Due to the advent of Covid-19, there was a big uproar for postponing UPSC Exams of 2020, however, the Supreme Court of India refused the motion and decided to put cautionary measures in place that safeguard the students and teachers’ health but the exams were to be held as planned. Thus, UPSC Civil Services’ Prelims Exam took place as decided. All the students came prepared for the exam and successfully sat for it. This article will analyze the paper set for this year and try to predict the expected UPSC 2020 Prelims cut-off as we wait for the official prelims answer key.

UPSC Prelims 2020 in the Global Pandemic

Around 10.58 lakh candidates had signed up for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) civil services examination’s prelims this year. All the candidates that sat for the exam this year unanimously said that the paper followed the same pattern as the previous years and was difficult and tricky to solve.

This year, however, because of the global pandemic Covid-19 being still at large, UPS Commission had to take certain measures to ensure the safety of the candidates. The first measure was that the number of examination centres was drastically increased and arranged to ensure social distancing. The preliminary examinations were held in 72 decided centres and as many as 2,500 sub-centres.

The commission also said that candidates need to appear at the exam centres wearing a mask or a face cover and would not be let into the center without the mask. Candidates were allowed to change their exam centers as per their convenience and over 60,000 candidates did apply to avail this option.

Also Read : Most Brilliant IAS Questions: Here are Some of the Trickiest UPSC Interview Questions

UPSC 2020 Prelims Paper Analysis

The paper for UPSC 2020 Prelims followed the same pattern as its predecessors, however, there was a slight shift. Generally, UPSC Prelims papers tended to focus heavily on current affairs and had a few direct questions, however this time the focus was on application-based questions from science, technology, and economy. Many candidates said that though the questions were conventional they were still a little tricky.

Detailed Question Division of the Paper

Generally, the paper would be focused more on polity related current affairs based question but this time there was a shift to be focused on the economy, technology, and science. They asked about recent developments in different sectors. The question even focused on agriculture and agro-based developments, procurements, and new eco-friendly agricultural practices and similar trends on MSP.

The questions in the literary subjects remained mostly the same. They were direct and descriptive. The history related questions focussed on the ancient medieval periods while the geography section saw questions from current affairs and application-based question on recent trends.

Comparison to Previous Years’ Papers

Comparing directly to last year there was a slight deviation made on the division of the paper. The percentage of questions that the subject generally gets allotted was increased or decreased. There used to be 15 questions on Polity but this year there were 16. There was no change with Economics as it had 14 questions both this year and last year. General Science saw an increase from 7 to 10. This was true for more or less every subject. This year’s paper was known to be “a fine blend of the direct and influenced set of questions”.

Expected Cut-Off for Prelims 2020

Though predicting the cut-off is not a very good idea but an average cut-off expectation can help the aspirants work towards their goals accordingly and plan out work schedule and future revision plans. This year too the cut-offs are expected to be considerably low.

For a General Category Candidate cut-off were 98 in UPSC Prelims 2019, 98 in UPSC Prelims 2018, and 105.34 in UPSC Prelims 2017. In 2018 questions were more or less from current affairs and other questions were very upfront and straightforward. Based on an analysis of UPSC Prelims 2020, the cut-off is likely to remain the same with only slight deviations expected.

Reason for Low Expected Cut-Offs this Year

The reasons for low expected cut-offs this year are:

  • Firstly, though there is a difference in the kind of questions set there is a very negligible difference in the number of questions and marks allocated to different subjects.
  •  Secondly, Current Affairs generally the biggest challenge for every candidate every year. But due to the global lockdown, not much has changed in the world this year. This year’s paper was also more based on the application of concepts instead of the direct questions we are used to.
  •  Thirdly, there are always questions that are the most bizarre and unexpected ones that are placed for students to tackle every year. This is the area where students tend to make mistakes and have negative marking come into play. However, the number of such questions is almost always the same and thus can be taken into consideration.
  •  Fourthly, the trend of core concept based questions on the constitutional skeleton is another place where students tend to lose points as these questions need conceptual clarity and understanding the underlining meaning of such question demands high skill.

Important Dates for UPSC 2020

Event Date 
IAS 2020 Prelims Exam date October 4, 2020
Issuance of Official Notification February 2021
Online Registration for IAS Exam 2021 February 2021- March 2021
UPSC IAS 2021 Admit Card 3rd week of May 2021
UPSC Civil Services Prelims 2021 Exam Date June 27, 2021
IAS Prelims 2021 Result July 2021
Civil Services (Main) 2021 Exam Date September 2021
2021 Main Result November 2021


Whatever the result may be, this is all secondary. The main thing to do right now for every candidate is to strategize and get ready for their Mains Paper which is no child’s play. It’s even more difficult and trickier and adds to that the optional subject papers of your choice. Use this time to take a break to take a much-needed breather and dive into learning for your UPSC Mains 2020.

Also Read : Time Table for UPSC Preparation 2021: Here’s the Study Schedule You should Follow

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UPSC Prelims 2020: Paper Analysis and Expected Cut-Off For This Year
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UPSC Prelims 2020: Paper Analysis and Expected Cut-Off For This Year
The verdict is out! The UPSC Prelims 2020 was held as decided before. Gear up and learn everything you should know about UPSC 2020 from expected cut-offs to analysing the paper.
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UPSC Pathshala
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