’re planning to give ‘non-UPSC’ exams as career backup, then avoid purchasing Aptitude manuals. At max, these manuals will help in CAPF (Assistant commandant) but not much outside that.

Backup#3: higher difficulty exams

CDS, CAT, CMAT, SNAP, XAT & other higher level exams.

  1. Maths: Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Kumar (OR Arun Sharma)
    1. IF you’re already good at maths then Arun Sharma
    2. If you’re weak at maths then Sarvesh Kumar.
  2. Reasoning: depends
    1. In CDS they don’t ask reasoning. So, for CSAT use the reasoning books mentioned under backup#1 (because CSAT asks reasoning questions!)
    2. For CAT you may use Gajendra Kumar (Disha publication). And then maximum practice from pagalguy.com threads for reasoning.
  3. Comprehension: depends
    1. CDS: Passages easier than CSAT. But they fill-up the difficulty quota by giving tough sets on sentence arrangement and sentence correction. (Mind it CSAT doesn’t ask verbal ability /grammar). Hence use the sources given in backup#1.
    2. Arun Sharma OR Ajay Singh then maximum practice from pagalguy.com threads for comprehension and verbal ability. (Mind it CSAT doesn’t ask verbal ability –like those sentence correction or sentence arrangement).

Book related doubts

Q. I already have purchased CSAT paper II Manual by xyz publication, do I need to refer those separate books on maths and reasoning?
Ans. No need. If you already have bought such manual, just study the topics listed in this article, from respective chapters.
You can also try desi-Jugaad: find a friend in your city with RS Aggarwal, exchange books for 10-15 days. That way he can practice new stuff from your book while you get to practice the important sections from his.
Q. I already have RS Aggarwal, do I need MK Pandey?

  • MK Pandey’s high level reasoning concepts are far better than others. Particularly useful for comprehension section of UPSC for those assumption / inference type of questions.
  • RS Aggarwal’s chapters on logic-assumption-inference are just “practice workbook”, hardly explaining the theory/ concepts in detail.
  • MK Pandey’s puzzle test/ sitting arrangement chapter contains good number of UPSC level question sets, along with useful explanations and tips.
  • + highly useful for SBI and IBPS exams.

Q. I already have MK Pandey, do I need RS Aggarwal?

  • Yes because MK Pandey doesn’t cover many of the low- level reasoning topics such as analogy, non-verbal reasoning, and direction sense test.
  • Anyways, you don’t need a brand new RS Aggarwal, try to find second hand used copy. Aggarwal is in the market since 90s, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding its second hand copy even in tier II cities.

Q. I already have CAT books OR CAT coaching material for reasoning. DO I need others books?
Ans. CAT material will work just fine. But with conditions-

  1. CAT material usually doesn’t cover non-verbal reasoning beyond those cube color, dice face questions. But UPSC is asking “which figure next”?… so for that much practice, download SSC/ bank papers or borrow someone’s RS Aggarwal.
  2. You may Ignore / low-prioritize following topics from CAT reasoning material, because they’re not seen in UPSC so far:
    1. games and tournaments
    2. pipe-network
    3. Data sufficiency (asked but low priority)

Q. I’ve CSAT books from xyz jholachhap publication house exclusively in Hindi medium. Can I rely on them?
No. Hindi maadhyam aptitude books are bogus waste of time and money because

  1. They complicate even easy concepts by using too much shuddha Hindi terminology
  2. They’re full of printing mistakes in answers. it ruins the mood and tempo while practicing sums at home.

Therefore, when it comes to aptitude books, better go for English books of reputed publication houses.

Appendix1: Sacred cutoffs of CSAT prelim exams

Only for the informative purpose. DONOT enter the examhall with ‘cutoff’ mindset. Each UPSC paper is unique, each year’s demography is unique. If some baba or “Sir” has adviced that you must tick minimum 55 MCQs in aptitude, ignore them. If you can’t solve an MCQ then you CANNOT solve that MCQ, don’t dig your grave with guess work or gut feeling just to cross 55.

Exam CS (Prelim)* CS (Main)# CS(Final)
General 241 564 775
OBC 222 534 742
SC 207 518 719
ST 200 510 707
PH-1 Ortho 199 510 725
PH-2 Visual 184 502 718
PH-3 Hearing 163 410 613
Total 400 1750 2025


Minimum passing marks: Prelims

  • From the above * and # , now we know UPSC’s official system of “minimum passing marks” (this was never disclosed in RTIs so far).
  • it implies that if you failed to reach minimum passing marks in any one paper then they won’t select you for next stage, even if you get best marks in other papers.
  • BUT overall merit list prepared by combing scores of both GS + Aptitue paper.
MAX marks Minimum
Must get
atleast __ MCQs
CSAT (GS) 200 30 12
CSAT (Aptitude) 200 70 28
total 400

*1 MCQ worth 2.5 marks. And assume no MCQs is wrongly attempted.

PS: unlike Bank exams there is no sectional cutoffs within an individual paper. (This is confirmed via RTI many times)

  • Sectional cutoff: no.
  • Paperwise cutoff: no. They combine marks of GS+aptitude: total out of 400
  • Preliminary (CSAT) marks counted only for shortlisting candidates to next stage (i.e. Mains examination).
  • Final selection depends on the combined score of mains + interview.

Appendix2: Download links

#1: UPSC CSAT: Aptitude papers of 2011, 2012, 2013

Link: https://files.secureserver.net/0s4I32bAjTl3bm
UPSC uploaded these papers on its official site but PDF quality very bad. Hard to read the passages, and size too big especially 2013 paper pdf alone is 22 MB. Hence I’ve collected better quality PDFs from testkafunda.com + included official answerkey from UPSC. 2013’s answer key will come only after final result, because again Lord Curzon stonewalled my RTI.
IF you want topicwise sorted question papers, refer CSAT Topicwise solve papers (1995-2013) by Disha Publication.

#2: 500 Reading comprehension (RC) from Pagalguy.com

Link: files.secureserver.net/0sSHBgG2lnFPwx
In the next article, we’ll see the studyplan for mathematics and decision making.
For more on aptitude, visit Mrunal.org/Aptitude.