Cut off for Prelims 2012
Its time to put Genie out of the lamp!
From the third Sunday of May till the second week of August, if any Civil Services Aspirant finds the magic lamp and after rubbing it the Genie appears and ask him “ Your wish is my Command. What can I do for you my master?”, the first questions he would ask is “Can you tell me the IAS preliminary exam, cut off this year?”.
After months of sweat and toil and burning plethora of midnight oil, the ghost of “Cut Off” hunts every serious aspirant. So high is the psychological pressure of these two words that the aspirants check their paper from all the sources under the sun. Last year a student of mine came to me with her paper and I found her question paper looked like a vibrant rainbow with marks in different colors. When I enquired her about the reason of such wonderful piece of art on the UPSC question paper, her answer was very interesting. She told me that whenever she checks the paper from a different source she uses a different color pen and different marks. So what appeared a vibrant rainbow to me actually reflect the pressurized state of mind of an aspirant.
Myth of Sectional Cut offs
There is nothing called sectional cut off in UPSC. Thus it is the total score in both the Papers that counts in the final merit list. However there are minimum qualifying marks that need to be scored in both the Papers to be eligible to come under the merit list. But these qualifying marks are so low that majority of good students are able to qualify these.
Rebirth of the traditional sections like History and Polity in GS Paper 1
This year a fairly large number of questions were from the History and Polity section. The number of questions from these sections was quiet high vis-à-vis those asked in last couple of years. The implication of this would be huge. The increase in weightage of these sections would act as the filter to eliminate those not so serious candidates who just rely on CSAT Paper 2. Last year the paper was so unpredictable that in many questions the serious aspirants and the others were equally ignorant. As a result various non serious students just on the basis of their good score in Paper II were able to pass the prelims. This time UPSC has done fair justice with those who have actually burnt mid night oil for this exam.
Economics was “Economical” this year
As predicted in my earlier Blog “Last Minute Tips” there was a cut in the number of questions from the Economics section. Moreover the questions from this section were relatively easier and less time consuming as compared to last year.
Environment and Ecology cannot be ignored
As mentioned in my earlier Blog there were many questions from these sections. The difficulty level of the questions from these sections was almost same as compared to the last year.
Verbose Reading Comprehensions (RC)
The length of RCs this year was higher. Thus although the paper was of similar difficulty level as compared to the last but many students have complaint about the paucity of time. Many students also could not optimize the time well and have said to left sitters as they devoted the time to the difficult questions and reading lengthy paragraphs.
Reasoning replacing Arithmetic
One of the interesting features was very low weightage to the questions involving actual calculations and mathematics. This is a nice strategy by UPSC keeping in mind the decision making role of civil servants as well as to balance the requirement of arts students.
The Number Game
Now let’s come to the actual number game for the Prelims 2012. There are two reasons for which I believe that the cut off would increase this year vis-à-vis last year. Firstly, the paper was relatively easier this year, that too from the sections which are generally covered by all the serious aspirants. Secondly there was nothing unpredictable in the Paper 2. The pattern remained almost same. A serious aspirant would have practiced enough by keeping the last year’s paper in mind.
Although there was some change in the weightage of various sections, but the students were aware that there would be sections like Reasoning, Reading Comprehensions, and Decision Making etc. Thus the aspirants were much focused and prepared this year as compared to last year.
The predicted cut off for Prelims 2012 will be in the range of a total of 205 to 215 marks. Those who score above 215 marks should start the main exam preparation with full seriousness. Those who score in the range of 200 to 215 are in the consideration zone. They also should prepare for mains seriously because there is always a chance to clear prelims and in case you clear and if you are not ready for mains, then it will be disastrous for you. Those who are scoring less than 190 marks should seriously reconsider their preparation strategy.
A word of caution! You should calculate your score based on answer keys from authentic sources like ours. Also while adding your score you should be emotionally detached from your paper and come up with actual scores!
The cut off marks predicted is for ‘General category’ students. The scores will come down for OBC, SC, ST students. For OBC it may be 3 or 4 marks less, where as for SC/ST students it will be 10/15 marks less.
As far as the qualifying marks are concerned, UPSC always insists that there is no such minimum. But from the practical experience I have found that there is a minimum requirement in each paper. The minimum qualifying marks could be a modest 60 to 70 in Paper 1.
But in paper II, the ball game is slightly different. UPSC introduced CSAT as a mechanism to test the candidates’ aptitude for civil services. Here UPSC wants to weed out candidates who have less aptitude for these services. To prove their point, UPSC cannot keep a low score in paper II. So I expect a minimum score of 110 to 125 as qualifying score in paper II.
Nonetheless, I would like to conclude this blog by saying that these figures are based on the interaction with a few aspirants in the initial days. More polished figures might come in the near future when I would have had interacted with some more.