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How to Calculate UPSC Prelims Score after Negative Marking

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    15th May, 2020

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) selects candidates for Civil Services through Preliminary exam (objective), Main exam (written) and Interview (personality test). While the Prelims exam is a written test, the Main exam comprises a written test.

Preliminary examination is just a screening test to shortlist candidates for the further selection process. Those who qualify this primary elimination process are required to re-register for IAS Main which is qualifying in nature. Further, selected candidates appear for the personal interview round or the final round.

Things you must know for Prelims:

  • Qualifying exam: This is a qualifying exam and the marks obtained in this test are not counted for determining the final order of merit of a candidate.
  • Negative marking: UPSC Prelims examination consists of multiple choice questions (MCQs) with negative marking scheme for incorrect answers. There is negative marking (of one-third marks) for wrong answers marked by a candidate in the objective type question papers.
  • Medium: The medium of the question paper is both English and Hindi.
  • CSAT is ONLY qualifying: Paper-II or CSAT is of qualifying nature and candidates needs to score a minimum of 33% in this paper to qualify for the next stage of the exam.

UPSC exams are already the toughest exam. And, to make it more difficult UPSC introduced a negative marking system in 2007 and since then it has been part of the marking pattern. Negative marking implies to deduction of marks in lieu of wrong answer given by the candidate. Most of the aspirants find it difficult to crack competitive examination just because of Negative Marking in examination. However, negative marking is applicable only for Prelims and not in Mains and Interview.

UPSC Prelims is divided into two papers:

  1. Prelims Paper I or General Studies
  2. Prelims Paper II or CSAT

Paper I

Paper II

Current events


Indian history

Interpersonal skills


Logical reasoning and analytical ability

Indian polity and governance

Decision making and problem solving

Economic and social development

Mental ability


Basic numeracy

General science

Data interpretation

English language comprehension


Though, Prelims is not very difficult to crack. It just needs planning and smart work to keep the negative marking in check. In short, it requires strategy plus preparation. A good strategy draws a thin line of separation between aspirants and smart aspirants. One needs to be smart enough to prepare better in the beginning itself. To avoid negative marking in UPSC Prelims exam, it is important to first understand how to calculate negative marking in UPSC Prelims Exam.


No. of Questions

Total Marks

Marks for each right answer

Marks for each wrong answer












Calculation method for UPSC Prelims Marking of Paper-I & Paper-II:

Let’s understand how to calculate UPSC Prelims Score after negative marking with the help of example.

Paper-I consists of 100 questions and each question carries 2 marks. The total paper is of 200 marks. 

Calculating marks of Paper-I:

Suppose the candidate have answered 80 questions correctly and 20 questions incorrectly. Then, his/her score would be-

Correct Answer= 80 * 2 = 160

Incorrect Answer = 20 * 0.66 = 13.2

So the total score after negative marking = Total marks for correct answers – Total marks for incorrect answers i.e., 146.8



Paper-II consists of 80 questions and each question carries 2.5 marks. The total paper is of 200 marks.

Calculating marks of Paper-II:

Suppose the candidate have answered 60 questions correctly and 40 questions incorrectly. Then, his/her score would be-

Correct Answer = 60 * 2.5 = 150

Incorrect Answer = 40 * 0.83 = 33.2


So the total score after negative marking = Total marks for correct answers – Total marks for incorrect answers i.e., 116.8.


UPSC examination is undoubtedly one of the toughest competitive examinations in the world. The entire process of the exam can prove to be strenuous and mentally taxing. Only few make it and those who do have one thing in common- proper planning and hard work.

- Shubhanjni Yadav

gs foundation course for ias

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