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How can I increase my accuracy in UPSC Prelims?

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  • Published
    30th Nov, 2021

Clearing prelims of civil services examination require a concentrated effort to overcome this first hurdle of the examination. Ever since concept of Negative marks are introduced in the UPSC Prelims for the first time in 2007. Questions unpredictability has increased to all time high.


Avoiding negative marks is not easy in civil services prelims examination. Aspirants need to work on certain basic things to avoid their negative marks and overcome this first yet decisive hurdle. Aspirants need to understand the marks distribution and pattern of prelims examination.

Avoiding Negative marks in UPSC Prelims

  • One of the common question that every single aspirant of civil services examination has is; how they can be accurate by avoiding negative marks. In civil services examination, there are two papers that every aspirant has to appear in which duration is of 2 hours of each. Both of these papers contain multiple-choice questions (MCQs) in which aspirants will have four choices out of which only one is the correct answer. For each incorrect answer, you will be penalised 1/3rd of the marks in UPSC Prelims.

Few Basic Tips to beat negative marks:

  1. Feel Relax in Examination Hall:
    • Aspirants should feel relax in the examination hall and should not panic at any point of time thinking about examination. Aspirants tend to succumb under pressure in examination hall due to overthinking as a result they end-up performing poorly in prelims examination. Feeling cool, calm and composed help aspirants in taking good decision in terms of avoiding negative marks and thereby increasing their marks.
  1. Attempt Sure Shot Questions in First Round:
    • During the examination process, aspirants should first finish off all the questions whose answers they know as 100% sure of in first round of solving answers. During this course of time aspirants should identify the questions in which they are confused about 50/50 possibilities.
    • Next, focus of aspirants should be on those questions where you can eliminate 2 wrong choices and thus they have to decide between two options. This way, your chances of getting the right answer is 50% in each of these questions.
    • Aspirants should not touch the questions in which they can’t eliminate any options. Although students should remember that, if they have not attempted even 60+ Questions then they should take their chances in these unknown questions also. Remember you are not wildly guessing in this case, you are taking a calculated risk.
    • Avoid the guesswork and keep the under-confident answers to be attempted. Leave the questions attempted if you are unsure about the answers.

Additional Basic Things to keep in mind:

  • Majority of the aspirants has this habit of marking first on OMR sheet with pencil then they mark with pen on second stage, in this process they tend to forget even to delete the pencil marked points.
  • Make sure to erase any pencil marks completely. If you mark two answers and one of them is the correct choice, you will still be awarded negative marks for wrong answers.
  • If you do not mark any answer, you will not be penalised any marks in UPSC Prelims. Remember that nothing beats a through preparation strategy for the Civil Services Examination. If you prepare with a clear plan and purpose, with the right material, you need not worry too much about negative marking in UPSC Prelims. Understand the syllabus of UPSC Prelims and study accordingly to maximise your score and become an IAS officer.

Practice and Practice:

  • As it is being said; ‘the more you sweat in training the less you bleed in battle’, Aspirants should keep in mind that they need to do practice and practice to avoid committing negative marks and also to perform better in the civil services preliminary examination.
  • Attempting more number of test series will help in identifying students their mistakes and the areas they need to work upon and how they can improve their score in test.

Appear in All India Mock Test:

  • Indeed attending quality mock tests would help students know the UPSC CSE question-standards. But how can they assess the standard or level of their preparation. How can students know where they stand?
  • Aspirants can enrol for a pan-India mocks tests with real-time ranking, then can sort of assess UPSC competition before the actual exam.
  • All India mock tests Series, GS SCORE provide performance analysis feature which helps you find your strong and weak areas, in addition to all-India ranking.

A high score in General Studies Paper 1 can not only help you clear Preliminary exam with ease but also will boost your confidence for mains as you will be strong in your conceptual understanding. The more mock tests you take and revise the more confidence you will get but, students should remember that they should enrol in good quality mock test only.


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