Now the days of the year 2018 are withering off and the brand new year 2019 is nearing, most of the aspirants who had planned to take IAS Exam for 2019 would have already started their preparation. While many coaching centres and online institutes would be prepared to start the prelims test series to enhance the candidates’ preparation and to give the virtual feel of UPSC Exam.

The prelims test series is a window of opportunity for candidates to practice multiple choice questions and can also be taken as trial and error method where candidates can find their mistakes and work on them and see the outcome in succeeding tests.

**Penalty for wrong answers**

The UPSC Prelims Exam is of multiple choice questions type and each question carries 2 marks and there is a penalty for each wrong answer.

- For each question for which a wrong answer been chosen by the candidate, one-third of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.
- If a candidate chooses more than one answer even though one answer is correct among the two still it will be treated as a wrong answer and the same penalty is applicable.
- In case, if a candidate doesn’t answer a question and leaves the answers unchecked then there will be no penalty.

The UPSC prelims exam has two papers General Studies Paper I and CSAT Paper II each carrying 200 marks for a duration of 2 hours each.

GS Paper I has 100 questions, while CSAT Paper has 80 Questions.

Within the given time that is in two hours one has to attempt all the questions and there won’t be enough time left to read all the questions and answers more than once. Now you may ask the question how to avoid negative marking in the midst of the exam. It is advised to candidates to keep calm always during the examination then they would be well aware of their doing whether right or wrong.

Now, firstly let’s start with the facts. Keep in mind that each question carries two marks for right answer and -66 marks (1/3rd of marks) for every wrong one. For example, if a candidate gets one right answer and 3 wrong ones then the net score for these three questions would be zero.

Now, coming to the question paper, one needs to solve 100 questions in 120 minutes. Hence, candidates need to be more selective in attempting the question and choosing the answer. Here are some techniques which candidates can apply while attempting the questions.

## How to avoid negative marks in Prelims

- First, attempt those questions for which you know the answers 100%
- Then attempt those questions for which you are not 100% sure about the answer but still fell that you know the right option (most of the time candidates guess turn out to be success in this kind of scenario)
- Next moving on to questions for which you have no clue about the answer i.e., where one knows only one out of the four options and not the rest three, it is advised to skip these questions
- Now let’s assume that you are fairly confident of 55 questions and attempt these in the first run. And, assuming that you get at least 45 correct out of these 55 questions then you are at the provision score of 55-10/3=103.34 (as each right answer is 2 marks and wrong answers receive a penalty of 1/3 marks).
- Now assuming still 50 more minutes remaining in two hours, you can go for those questions for which you have some clue or maybe you know 2 options out of 4 and not the rest two. So, at this point, it is advised to you to take chance as a right answer will fetch you two marks as compared to the penalty of -0.66 marks for an incorrect answer.
- Considering about 30 questions fall into this category and even if you get 13 correct out of these questions, you will fetch 103.34+(13-17/3)=118.01 marks. This is quite close to the cut-off marks (in comparison of previous cut-off marks) and you are good to go in clearing the prelims. Assuming, you will score about 100 plus marks in both the papers.
- And, the remaining 15 questions which you are concerned about and have no clue just skip them. It is advised to you not to attempt or even try to attempt these questions as this can lead to heavy negative marking penalty totally.

To clear IAS Prelims, particularly from 2011 onwards, a 50 percent score in both the papers are reasonable.

Don’t think you need to score 160 or 170 in both the papers, which is difficult to score with the introduction of negative marking.

It is always suggested to aim for cut-off marks then you will reach above it.

Don’t fear negative marking, in fact, negative marking complements the new IAS pattern introduced from 2011 Prelims.

Here are some quick tips to follow to avoid negative marking:

- First, always attempt those questions of which you are 100 percent sure about the answers
- Skip questions that are time-consuming or where you are stuck between two options
- Practice questions/problems of which you are not sure about though sometimes you may get right answers through guessing
- While practising questions, do not make guess work son questions as this is harmful in actual examination hall
- Give up the practice of elimination process for choosing answer, which would have worked before the implementation of negative marking
- If you unsure about the answer, skip those questions
- Read the question carefully and completely and don’t make any conclusion before reading the question completely and all the options carefully
- While answering tough questions eliminate the most unlikely answers first and then try to work out the right answer
- While answering mathematical question, look carefully at graphs or diagrams as most of the time candidates tend to hurry and read the figure incorrectly which will lead to wrong answers

Hope this article would help candidates in avoiding and tackling negative marks and boost their score in UPSC IAS Prelims Exam. If you are a candidate and preparing for UPSC 2019 Prelims Exam, follow these tricks as it will come handy during practicing questions and to implement the same in the actual exam hall.

Also see:

IAS Subjects List for Prelims | Civil Services (IAS) Exam 2019 Syllabus & Notifications |