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UPSC CSE Prelims 2021 Question Paper Analysis

Abhik Das
Abhik DasUpdated On: October 11, 2021 | UPSC Civil Services

The UPSC CSE 2021 preliminary exam has been successfully conducted and the candidates will find out the detailed paper analysis of the UPSC CSE 2021 (prelims) exam from this piece. The direct link to share the feedback on the UPSC CSE 2021 (prelims) exam paper is also available.

UPSC CSE 2021 Prelims Paper Analysis

The UPSC CSE prelims 2021 exam was successfully conducted on 10th October across 72 exam centres across the country. We will provide the candidates, who appeared in the UPSC CSE 2021 preliminary exam, with a detailed analysis of the question paper. Our detailed analysis will be based on the candidates’ input regarding the overall difficulty level of the paper, topic-wise distribution of questions and comparison of this year’ paper with the previous years. With the help of the UPSC experts of CollegeDekho, we will convert these raw data from the candidates into something more comprehensive for the candidates.

UPSC CSE Prelims 2021 Exam Highlights

All the important pointers regarding this year’s UPSC CSE 2021 prelims exam have been discussed below in pointers - 

  • The candidates found this year's UPSC CSE preliminary paper tougher compared to the previous year

  • The preliminary paper had questions based on Indo-China ties and the COVID-19 pandemic

  • The candidates also felt the assertion and reasoning-based questions were tough and time-consuming

  • Questions based on sports were also a bit confusing, reported some candidates

  • According to the experts, the questions based on Economics would have been tricky for most of the candidates

UPSC CSE Prelims 2021 Topic Wise Difficulty Level (Paper I)

The topic-wise difficulty level of the UPSC CSE prelims 2021 (paper I) exam has been given below - 


Total Questions 

Difficulty Level

History & Geography18Easy to moderate
Polity16Easy to moderate
Science10Easy to moderate
Current Affairs15Moderate
Economy14Moderate to Tough

UPSC CSE Prelims 2021 GS Paper 2 CSAT Analysis

  • The UPSC CSE prelims 2021 second paper weightage was 33%

  • The aspirants reported the paper to be moderately difficult

  • This section comprised of 80 questions in total

  • The comprehension questions were moderately difficult but were time-consuming

  • The mathematics section was easy

  • The logical reasoning section was difficult

  • The decision-making and problem-solving questions were ways to moderate

  • Due to its qualifying nature, the candidates can get through to the next round of the selection process by at least answering 27 questions out of the 80 asked

UPSC CSE Prelims 2021 Expected Good Attempts

After speaking with the UPSC CSE 2021 experts, we have deduced the expected number of good attempts that the candidates must aspire for to get through to the second round of the UPSC CSE exams (Mains) - 

Expected Number of Good AttemptsExpected Cutoff Score
60 to 70 questions (out of 100)95 to 105

Overall Review of UPSC CSE Prelims 2021 Exam

After discussing all the aspects of the UPSC CSE 2021 prelims examination, we have arrived at the following pointers - 

  • Due to the reduction in the number of seats this year, the cutoff scores are expected to soar

  • The level of toughness of the preliminary paper of the UPSC CSE 2021 exam was somewhat similar although a few of the candidates found this year's paper a bit difficult compared to the last year

  • This year, the purpose of the questions was not only to gauge the awareness of the candidates regarding the current affairs but also the backstory to these current affairs events

  • For the first time in 20 years, there were 3 questions based on sports 

  • Factual questions dominated this year's UPSC CSE 2021 preliminary paper

Related Links

UPSC CSE 2021 (prelims) answer keyClick here
Year-wise UPSC CSE 2021 (prelims) cutoff scoresClick here
Detailed step by step UPSC CSE selection processClick here

UPSC Civil Services Previous Year Question Paper

UPSC CS Zoology Paper-1 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Zoology Paper-2 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Statistics Paper-1 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Statistics Paper-1 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Statistics Paper-2 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Sociology Paper-1 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Sociology Paper-2 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Psychology Paper-1 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Psychology Paper-2 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Physics Paper-1 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Physics Paper-2 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Mathematics Paper-1 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Mathematics Paper-2 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Mechanical Eng Paper-1 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Mechanical Eng Paper-2 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Civil Eng Paper-1 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Civil Eng Paper-2 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Agriculture Paper-1 (Main) 2018

UPSC CS Agriculture Paper-2 (Main) 2018


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