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Expected Cut-Off of UPSC Prelims 2020 & Trend Analysis

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    4th Oct, 2020

UPSC conducted its Prelims Examination 2020 on 4th October 2020. Prelims stage is a vital part of UPSC Civil Services Examination as it decides who will play the final match of Mains. Doesn’t matter how well you are prepared, if you miss it, the cycle starts right from the scratch.

In Prelims, there are two Papers i.e Paper 1(General Studies) and Paper 2(CSAT). Paper 2 is only qualifying in nature and thus Paper 1 is the key link of cut-off. Cut-off i.e minimum marks required to qualify Prelims vary every year. 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. This variation in marks is because of the paper trend of UPSC which is quite dynamic in nature.

This year's cut-off will remain almost the same as last year as the question paper is unconventional. Even current affairs questions demand conceptual clarity to solve it.

UPSC PRE 2020 Initial Trend Analysis


  • Mostly Current Affairs based (Mapping)
  • Non- Conventional Qs


  • Mostly Static
  • Conventional Type Questions

Science Tech

  • Maximum static & applied
  • Moderate Level


  • Difficult (In-depth Understanding)
  • Static in Nature
  • Not From NCERT

Polity & Governance

  • More static -conceptual
  • Only 2 question from schemes


  • Difficult
  • More weightage to Ancient & Medieval 

In Prelims 2020, UPSC did ask more questions from Polity. Approximately 16 questions have been asked directly from polity. The paper has touched the usual conventional areas like Preamble, Fundamental Rights, DPSP, Basic Structure, Union Government, etc. Polity also has influenced some questions in Current Affairs. For example, questions on MPLADS and Parliament Session were asked because of a lot of noise around it. One more interesting observation can be seen this year. UPSC has asked more questions on conceptual understanding. For example interpretation of Constitutional Government, Parliamentary Democracy, Gandhism, Marxism, etc found space. Overall the level of polity was easy to moderate.

Amid so much news around financial crises, Current was bound to influence the Economy section. This year around 14 questions were asked directly from Economics. Some questions like questions on Gold Tranche, FDI, TRIMS, etc were direct concept based questions. While some questions on monetary policy of RBI, role of cooperative Banks, etc were influenced by current happenings. Overall, the Economy section too was from easy to moderate.

Science section, as usual, was dominated by Science and Technology and that too very much influenced by Current Affairs. This year around ten questions were there from Science with eight in Science and Technology. It seems UPSC has taken more interest in application of technology. For example, applications of Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain Technology, Nanotubes, etc were asked. Overall this section could have been handled easily if an aspirant has covered both static and current smartly.

In History, domination of modern India was not there as it used to be. The share has been taken by Ancient, Medieval and Culture. In History, 18 questions have been asked with around 9 from the Ancient, Medieval and Culture part. Overall it was a mixture of easy, moderate and tough questions.

Geography being the favorite domain of UPSC is dominated by Agriculture this year. Around 10 questions were there from Geography and Agriculture. In-fact this year some core technical questions have been asked by UPSC. For example, types of soil, climate and fertiliser of crops became part of three different questions. Atlas-based questions influenced by news were also there. Overall this section could have been done if someone has covered agriculture part of Geography very well.

Environment the pet topic of UPSC maintained its position. It notched around 17 questions. Questions were mostly based on facts and knowledge with respect to pollutants, National Parks, Bio Fuels, etc. Overall an aspirant with good clarity and good in memorising facts could make intelligent guesses through elimination.

Current Affairs, where UPSC gives surprises, was the same this year. Around 15 questions were there from Current Affairs. At times it becomes difficult to split static parts from Current Affairs. For example, most of the questions in the Economic Section and Science and Technology have been asked under the influence of news but have not crossed the boundary of static syllabus. The Government Scheme was a miss with very few like one on the Kisan Credit Card. Places in news found its due space and COVID influenced questions like on animal cells and vaccines. Reports and agencies couldn’t find its conventional position.

Overall UPSC Prelims 2020 was a package of unconventional questions, where the cut-off will be almost the same of last year.  

UPSC Prelims 2020: Answer Key with Explanation and Trend Analysis

Why Cut-off will remain low in UPSC Prelims 2020

Manoj K Jha & Ajay Shah

Faculty @ GS SCORE,

An institute for Civil Services


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