How Does the UPSC Decide the Cut-off for UPSC Prelims Exam?

The UPSC Prelims exam 2022 is scheduled to be held in June.  If you are an IAS aspirant, you must be busy preparing for the IAS prelims this time of the year. The UPSC prelims are the first barricade you must leap over if you want to become an IAS officer. While this exam might not be as demanding as the UPSC mains that will follow, it would be imprudent if you do not take it seriously.

Despite the comparatively small syllabus, the IAS prelims can be a tough nut to crack if you do not prepare diligently. This is because you not only have to clear it; you also have to get the minimum marks required, which varies from year to year. This mark is also known as the cut-off mark. So you have to outdo your competition as well. How the UPSC decides the cut-off mark is a question that baffles many. Is there a formula to it? Read on to find out how the UPSC decides the cut-off for the UPSC prelims exam.

The UPSC does not use the term ‘cut-off’. It prefers the term ‘minimum qualifying mark’.  This mark is simply the mark of the last candidate in the merit list prepared by the UPSC. The list is in the descending order of the marks obtained. The merit list is prepared according to the number of vacancies in every category for a particular year. For example, if there are 300 vacancies for OBC category in a year, the mark of the last candidate in the OBC list (of 300) would be the cut-off for that category.

Generally, the UPSC calls approximately 12-13 times the number of vacancies for the year in question for the UPSC mains exam from candidates who take the IAS prelims exam. Also, you would know that in the changed format, you need to score a minimum of 33% in the CSAT paper (qualifying paper). However, the General Studies Paper I score is only seen for the cut-off.

The table given below lists the cut-off mark for the prelims exam over the years (General category).

Year Cut-off marks Percentage
2005 284/450 63.11
2006 282/450 62.66
2007 256/450 56.88
2008 244/450 54.22
2009 250/450 55.55
2010 248/450 55.11
2011 198/400 49.5
2012 209/400 52.25
2013 241/400 60.25
2014 205/400 51.25
2015 107.34/200 53.67
2016 116.00/200 58.00
2017 105.34/200 52.67

The UPSC Cut Off is released only after the final results are out for the year.

We hope this article clarifies any doubts you had regarding the IAS prelims cut-off marks.

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