How to prepare Reading Comprehension for CSAT

IAS Prelims Paper 2: Strategy for Reading Comprehension

Reading ComprehensionIt has introduced few years ago. It replaced the having optional subjects in prelim. Why? because people used to mug up answers for their optional subjects by using notes from the coaching institutes and other resources. This also left poor students, who can't afford coaching in a disadvantageous state. So, the UPSC decided to introduce this paper pattern in 2011.

Now the students who are giving the paper for the first time at the age of 22 also equal chances of cracking this exam, than the people who have given 3 or 4 attempt of it and have the experience that what type of question are asked. It is all about Aptitude and Logical, Rational, Analytical and Ethical thought process that is tested in the prelims paper 2. You can't mug up the part. You have to come up with answers on the spot. Just because you can't prepare it directly, does not mean that you can't prepare for it at all. We will make sure that you will get the correct analysis and guidance for this paper.

Prelims Paper 2 Analysis


The paper 2 consist of 80 questions. A major part of this paper consists of Reading Comprehensions. We have to prepare it very well because around 35% to 40% of paper will be reading comprehension. To solve these reading comprehension problems successfully read The Hindu newspaper daily and give special attention to Editorials. Apart from that you must follow NCERT books because most of the passages are coming from NCERT and The Hindu. For the Science part of the comprehension, read the Thursday's edition of The Hindu.

Strategy for Reading Comprehension


Paper 2 contain about 6 to 9 passages and each passage contain 2 to 7 questions. You should attempt those passages first, which have the maximum number of questions. Why? because each comprehension you solve will complete approximately 8% of your paper. In CSAT, the examiners don't write the passage on their own, they simply copy it from a newspaper column, articles etc. They only frame the questions by themselves.

Useful steps to crack reading comprehension:

  • Read the passage very fast, jus skim through it within a minute.
  • Read the questions with their options.
  • Go to the relevant section of the passage.
  • Mark the answer which you think is correct.
  • Complete all the questions of one passage in one go.
  • Always mark the answer by using eliminating method, eliminate those options which are least likely to be correct.

Time Division: This part contain 80 questions. So, we will try to attempt 44 questions in the first hour. In the next 40 minutes we will jump to the decision making section and other sections. Why decision making section first? Let us see.

Decision Making section


Decision making section will consist of approx 6 to 8 question and why did we choose it just after reading comprehension, because of these is "No negative marking" in this section. Also 2 options out of 4 will be correct. So, after 1 hour when you completed around 40+ questions, jump to decision making questions and finish those within 15 minutes.

Well, now you have exhausted 1 hour and 15 minutes and have solved about 50+, now you have remaining 30 questions and 45 minutes. Use 35 to 40 minutes to solve the remaining sections. In the next 5 to 10 minutes you will attempt those questions which you don't understand in the first go, and make sure that you attempt atleast 70 to 75 question from this part.

Some miscellaneous tips


  • Do not assume anything on your own.
  • Whatever is written in the comprehension, that is the relevant material as far as the answers are concerned.
  • Do not fills the gaps with your general studies knowledge.
  • The candidates who have poor English skills or are from non-english background, they can refer to basic English grammar by Wren & Martin.
  • One more tip for all the students, irrespective of your English skill level: watch good English movies with subtitles, as it will help improving your comprehension skills.