How many marks guarantee selection in CBI?

Many candidates ask me how many marks guarantee a selection in CBI as Sub-Inspector. I say 100%. Well, it’s a pretty tough prediction to make as it depends on many factors some of which are outside our control. But a general rule of thumb is:

Score about 50 marks above your category cut-offs and you have made it.

I’ll explain in detail how I have come up with the 50 marks formula.

The factors which are to be taken into account are difficulty level of exam, no. of vacancies in CBI and the category of the candidate. Although it’s difficult to gouge every factor with accuracy, we do have a fair idea about each of them.

  • If we look at past 6 year’s trend, we find that no. of vacancies posted by CBI vary in the range 25-40 every year.
  • The difficulty level of the exam has fallen drastically in last 6 years. Nowadays the cut-off for the interview posts ranges from 425-435 marks out of 600 and for non-interview posts, it flats out at 400-410 marks. In 2012, when I appeared in the exam, the cut-off for interview posts was 349.5 and for non-interview posts, it was 315.5 marks (I am talking about general category cut-offs throughout).

Well, an increase of about 80 marks in the cut-offs tells you something about the falling standards of the exam, but mind you this doesn’t mean that getting selection through SSC has become easier. Don’t make the mistake of drawing a conclusion from incomplete data. Since the number of students has increased from 12 lakhs in 2012 to about 35 lakhs in 2018, the selection procedure in SSC has become even more rigorous. Furthermore, the India of 2018 is more SSC aware than the India of 2012 was. With increasing awareness and almost double the salary of the private sector at entry level, SSC has become one hotcake, everybody wants a pie off. So, putting all things on the scale, we understand that although the level of the exam has fallen, the difficulty in selection has only risen due to a sharp increase in the number of candidates.

  • Another factor is the Category of the candidate. While the CBI doesn’t mind about the category of the candidate, the SSC does; and it can make or break your dream. As is the case, if you are in general category you may find it tough unless you score pretty high. Don’t worry though, things that are difficult to achieve are worth that effort. And CBI is most precious of them all.


Let’s crunch some numbers. I’ll start by drawing inputs from my own experience.

The cut-off in 2012 was 349.5 out of 600 for interview posts. I scored 394.5 marks i.e. 45 marks more than the cut-offs.

I got a paltry 50 marks in the interview out of 100 which made my total 444.5 out of 700. And I got selected in CBI. The last candidate of our batch in CBI had scored total 427 marks (He was an OBC candidate). Assuming that he also got 50 marks (which is pretty average) in interview or Tier-III, He must have scored 427-50 = 377 marks in Tier-I and Tier-II combined. The cut-off for OBC category for interview posts was around 333.5 marks. Therefore he scored 377.5-333.5 = 44 marks above his category average. This further bolsters our 50 marks rule.

Keep in mind though, that this is not a definitive statement, but just a calculated conjecture which has held true for the past 6 years and may remain true for next few years also.

I make this unqualified statement because CBI isn’t affected by your location preference, but other posts do. For eg. If you want selection at the post of Income Tax Inspector, then this criterion will vary on the location you opt for. If you want Delhi, UP, Punjab, or Mumbai region, you should score at least 75 marks above the cut-offs whereas for Madhya Pradesh, some southern states like Tamilnadu and Kerala and the North-eastern region, you will do fine by obtaining just 40 marks above the cut-offs. All this assuming you don’t screw up the interview/Tier III badly. Try to score above 55 marks in the interview and you are good to go. (For the record, Interviewers are very stingy with their marks. They have never given any candidate above 70 marks, at least not in my watch. Same has been the trend with the recent introduction of Essay writing in Tier III)

Read our analysis of how many marks do you need to get selected as Income Tax Inspector.

I appeared in SSC CGL twice and both the times I scored 45 marks above my category cut-offs. Fortunately, I got selection in interview posts both the time; first time in CBI as SI and another time as Inspector of Income Tax in MP. (I belong to general category).

The pattern has been similar in last 2-3 years too. The candidates who score just above the cut-offs or just 10-20 marks above the cut-offs, they have to make do with non-interview posts like tax assistant in Income Tax.

As a thumb rule, it is safe to assume that if your target is to get selected in either of these 2 posts, you should secure at least 50 marks above your category cut-off. The same goes for the posts of Asst. in Central Secretariat, Asst. in Railways, Asst. in Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Assistant in Ministry of External Affairs. The posts of Inspector in Central excise are approximately 1000 every year so selection in central excise is relatively easier. You can get selection in central excise if you have just 30 marks above the cut-off.

Good luck with your efforts. Best wishes!

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