The Ups and Downs of UPSC’s Negative Marking System

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is one of the most prestigious exam conducting bodies in India. The UPSC conducts Civil Services Examination for various posts in Central Government and state government services. The examination is known for its tough and lengthy process, and its negative marking system is one of the most controversial topics among aspirants. The negative marking system was introduced by the UPSC in 1992. If a candidate answers a question incorrectly, then one-third marks will be deducted from the total score assigned to that question.

The UPSC’s negative marking system has its ups and downs. Let’s discuss them in detail.


Encourages the Candidates to be Precise:

The negative marking system encourages candidates to be precise in the answers. It means that candidates have to be very careful while attempting each question, and they cannot guess the answer without proper knowledge. This way, the system ensures that only those candidates are selected who have a deep knowledge of the subject.

Helps in Maintaining the Standard of the Examination:

The UPSC has a reputation for being one of the toughest examinations in India. The negative marking system helps in maintaining the standard of the examination. It ensures that only the deserving candidates are selected and not those who just guessed their way through the examination.

Discourages the Candidates from Selecting Random Answers:

As we know, the negative marking system deducts one-third marks from the total score of the question if it is answered incorrectly. It discourages the candidates from selecting random answers, as it may create a lot of negative marks, and ultimately affect their overall score.


Stressful for Candidates:

The negative marking system creates a lot of pressure on candidates while attempting the exam. They have to be very precise while answering every question, which involves a lot of mental stress. Due to this, many candidates end up making silly mistakes even in the questions they know the answers to, and thus they lose marks.

Creates Disadvantages for Candidates:

The negative marking system also creates disadvantages for those candidates who have poor examination-taking abilities. They cannot attempt all the questions with confidence as they fear the minus marking effect.

Encourages students to leave the question:

Another disadvantage of the negative marking system is that it encourages candidates to leave the question. Many candidates, knowing that his answer to the question would be incorrect, intend to leave out the question, or skip the answer. In such a case, even if the candidate knew the answer to the question, he or she cannot mark it as there is a risk of negative marking.

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