What is CSAT Exam?

By | 15/04/2015

Info about what is CSAT (IAS pre) examThe Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) replaced the Indian Civil Services main examination in 2011 with a new pattern. It is conducted by the UPSC for selection of candidates into Civil Services. The examination held once a year is considered to be one of the most competitive examinations of the country. Students must have complete information about what is CSAT Exam, its eligibility, pattern, syllabus and other details in order to be able to clear it.

Once the two stage process – CSAT and Mains Examination – is complete, candidates are eligible to get recruited for 24 services.

The 24 services comprise of 3 All India Services, 16 Group A Services and 5 Group B Services. Further classification of services can be understood with the help of the table below:

All India Services Indian Administrative Service (IAS)Indian Foreign Service (IFS)Indian Police Service (IPS)
Group A Services Indian Audit and Accounts ServiceIndian Defence Estates ServiceIndian Postal ServiceIndian Railway Accounts ServiceIndian Railway Traffic ServiceIndian Railway Personnel ServiceIndian P & T Accounts & Finance Service

Indian Defence Accounts Service

Indian Civil Accounts Service

Posts of Assistant Security Officer in Railway Protection Force (RPF)

Indian Information Service (Junior Grade)

Indian Ordinance Factories Service (Assistant Works Manager, non-technical)

Indian Revenue Service

Indian Customs and Central Excise Service

Group B Services Customs Appraisers’ ServicePondicherry Civil ServiceRailway Board Secretariat Service (Section Officer’s Grade)Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (Section Officer’s Grade)Pondicherry Civil ServiceDelhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service and Police Service

The Preliminary examination, now popularly known as the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), intends to focus on analytical abilities and understanding rather than the ability to memorize.

IAS Preliminary (CSAT) Exam Eligibility

The IAS/IPS can only be given by Indian citizens while citizens of Nepal/Bhutan are eligible to appear for other civil services.

Educational Qualification
Candidates must have completed graduation or an equivalent qualification recognized by UGC or Government of India.

Age Limit
Candidates must be between the ages of 21 to 30 years to be able to appear for the CSAT exam.

Important IAS Preliminary (CSAT) Exam Information

There are two papers:

  1. General Studies
  2. General Ability Test

The first Civil Services exam was held in 2011. Candidates are selected for the Mains exam on the basis of marks scored in Paper 1 and Paper 2. Sectional cutoffs are not taken into consideration.

The CSAT Syllabus for both papers is as follows:

Paper Marks Duration Number of Questions Syllabus
General Studies 200 2 Hours 100 History and CultureEconomyPolityGeographyEnvironment and Bio-diversityScience and; TechnologyCurrent Affairs
General Ability 200 2 Hours 80 Basic NumeracyGeneral Mental AbilityDecision Making & Problem SolvingAnalytical Ability & Logical ReasoningComprehension (Both & English)English Language Comprehension Skills

Marking Scheme

For each correct answer, the student is granted 2.5 marks whereas for every wrong answer, 0.83 marks are deducted. There is no negative marking in the decision making section.


Candidates must perform thorough preparation before appearing for the final examination. In order to make the most of their preparation schedule, they must practice CSAT online test series as these give detailed information about the IAS pre (CSAT) exam and other paper patterns.

Also read: How to Prepare for IAS Prelims

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