The CSE Cut off: How does it make or mar your ambition to join IAS?

A great many of the candidates find the very idea of the UPSC CSE cut-off frightful enough to scare the breath out of them. It’s no exaggeration. And the reasons are more than might be perceived easily. 

What makes the IAS aspirants almost obsessed with the CSE cut-off?

No sensible individual ever needs to exaggerate how important it is for an IAS aspirant to be at par with all the standards set by UPSC. Unless and until you make Union Public Service Commission thoroughly sure of your administrative skills, you stand no chance to be declared as a successful candidate, let alone join IAS. 

Besides, it’s advisable to throw a glance at the facts given below:

CSE Stage I – Prelims:  Though the Prelims are only qualifying, but qualifying the same is far easy said than done. Huge multitudes of the IAS aspirants face the Prelims every year. And CSE has been a witness to a tremendous increase in the number as the time passes by. 
Consequently when you compare the huge number of the appearing candidates with the greatly reduced little number of the successful ones, it does not come as a surprise why should an IAS aspirant be obsessed with th CSE Prelims cut-off. In other words, if you fail to qualify the Prelims, your dream to join the IAS would come crashing down there and then itself. 

That is to say, though the Stage I – Prelims is a qualifying Exam, your score must be at par with the UPSC cut-off for the same. Otherwise, UPSC would not allow you to appear for the Mains, no matter howsoever well you might have prepared for it. 

So, obviously an IAS aspirant almost begins to get obsessed with the CSE cut-off at the first stage itself, i.e., the Prelims.  

CSE Stage II – Mains:  By the time, UPSC declares the Prelims results, the IAS aspirants get even more obsessed with the cut-off for the Mains. And, most importantly, your score in the Mains actually counts when it comes to your rank after CSE result is declared. 

Moreover, it can’t be taken for granted that Mains comprises 9 Papers. Preparing for such a huge variety of the subjects as per the vast CSE syllabus is definitely not a joke. And that further adds to the anxiety an IAS aspirant already goes through for the cut-off. 

Further, it should not be forgotten that you have to prepare for all the Papers of the Mains in a manner that you score as per the UPSC cut-off. Above all, even if a single Paper of the Mains is left un-cleared, you cannot go ahead with the Interview. 

As a result, by the time, a candidate reaches the Final Stage, i.e., the Interview; he has to fulfill the UPSC cut-off requirements for all of the CSE Papers for the Prelims and the Mains.  

CSE Stage III – Interview:  It’s the last stage for the Civil Services Exam. The trend analysis concerning the lowest and the highest scores in the Interview makes a somewhat interesting reading. Until 2012, the scores of various candidates in the Interview usually used to range in between 90 – 245 out of a maximum of 300. 

Thus, it should be noted that the candidates’ score in the Interview used to vary in between 30 – 80%. It signified a hugely varying range. The median range used to be in between 55 – 60 %. 

But, it should be noted that since 2013, the maximum marks for the Interview were reduced to 275. Currently, the candidates’ score for the Interview range in between 45 – 75%. Though scores below 45% are not so uncommon, UPSC rarely awards more than 75% to a candidate in the Personality Test. 

In short, there is a considerable difference in between the highest and the lowest scores in the Interview. Even if, there is a difference of 50% in the score, it will account for almost 140 marks. 

Needless to say, an addition of 140 marks can make a considerable change to your rank in the CSE results. If you perform well and score well in the Interview, you can rank high enough in the results to be allowed by UPSC. If you don’t, your dreams of joining IAS might be shattered. 

Thus, the cut-off for various stages in the CSE is of course relevant for the IAS aspirants. However, for the various categories including the General Category, SC, ST, OBC etc., it varies slightly. 

To sum up, it all depends upon how well you compete. And, needless to say, you have to compete well at all the stages from the Prelims till the Interview. There is no fixed formula that can stand guarantee to help you equip score the required cut-off %. And the cut-off is not going to continue to be the same every year, anyway! 

A Word of Caution

The one who believes in himself and strives to be perfect finds himself much closer to the goal than others and ultimately achieves it! So, it’s best not to be obsessed with the scaring thoughts of the cut-off. It’s best to keep your mind relaxed. And focus well on your goal, and i.e., IAS. And to your greatly pleasant surprise, you will find that all the rest would automatically follow! All the humans are more likely to make better efforts (than what they usually do) with a relaxed mind and a confident attitude.  

In conclusion, if you can administer your own thinking pattern in a logical manner, you would be better able to administer the society. During all the time that you have been preparing for the IAS Exam, it’s best to focus on the preparation rather than being obsessed with the cut-off. If you prepare well, you are more likely to score higher than others. 

That is to say, irrespective of the cut-off, you would stay ahead of the entire competition and realize your dream to join IAS. And that’s what that matters. 

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