What is the Exam Pattern of UPSC Prelims?

The UPSC Prelims exam contains objective-type papers (GS II and GS II or CSAT) for 400 marks. Both papers are conducted on the exact day in two rounds through offline mode. Candidates ought to fill in the answers on the OMR Sheet with a black ballpoint pen. The essential books aspirants can consider for Prelims preparation are M. Laxmikanth, Ramesh Singh, History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra, NCERT + Goh Cheng Leong, Nitin Singhania, NCERT Biology Class 12 selected chapters, The Hindu, etc.

The subjects included in the Prelims are Geography, Economy, Science & Technology, History, Polity, Environment, Current Affairs, and Aptitude for CSAT. The questions asked in the exam are to the point, factual, or one-liners. The upcoming UPSC Prelims in 2023 will be conducted on 28 May 2023. According to the commission notification, the application process will begin on 1 February 2023, and the last date for Prelims will be 1 February 2023.

Cutoff marksCounted for Merit. Cutoff varies every year.33% qualifying criteria (66 marks)
Language of examEnglish/HindiEnglish/Hindi
Number of questions10080
Negative MarkingDeduction of 1/3rd of the question marks(-0.66 for each wrong answer)Deduction of 1/3rd of the total question marks)(-0.83 marks for each wrong answer)
Maximum marks200200
Duration of the exam (hours)22

What is the UPSC Cut Off to clear the exam?

UPSC Cut Off is the minimum mark to clear the UPSC Prelims, Mains, and interview round. It also shows the marks of the last candidate selected based on vacancies in that particular category. Aspiring candidates who pass the UPSC Mains cutoff are eligible for the personality test. IAS candidates must look at the UPSC cutoff marks for previous years to better understand the competition level and hit the target score.

Union Public Service Commission releases the UPSC cut-off after the exam gets completed every year and is issued in three steps: 

UPSC Prelims Cutoff: 

UPSC decides the Prelims cutoff based on the candidate’s marks in GS Paper 1. Aspirants must qualify and secure at least 33% marks in GS Paper 2 for qualifying Prelims. To apply for the Mains exam, candidates must clear the Cutoff for Prelims.

As per UPSC Exam Analysis, the expected UPSC Cutoff is

  • 2021 – 100(+/-2)
  • 2020 – 92.51 (General category).
  • 2019 – 98.

UPSC Mains Cutoff:

UPSC mains exam contains 9 papers; out of them, 7 are based on merit ranking. Candidates must qualify for papers: Paper-A and Paper–B and score 25%.

UPSC Final Cutoff:

The UPSC final Cutoff is obtained by evaluating the marks candidates acquire in the Mains exam and the interview round. The total score of Mains is 1750, and the total marks of the interview round are 275. 

So the final Cutoff is prepared by considering the Mains and Interview round from the total score of 2025. The latest UPSC cutoff for Prelims and Mains was released in 2019. These marks are for various social categories.

UPSC Prelims 2019 Cut Off (Out of 200 Marks)989095.348287.34
UPSC Main 2019 Cut Off (Out of 1750 Marks)751696718706699
UPSC Final 2019 Cut Off (Out of 2075 Marks)961909925898893
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