Before starting your actual preparation you should have some decent time to cover up the complete syllabus, you should start preparing ideally 12 - 14 months before the actual month of exam.
The Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) includes two objective type question papers of 200 marks and 2 hours time duration for each exam. One is on General Studies (GS) and the other is General Aptitude (GA) Paper which has now replaced the optional subject that was their last year. Civil Service examination has very limited seats and also one of the most difficult exam to crack. Many students appear multiple times to clear it.
1. The competitive examination comprises three successive stages:
(i) Civil Services (Preliminary) Examinations (Objective Type) for the selection of candidates for Main Examination.
(ii) Civil Services (Main) Examination (Written and Interview) for the selection of candidates for the various services and posts.
(iii) Civil Services Interview or Personality Test.
2. The preliminary Examination will consist of two papers of Objective type (multiple choice questions) and carry a maximum of 400 marks in the subjects set out in sub-section (A) of Section II. This examination is meant to serve as a screening test only; the marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination by the candidates who are declared qualified for admission to the Main Examination will not be counted for determining their final order of merit. The number of Candidates to be admitted to the Main Examination will be about twelve to thirteen times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in the year through this examination. Only those candidates who are declared by the Commission to have qualified in the Preliminary Examination in the year will be eligible for admission to the Main Examination of that year provided they are otherwise eligible for admission, to the Main Examination.
The Commission will draw a list of candidates to be qualified for Civil Service (Main) Examination based on the total qualifying marks as may be determined by the Commission, of the two papers put together.
There will be negative marking for incorrect answers (as detailed below) for all questions except some of the questions where the negative marking will be inbuilt in the form of different marks being awarded to the most appropriate and not so appropriate answer for such questions.
(i) There are four alternatives for the answers to every question. For each question for which a wrong answer has been given by the candidate, one-third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.
(ii) If a candidate gives more than one answer, it will be treated as a wrong answer even if one of the given answers happen to be correct and there will be same penalty as above for that question.
(iii) If a question is left blank, i.e. no answer is given by the candidate; there will be no penalty for that question.
3. The Main Examination will consist of written examination and an interview test. The written examination will consist of 9 papers of conventional essay type in the subjects set out in sub-section (B) of Section II out of which two papers will be of qualifying in nature. Also see Note (ii) under Para I of Section II (B). Marks obtained for all the compulsory papers (Paper–I to Paper-VII) and Marks obtained in Interview for Personality Test will be counted for ranking.
4. Candidates who obtain such minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the Main Examination as may be fixed by the Commission at their discretion, shall be summoned by them for an interview for a Personality Test, vide sub-section ‘C’ of Section II. The number of candidates to be summoned for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled. The interview will carry 275 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).
Marks thus obtained by the candidates in the Main Examination (written part as well as interview) would determine their final ranking. Candidates will be allotted to the various services keeping in view their ranks in the Examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various services and posts.