Cut-Off Marks for UPSC Civil Services Exam

As we already aware of that Indian Administrative Service is among the most prestigious services of the country, only few candidates are able to make it to the final list

The UPSC releases its exam calendar one year in advance and the notification for the exam is released 3 – 4 months before conducting the first stage of the examination. Here we will discuss the IAS exam cut-off criteria in a precise manner and why you need to be aware of it.

What Is Meant By Cut-Off

Cut-Off in general, refers to the marks secured by the last candidate of the merit list. Further, the exams which are conducted in multi stages like the UPSC CSE, releases their cut-off marks after every stage of the exam. This is regarded as a boundary line of marks, and candidates scoring above this will surely find their name in the list.

The conversation over cut-offs of competitive examinations are generally the prominent coffee break debates of the study rooms of aspirants. Whether it is the exam of a clerical post or of the civil services, everyone wants to know the previous years’ exam cut-off.  Going ahead in the article we will discuss several dimensions of this aspect.

Factors Considered For Estimating The Cut-Off

There are many factors taken into consideration while deciding the cut-offs, Some of them are :

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  1. Number of vacancies – this is the most important determining factor. The candidates selected finally would be according to the number of seats advertised and also different stages candidate qualification is determined by this factor. For example, if there are 100 vacancies, candidates called for interview would be approx 3 times (300), for mains would be approx 12-15 times (1200-1500).
  2. Number of candidates appearing – it is the competition factor and has an immense effect on the cut-off. For example, 1000 candidates appear for 100 vacancies and number secured by last candidate are 110/200. Likewise, if 2000 students appear for 100 vacancies, it is highly probable that the cut-off would be more than 110 due to increased competition keeping exam level same.
  3. Exam difficulty level – a lot depends upon this factor because if the exam is difficult students will score low and cut-off would also be low. While, on contrary, if the exam is simple then cut-off would increase as students will score more.
  4. Reservation – categories like general, SC, OBC, EWS have their separate cut-off marks according to their reserved vacancies. General category cut-off is higher than the others because it is the unreserved category and is highly competitive.

Different Stages Cut-Offs

The government job exams are generally conducted in three stages, i.e. Preliminary, Mains, and Interview. A candidate to be qualified for the final selection has to clear the category cut-off at every stage and also individual subject cut-offs if specified by the conducting agency.

If a candidate falls short of the boundary line marks at any stage or in any subject, then he would be deemed unfit for the selection and would be rejected. Therefore, candidates need to prepare smartly according to the stage of the examination keeping in mind its syllabus and previous year cut-off.

Previous Year Cut-Off Marks

A candidate must analyse previous year marks to prepare himself to score accordingly. Though it keeps varying every year according to the above factors, it helps student to channelize preparation with a target in mind.


EWS category was added only in CSE-2019


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