Fri, Oct 21, 2016 | updated 11:53 PM IST

Lessons to crack this year's CSAT

Updated: Aug 02, 2016 19:02 IST

By Pallavi Aman Singh

New Delhi, Aug 2 (ANI): The first leg of the nation's toughest exam is barely four days away. Come Sunday, all the hard work that Civil Service aspirants have put in the past months or years will finally come to an end.

Cracking the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) is like winning a race against time and so, to help you get a grip on the exam, ANI asked V.P. Gupta, CMD Rau's IAS Study Circle, for his piece of advice.

1) How should aspirants approach this year's CSAT?

Ans. The CSAT is an aptitude test or a modified IQ test so it has to be approached with a lot of preparation and clarity on your strong and weak areas. The preparation so far should have exposed aspirants to the various kinds of questions and what silly or technical mistakes an aspirant specifically tends to make on them. The trick is to somehow get that elusive 33 percent score to clear this exam and although the written syllabus of the CSAT Paper 2 has not changed over the last six years (with the exception of ELCS) but as the frequency of questions on various topics and the kind of questions that appear keep changing from year to year, so students need to be prepared for a level much higher than what a 33 percent score needs.

An aspirant's hard work and the fine tuning of test dynamics by the simulated exams would ensure a lot of confidence in cracking the paper on D-Day. A positive attitude is needed for excelling at any exam which has an IQ testing component.

2) What are the dos and don'ts for the exam day?

Ans. A lot of students work really hard for the exam. They peak up their preparation before the exam, get bored of covering the same syllabus topics and get complacent. This shouldn't happen. Don't get into the habit of sitting in your room and studying endlessly. Instead, move out and interact with your peers who are also preparing for the exam. Learn what they are working on, which books, what problems they are facing or acing and so on. This will keep the fire burning in your belly and will give you reasons to work harder.

In addition to developing an approach to each section of the exam, you need to be mentally prepared for the challenges presented by the CSAT. Having a plan to manage stress is essential to achieving your optimal score.

If you encounter a situation expecting to be successful you are much more likely to be successful than if you expect to fail. Whether it's looking in a mirror and saying affirming statements or writing a positive thought on your rough paper on test day, it's very important to go into the actual exam expecting to be successful.

Also, don't place excessive importance on the exam; keep the CSAT in perspective. Remember that the CSAT does not measure your intelligence, potential or what you are worth. A CSAT score only reflects how well you performed on the test on a given day, the day of the exam. This is not the day that determines the rest of your life. If the test does not go as well as planned, you can probably take it later. Keep this at the back of your mind, but I am definitely not recommending it.

However, you have worked hard and learned how the CSAT works and you know what to expect.

3) What are the things one should keep in mind?

Ans. If an easy question appears on the test, handle it with extreme caution. Double-check the answer before you finalise and choose it.

A hard question on the test is a good sign, not a bad one. A bulk of students would not have prepared properly for the exam and such students will not be able to handle a difficult question. Remember that you have to "earn" the hard questions on this test. By getting difficult questions right, you ensure your selection to the next stage.

If a question looks really strange or too difficult for you, take a breath and remain calm. Try to figure out what it's testing and apply the appropriate technique. If you're absolutely stumped, just move on. Maintain the pacing and approach you've learned from your practice tests. Do not let a horrible question shake your confidence.

Your selection does not depend on attempting more questions, but on getting more questions right. The sword of negative marking also hangs on your head.

As much as your mock tests serve as "dress rehearsals," practice tests are not quite the same as the "real" CSAT. This is where visualization techniques come into play.

Keep away from wild and late parties, booze, street food and fighting with your girlfriend/boyfriend. In the days leading up to the test, try to get regular exercise and adequate sleep. Become accustomed to waking up at the proper time for the entire week leading up to the test. It is also important not to go to bed at a ridiculously early hour the night before the exam. Fourteen hours of sleep the night before the test is not necessary and any deviation from the sleep schedule you have established in the final week is a dangerous idea.

4) Tips to tackle the upcoming exams of UPSC.

Ans. Current Affairs- Major portion of the GS Exam comes from current affairs. Keep yourself updated and read newspapers till the last day before the examination.

Language skills- Good language skills can help you in presenting your knowledge in a good way.

Solve mock test papers- It becomes very important to solve mock tests in order to check your skills and knowledge. Completing the test in the defined time is as important as studying.

Revise two times before exam- Don't be overconfident once you're done with the syllabus. Revision helps to get the grip of knowledge so that you can perform exactly how you wondered in the exam.

Tina Dabi, topper of 2015 Civil Services Examination with AIR-1, who happens to be a student of Rau's IAS, also shared her nuggets of wisdom with ANI.

Dabi advised the aspirants to stay focused on having clarity of basic concepts and re-reading one's text books. She also recommended keep changing study topics and subjects at regular intervals to keep oneself from getting bored of studies.

All the best! (ANI)