Paper II: (Civil Services) Aptitude Test

               The Prelims Paper-II is an Aptitude Test for Civil Services                                                                                                                                         

  • All Aptitude Tests are basically IQ Tests (Intelligence Quotient Tests) modified for a specific requirement.             
  • The specific requirement in Civil Services Aptitude Test - Paper II is checking for abilities required to function as a Civil Servant.      
  • IQ Tests have been designed by specially trained psychologists, who perceive that three abilities reflect a person’s intelligence.
  • (1). Language/verbal ability
  • (2). Numerical ability and 
  • (3). Logical ability    
  • Psychologists believe that if a person can communicate in an articulate mannerand can understand what the other person has spoken then it reflects intelligence.      
  •  Intelligence is also reflected by the comfort a person has in playing with numbers –add, subtract, multiply, divide and make sense of data in various forms. Another hallmark of intelligence is the ability to think logically.  
  • Moreover Civil Services requires a Public Service attitude and knowledge of English language because a lot of files and communication will be in English so to customise the test according to Civil Services needs 
  • (4)-Knowledge of the Lingua Franca of India i.e. English
  • (5)The ability to make decisions focussing on public service without compromising on ethics or law of the land.

Let’s understand in detail what types of questions you will encounter in these areas.             



The first topic of the syllabus, comes from the Verbal Ability stable.

          Two important changes are required to excel in this topic:         

  • (i) Improve your English Language potential by reading more and reading widely.Newspapers and magazines help in raising this potential and meeting the dual objective of also keeping oneself abreast with current affairs  
  • (ii) Understand the mechanics of questions: Attempt Reading Comprehension passages and learn from the questions in which you gave an incorrect answer.Understand why your chosen answer is wrong and what makes a particular answer the credited one. Learn from your mistakes and do not repeat them.        
 In this section, the aim will be to test how good a candidate is at fact-finding,sifting through information, interpreting text, predicting and inferring events and recognising implied meanings. 

  •  In order to be good at Comprehension, a candidate must have the ability to understand the basic information given to solve a question/ problem on the basis of rules.  
  • Being a bilingual section, Comprehension does not test English skills; rather its focus is on Understanding of Text.            

                  Inter-personal skills including Communication Skills

Direct questions based on “Inter-personal skills including Communication Skills” have not figured in the  exams conducted in the last two years. Inter-personal communication implies faceto-face interaction involving few people (typically two) rather than large groups .    

  • This section is aimed to test the candidate’s ability to understand and manage the dynamics of social interaction. 
  • Communication skills are a function of certain psychological / attitudinal / personality traits and a sense of language. 
 Although,the best way to check Inter-personal skills / Communication Skills would be in a Personal Interview or a Group Discussion, in these test formats, 

In order to be excellent at communication, a candidate needs to be excellent at:

Language - The language in question (Hindi for candidates taking the exam with Hindi as the medium and similarly English for candidates taking the exam with English as the medium) in terms of vocabulary,grammar,common sense, etc.  

Listening and comprehending – Ability to understand what is being discussed

and asked. This requires attention and the rare ability to be a patient listener.

Speaking – Ability to convey / speak clearly what information the candidate has in mind in response to the question asked and decide what part of the information should be conveyed to the listener with clarity. 

Psychological / Personality Traits – POWERFUL speakers are not only good at language, listening, comprehending and speaking, but also need to be good at effectively deciding when to speak, what to speak, how to speak, how to flexibly mould what you speak according to the target audience and the rest of the rules governing dynamics of social interaction.                                                 

                   Logical Reasoning and Analytical Ability: 

  • Logical reasoning measures your ability to understand, analyse and evaluate arguments.
  •  Each question is based on a short passage or a set of conditions. 
  • Questions on Logical Reasoning may focus on Logical Consistency as well as Deductive and Inductive Logic governing Syllogistic                                                       

         Situations or Assertion-Reason-Conclusion type questions. 

  • Analytical Reasoning questions require you to make deductions from a set of rules, protocols,statements or conditions that describe relationships among entities such as persons, places, things, or events. 
  • These problems simulate the kinds of detailed analyses of relationships that an IAS officer must be adept at handling.                                

                                  Decision-Making and Problem-Solving 

  • This section measures a candidate’s ability take a decision based on given set of conditions and information. 
  • The question will generally relate to situations that require you either to take some action, to explain why an action should be taken or infer what the action implies. This will also need a certain reading between the lines and fine tuning the difference of a hint and an assumption.
  •  Questions based on real life law and order situation or administrative stalemate and the ethical and moral basis of decision making are an integral component of this area.
  • Questions can range from basic reasoning problems to intricate caselets (short case studies) to check a candidate’s ability to take a technically sound decision under a proclivity to ethics.
  •  Reasoning is the ability to correlate information properly and reach a technically correct conclusion on the basis of rules.                                    

                                       General Mental Ability (GMA) 

  • verifies a candidate’s cognitive skills. From a student’s perspective General Mental Ability, as a subject, does not require any formal learning of subject specific rules but an exposure of possible question types and finding your own way to handle tricky questions, where you tend to make mistakes, can help you get an impeccable score.
  • The questions check the common sense clubbed with the basic mathematics skills that one is exposed to till class Xth, a competency that will impact on job performance irrespective of the cadre one selects. 
  • GMA can test for Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning skills. Questions can be based on coding-decoding, ages,relations, Venn diagrams, sets, dices, direction sense, abstract figures, logical number/alphabetical/ diagrammatic sequences, etc. 
So the way to gain proficiency at GMA is to get a wide exposure of all possible question types and have a perfectionist attitude. If you get a single question wrong, then that question is important for you as it possibly has something that you need to learn. But then isn’t this the strategy for any and all tested areas? 

English Language Comprehension Skills: This is the only monolingual part of the exam and a Hindi version of English Language Comprehension Skills is not given on the premise that English being the lingua franca of the country should be known to officers in civil services. 

About ten percent of the questions are based on English Language Comprehension skills. These are simple Reading Comprehension questions with easy passages and easy non-twisted answer options.              

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