IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2020: Paper Analysis, Questions and Weightage Details

Updated On -

Mar 23, 2021

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The IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2020 was conducted on October 4, 2020, in two shifts. The schedule for GS Paper 1 and GS Paper 2 is 9.30 am to 11.30 a.m and 2.30 pm - 4.30 pm respectively. 

UPSC Prelims 2020, GS Paper-1 had been concluded at 11:30 pm. Reports suggest, students arrived wearing masks and carrying hand sanitiser, the exam was conducted maintaining all COVID-19 measures at every exam centre. 

Meanwhile, as the GS paper-1 was concluded, students claimed the paper was exceptionally tough and conceptual with question pattern and types, different from previous years. Current affairs questions were based on last 6-months but didn't cover the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Important updates on the IAS (UPSC CSE) 2021 exam-

Exam Date Duration
IAS Prelims 2021 June 27, 2021 2 hours for each paper
IAS Mains 2021 September 17-22, 2021 3 hours for each paper

IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2020: Major Updates

  • This year, over 10 lakh candidates had applied for UPSC Civil Services Exam.
  • About 5-5.5 lakh candidates were estimated to appear in the exams.
  • UPSC Prelims was held across 2,569 exam centres in 72 cities of the country. 

IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2020: GS Paper-I Analysis

  • GS Paper-1 was moderately tough with major sections from Agriculture, Economy and Banking.
  • There were more questions based on Economy and Environment and lesser on History, Polity, and Current Affairs.
  • UPSC prelims were conducted in the pen-paper mode for a total duration of 2 hours for each paper. 
  • The questions were in Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) format, where every wrong response lead to 0.33 negative marking.
  • Each question paper carries a total of 200 marks, out of which students need to gain a minimum of 33% to qualify the exam.  

UPSC Prelims examination consists of two different papers, General Studies Paper 1 and Paper 2.The General Studies Paper 1 has the upper hand in the examination as it decides the ranking of the candidates. 

Read: UPSC Prelims 2021 Answer Key Released

IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2020: Paper-1 Overall Analysis

The General Studies Paper 1 carried 100 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ). The students were given four choices out of which they had to select one. Students had to finish the given questions in 2 hours.

Polity: The GS Paper 1 of UPSC Prelims 2020, maximum questions were from Polity which is about 16 questions influenced by current affairs. The questions covered areas of Preamble, Fundamental Rights, DPSP, Basic Structure, Union Government.

With the entire paper focusing on conceptuality, there were questions from MPLAD, Parliament sessions, and interestingly from Parliamentary Democracy, Gandhism, Constitutional Government, Marxism as well. Overall. the difficulty level; of Polity ranged from easy to moderate. 

Read: IAS Exam Pattern 2021, Syllabus, Marking Scheme, Compulsory Papers

Economy: The economy section had 14 questions on Gold Tranche, FDI, TRIMS that were direct or conceptual. The questions on the monetary policy of RBI, the role of cooperative banks were wholly easy to moderate. 

Science: The science section had 10 questions mostly influenced by Current Affairs in Science and Technology in areas of Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain Technology, Nanotubes. Questions were easy if aspirants managed to keep track of Tech-based questions while preparing.

History and Geography: There had been 18 questions in History, from Ancient, Medieval, and Culture with a blend of easy, moderate, and tough levels of questions. The geography section had 10 questions on Geography and Agriculture some being technical as of types of soil, climate, and fertilizer of crops while others are geographical location-based. Overall the level had been moderate for aspirants who prepared for Geography. 

Environment: The environment section has become a staple for UPSC exams that had 17 questions plainly based on Current Affairs, pollutants, National Parks and Bio Fuels. Candidates with memorizing power and logical reasoning abilities can wildly guess to earn a few points. 

Read: IAS 2021 Notification, Exam Dates & Center, Application, Admit Card, Syllabus, Pattern

Current Affairs: Current Affairs section is where UPSC saves its surprises for the aspirants. This year, there were 15 questions from Current affairs, Government Schemes like Kisan Credit Card and animal cells and vaccines as influenced by COVID.

IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2020: Paper-1 Questions Asked and Difficulty Level

Section Number of Questions Difficulty Level
Polity 16 easy to moderate
Economy 14 easy to moderate
Science 10 easy to moderate
History and Geography 18 moderate to difficult
Environment 17 moderate
Current Affairs 15 moderate

IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2020: GS-I Question Paper  

Question Options
Ques 1: Consider thestatements: 1.Genetic changes can be introduced in the cells that produce eggs or sperms of a prospective parent.
2.A person's genome can be edited before birth at the early embryonic stage.
3.Human-induced pluripotent stem cells can be injected into the embryo of a pig.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 2 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
Ques 2: Consider these activities: 1.Spraying pesticides on a crop field.
2.Inspecting the craters of active volcanoes
3.Collecting breath samples from spouting whales for DNA analysis
At the present level of technology, which of the above activities can be successfully carried out by using drones?
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 1 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
Ques 3: What is the importance of using Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines in India? 1. These vaccines are effective against pneumonia as well as meningitis and sepsis.
2. Dependence on antibiotics that are not effective against drug-resistant bacteria can be reduced.
3. These vaccines have no side effects and cause no allergic reactions.
Select the correct answer using the code given below: a) 1 only
b) 1 and 2 only
c) 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
Ques 4: In India, the term "Public Key Infrastructure" is used in the context of a) Digital security infrastructure
b) Food security infrastructure
c) Health care and education infrastructure
d) Telecommunications and transportation infrastructure
Ques 5: If you withdraw Rs 100000 in cash from your Demand Deposit Account at your bank, the immediate effect on aggregate money supply in the economy will be a) to reduce it by Rs. 100000
b) to increase it by Rs. 100000
c) to increase it by more than Rs. 100000
d) to leave it unchanged

IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2020: GS Paper II CSAT Analysis

  • GS Paper-II is qualifying in nature. Scores of Paper-I are considered to reach the cutoffs. 
  • The weightage for the second paper is only 33%.
  • Aspirants claimed that the second paper is easy to moderate.
  • Hence, students can score 33% marks in Maths and Reasoning to qualify.
  • In GS Paper-2, the strength of questions in Mathematics and Comprehension were equal.

IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2020: GS-II Question Paper  

Question Options
Ques 1: A man walks down the backside of his house straight 25 meters, then turns to the right and walks 50 meters again; then he turns towards left and again walks 25 meters. If his house faces to the East, what is his direction from the starting point? a) South-East
b) South-West
c) North-East d) North-West
Ques 2: A person bought a car and sold it for Rs, 300000. If he incurred a loss of 20% then how much did he spend to buy the car? a) Rs. 360000
b) Rs. 365000
c) Rs. 370000 d) Rs. 375000
Ques 3: Consider the following arrangement that has some missing letters: abab_b_bcb_dcdcded_d The missing letters which complete the arrangement are a) a,b,c,d b) a,b,d,e c) a,c,c,e d) b,c,d,e

*Officially, UPSC will release the question papers after the exams are over. The question paper will be released in PDF format for aspirants to download them from the official website:

Read: IAS 2021 Application Form: Steps for Online Form Fill Up, Registration Date, Eligibility

IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims Subject-Wise Weightage and Marks Distribution

The question paper was distributed in different sections namely History, Polity, International Relations, Economy, Science and Technology, and Geography & Environment questions. Each section had a different set of questions based on the syllabus of UPSC. 

The important topics covered by the question paper are; Comprehension, Interpersonal skills including communication skills, Logical reasoning, and analytical ability, Decision making and problem-solving, General mental ability, Basic numeracy, and Data interpretation.

According to the previous year question paper analysis, here are the UPSC Prelims Subject Wise Marks Distribution details:

Topics Covered Number of Questions Total Marks
Current Affairs 14 28
Geography 12 24
Indian Economy 13 26
Environment 13 26
Polity 12 24
General Science and Tech 9 18
History 13 26
Art and Culture 5 10

The difficulty level of the examination was bifurcated as easy, moderate, and difficult. On the basis of UPSC Exam Analysis of 2019, the subject wise breakup of the question asked was as follows:

Direct Link for  UPSC Prelims 2020: GS-Paper 1  |  GS Paper-2 

The detailed UPSC Prelims examination pattern is as follow:

Total marks 200 200
Number of questions 100 80
Duration 2 hours 2 hours
Negative marking ⅓ marks deduction per question ⅓ marks deduction per question
Type Objective Objective
Nature Screening Qualifying


*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.