What is the percentage of marks you need, to clear the IAS exam?
Unlike the popular perception, you don’t need very high marks to clear UPSC Civil Services Exam (popularly known as IAS exam).
IAS exam is surprisingly low scoring!
Rank 1 just scored 55.36% marks!
UPSC Topper, Kanishak Kataria, just scored 55.36% marks to secure All India Rank 1 in the last year UPSC Civil Services Exam (2018). His total score was 1121 out of 2025 marks.
The story was not different in 2017 either. Durishetty Anudeep, Rank 1 in UPSC CSE 2017, topped that year exam with just 55.60% marks!
Percentage of marks you need to clear UPSC CSE Prelims (Objective)
You just needed 49% marks to clear IAS/IPS preliminary exam last year (2018)!
The score needed for a general category candidate to clear UPSC Prelims 2018 was 98 marks out of 200. The cut-off score required was even lesser for candidates belonging to reservation categories like OBC, SC, ST etc.
Analysing the previous years’ trends, the cut-off score has never been more than 60 per cent in the previous 10 years.
Percentage of marks you need to clear UPSC CSE Mains (Written)
In 2018, a general category candidate had to score 774+ marks out of 1750 to qualify for UPSC interview. In percentage terms, this accounts to just 44.22%.
Percentage of marks you need to be in the final UPSC rank list
The interview marks of selected candidates varied between 45% to 75%.
The highest marks awarded in the UPSC interview was 75% in 2018.
Only about 800 candidates are selected in the final rank list for various services like IAS, IPS, IFS etc.
The percentage of marks of the last candidate from the general category who was selected in the final rank list was 48.49 percentage (982/2025), while the topper scored just 55.36 per cent marks (1121/2025).
Cut-off marks vary from year-to-year
The cut-off marks for each year is fixed by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). It may vary from year-to-year based on parameters like the number of vacancies, the number of candidates, question-difficulty, and marks scored by the candidates.
What is meant by cut-off mark?
The UPSC prefers the term ‘minimum qualifying mark’ to the term ‘cut-off mark’. However, in effect, both terms are synonymous. The Minimum Qualifying Mark is the mark of the last recommended candidate in each category. There are separate Minimum Qualifying Marks for General, OBC, SC, ST etc in Civil Service Examination (CSE).
Even though around 10 lakh candidates apply for UPSC Prelims, only approximately 10,000 candidates get a chance to cross the first-stage and sit for the next stage ie. UPSC Mains (written exam). As per UPSC, the number of candidates to be admitted for the Main exam will be about twelve to thirteen (12-13) times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in the year through this examination.
Not easy to clear IAS exam; however not impossible either!
|Year||Mains Marks (out of 2000) of the last candidate (General Category)||Mains Percentage|
of the last candidate (%)(General Category)
|Mains+Interview (out of 2300) marks of the last candidate (General Category)||Mains+Interview Percentage of the last candidate (%) (General Category)|
|2013||562 [out of 1750]||32.1||775 [out of 2025]||38.27|
|2014||678 [out of 1750]||38.74||889 [out of 2025]||43.90|
|2015||676 [out of 1750]||38.62||877 [out of 2025]||43.30|
|2016||787 [out of 1750]||44.97||988 [out of 2025]||48.79|
|2017||809 [out of 1750]||46.22||1006 [out of 2025]||49.67|
|2018||774 [out of 1750]||44.22||982 [out of 2025]||48.49|
Our intention in this article is neither to promote low-scores nor belittle the hard work needed to clear the IAS exam. UPSC exam is one of the toughest exams in India. Considering the strict valuation standards of UPSC, to score well above the last-year cut-off marks (49%) is not an easy task. However, it is not impossible either.
Our intention of this article is to give a positive outlook regarding the exam. Be aware that you don’t need to score 99% + marks to be a topper in UPSC CSE unlike in many other exams. Many beginners and veterans are not aware of the percentage requirements, so we just wanted aspirants to know that UPSC is always a low scoring game!
We truly wish you clear the UPSC CSE with a high score soon. All the best!