UPSC Mains Answer Writing Strategy

It is said that UPSC Mains answer writing is an art. UPSC mains examination is considered as highly competitive, because all those candidates have crossed their first hurdle of Preliminary with their extraordinary knowledge and skill. In order to excel in the IAS Mains examination, one should have strong command over answer writing skill and presenting it properly.

How to write great answers in UPSC Mains - Explanatory video

While preparing for IAS Mains examination students have numerous questions on UPSC Mains answer writing

  • Can I write my answer in point form or paragraph format?
  • How to differentiate questions like Analyse, comment, explain, Discuss etc.?
  • How to improve my answer writing skill?
  • How to write with in the word limit?
  • Can I use pen or pencil for drawing diagrams and tables?

Can I write my answer in point form or paragraph format?

Each questions demands different type of answer writing. It is not necessary to write all answers in one format like point form or paragraph form.

What are the pros and cons of introducing 100% FDI in media?

For the above question, it demands students to write in point form. List what are the Pros and Cons and conclude with your opinion.

Critically Examine the Agricultural Product Market committees (APMCs)

For the above question, it demands analysis, so students are expected to write in an essay format with introduction, analysis, your opinion and conclusion.

So, each question is different, based on marks of the questions, students have to write answers, instead of prefixing your mind like write all answers in point form/para form.
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How to differentiate questions like Analyse, comment, explain, Discuss etc.?

  1. Discuss: Giving both the sides of the story and conclude with positive/negative.

Example: Discuss the rationale for introducing GST in India? (CSE 2013 GS 3)

  1. Explain/Elaborate: Bring out things clearly . As if the examiner does not know what is it?

Example: Explain what is the demographic dividend.

  1. Comment: This is the space for your opinion. You can comment in a negative/positve manner and conclude accordingly. To play safe, comment according to the keyword of the question.

Example: RTE has not lived up to its expectations. Comment.

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How to improve my UPSC Mains answer writing skill?

Answer is simple - PRACTICE !!

To improve the answer writing, student has to write one or two answers daily. By writing daily, the writing skills of student will improve and also it increases their writing speed, memory power.

All UPSC toppers have stated that, they practice writing one question daily during their preparation.

How to write within the word limit?

The answer to this question is very simple. Just write your answer to the point of what question demands. Neither more or less.

Tropical cyclones are confined to South China Sea, Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mexico. Why?

Students are advised to define tropical cyclones in one or two lines but there is no need to explain in detail about tropical cyclone formation, types etc.

For the above question, students are expected to write why is it confined to those regions. So, list the reasons, that's it.

Can I use pen or pencil for drawing diagrams and tables?

It varies from individual to individual. If you are comfortable with a pen, then there is no bar in using pen for drawing and tables. But, it should be legible or readable.

One cannot master these skills overnight; it takes time. During the initial period, students face a lot of problems in writing answers. Because, writing UPSC answer is not like regular school exam or university exam writing, it is at the end of the day a competitive examination conducted for the elite IAS/IPS service in India.

The only thing UPSC aspirants can do is, improve their answer writing ability by practising more number of questions before the examination and get it evaluated by the experts.

It is not talent that makes the difference between winner and loser, rather it is HARD WORK and DEDICATION. If you are concerned about improving your answer writing, then practice questions.

Good luck!

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