Why Cut-off will remain low in UPSC Prelims 2020

Manoj K Jha

UPSC Prelims 2020 was held today after many ups and downs due to the pandemic lockdown. As the time gap between Mains and Prelims is very less, a fine idea about expected marks in Prelims is going to be essential for preparation strategy. Aspirants being sure about their selection based on expected marks can prepare for the Mains without any doubt. But students who find themselves on boundary line of expected cut off would be under stress.

Every year, thousands of aspirants miss UPSC Prelims just by one mark and thus the score in the Prelims matters a lot.

Expected Cut off

Thoughts predicting cut-off is not a good idea but one thing sure in the given scenario that cut-off will remain low and there are several acceptable reasons for that. For a General Category Candidate cut-off was 98 in UPSC Prelims 2019, 98 in UPSC Prelims 2018, and 105.34 in UPSC Prelims 2017. In 2018 more questions were from current affairs and few question were very straight.

Based on an analysis of UPSC Prelims 2020, the cut-off is likely to remain almost around the same line. We can bank upon following line of arguments:

Firstly, there is not much variation in the proportion of marks among different subjects. Last year there were 15 questions on Polity, this year there were 16. Last year there were 14 questions in Economics and it remained same this year. General Science carved 7 questions last year and this year it had a share of 10. More or less similar trend is there for other subjects also.

Secondly, Current Affairs has potency to challenge the trend every year. But the trend of Current is almost the same as last year. This year’s paper was a fine blend of direct and influenced set of questions.

Thirdly, a few questions were totally unexpected and out of context but the proportion of such questions was also the same as last year. The probability of negative marking plays a big role in determining the cut-off.

Fourthly, the trend of core concept based questions on constitutional skeleton which UPSC started few years back has been dragged this year too. Another area where negative marking’s function in cut-off is very high. As conceptual clarity and understanding the underlining meaning of such question demands high skill, student commits silly mistakes in these style of questions.

Aspirants should start preparing for Mains as soon as possible. This advice is applicable to everyone irrespective of their expected score. The aspirants who qualify Prelims will surely run the race of Mains but even who can’t clear Prelims this year have to face Mains next year and thus make serious Mains preparation part of your strategy.

– The writer is Director @ GS SCORE – An Institute for Civil Services (iasscore.in)

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