Marking Scheme of UPSC Prelims

The Civil Services Exam conducted every year by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is your ticket to a profession in the prestigious civil services. This exam is conducted in three stages – Prelims, Mains, and Interview (Personality Test). Each stage eliminates candidates who fail to clear it. Starting with a few lakh candidates, ultimately only about 1000 people make the final cut. In this article, you can read all about the UPSC Prelims marks distribution.

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The two constituent papers carry negative marking in UPSC Prelims. Each paper is for 200 marks which means, the total UPSC prelims marks are 400 marks. But it is to be noted that there is negative marking in IAS Prelims. Details like the marking scheme and UPSC Prelims syllabus about both the papers are given below.

IAS 2023 results

Looking for study material to boost your UPSC prelims marks? Refer to the links below to complement your IAS exam preparation:

UPSC Prelims Paper 1

The UPSC Prelims Paper 1 is officially called the General Studies I Paper and is known commonly as the General Awareness paper.

Prelims General Studies(GS) Paper I Syllabus:

  • Current events of national and international importance
  • History of India and Indian National Movement
  • Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation
  • General Science

In this paper, there would be 100 questions, and you would have 2 hours to finish it. Each question will have four choices out of which you should pick the correct answer. Each incorrect answer would cost you 1/3rd of the marks allotted to that question.

In this paper, you should score the cut-off mark (minimum required mark) as prescribed by the commission to clear it. (This mark would be revealed only after the final UPSC results are out after the whole process is done with.) The UPSC will only reveal whether you qualified or not when the IAS Prelims results are declared. Check out the UPSC Prelims cut-off marks in the linked article.

Aspirants can check out the links given below to boost their preparation and upgrade their performance in the UPSC prelims general studies paper 1:

UPSC Prelims 2021 General Studies Paper 1 IAS Mock Test for Prelims GS-1
UPSC Prelims 2020 Previous Yea Question Paper BYJU’S Free IAS Prep
IAS Subjects List for Prelims Complete List Of NCERT Books For UPSC Preparation
Daily News

UPSC Prelims Paper 2

The second paper is called General Studies Paper-II. It is also known as the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT).

Prelims GS Paper II Syllabus:

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)

In this paper, there are 80 questions, and you would have 2 hours to complete them. Here again, there would be four choices given, and you have to select the correct option. An incorrect answer will invite a penalty of 1/3rd of the total marks allocated to that question. In GS paper II, you have to score at least 33% or 66 marks in the exam.

Don’t miss the IAS Online Application if you are sitting for the examination in 2022.


It is generally the marking scheme for the prelims paper that confused candidates. One must always remember that this phase is only qualifying in nature. The final merit list does not include the UPSC prelims marks.

The CSAT is a qualifying paper in the IAS exam, and you are required to score at least the minimum required of 33% marks for the marks secured in General Awareness to be counted towards acceptance for the Mains exam.

To qualify for the UPSC Mains, you must score:

1. 33% in the CSAT paper, AND

2. The cut-off marks prescribed by the UPSC or more.

The following table sums up the pattern and marking scheme of the UPSC prelims:

Exam Nature No. of questions Total marks Duration Negative marking Minimum required
GS 1 Ranking 100 200 2 hours Yes Prescribed cut-off
CSAT Qualifying 80 200 2 hours Yes 33%

The UPSC Prelims total marks add up to 400. Aspirants should practice from UPSC previous year question papers to gain an idea of the IAS exam pattern and also check their knowledge of the Civil Services syllabus.

Learn about the IAS Mains exam pattern which is mentioned in the UPSC Notification 2023.

Furthermore, candidates can also refer to the links below to score more in the upcoming civil services prelims examination:

Analysis of Press Information Bureau Release The Hindu: Daily Video Analysis
All India Radio (AIR) Spotlight for UPSC List of Topics for Static GK
List of Government Schemes in India Best IAS Coaching in India for UPSC Preparation

Visit BYJU’S Website for strategy and articles on Free IAS Prep and all the latest information on the UPSC IAS exam.

To read more about UPSC Prelims, check out:

Related Links:
UPSC Prelims Strategy IAS Current Affairs
Calculate Your UPSC Prelims Total Score after Negative Marking UPSC Prelims Subject-wise Weightage
Tips To Avoid Negative Marks in UPSC Civil Services Prelims UPSC Previous Years Question Papers


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