Annually UPSC (Union Public Services Commission) hosts the well-known UPSC IAS Exam to recruit eligible candidates for the different civil servant posts of IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS, and other Group A and Group B of All India Services. This year, due to the global pandemic, there was a great debate going on whether the UPSC exams should be postponed or cancelled this year.

Due to the effect of Covid-19, many candidates complained that they were reluctant to take a risk and leave their houses to go and take the exam. However, recently The Supreme Court of India has announced that the exams will be conducted as planned and that there will be no changes made. With this came up the fear and curiosity for what would be UPSC prelims cut off 2020 expectations.

What to Expect from the UPSC Exams this Year?

Now that it has been confirmed that the exam will go as planned, candidates have to swiftly get into the zone, adjust themselves and their mindsets and get ready to take the exam that could make their dream come true. One of the most important agendas in the to-do list now is the prediction for what would be this year’s cut off for UPSC prelims and Mains.

UPSC Prelims Cut Off for the Last Five Years

To be able to properly predict what the cut-off for the Prelims would be like this year it is important to look into the history and study the pattern of cut off as they fall and rise every year due to reasons and predict what it would be like this year too. Let us look at the cut off for the Prelims for the last 5 years. It’s not very worthwhile to look further back as before that the pattern of the Preliminary stage used to be different with a total of 400 marks rather than the 200 mark paper that we know now.

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UPSC Prelims Cut Off for 2019

Serial Category IAS Preliminary Cut off 2019
General 95
OBC 93
SC 81
ST 79
PH‐1 68
PH 2 59
PH‐3 40

UPSC Prelims Cut Off for 2018

Category Cutoff (Out of 200)
General 98
OBC (Other Backward Classes) 96.66
SC (Scheduled Caste) 84
ST (Scheduled Tribe) 83.34
Orthopedically handicapped 73.34
Visually impaired 53.34
Hearing-impaired 40

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2017 Cut Off Records for Prelims

Category Cutoff (Out of 200)
General 105.34
OBC (Other Backward Classes) 102.66
SC (Scheduled Caste) 88.66
ST (Scheduled Tribe) 88.66
Orthopedically handicapped 88.88
Visually impaired 61.34
Hearing-impaired 40

2016 Cut Off Records for Prelims

Category Cut off (Out of 200)
General 116
OBC (Other Backward Classes) 110.66
SC (Scheduled Caste) 99.34
ST (Scheduled Tribe) 96
Orthopedically handicapped 75.34
Visually impaired 72.66
Hearing-impaired 40

2015 Cut Off Records for Prelims

Category Cut Off
General 107.34
OBC 106
SC 94
ST 91.34
PH1 90.66
PH2 76.66
PH3 40

Expected UPSC Prelims Cut Off for 2020

Category 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
General 98.00 98.00 105.34 116.00 107.34
EWS 90.00
OBC 95.34 96.66 102.66 110.66 106.00
ST 77.34 83.34 88.66 96.00 91.34

After comparing and studying the trend we can see that the qualifying marks for the preliminary exam are around 50% with 200 being the maximum marks. Candidates have to make sure they get at least half the paper right to be able to qualify for UPSC Mains.

However, don’t take Prelims lightly as just a qualifying exam because these scores matter as well. They are part of your grand total and can be your saving grace if by chance you miss out on some points in your Mains. Make sure to aim to get the highest you can score as this is a good opportunity because the Prelims papers are generally considered easier than the Mains in comparison.


The Prelims stage as the name suggests is not the actual test of your skills but just a qualifying stage used to screen out deserving candidates. However, sometimes good candidates might also be screened out due to silly mistakes or a difference of one mark so it is important to prepare in a UPSC IAS exam centric manner.

Know the exam pattern, kind of questions asked, kind of answers expected, and prepare and learn accordingly. Do not lose out undeservingly due to such mistakes or personal biases. Being too aggressively opinionated and one-sided may give off an impression of someone who is not ready to learn. Be sure to know all your routes and try to take the safe road and stay neutral.

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UPSC Prelims Cut Off 2020 Expectations: Effect of Covid 19 on UPSC Prelims
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UPSC Prelims Cut Off 2020 Expectations: Effect of Covid 19 on UPSC Prelims
Know your goals well enough and then shoot for them. Find out about UPSC 2020 cut-offs and compare it with previous years’ so that you can calculate and predict your scores.
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UPSC Pathshala
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