Negative Marking in UPSC: How to Calculate Negative Marks in UPSC Prelims?

Negative Marking in UPSC

The UPSC dream has always been a tough ride for aspirants and candidates pursuing to get the honour of the ultimate IAS Officer. UPSC exams test the candidate’s calibre at every stage of the paper process. With millions of applicants and even more increasing every year, UPSC has to filter out candidates at every stage.

At every step, tons of candidates are screened to reach the ultimate interview round. In the three stages of the UPSC exams, aspirants generally ask questions regarding, is there negative marking in UPSC? Among the three stages, Prelims is one of the screening stages of thousands of candidates. When asked the candidates, “what is the biggest factor causing an impact on their marks?” Negative marking in UPSC exams is the answer of the majority.

The negative markings play a significant role in deteriorating performance of the candidates in the Prelims exams. This makes the underlying topic “How to calculate negative marks in UPSC prelims?” more important.

UPSC Prelims Exam Comprises of Two Papers

General Studies Paper 1 (100 Questions of 2 marks each)

General Studies Paper 2 (80 Questions)

UPSC Prelims Paper 1 and Paper 2 are objective-based and carry different strands of marks for right answers as well as wrong answers. Every correct answer carries a positive 2 marks whereas every wrong answer has a negative ⅓ mark. The ⅓ rd of every wrong answer is taken as a negative mark subtracted from the grand total. This 1/3rd means one-third of the assigned marks to a specific question. These 1/3rd marks are deducted for each wrong answer.

How to Calculate Negative Markings in UPSC?

Well, it is pretty simple. As every wrong answer eats ⅓ rd of your marks, three incorrect answers will deduct a full assigned mark of any question, i.e. three incorrect answers will vanish the credits of 1 whole right answer. Likewise, if you give 30 incorrect answers, the credit of 10 right answers will go away. Understanding with an illustration –


Surinder answers 75 questions right in the General Studies Paper 1 of the UPSC prelims and 15 questions wrong. He leaves 10 questions unattempted. The calculation will be as follows:

75 Right answers = (75 x 2) 150 Marks

Less: 15 Wrong answers = (15 x ⅓ 2) 10 Marks

So, with 15 incorrect answers, the 10 marks will be deducted from the balance of right answers making it to be 140 marks in total. This means 15 wrong answers eats up 5 correct answers. The other 10 unattempted questions won’t be included whether in addition or subtraction of marks as those questions were not attempted.

Instead, if Surinder would’ve also left the 15 incorrect answers, he would’ve managed to score more. This is the vicious game of negative marking that could squeeze up all your right answers’ credits.

Also Read : Do you Know What is the Highest Marks in UPSC Interview? Important Facts about IAS Interview

How to Reduce the Negative Marking in UPSC?

The dangerous negative marking loop in the UPSC prelims hits very hard to the UPSC candidate’s ultimate prelims results. The UPSC prelims exam papers have the tendency to include something new and unexpected every year. The Current Affairs section could be highly unpredictable, whereas the fundamental topics of General Studies and the standards are more or less the same every year.

Objective Type Questions

The objective type questions in the UPSC Prelims are now psychologically designed to test the knowledge of the candidates; these need to be answered with utmost precision. The options are designed in a manner that every option seems to be right; therefore, crystal clear knowledge on the subject is a must. This makes the Prelims questions tougher.

When it comes to avoiding and reducing the impact of negative markings, there is no room for guesswork and half knowledge. Saying this is easy, but the candidates feel the pressure at the exam time and make mistakes for even the questions they have prepared nicely. To avoid and reduce the trap of negative marking, follow the points below which can help you avoid the likelihood of negative markings in UPSC Prelims.

Tips to Reduce the Negative Marking in UPSC

Maintaining Notes

  • Maintaining written notes on important topics while preparation as writing points help in adding a visual memory in your brain.
  • Follow a focused approach to gain in-depth conceptual knowledge on the subject. This will prevent you from having half-knowledge and second thoughts.
  • Avoid the guesswork and keep the under-confident answers to be unattempted. Leave the questions unattempted if you are unsure about the answers.
  • While at the exam, the candidate should mark the questions on which He/She is sure and utmost confident and first attempt those. Leave the other questions unmarked and attempt them at the last when you have a good amount of time left and can think properly.
  • Do not waste much time on the questions on which you have less or no idea and would require thinking.

Strike Out Strategy

  • For the question in which you are facing problems, use the strategy of striking out the incorrect options first. Cut out the options which you think are incorrect for sure and mark the answer which you trust is the most accurate.
  • Keep a calm head and relax. UPSC exams can pose a pressure-cooker situation, but that is where second thoughts arise and deplete your performance with wrong answers. Hold your nerves and breathe!

The above tips help you avoid the loop of negative marking and help you gain confidence when attempting the UPSC Prelims. UPSC Prelims can be a tough testing ground at the front with the impact of negative marking. Thus, it becomes imperative and beneficial to make a prior, effective strategy on how you will counter the exams to face the least impact of negative markings.

Negative Markings in UPSC Mains

With so much hype of negative marking in the Prelims, candidates fear and have questions on if there is any negative marking in the UPSC Mains. Well, good news for you, there is none. As the UPSC Mains is majorly focused more on full-length, essay and long writing questions, there are no negative markings in the UPSC Mains.

Stay tuned with our regular blogs to come across more tips and tricks like these that could help you pass your UPSC exams easily.

Also Read : Interview Marks in UPSC: Significance of the UPSC Interviews, the Highest & the Lowest Marks

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Negative Marking in UPSC: How to Calculate Negative Marks in UPSC Prelims?
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Negative Marking in UPSC: How to Calculate Negative Marks in UPSC Prelims?
Find out how to calculate your negative markings in the UPSC Prelims. Learn how not to lose marks on negative marking in UPSC exams?
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UPSC Pathshala
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