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Subject Wise Weightage in UPSC Prelims – Truth Hidden in Plain Sight

Weightage of Various Subjects in UPSC Prelims (1995-2023)

Following graphs and tables shows the subject wise weightage in UPSC Prelims. The pattern of UPSC Prelims changed in 2011 and hence the subject wise weightage from 2011-2023 have also been mentioned separately. From exam perspective, 2011-2023 trend is more useful than 1995-2023. Following the images, we’ve also mentioned a detailed analysis for all the subjects.

UPSC-Prelims-Subjectwise-Weightage-1995-2023 Graph

UPSC Prelims Subject Wise Weightage (1995-2023) & (2011-2023)

UPSC Prelims Subject Wise AnalysisNo. of Questions (2011-2023)No. of Questions (1995-2023)% Weightage (2011-2023)% Weightage (1995-2023)
1] Art and Culture26622%2%
2] Ancient History761716%5%
3] Medieval History321062%3%
4] Modern Indian History923077%9%
5] Polity19139215%12%
6] Economy27755522%16%
7] Geography13442510%13%
8] Environment22730718%9%
9] Science and Technology13552610%16%
10] Current Affairs and GK975378%16%
UPSC Prelims PYQ Book Image
UPSC Prelims PYQ Book
  • Collection of more than 3200 Previous Year Questions (1995-2023)
  • All questions divided into 10 Subjects
  • Subject further sub-divided into more than 75 topics
  • All answers according to official answer key

Heat-map for no. of Questions from 2011-2023

Subject wise Weightage in UPSC Prelims

Decoding Subject Wise Weightage in UPSC Prelims

Preparing for the UPSC Prelims can often feel like navigating through a vast ocean of knowledge. Among the many challenges, understanding the subject-wise weightage is crucial for a focused and effective preparation strategy. In this post, based on the data we uncovered while preparation of Prelims PYQ Book, we’ll discuss the intricacies of the UPSC Prelims subject-wise weightage, providing valuable insights to aspiring civil servants.

Art & Culture: A silent player

Art and Culture may seem like a silent contender, but its weightage fluctuates over the years. While it took a backseat in 2011 – 2013, it surprised everyone with a substantial presence in 2014. Since then, not more than 5 questions have been asked from Art & Culture. Further, the questions are also largely unpredictable. Thus, while aspirants should not underestimate this segment, it should also not be the first in your list to study.

Ancient History: A steady journey

Ancient History maintains a steady presence, demonstrating its significance in the UPSC Prelims. The trend shows a consistent score, hovering around 6 on average. Aspirants should appreciate the enduring nature of this subject and allocate ample time to cover the diverse aspects of ancient civilizations.

One more interesting observation, it’s almost as much important as Modern Indian History. Bet you didn’t knew that.

Medieval History: Least important of all

On average only 2 questions come from Medieval History, with maximum of 6. However, given the static nature of this subject, it should be done adequately and an overall understanding of timeline, knowledge important events etc. should be there.

Modern History: Betrayer at times

No subject breaks more hearts than modern history. On average 7 questions are asked from the subject, with maximum of 13 and 12. Although important, this is not the most important subject of all. Somehow, it’s seen that students give lot of time to Modern History. Less no. of questions, coupled with uncertainty of history, ensures that many students are kept wondering ‘what went wrong?’.

Thus, the subject should be done thoroughly, but there should also be an understanding that you cannot have an high accuracy in it. You’ve to look somewhere else for that.

Polity: Third most important subject

Polity consistently have hold significant weightage in UPSC Prelilms. The trend indicates its high importance, and aspirants should prioritize a comprehensive study of constitutional provisions, governance, and political developments. In 2017, there were whooping 23 questions from Policy, and anyone who had done M Laxmikant good that year, almost passed the Prelims.

Economy: An all weather friend

When it comes to Prelims, economy is your best friend. Most no. of questions have been asked on this subject, and maximum no. of questions have been 29 in 2011, and 28 in 2016 and 27 in 2017 & 2019. If you want to clear UPSC Prelims, you have to do be thorough with Indian Economy as a subject. From our side, we recommend a thorough reading of Vivek Singh Economy book, and a good practice of MCQs.

Geography: Charting the Territorial Landscape

Geography maintains a moderate presence, emphasizing the need for candidates to be well-versed in both physical and human geography. This subject serves as a map, aiding aspirants in understanding the territorial dynamics that shape India’s socio-economic fabric.

Environment: Your second best friend

Environment, not Polity should figure next to Indian Economy in your prelims preparation. Around 18 questions have been asked from Environment on average. The PMF IAS book on Environment should be done thoroughly along with current affairs. Around 5-6 questions do come from current affairs and that should be kept in mind.

Science and Technology: More than you expect

S&T have been significant player and one of the most neglected in comparison to other subjects. It is often treated as a part of current affairs and hence, unpredictable. Thus, very few people prepare comprehensively. We would suggest otherwise. Around 10 questions get asked from the subject every year, and particularly if you’ve interest in Science, it can all be yours.

Current Affairs & GK: Do your best, leave the rest

Contrary to common assumption (that 50% of prelims Ques. are current affairs based), less than 10 questions are asked which are purely based on current affairs and GK. Further, this subject is quite open ended and thus you cannot have a high accuracy despite giving more time. The only strategy for this subject is, sticking with one particular source of CA, doing it well, and stop worrying about it. You should try to clear the pre based on static subjects like Economy, Environment & Polity rather than current affairs & GK.

Takeaway from Subject Wise Weightage in UPSC Prelims

To sum up, understanding subject wise weightage in UPSC Prelims is one of the first thing every aspirant must do. Each subject have varying significance, and thus should be given the importance accordingly.

We strongly recommend going through following articles which will further help in you CSE Prelims Strategy

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1. UPSC Prelims Syllabus Detailed DiscussionClick here
2. UPSC Prelims Current Affairs StrategyClick here
  • Collection of more than 3200 Previous Year Questions (1995-2023)
  • All questions divided into 10 Subjects
  • Subject further sub-divided into more than 75 topics
  • All answers according to official answer key
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Great analysis! Thank you.


Thanks Shashank for your valuable comment. Best wishes for your future.