October 2, 2022
CSAT for UPSC

How to prepare CSAT for UPSC

This blog post will help you prepare for the CSAT for UPSC examination. It describes how to identify a suitable question, how to look for it in different sources of information, and also provides a list of sources that could be accessed to answer questions like this.

Writing out questions is not enough when you are preparing for your CSAT for UPSC examination. You need to practice by posing your questions and getting used to looking at different materials with the goal in mind of finding an answer that satisfies it. The point is not necessarily just knowing what the source says but understanding its importance within the context of the question asked on CSAT and how it relates to previous knowledge gained through school or experience. Most people make the mistake of thinking that QA is about getting the “right” answer. It isn’t. 

The real point of the question is to modify your thoughts and outlook on a topic with an emphasis on those questions where you are least confident. To achieve this, my advice is to find sources that go deeper than just answering questions, but also discuss the issues involved in finding an answer. For CSAT, this means using secondary sources rather than primary ones.

It should also be kept in mind that you will have very little time to identify a suitable question from the source materials provided during the examination so don’t lack confidence if you feel that you can’t find a suitable question after reading an entire chapter. Keep hunting for an appropriate question. You will have more than enough time to answer it once you have found one.

The first and most important thing is to hunt for a suitable question, not a good one. A good question is not a requirement because the examiner has already gone through the trouble of framing the question himself. You might answer a good question incorrectly but that is not necessarily critical because we are always free to choose whichever option we want as long as it answers the original question posed by the examiner. What is important is to frame a good question yourself and have it answered correctly.

How to identify a suitable question:

The first thing you will need is some understanding of what constitutes an issue. An issue can arise from various sources and there are many ways in which issues are addressed in secondary sources as well. Remember, secondary sources are those that discuss the initial issues rather than the primary source which has the answers. Ideally, you should be able to identify an issue after reading somewhere between 5 and 10 pages of the source material (not pages related to a particular question). You can also pick up on some keywords or phrases that provide clues regarding issues involved in answering questions posed by the examiner. Or, you can also directly come up with your question based on what you have read. Remember that the examiner is not a mind-reader and cannot leave the details regarding issue identification for you alone. The good thing about framing questions yourself is that it increases your subject-matter knowledge and helps frame preliminary issues for yourself. You should be able to answer your questions based on what you have read from the source material but this applies more to research papers than books which tend to be written in a summative fashion, providing everything at once rather than building up to make an argument or reach a conclusion.

Once an issue has been identified, look out for keywords or phrases that indicate how it could be addressed. For example: “evolution” and “reformation” are keywords commonly employed in science but you might build your question on the idea of how one can change or reform an organization from the existing model.

Once you have identified a suitable question, it is best to read through the entire chapter or section that contains it and also locate related issues. This will provide a general overview of how those questions might be answered. In such cases, you need to be able to stretch and come up with other possible approaches based on what is covered in the chapter or section as well as any additional issues that may appear that could be addressed by the question posed by the examiner. You should also read through the material containing the question and determine what additional information might be required to conclude. Here, you need to understand all the possible angles involved in answering questions as well as any points raised by the examiner.

Once you have located relevant issues and interpreted them, it is time to look for possible question-answer pairs. You will have an opportunity to search for these in your examination booklet during the examination. This is preferable because it helps you discover several different sources that could be used to answer the same or similar questions that you put in your booklet. Some questions may appear more frequently than others but this does not mean that they are more suitable than other questions that may not occur very often at all. So, go hunting for your questions!!

It is not enough to ask yourself a question and then read the material in your booklet to find the answer – this could get you into trouble. Don’t just read through applicable sections of the source material but make a genuine attempt to incorporate new information to come up with a suitable answer. If you do not feel confident after reading the source material, look elsewhere for more information or even come up with another question based on what you have read so far. Answering questions posed by the examiner is one thing, but answering questions that you have framed is an entirely different route to answering them correctly. 

These are the different ways and tricks that you can use to prepare for the CSAT for UPSC!!

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