How to Tackle Negative Marking in IAS Prelims

Now that the Prelims are just a fortnight away it makes sense to focus on tackling negative marking which was first introduced in the 2007 IAS Prelims. First things first. Don’t fear negative marking, in fact, negative marking complements the new IAS pattern to be introduced from 2011 Prelims. And how’s that you may ask.

  • Let’s start out with the facts first. Each question in the Prelims carries one mark for every right answer and minus (-) 0.33 marks for every wrong one. So let’s say you get one right answer and three wrong ones, then the net score for these four questions would be zero. Fine?
  • You now need to solve 200 questions in 120 minutes as compared to 150 in the past. This means you need to be more selective in attempting the questions. And negative marking enables you to do just this. As I said in the first point, every correct answer will fetch you one mark. But as you only have 120 minutes to attempt 200 questions, in the first run go for those questions whose answers you’re sure of and also those questions that you may not be 100 % sure but still feel that you know the right option. Guess what, most of the time you will be right in such scenarios.
  • But skip questions answers to which you have no idea about and questions where you know only one of the four options but not the rest three. So basically what I’m saying is leave those questions where you know only two or less options out of four.
  • Now let’s assume you are fairly confident of 110 questions and attempt these in the first run. Then, assuming that you get at least 85 correct out of the 110 questions you’re at the provisional score of 85-25/3= 76.67 (as each wrong answer receives a penalty of 1/3 marks). At this stage you should have about 50 minutes remaining. In these 50 minutes or so go for those questions of which you have some clue about. Maybe you know 2 out of 4 options but not the rest 2. So you can still take a chance as a right answer will fetch you one mark as compared to a penalty of -0.33 marks for every wrong attempt.
  • There should be 60 odd questions that fit this category and even if you get 35 correct out of 60, you reach 76.67 + (35 – 25/3) = 103.34 marks. This is quite good for clearing the Prelims. Obviously, I assume you will score about 100 marks in both the papers to get a total score of 200 marks out of 400. And believe me, to crack the IAS Prelims, especially, from 2011 onwards, a 50 percent score in each paper is good enough. Don’t think you need to get 160 or 170 in both the papers. With the introduction of negative marking, you don’t.
  • As far as the remaining 30 questions are concerned about which you’re totally clueless just skip them. You don’t and should not attempt the entire 200 questions as this can lead to heavy negative marking penalty overall.

I hope this cleared some of the confusion about how to tackle negative marking in the IAS Prelims and what score is adequate to crack the Prelims. But don’t think you need to stick just what I said. The more right answers you know the easier it will be tackle the answers that fit into the 50-50 category. I suggest you through the eBook as well to know which areas are easy to score off in the Prelims. I hope you found this guide to tackle negative marking in IAS prelims helpful.

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  1. just after this , i've got an idea on how to go abt negative marking…

    No website has given such comprehensive analysis this way…

    Precisely , thoughtful and valuable.

  2. Good strategy to tackle the negative marking.
    ALL THE BEST FOR 2013 Prlims appearing aspirants.
    Lage Raho…!
    Focus on the process not on the product. You will win succeed for sure.
    (else you fail Don’t worry we have the PROCESS processed already with us hit the product once again through the same process.)

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