Tuesday, 14 May 2013

CSE 2012 marks: Strict marking does no one a favour

UPSC has just declared the marks of the recommended candidates. It comes as a disappointment that there has been very stringent marking in the written exam.

The total marks for written are 2000 + 300 for interview. An analysis of the total final marks is given below. [All these candidates are General Category]:

Total Marks

There are two important results we can draw from the above.

Firstly that even Rank 1 has not even got 1200 marks. In the 2009 and 2010 CSE the toppers marks would go beyond 1300. Such strict marking does not give due recognition to the difference in quality of writing or analysis as reflected in the answer scripts. I refuse to believe that out of 12000+ candidates writing the mains, not 50 were such that they deserved atleast 55% of marks in written?

Secondly, the difference between Rank 5 and Rank 645 is barely 5%. In an exam worth 2300 marks how can the difference between making the list and getting top rank be just 5%. There should be some qualitative difference between the candidates that is reflected in the quanity of marks as well. And if these marks are true, then how can 5% make all the difference. This is grossly unfair to everyone.

In this situation two things have occurred:
- The interview has become the deciding factor. This itself is not rational as written is for 2000 marks and interview for 300.
- Secondly, luck starts playing a much bigger factor. Some papers are marked leniently; or your interview board is generous; or its just your day. When marking is moderate people who have shown consistency in all attributes benefit, instead of random luck.

I just hope UPSC too does some analysis of this and draws some lessons. Baaki, do write in with your views on the matter.



  1. Very true! Just to say that, just one has got above 1000 in written and rest all are either 960 or below gives the picture of the situation.

  2. Any idea what was the Mains-written cut-off for General Category?

  3. hello hyd and spook..

    i have entered civil service this year.

    i find you blog really interesting. i have made a blog and have featured you great work in one my post



    1. @All about civilservice: Ha Ha Ha ! You have mentioned her a "HE". Man it is a "SHE". Ms Spurthi Reddy - 333rd ( A triple Nelson! just joking) Rank in 2010 CSE and has named her blog after the the "Ghostville Elementary, Book Number 7" "Hide-and-Spook". [That was a guess from the photo you have just put "a lonely person looking into the oblivion" feels pretty much like "Cassidy" in the book and I guess Civil Service is Hide that you want to spook.]

    2. @Maukoleth: Thanks for telling me about the Ghostville Elementary Book - i must admit i didnt know about the same. My naming of the blog was much less inspirational. I was writing it from Hyderabad and my friends used to call me spooky. :)

  4. @Spurthi : Its a pretty wierd situation this time. I mean, for the average scores and cutoffs to go down almost 200 (almost 9%) marks takes some doing at the UPSC side - not sure what they are upto.

    1. You are right Kshitij. I think the year i cleared-2010- was the last year they gave any decent marks. After that from 2011 onwards total avg marks are showing a decline.
      The papers have become more analytical, so require arguments to be presented and a rational thought-process to be exhibited- maybe UPSC hasn't quite figured out how to mark such papers. They may have set too high a bar and thus most of us are falling below it. Nevertheless there needs to be some deep thinking on this front by them.

    2. i have seen one " yogeesh Mishra " he scored 717 as written total and interview 240 marks and rank 405 .. and i observed that almost 90% of those who scored below 750 got around 200 in interview... was that a deliberate one??? ..

      I'm also from hyd and i thought u would definetly make it... anyways all the best for the next attempt..

  5. on the other hand, i feel its quite justified that upsc is awarding lesser marks in the written exams.. consider : people with engg and maths and physics optionals (which are scoring) get upto 430 on 600.. whereas the best of the best in subjects like pol sci(which are actually much more practical and relevant to civil service) will very rarely score above 360.. this has been extremely unfair- with majority of the people who've been clearing in the past few years not deserving to be in the ias.. as also, considering that 99% of the people who're writing the exam opt for ias- meaning 80 seats.. nd then sum non-deserving engineers take the show- not due to their potential but coz of the bias in marking.. same applies for the literature optionals.. i guess this step of upsc is in the right direction.. hail upsc ! also, the syllabus change that has occurred is in the light of what has bin happening in the past few yrs..

  6. @Anonymous: I agree with engg optionals getting 430 being unfair but here we are talking of strict evaluation across the board- G.S, Essay and Optionals. You can compare the highest/average scores for these papers and you will know yourself. And the literature bias seems to be more profound this year as in the top 40, there are 11 people with literature as one of the optionals.
    So UPSC has actually not done anything to rectify( at least apparently).
    And I think there should exist some sort of parity among optionals.

  7. @Anon1: I myself have no knowledge of the subject matter of engg/maths/physics nor have I seen the question papers, but from a general view (which could be prejudiced) that most of the questions seek quantitative or direct answers the subject lends itself to higher marking. Like in Maths, a problem can have only one correct answer-if you get it, then you get the entire marks. There is no scope to strict therein.
    Whereas in social science/humanities subjects, answers are always discursive and there is no right/wrong answer- therefore there is much discretion for the examiner to award marks. Also because there is no right answer 100% marks are never awarded.
    In the current UPSC marking style, its the discursive subjects that are taking a beating. So we are actually at a greater disadvantage than before.
    However I would like to invite people from a Science/Maths background to please write in, and tell us if the assumptions I am making are correct.

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  9. @Spurthi: can please post ur subject wise marks uploaded today..