UPSC Prelims Subject-Wise Weightage

UPSC released the Civil Services 2019 notification on 19th February 2019. The 2019 IAS Prelims is scheduled to be held on Sunday, June 2, 2019.

The UPSC prelims exam is the first step towards making a career in the prestigious Civil Services of India. The Civil Services Exam is a three-stage exam consisting of a preliminary exam, mains exam, and interview.

The UPSC Prelims Exam

The prelims is a two – paper exam of qualifying nature. The marks secured in this exam decide whether aspirants can go on to the next stage or not. It is important to prepare well and have a comprehensive understanding of the subjects covered in this exam. In this article, we bring you an analysis of the trends in marks distribution according to various subjects covered in the exam over the past decade.

Find practice questions, NCERT notes, free study material and more at our Target UPSC Prelims 2019 page.

Syllabus and Structure of Prelims

Prelims papers consist of objective type questions with negative marking for incorrect answers. The structure of the prelims exam is as follows:

Paper Total marks No. of questions Duration Type Negative marks Nature
General Studies Paper 1 200 100 2 hours Objective Yes Qualifying
General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT) 200 80 2 hours Objective Yes Qualifying

The syllabus for UPSC Prelims covers the following subjects:

General Studies Paper I General Studies Paper II
Current events of national and international importance. Comprehension
History of India and Indian National Movement Interpersonal skills including communication skills
Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Logical reasoning and analytical ability
Geography of India and the World Decision making and problem-solving
Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political General mental ability
System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of

Magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation

(charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. — Class X


General issues on Environmental ecology, Biodiversity

and Climate Change – that do not require subject


Economic and Social Development-Sustainable
Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social
Sector Initiatives, etc.
General Science

Candidates need to secure at least 33% in the General Studies Paper II and it is compulsory to attempt both the papers to be eligible for evaluation. The candidates who secure at least the minimum cut off marks for General Studies I and qualify in General Studies II are invited to appear in the Mains exam.

The Subject-wise weightage for the number of questions in General Studies I from 2011 are as shown below:

Subject 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
History 11 19 16 20 17 15 14 22
Geography 11 17 18 14 16 7 9 10
Polity 12 20 16 14 13 7 22 13
Economy 19 17 19 10 13 18 16 18
Science & Tech 19 9 14 16 8 8 9 10
Environment 15 17 17 18 11 18 15 13
Current affairs & misc. 13 1 8 22 27 15 14
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

The following graph shows the trends in each subject from the prelims exam of 2011 till 2018.

UPSC Prelims Trend Analysis

As we can see from the above chart, only questions from the subject Environment have shown a somewhat stable trend hovering around 15 to 18 questions most of the years except two dips in 2015 and 2018. The other subjects show wide variations every year.

For example, questions from Polity have ranged from 7 in 2016 to 22 in 2017. That is a wide variation for one year. Similarly, questions directly related to current affairs have ranged from none in 2013 to 27 three years later in 2016. Hence it is very difficult to predict the UPSC prelims weightage for different subjects. This is intentional on the part of UPSC to deter pattern based studying as it is very difficult to deduce the dominating subject for the next exam. Nevertheless, aspirants should practice previous year’s papers to check their preparedness. Also, a balanced study plan is a must to be able to beat the unpredictability of UPSC Prelims Subject wise marks weightage.

More IAS related queries

  • Is there any negative marking in UPSC Prelims?
  • Yes, for every incorrect answer you will be penalised by 1/3rd of the total marks allocated for that question in the UPSC Prelims exam. This negative marking is in both papers of the IAS prelims – GS Paper I and GS Paper II (CSAT).  For leaving any question, there is no negative marking.
  • What was the cut off for UPSC Prelims 2017?
  • For UPSC Prelims 2017, the cut off marks are given below:
UPSC Prelims 2017 105.34 102.66 88.66 88.66 85.34 61.34 40
  • How can I check my UPSC Prelims marks?
  • UPSC releases the mark sheet after the entire exam process is over. Refer the sequence given below for clarity:
    • UPSC CSE Prelims 2018 (June 2018)
    • UPSC Prelims Result
    • UPSC Mains 2018 (held in September 2018)
    • UPSC Mains 2018 result (December 2018)
    • IAS Interview 2018 (scheduled for February – March 2019)
    • UPSC Final Result and Merit List (tentative schedule in April-May 2019)
    • You can download the UPSC 2018 Marksheet for Prelims, Mains and Interview when they are available on the official website in May-June 2019. For any doubts, read the detailed explanation related to UPSC mark sheet for Prelims, Mains and Interview.
  • What is the exam pattern for IAS exam 2019?
  • The UPSC IAS exam 2019 will have three stages:
  • Is Indian language compulsory in UPSC?
  • In UPSC Mains, Paper A and Paper B are compulsory language papers. Although, Paper A is not mandatory for candidates hailing from parts of North East India.
  • How many marks are required to clear IAS prelims?
  • The IAS prelims comprise two papers:
    • GS Paper I –  Candidates have to score above the UPSC cut off for that year (usually between 100-125 marks for General Category aspirants)
    • GS Paper II (CSAT) – Candidates have to score above 33% and marks in CSAT won’t be counted for the merit list of UPSC Mains.

For a detailed analysis of questions asked in UPSC Prelims in 2018, you can check out UPSC Prelims 2018 GS Analysis

For study tips, tricks and preparation material on IAS 2019, please check out the following links: