How to calculate UPSC CSE Prelims Score after negative marking?

The UPSC CSE is conducted in three stages i.e, the preliminary examination, the mains examination and the personality test examination. The Preliminary exam serves as a screening test to filter out few thousand aspirants from lakhs of candidates for the mains examination. The prelims exam consists of two papers.


The pattern of the same is as follows:


  1. PAPER 1– General Studies containing 100 questions on General Awareness carrying a total of 200 marks
  2. PAPER 2– CSAT containing 80 questions on aptitude carrying a total of 200 marks 


**Paper 2 is of qualifying nature and the aspirants need to get a minimum of 33% marks in order to qualify for the evaluation of the GS Paper 1. The prelims merit list is then prepared on the basis of the marks obtained in Paper 1. 


Paper I

Paper II

Current events


Indian history

Interpersonal skills and English language comprehension


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


Every serious and sincere aspirant to see his or her name in the Prelims merit list has the worry of avoiding negative marking to increase the chances of crossing the cut off mark.


The prelims papers are of two hours duration each.

  • The questions are MCQ based having 4 choices out of which only 1 is correct.


No. of Questions

Total Marks

Marks for each right answer

Marks for each wrong answer











  • For each wrong answer, the aspirant is penalized 1/3rd of the total mark allotted to the question. To understand this further, if an aspirant marks one wrong answer in Paper 1 he/she will lose 2/3 or 0.66 marks and if he/she marks one wrong answer in paper 2, 5/6 or 0.866 marks will be deducted.



  • Further, if a candidate gives more than one answer (even by mistake) to a question, it will be treated as a wrong answer and negative marking will take place.
  • If a question is left unanswered, there will be no penalty for the same.
  • If a candidate marks a wrong answer then he/she can’t undo the same by using eraser/ marker. Candidates therefore should be extremely diligent while filling the bubbles.
  • Further, care should be taken that using eraser/ marker may lead to defacing of the OMR sheet. Candidates need to be extra careful in this regard.


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



The strategy during the exam should be to minimize the negative marking. However, it must be noted that educated guessing plays a very important role in the prelims paper and one should try to go for it rather than abstaining from the same. Further, wild guessing should be avoided to minimum.


One should always remember that the basic mantra to success in any stage of the UPSC CSE is to prepare diligently, smartly with the best resources. For prelims, to maximize your score and to adapt to the above strategies, try to give as much mock tests as possible and try to simulate yourself in real type environments.