The Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2012 continued from where it left on 12th June 2011. The test followed the pattern of the last year. There were 100 questions in the paper-I (General Studies) and 80 questions in paper-II (CSAT). The marking pattern was also same as that of last year. Both the papers were of 200 marks each. Two marks are awarded for every correct answer for the paper-I and each incorrect answer invited a penalty of minus 0.66 marks. For paper-II (CSAT), a correct answer fetched 2.5 marks and an incorrect answer invited a penalty of minus 0.83. UPSC, in 2011, introduced a full paper of aptitude testing (CSAT), which is named as the General Studies Paper-II. UPSC also introduced few other changes as well like reducing in the number of questions of general studies, putting both general studies and aptitude at the same level (in terms of total marks of both the papers) etc.
General Studies Paper-I
The General Studies Paper-I maintained its flavor of last few years. There were 100 questions and each question was of 2 marks each. A negative answer invited a penalty of 0.66 marks. This year questions were primarily asked from Science and Technology, Ecology and Environment, Geography and Economics. Also, the number of four statements, three statements and two statements based questions was close to 55. This made the paper a little tougher and more time consuming for the test takers. This year most questions were from Science and Technology, Ecology, Environment and Geography and Economy. The number of questions in history and polity was 18 and 15 respectively and this shows that the UPSC wants the test takers to get ready for more surprises. The questions of current affairs were there but they were asked within the domain of a particular subject. The overall difficulty of the paper of the paper was from moderate to tough. A good candidate should attempt 65 to 75 questions with an accuracy rate of over 80%. A score of 80+ marks in this paper can be considered a good score.
General Studies Paper-II (CSAT)
General Studies Paper-II was in line of what was there in the last inning. This year again more than half of the paper consisted of verbal ability. Reading comprehension was the mainstay of the verbal ability section. There were questions of syllogism, critical reasoning, decision making and interpersonal communication as well. Most of the reading comprehension questions were multiple-statements based questions. A good understanding of passage was required to solve the questions correctly. The length of the passage varies from approximately 300 words (two questions) to 600 words (four questions). One of the most interesting aspect of the paper was that number of questions of quantitative aptitude was only 2 and DI was absent. Most of the questions were of deductive logic and analytical reasoning. Overall the paper was of moderate level of difficulty. The decision making questions were little tough and it required a good understanding of situation to get the correct answer.
The General Studies Paper-I was factual in nature and covered a wide range of topics. The paper was little tough to cover and hence, it was not easy to score. General Studies Paper-2 was little tough from it was last time. It was also more time consuming. In a nutshell, a cumulative score of 200+ would be sufficient to get a call for the main examination.