Explained : How CSE Mains papers are Evaluated by UPSC

How CSE Mains papers are Evaluated by UPSC is really a mystery to most of the aspirants well at least till today, someone filed a case against UPSC and the commission responded and explained how it evaluates the papers.

This is really interesting and kind of scientific too, the process is long and little complicated, but it works for the commission if not for the candidates. Thanks to Krishna for excavating this document in the archives of UPSC.

In the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the Commission, the entire methodology of conducting the examination and evaluation of answer scripts has been explained in the following words:

How mains papers are evaluated:


  1.  Head Examiner is called early (before the Examiners’ meeting) and evaluates sample/ random answer-books for each Additional Examiner being called. All answer-books are coded with fictitious numbers prior to the start of the evaluation exercise.
  2. The Examiners’ meeting starts immediately after (i) above. Head Examiner and Additional Examiners discuss the question paper exhaustively and agree on assessment standards and evaluation yardsticks.
  3. Each Examiner evaluates the specimen random answer-books allotted to him/her that have already been seen initially by the Head Examiner and indicates a tentative award. The answer-books are then scrutinized by the scrutiny staff for totalling errors, unevaluated portions etc. and where necessary, got revised by the Examiner.
  4. After (iii) above, the Head Examiner meets each Additional Examiner, in turn, to compare evaluation standards based on marks awarded by each for the specimen random answer books. Reconciliation/ recalibration of standards, wherever required, is done, and marks are accordingly finalized for the specimen answer books.
  5. Ideally, once standards are thus set as above, assessment should be uniform. In practice, however, assessment standards tend to vary during the course of evaluation- with some examiners being ‘strict’ and others liberal’. Ideally, once standards are thus set as above, assessment should be uniform. In practice, however, assessment standards tend to vary during the course of evaluation- with some examiners being ‘strict’ and others ‘liberal’.
  6. To ensure uniformity therefore, the Head Examiner re-examines a certain number of each Additional Examiner’s answer-books to check if the agreed standards of assessment have been followed. The Head Examiner may therefore, after this re-examination, either confirms the Additional Examiner’s award or revises it and indicates the revised award on the answer-book. Based on this revision (wherever done), the quantum of moderation to be applied (upwards or downwards) on the remaining answer-books evaluated by the Additional Examiner are determined. In extreme cases where the marking of the Additional Examiner is determined erratic based on the Head Examiner’s check, all the answer-books evaluated by such an Examiner are re-examined by either the Head Examiner or by another Additional Examiner whose standards are seen to match those of the Head Examiner.
  7. Based on (vi) above, inter-examiner moderation is carried out and applied to each candidate (identified only by the fictitious code number). Before this is done, however, each and every answer book is scrutinized by the scrutiny staff and totalling errors, unevaluated portions, credit awarded to answers exceeding the prescribed number of attempts etc. are rectified and revised awards indicated on the answer-books under the initial of the Examiner(s).
  8. After evaluation of all subject-papers is over, the performance of candidates in each is looked at based on marks awarded at the end of inter-examiner (intra-subject) moderation above. Candidates for this Examination choose any two optional subjects (each subject having two Papers) from among a basket of 55 diverse optional subjects (30 Literature and 25 non-Literature) – in effect, 4 Optional Papers from amongst 110. Apart from the differences in the scope and coverage of the syllabi; the difficulty level of the question-papers, and the standards of evaluation are therefore inevitably different and can vary from year to year across subjects/papers. Based on a holistic perspective, therefore, and with its decades of experience, the Commission applies upward or downward inter-subject moderation, wherever required. This is done to ensure a level playing field for all candidates. It is important to note that at this stage too, only statistics are taken into consideration with full anonymity as regards candidates’ details.
  9. Based on the inter-subject moderation, above, marks are finally awarded to each Paper of every candidate (as represented by the relevant fictitious code numbers). This final award subsumes all the earlier stages. It is only these final paper-wise awards that are then considered for preparing the common merit-list after decoding of the relevant fictitious numbers. In all subsequent processing, it is only the final (moderated) awards that are factored and the earlier stages are no longer relevant in this context.


This methodology is used for  old syllabus but some thing similar might be adopted for new exam pattern.The Source document: UPSC .

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