The UPSC mains exam comprises of nine descriptive papers out of which two papers namely, Paper A and Paper B are the language papers. Both these papers are compulsory (except Paper A for northeast candidates – see more from the table below) and qualifying in nature. This means that their marks are not counted for the final tally in the merit ranking, but the candidates are required only to secure a minimum qualifying mark. But this does not mean that these papers can be ignored. Here’s why.
If candidates fail to secure the prescribed marks in these papers, the UPSC would not reveal their score in the other papers. The IAS marks card would only reveal the marks obtained in the language papers. This would indeed be tragic as candidates would lose not only an attempt, but also the opportunity to learn where they stand in terms of the other subjects. And, all this only because two relatively easy papers were overlooked. Avoid this scenario. Give the language papers the respect they deserve and work at least to qualify.
About the UPSC compulsory language papers
There are two language papers which are compulsory. They are:
- English language – compulsory for all candidates.
- Regional (Indian) language – compulsory for all candidates except those hailing from Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
Both the papers are for three hours and make up a total of 300 marks each. Candidates have to score at least 75 marks (25%) in both these papers to qualify.
Some figures about the UPSC language papers
Let’s take a look at a few figures. In 2011, 705 candidates out of the 11200 candidates who had taken the UPSC mains were disqualified for failing to score the minimum marks required in the language papers. About half of the disqualified candidates had failed the English paper while 272 candidates failed to make the cut in the Hindi paper.
Even the previous year in 2010, out of 11865 candidates, 1264 had failed in the language papers. That constitutes about 10% of the total candidates.