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Hacks and Tricks for UPSC Prelims – MCQs

Here are the Hacks and Tricks for UPSC Prelims – MCQs.

The UPSC Prelims syllabus is vast. A deep understanding of every concept is needed; otherwise, it might be difficult to reach the cutoff. The first and most important thing is to make a well-organised study plan and a realistic and achievable timetable to pass the exam. Another important point to score well in the UPSC prelims MCQs is to read from the right sources.

The UPSC prelims are one of India’s most challenging exams. Students who aspire to serve the country as civil servants and become IAS and IPS sit for this exam. 

Some great study tips can help you get an edge over other million students sitting against you. As the complexity of the exam increases, it also builds pressure on aspirants. To minimise your pressure, we are going to highlight some useful hacks and tricks that you can follow for the UPSC prelims exam.

Steps or tips for scoring well in UPSC Prelims – MCQs

Clearing UPSC prelims MCQs takes you one step closer to your dream of being an IAS officer and serving the country. Here are some of the important hacks and tricks you can consider while preparing for the UPSC prelims. 

  • Before taking the exam, assess yourself and prepare yourself to come under the top 100 students. 

  • As per the last two years, the cutoff is generally 100 marks. If you’ve attempted 60-65 questions where 55-57 are correct, there are more than 100 marks. It means you will clear it. 

  • If you think the question paper is challenging for you, it is tough for everyone. Of Course, it applies only when you have prepared well. 

  • Do not answer only 60-65 questions or 90-95 questions because if 50 are wrong, then it would be impossible for you to clear the exam. In such a scenario, opt for the 50/50 strategy and attempt 80-85 questions. Here, you will have 50-55 questions correct and 20-25 questions wrong. Hence, your net score will be between 107 and 108, and you will be comfortably placed above the cutoff going by the last 2-3 year trend. 

How do you classify the questions? 

Mainly, there are four types of questions.

  • The first type are the sure-shot questions. Make sure you answer the question with full confidence. Here, if you attempt 50 questions, at least 45-47 questions might be correct. 

  • Secondly, 50/50 where you’re not very sure. Do attempt these questions as you’re confused between only two choices. If you attempt 30 such questions, 15 questions will likely be right. 

  • Thirdly, where you’re confused between three choices, let’s say, as per probability, there are nearly 10 questions of this type. In case you got only three questions right. It means you’re getting 6 marks and 4.5 negative marks in total (6- 4.5 marks =1.5 marks) is a surplus. 

  • The last option is the fourth option, where you have no idea what is going on, and you make a guess. 

If you feel you’re not a superlative candidate and fall in the middle of the bell curve, the ideal mix of questions here would be:

Category 1 – 50 questions 

Category 2 – 25-30 questions 

Category 3 – 10 questions 

Combined, you would attempt 85 questions and get enough marks to crack the prelims MCQs. 

Also, if all three put together are only 70 questions, then go for a guess. However, try to avoid such questions. To achieve this, make sure you prepare well. 

  • If the question paper is easy, try to attempt at least 90 questions. On the other hand, if it is tough, go for at least 80-82 questions and follow the strategy discussed above. 

Elimination will work 

  • If you’re not feeling comfortable with any of the questions, start by eliminating the options you’re sure are not the answer. 

  • Probability is in your favour even if you eliminate just one option. In all probability, you will end up scoring only positive marks. Avoid it in case of a guess, but if you have reached the comfortable question number of 80-85, category 2 and category 3 questions are a must-try. 

  • Remember, at least 5-7 questions are there in the UPSC prelims MCQs where the answer lies within the question itself. You apply a little bit of your knowledge, and you have the right answer. 

  • Let’s understand this via an example – 

Consider the following statements.

  1. In the first Lok Sabha, the single largest party in the opposition was the Swantara Party. 

  2. In the Lok Sabha, a leader of the opposition party was recognised for the first-ever time in 1969. 

  3. In the Lok Sabha, if a party does not have a minimum of 75 members, its leader cannot be recognised as the LOP. 

The options are: 

  1. 1 & 3 only 

  2. 2 & 3 only 

  3. Only 2 

  4. 1, 2 & 3 

Answer – 

We already know that statement 3 is wrong, saying that if a party does not have a minimum of 75 members in the Lok Sabha, its leader cannot be recognised as the LOP. Whereas in reality, the number is 55 members. 

In all four options, statement 3 is used. It means the correct answer here is option 3. 

Therefore, it said, before going through the questions, go for options. 

Certain overall tips

  • Chances of none of the above as an answer are 34% compared to chances of none of the above, which is 21% only. Hence, try to avoid marking none of the above as an answer. 

  • In case there are statements that state words like extremely, always, never, or other definitive terms, chances are high that these are incorrect. 

  • If moderate terms like maybe, most likely, more often, and so on are used, the chances are high that these are correct. 

  • Usage of very accurate numbers is mostly wrong. 


With this, we come to the end of the topic on hacks and tricks for UPSC Prelims – MCQs students. Here, we talked about some useful tips and tricks that every UPSC Prelims aspirant should follow to get good marks. Apart from these, picking up the right books and sticking to the strategy till the end can truly help.

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