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CSAT, 2014 again reinforced our belief in the unpredictability of UPSC

question setting trends! It was notified through the gazette that the marks of
those comprehensions for which here was no Hindi translation were not to be
considered in merit for the purpose of selection in CSAT. But the surprizes
were far from being over.
The CSAT paper II again tricked many. It remains to
be the prime cause of woes for several aspirants. The twist in this paper was
the deletion of decision making questions. But that was not realized by many
the aspirants till the time they searched for the decision making questions and
were terrified not to find it in the question booklet. Why worried if there was
no decision making? Because that is a section which can be traversed in a
matter of few minutes and also, there is no negative marking. Moreover, two
options are correct. Thus, it is that section which boosts the score by 10-15
marks. Now it was not there.
The suspicion should have been aroused in the
minds of the aspirants upon reading the instructions at the first hand.
Nowhere is it mentioned that there shall be some questions with no negative
marking. That should have been enough to attract attention of the aspirants
directly to the decision making questions. He/she should have known within
two minutes after receiving the question paper that there are no decision
making questions. The consequential thought then must have been The paper
is going to be lengthier. With this thought in the mind, an aspirant should
have proceeded with the paper.

Analysis of GS paper II



n (printed in
both English
and hindi)


8 passages in total, that is, 3.38 questions per passage. Total around 3000
words to be read including the passage and questions, that is, 115 words to
be read for each question.
The topics will be closely related to the content of GS. Pricing of
commodities such as petrol, inclusive growth, effects of globalization on

(in min)





Figure based

n (written only
in English)

internal economy, ecology and biodiversity, private versus public ownership,

free market and capitalism.
Linear equations in one variable, speed/distance and time, profit and loss,
area related questions, venn diagram based questions, direction based
questions, arithmetic progression.
Arrangements and combination questions, date and day finding questions,
family relation questions, logical conclusions and inference based questions,
missing number questions
Comparison of profits of two fruit sellers, simple questions on marks of two
students and population in relation to income of a city
4 questions on which figure comes the next and one question on finding the
number of routes from A to B.
Not to be done

No questions asked this time.

The 6 questions of English comprehension (written in English only) wont be

counted which makes the maximum score of CSAT as 185. There was a high
paucity of time felt during the examination. Some clear cut questions that
were tough or tricky had to be skipped, if an aspirant felt held up by them.
These were;
a) Missing number question
b) Cards question with 1 and 2 printed on either side.
c) The question asking the time when the two hands of the clock lay one
above the other.
d) The logical reasoning question of judge, lawyer, steno, engineer etc.
e) Question in which a straight line of 36 cm was marked by points from
both the ends.
f) Question of Bullet firing by five persons at a given intervals.
The combined weightage of these above questions is 20 marks. This I would
consider as tough questions. Aspirants who were stuck in these questions
found difficult to complete the paper. Those who had reading speed of less
than 80 words per minute struggled with comprehension. This is the minimum
speed required for these kinds of comprehensions. Out of a total of 185 marks,
165 marks were easy to moderate paper and 20 marks tough paper. I believe




135 would be a good score and 150 will be great score. Anyone getting more
than 160 is an exception.

Analysis of GS Paper I







Art and







Science and


The number of questions of polity decreased this time. Some questions were
general could be subject to different interpretations by the aspirants in the
examination hall conditions. For example; What is a constitutional
government, which can be associated with planning? Some were very easy;
tenth schedule contains anti-defection, promotion of international peace
and security is included in which part of constitution, the largest committee
of the parliament and two questions regarding supreme court. Others
questions from governor, president pm relation and no confidence motion
Weightage of modern history almost remains the same. The level of
questions is quite easy. Questions are taken from; partition of Bengal, 1929
session of INC, Revolutionary groups, Govt of India act of 1958, Partition of
India and Radliffe line.
The weightage of art and culture has increased and it needs a separate
mention. The questions consisted of these broad areas;
Life of Budhha and Budhhist history of monuments, Administration in
medieval India and Reign of Akbar, Dance forms, Regional music of
Rajasthan, classical languages, temple architecture, Indian martial arts,
Compilation of kabir (Bijak), Six system of Indian philosophy, Various
Upnishads, Historical importance of cities, Saka Era, Chaitra 1.
Map based questions (9) are asked directly, especially from those dealing
with map of south-east Asia and Eurasia at the world level. For India maps
dealing with location of Andaman & Nicobar, national parks, rivers and
mountain ranges. Map related to highways of India and that related to crops
and region of production were surprizing. Concept based questions were
only 5, reduced drastically. These were from Himalayan vegetation,
continental drift and impact, monsoon, coral reefs.
Last year there were eight questions on pollution. This year it consists of
causes of soil erosion, sources of carbon di-oxide, pollutants of steel
industry, Ozone depleting agents and their mechanism.
In the last years paper there were 10 questions of ecology. Considerable
increase this year. The focus areas were; symbiotic relations, food chains in
water, environmentally friendly tradition and communities, Animal welfare
board, NTCA, NGRBA, wild-life protection act, EPA, Taxonomic classification,
International environment treaties and initiatives such as Earth hour,
Montreux record, wetland related conservation, Gangetic dolphin, mammals
and hibernation, difference between biosphere reserve, wildlife sanctuary,
national parks, botanical gardens, climate change and related effects.
The number of questions was same as in the previous year. The broad areas
of the questions were; Basic functioning of defence instruments such as
missiles, satellites, rockets, submarines etc. Unconventional sources of

(in min)







Current facts
and schemes

energy coal-bed methane and shale gas, concept of biofuels biodiesel,

biogas, bioethanol etc, their raw material and categorization in various
generations, Economic viability and by-products. Use of S & T in ensuring
food security through irrigation, HYV seeds and related issues such as
replacements of seeds, involvements of pvt. Sector in both irrigation and
HVY seeds. Another related issue is replacement of agricultural pumps.
Question on deficiency diseases was easy. Nanotechnology finds its mention
again. Concept, its application, usage and concerns needs to be studied.
Basic processes of plants and parts involved in it, plants that find mention in
Indian system of medicine and their roles/healing properties. Biometric
identification and theory behind it. Physical versus chemical change. An
insight into solar power production photoelectric effect, metals used their
availability, economic viability of photovoltaic cells and its limitaions.
The questions have decreased. These cover the following broad areas;
Banking operations, venture capital, Public finance, objective of 12th plan,
tax structure, publications of International agencies, Basic Budget concepts,
Relation between household, banking, government and external sectors
Quite a few factual questions this time so that a separate head is required
for these. The questions consisted of; Arab spring, Arctic council, Recent
happenings in Mali, Iraq and Russia, Spacecraft and purpose, BNHS. Various
schemes such as; Drought-prone area, desert development, Rain fed area
and integrated watershed development, BRICS, Eradication of diseases in

How to tackle Paper I of GS?

Science and Technology ; The broad areas that questions touched were
predictable enough. One could have answered some concept based questions
by reading NCERTs textbook of class 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th. Nanotechnology,
unconventional energy sources, such as shale gas, coal-bed methane and
biofuels, often find their place in question paper have to be studied in great
detail. Internet would be a good source. My notes will soon be uploaded on
the website Selected topics of a book of The Hindu on
scientific facts are also relevant in this regard.
Economics; One of the easiest part of the paper 1 was economics. The NCERT
text book of class 12th macroeconomics was suffice to answer most of the
questions. However, an aspirant is not advised to restrict to only one book as
study of economics is required for detailed analysis of many questions in
mains. The aspirants are requested to go through the book titled as CRACK


CIVIL SERVICES IN FIRST ATTEMPT for further elaborate deliberations on the

subject contents of economics. As far as this particular paper is concerned, one
could have cracked 9 to 10 questions easily out of the 11 asked in economics.
Some people were also disappointed to see such an easy level of economics!
Polity; Most of the questions were very easy and some were tricky because
these could be subject to different interpretations such as the question on
planning and constitutional government. It has already been mentioned in
the book that elaborate analysis of polity is not required. As far as preliminary
is concerned, subject matter of NCERTs are more than sufficient. For mains
purpose commentary on the constitution by Subhash Kashyap is sufficient.
Please read the book to find the focus areas in mains examination. These may
also be read from Laxmikant if an aspirant finds the orderly arrangement of its
text comfortable. In this particular paper, a serious student is expected to
answer at least 7 out of 11 questions correctly.
Modern History; One is expected to answer at least 4 questions out of five
correctly. Those who invested a lot of time in history were disappointed to see
the easy level of questions. However, their knowledge will create a difference
in the mains examination. An aspirant is advised not to reduce the study of the
basic text in modern history by witnessing the easy questions of this paper.
Everything that is required to be studied is given in the book CRACK CIVIL
Art and Culture; It finds increasing weightage than that in the last years paper.
The toughest part is that the questions are typically factual. NCERTs will only
create an underlying understanding of social, political and economic setting for
the development of art and culture in ancient and medieval India. An aspirant
is required to read some additional material over and above the NCERTs to
have a familiarity of the terms asked in the paper. Spectrum is suited for this
Environment; we shall consider both the pollution and ecology related
questions together. Weightage of pollution related questions decreased while
that of ecology increased as compared to that in the previous year. Questions
on pollution were from predictable areas, while those from ecology were a
little tricky this time. By reading the last unit of environment and ecology from

NCERT class 12th biology book and the selected chapters of Teachers
handbook on environment, an aspirant could have solved 8 questions out of 20
asked in the paper. Extra efforts are required to crack other questions; Global
programmes/initiatives regarding wetland protection, forest and biological
diversity conservation is required to be studied in detail from the website of
UNEP, UNDP, UNFCCC etc. Framework of our national laws in this direction is
required to be looked into. All this will be uploaded in an organized manner on
the website
Geography; Aspirants who had geography as an optional subject may perform
better in this section as map based questions were increased. Two questions
from world map were also included. Out of the 9 questions based on maps,
four could have been answered quite easily. The rest needed specific
knowledge. Concept based questions were easy and 3 out of five could have
been answered by any serious aspirant.
Current Affairs; These questions came as a surprize for many. Direct facts were
asked in the paper. Many aspirants compared this paper with that asked in
common graduate level of SSC. However, the comparison is not justified
merely on the introduction of 9 current affairs questions. The questions were
related to places/countries in recent news which could not have missed the
eye of serious aspirants. Also, one who has studied the schemes (highlighted in
the box) in the economics survey must have not found any difficulty for
scheme related questions. For major flagship schemes three things are
required to be known for every scheme funding ratios of centre & state,
nodal ministry/agency and the target audience. Overall, if an aspirant has not
answered six questions out of nine correctly, then there seems to be a problem
in reading newspaper. He/she must refer to the chapter on the role of
newspaper, magazine and website in the book. Note that no current affairs
package of any coaching is required for answering these questions. Referring
to packages of vajiram for current related developments would unnecessary
create burden of not required facts.
Overall, around 45 - 50 questions could have been done by a serious aspirant.
But there always exists a tendency to attempt at least 75 questions which will
lead to negative marking. Thus, I feel that 90 marks is a good score in this

paper. Crossing 100 is a commendable achievement. Anything above 120

marks is an exceptionally good score.

In CSAT 2014, I believe that 225 would be a safe score (90 paper I and 135
paper II). Achieving 250 in this paper is a commendable task. Further, there is a
high possibility that the cut off would decrease for every category of students.
Last year the cut off for civil services in general category of students was 241
out of 400. This year the merit would be considered out of 385 marks. If the
level of competition as well as the toughness of the paper was same then the
cut off would have been around 231 (60% of 385 marks). But this year the
paper is tough which tends to have a lowering effect on the cut off. After
talking to many successful candidates who have given exemption from the 89th
foundation course to upgrade their rank in CSE, 2014, I came to the following
Their marks seem to be reduced by a factor of 0.87 in CSAT, 2014. Applying the
same factor on 231 (60% of 385 marks), we find that the cut off would be
around 200 marks.
Yet we must incorporate the following fact, which I found from a
genuine media source. This reads as follows;
More than 4.5 lakh candidates appeared at the examination. A total of 9, 44,
926 candidates had applied for the examination but only 6,80,455 downloaded
the admit cards. Out of almost seven lakh candidates, 4.5 lakh came for the
test held at 2,137 centres in 59 cities. In the year 2013, the UPSC civil services
preliminary saw 3,24,101 candidates.
The number of candidates has increased in CSAT 2014. This would certainly
inflate the above calculated cut off of 200 marks. Thus, I take a positive
allowance of at least 10 marks. The cut off this year may be around 210 215
for general category students. Calculating the cut off for other categories
considering the same percentage depreciation for all categories;