UPSC Previous Year Papers, Result & Cut Off

Topics Covered: UPSC IAS Previous Year Question Papers, Benefits of Questions Papers, Download Prelims & Mains Question Papers,  Prelims Results 2021, Mains Results, Important dates & Steps to check UPSC Result & UPSC Cut Offs of Past 2 years

Preparing for the UPSC IAS exams is no joke. It takes consistent effort and a steely resolve to crack the exam.

I know this firsthand because I have seen my elder brother slog for an entire year preparing for the UPSC CSE, and eventually making it through the hallowed portals of the LBSNAA or the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie. 

I still remember the time when my brother was studying for the IAS exams, I used to come home from college and see him sitting at his study table engrossed in his preparation. In the evenings he used to go out to play some badminton.  

That is how he used to freshen his mind up after 4 hours of continuous studies. During those moments I used to sneak up to his study table and look through the study materials that were neatly stacked one on top of the other.  

Amidst the vast varieties of IAS books and study materials on the desk, I couldn’t help but notice the fat bundles of sheets that were compiled together using spiral binding. These were the bundles that my brother would later give a lot of credit to for his success in the Exams.

These bundles contained the UPSC previous year question papers and the UPSC prelims question papers of the previous years.  

Some years later I would go on to use the same bundles of UPSC previous year question papers to prepare for the UPSC IAS exams, myself. 

Anyway, continuing with the story of my IAS brother’s preparation days, I can clearly recall, him solving a large number of UPSC prelims question papers and mocks before appearing for his UPSC prelims exam, the very next day.

Oh! one other thing that my brother used to do was analyze the difficulty level of the IAS previous year papers by going through the various UPSC cut off lists of the previous years.  

He used to do so by marking himself on all the IAS previous year papers he solved and match his marks with the cut offs of the corresponding year. 

So, as I was saying. He went on to take his prelims paper the next day, and came back home really happy afterwards, apparently, he had aced it. 

When I asked about how his exam had gone, he told me excitedly that a lot of the questions that were asked were similar to the ones he had solved in UPSC prelims question papers the day before, and that if I was to ever clear the UPSC exams in the future, solving UPSC previous year question papers would be absolutely essential. 

Thus, in the coming few weeks, the UPSC prelims result was announced, and as expected my brother had cleared the prelims.

Then he took his Mains papers, aced that as well, and when the UPSC Mains result was declared, it turned out that he had cleared the Mains round as well.  

After that there was no stopping him, the guy aced his interviews also. When the final UPSC result for the IAS exams was announced, my brother stood with an All-India Rank of 53 with his head held high. A real inspiration for me and a million others. 

Anyway, the purpose of telling you this story was to, first, emphasize the importance of working hard, and second to highlight the role of solving UPSC previous year question papers and going through the UPSC cut offs in our UPSC preparations. 

As you already might have guessed this blog shall be about the topics of UPSC Previous year question papers, UPSC results, and the UPSC cut offs. 

Table of Content – UPSC Past Year Papers & Result

UPSC Previous Year Question Papers

Knowing that you might have already gotten an idea about how important the UPSC prelims question papers of the past years and the previous year papers are to a sincere UPSC aspirant, I shall not be dwelling on the topic much.

In this section of the blog, I would like to categorically elaborate on the many benefits of solving the UPSC prelims question papers of the past years and the previous year papers and talk about how to use the previous year papers.

So basically, the best way to study for the IAS exam would be to first practice on a random previous year question paper. With that done, you’ll be able to gauge your strengths and weaknesses.

Then, according to those, you can begin covering the UPSC syllabus in a way where you’d first cover the topics that you are weak at, and then eventually go over to the ones you are strong at.

After you are done going through the entire UPSC course materials, you can try solving another previous year paper to test your waters again. Then again gauge yourself based on your strong and weak points, and accordingly go over the syllabus again. Then solve the thirst previous year paper.

This process would have to be repeated till there are no weak points left, meaning, till the point where you have achieved the same level of mastery at every UPSC-related topic.

Okay, now with the topic of “how to use the previous year papers” out of the way, let me jot down the many benefits of solving the UPSC previous year question papers in the next section. 

Benefits of Solving Previous Year Papers

In this section I have talked about the various ways, solving UPSC previous year papers will benefit you. 

Know the Exam Pattern Better 

The act of solving the various UPSC prelims question papers and past years papers will render you a superior understanding of the UPSC exam pattern and the kind of questions that are normally asked in it.
This understanding of the exam pattern and the various sections lying in it will, in turn, help you solve questions more quickly in the actual exam.
This is because, with such a photographic understanding of the exam sections and patterns, you won’t have to waste time figuring what goes where, and you’d directly be able to go over to the section of the paper you are most comfortable in.

Gauge the Levels of Prelims & Mains 

The more you solve previous year papers, the more you’ll be able to familiarise yourself with the massive jump in the difficulty levels of the Prelims to the Mains papers, and subsequently prepare yourself for the same.

Identify Important Topics 

Solving more Previous year papers would mean getting to identify the most commonly asked questions in the exams, and from them, the most important UPSC topics. These are the topics that you’d then have to learn about in much more detail, considering that they are the ones most likely to be asked about in the upcoming IAS exam.

Know Your Strengths & Weaknesses 

This is something that I have already talked about in the first point of this list i.e., getting to know more about your strengths and weaknesses by solving more and more past year papers. By knowing your strengths and weaknesses better, you’d be able to subsequently focus on your weak points more, thus erasing them in the process, and also further hone your strong points. That way you’d be able to achieve an equal level of mastery in all the UPSC topics. This is needed even more so, considering that the UPSC exam papers have negative marking for every wrong answer, something that you absolutely cannot afford to do.

Manage Time Better 

One of the reasons why the UPSC exams are so tough per se is because of the limited time and space that are provided to aspirants to fill in their answers. This should give you all the more reason to try and solve more and more previous year question papers using the actual UPSC exam time limit. Doing so will improve your time management skills during exams and help you save yourself from all the last-minute anxiety attacks that people normally get on not being able to finish their papers on time.

Be More Instinctive in Exams 

More and more practice on previous year papers using the actual UPSC exam time limit will train you to be more instinctive and accurate while marking the right answers.

Now, assuming that you have read through all the points that I have listed above, its only right that I share with you some of the UPSC previous year papers that I have been able to arrange for you:

Download the complete UPSC Previous Year Question Papers for Prelims and Mains:

Now that I have shared with you the downloadable links to the UPSC previous year question papers mentioned above, I would urge you to make use of them as much as you can. Also, I’d recommend that you solve these papers using the actual UPSC time limit, the benefits of doing which I have already mentioned in the bulleted list written above.

With that, I think I have said everything there is to know about the topic of UPSC previous year question paper.

Now it’s time for us to go over to the second and final topic of this blog, which is UPSC result.

UPSC Prelims & Mains Result

Important Update: UPSC CSE Prelims Results were released on 29th October 2021. You can find the steps to download the result below. I have also attached the result PDF here to make it easy for you. 

In this segment of the blog we shall be discussing things like how to check your UPSC results, the latest updates regarding the current annual UPSC exam cycle, and the IAS results of past years.

With that let’s just go through some of the important points about the UPSC results in a tabular format.

UPSC Results: Important Points

Exam Name CSE: Civil Services Exam
Conducting Body UPSC: Union Public Service Commission
Frequency of Exam Once a year
Mode of Examination Online
Stages of Results Prelims, Mains, and Final
Official Exam website

Although, you might know about it already, in the table above you can get a gist of the UPSC IAS exams and its stages of result.

Now, let’s quickly go over the important dates of the current UPSC IAS exam cycle:

IAS Exam Result Dates

Event Important Dates
UPSC Preliminary 10th October, 2021
Declaration of Results of UPSC Prelims 29th October, 2021
Declaration of Results of UPSC Mains TBA
UPSC Interview TBA
Declaration of the UPSC Final results To be announced after the interviews

In the table above, I have mentioned the important dates of the current 2020 UPSC exam cycle. With that said the 2021 UPSC Exam cycle is scheduled to kick off with the 2021 UPSC CSE prelims on the 27th of June, 2021.

Now let’s look at the steps you’d need to follow to check your UPSC IAS results

Steps to Check UPSC Result

The results of the written rounds of the UPSC, namely the Prelims and the Mains, are released every year by the UPSC on its official website. UPSC CSE Prelims results were released on 29th October for the 2021 attempt.

To check your UPSC IAS results, you can follow the steps that I have mentioned below:

Step 1: Visit the UPSC’s official website –

Step 1 to check UPSC Prelims Result 2021

Step 2: After opening the website, scroll down to look for the link called “written results”.

Step 2 to check UPSC Prelims Result 2021

Step 3: After clicking on the “written results” link, click on the link called “Examination Written Results”.

Step 3 to check UPSC Prelims Result 2021

Step 4: Next, Download the PDF called “Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2021″.

Step 4 to check UPSC Prelims Result 2021

Step 5: Search for your roll number in the result PDF. Tap back if you have cleared the exam or start working hard for the next year if you haven’t. Never lose hope.

Step 5 to check UPSC Prelims Result 2021

Now, that you know about the steps to download the UPSC results, let’s now take a look into the UPSC prelims results, and the UPSC mains results of the previous years, and also the prelims result of the 2020 CSE.

UPSC Results of Previous Years

In this section, we’ll go over the UPSC results of the previous years. So, without further ado:

UPSC Cut off

Let’s go through some of the important points based on how the Cut off for the UPSC is calculated: 

  1. The marks of Prelims Cut off are based on paper 1 of the prelims or the GS paper only. The marks that you secure in Paper 2 will not be considered when counting your merit ranking. Paper 2 is qualifying in nature and you need to score at least 33 % in it to qualify for the Mains round.
  2. The cut off marks for the UPSC basically are the marks secured that the last candidate that was selected for that round. The cut off marks for both the UPSC rounds of Prelims and Mains are released only after the final IAS results of the exams for the year are declared.
  3. Given below are a few cases that the UPSC has offered clarifications on: 
    • Case 1 – If 2 aspirants score equal aggregate marks in the UPSC exam, then the aspirant who has secured more marks in the compulsory papers + the IAS Interview, is given a higher rank by the UPSC.  
    • Case 2 – If 2 candidates score equal marks in the compulsory papers and the interviews taken together, the candidate who is senior in age will be given a higher rank. 
    • Case 3 – If 2 candidates score equal marks in the compulsory papers and the interviews taken together, and are also of the same age, then the candidate with more marks in the compulsory papers will be given a higher rank. 

Now let us go through the cut off marks of the various UPSC rounds of the last 2 years: 

UPSC Prelims Cut offs 2019

Category UPSC Prelims Cut offs (out of 200)
General 98
EWS 90
OBC 95.34
SC 82
ST 77.34
PwBD-1 53.34
PwBD-2 44.66
PwBD-3 54.66
PwBD-4 61.34

UPSC Mains Cut offs 2019

Category UPSC Mains Cut offs (out of 1750
General 751
EWS 696
OBC 718
SC 706
ST 699
PwBD-1 663
PwBD-2 698
PwBD-3 374
PwBD-4 561

UPSC Final Cut offs 2019

Category UPSC Final Cut offs (out of 2025)
General 961
EWS 909
OBC 925
SC 898
ST 893
PwBD-1 861
PwBD-2 890
PwBD-3 653
PwBD-4 708

UPSC Prelims Cut offs 2018

Category UPSC Prelims Cut off (out of 200)
General 98
OBC 96.66
SC 84
ST 83.34
PwBD-1 73.34
PwBD-2 53.34
PwBD-3 40
PwBD-4 45.34

UPSC Mains Cut offs 2018

Category UPSC Mains Cut off Marks (out of 1750)
General 774
OBC 732
SC 719
ST 719
PwBD-1 711
PwBD-2 696
PwBD-3 520
PwBD-4 460

UPSC Final Cut offs 2018

Category UPSC Final Cut offs (out of 2025)
General 982
OBC 938
SC 912
ST 912
PwBD-1 899
PwBD-2 908
PwBD-3 754
PwBD-4 718

Going through the various tables above you can get a pretty vivid idea about the marks you’d need to score if you want to make it in the UPSC Civil services exams. 


With that, we come to the end of this article. I hope this article has been helpful in informing you about the topics of the UPSC previous year question paper, UPSC results, and the UPSC cut offs. Having said that, I guess now it’s time for me to bid you farewell and the very best of luck.


Founder & CEO of

About Anuj Jindal


Anuj Jindal, the founder, is an ex-manager from SBI, with an M.Com from Delhi School of Economics. He also has a JRF in Commerce & Management and NET in HRM, along with more than 5 years of experience in the field of Education.

FAQs: UPSC Previous Year Papers, Result & Cut Off

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    Are the questions asked in IAS exams tough?

    No, I wouldn’t say that the questions asked in the IAS exams are tough per say, but sure, if you have not prepared well enough, then it’s damn well one of the toughest exams you’ll come across.  

    That said, the questions that are asked in the IAS exams are set with the intention of testing you on your grasp of the various concepts pertaining to the IAS syllabus.  

    Therefore, if your concepts are clear and you can jot down your thoughts in an articulate manner, you can easily sail through across the exams and score well above the UPSC cut offs. 

    However, to ensure scores above the UPSC cut offs in the exam, you should focus on solving as many IAS Previous Year Paper as you can. If you want you can download and solve the previous years papers that I have arranged for you in the blog written above.

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    How many UPSC test papers should be taken before the CSE exam?

    Well, the perfect answer to that question would be, “as many as you can”. That’s because no matter how many UPSC test papers or previous year question papers you solve, it’s never enough. 

    The reason for that is the UPSC exams are well known for being unpredictable in nature, as far as the kind of questions asked is concerned.  

    Therefore, solving as many UPSC test papers as you can, will prepare you enough to be able to expect any and every variation that the UPSC incorporated in the IAS exam question pool. 

    It should also be noted that by practicing the various UPSC tests and previous years questions, you can also increase your chances of scoring well above the UPSC cut offs.

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    What are the important current affairs topics from where IAS questions can be asked in UPSC Prelims 2021?

    Okay, this is a very important question because the current affairs topics form a major part of the question pool of the prelims stage. So let us understand the kind of topics that you should be aware of to successfully clear the UPSC cut offs for the prelims. 

    So, UPSC usually asks questions from schemes, programs, acts, and National/international events that have been in the news for the last 2 years. Therefore, to ace the currents affairs portion of the prelims exam, you’d need to go through all the current affairs news daily without a miss.  

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    What are the benefits of attempting the UPSC previous year practice?

    The benefits of attempting UPSC previous year question papers are enormous. Let me quote a few of them. 

    The first benefit is that they help us know the exam pattern by heart. The next benefit is that the papers help us understand vividly the difference in the difficulty levels of the of the Prelims and Mains papers.  

    Next is the benefit of getting to identify important topics. Solving previous years papers also helps us identify our strong and weak points, and helps us improve our time management skills.  

    That said the most important benefit of solving past year papers is that we get to be more instinctive and accurate while attempting the actual paper, after solving the previous year papers.

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    How many students are selected for the IAS interview?

    I get asked this question a lot, and the answer is that, around two to two and a half times the number of vacancies announced for the particular year’s IAS exam, are selected for the IAS interviews. 

    Apart from that, you should know that only the people who are able to clear the UPSC cut offs for the Mains papers of the IAS exams are called to appear for the interview round.  

    These Mains qualifiers usually number at around 2 to 2 and a half times the number of IAS vacancies for the year, and thus the number of interview candidates mentioned above. 

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    How many marks are required to qualify the IAS exam?

    I can answer this question in two ways, One’s the easy way and the others the detailed way. To answer it the easy way, let me tell you that you need to clear the overall UPSC cut offs to clear the IAS exam.  

    The overall cut offs are decided by taking into account the scores of the Mains exams and the Interview round. 

    If you want a detailed answer to this question, you should read the UPSC cut offs section on the blog given above.

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    What is the procedure to prepare the IAS prelims result?

    The IAS prelims result is prepared by taking into account the General studies paper only. This means that the UPSC cut offs for the prelims stage is basically just the GS paper marks secured by the last candidate to qualify the Prelims round. 

    As far as paper 2 or CSAT goes, the CSAT is only a qualifying paper where candidates just need to score above 33% of the total marks. This means that the marks secured by candidates in the CSAT paper are not considered while preparing the Prelims result.  

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    Which rank is required to get into the Indian Administrative Services (IAS)?

    This is one of the most asked questions when it comes to the IAS exams. So, the answer to this question is, around 180 candidates are recruited every year for the Indian Administrative Services (IAS). 

    Now to fill up these 180 seats, UPSC selects candidates from each category according to the rank they are able to secure in their respective categories.  

    Talking about candidates of the general category, they need to place under the rank 100 to be able to get into the IAS. 

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    How is the UPSC Cut Off calculated?

    The UPSC cut offs of a stage, be it the prelims round, or the mains, are calculated by taking into account the marks secured by the last candidate to qualify the particular round.  

    So basically, the marks secured by the last person to qualify the Prelims round becomes the Cut off of the prelims round for the year. Similar is with the case of the Mains round, and the overall UPSC cut offs as well. 

    To know about UPSC cut offs in detail, you should read the UPSC cut offs section on the blog I have written above. 


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