In the pattern of the UPSC exam, you have to write around 20-25 questions with each answer demanding 200-250 words for the nine papers of the IAS Mains exam. In the three hours you get for each paper, it is no mean feat to draft and frame answers for the questions and be able to finish it.
You need to take care of the presentation while ensuring that there aren’t any filler sentences that diverge from the topic at hand. Each answer requires a format in that it should have an introduction, body, conclusion, subheadings, etc. Quality of the answers matters a lot as it is for one of the most prestigious posts that the candidate is appearing. Thus, practice is important. This article will tell you how to go about your daily answer writing practice for UPSC 2021.
When to Start Mains Answer Writing Practice
Answer writing is a game of both what and how. You must first know what to write and then see how to write. Therefore, you cannot start to answer questions till you have not covered a fair amount of the syllabus. If you start it too early, you won’t know what to write and then you will end up doing research work on the question, wasting precious time. First read course material, preferably revise it too and then start answer writing. Say, you start answer writing 6 months into your preparation and write 1-2 answers per day for the next 6 months, then you will end up practicing 180-360 questions, i.e. 9-18 Papers!
Also Read: Preparation Tips for Answer Writing Practice
How to Start Answer Writing Practice for UPSC Mains
- Before the Prelims exam, practice 1-2 questions per day at home.
- Very next day of Prelims, join a test series or download freely available tests online.
- Therefore, the test series have to be joined only after Prelims.
- One test series, including 10 tests, is enough.
- Test series with sectional + comprehensive tests in one module is the best one.
- Answers should be relevant, correct, crisp, neat, adhere to the word limit and coherent.
- In the Optional Subject Paper, aspirants are expected to have a deep understanding of the concepts as this is the ‘chosen’ specialist field, and the answers should reflect that understanding.
- But in the GS papers, the aspirants should have a good understanding of the concepts (not necessarily deep) which he/she can present multi-dimensionally.
- Generally, mains questions contain certain key terms called ‘directional words’ in them which are a clue to figuring out how they are to be answered.
Important Tips for Mains Answer Writing
- It is important to take a multi-dimensional approach to answer writing in the IAS mains exam. You should approach the answer from 360 degrees and start writing.
- Always use keywords to highlight important and scoring points in your answers. Try to underline the keywords.
- Don’t forget to substantiate what you claim in your answers. This will give legitimacy to your answers, not to mention, make you look well-read to the examiner.
- Your answers should be written in neat and legible handwriting. Give headings and subheadings wherever necessary. Also, have tables and figures if it will augment the quality of your answers.
- Always write in a simple and error-free language. Your writing should be clear, complete, and concise.
- Depending on your comfort level and what you are used to, write in points or in paragraphs.
- Adhere to the word count specified by the UPSC.
- This is the most important tip anyone can give. Practice writing a lot of answers in all the subjects as part of your IAS Mains Preparation.
A Few Recommended Books For Daily Answer Writing Practice
- Ethics Answer Writing.
- Disha Solved Papers.
- Arihant Solved Answers.
- Vishal Solved Answers.
- 151 Essays by Arihant Publications.
- 7 Years UPSC IAS/ IPS Mains Essay Year-wise Solved Papers (2013 – 2019) by Disha Publications.
- 151 Essays for IAS/ PCS & other Competitive Exams 3rd Edition by Disha Publications.
- Select Essays For Civil Services Examination by Drishti Publications.
- Essay ( Nibandh) for UPSC Civil Services Exam/ सिविल सेवा परीक्षा के लिए निबंध by Rajkamal Prakashan/ Akshar.
- Nibandh Manjusha | Civil Seva/Rajya Seva Ki Mukhya Pariksha Hetu by McGraw-Hill.
It is not enough to merely write out answers and prepare for the IAS exam. You should also get your answers evaluated by teachers, seniors, or mentors. Only this way you can analyze your shortcomings and correct yourself. Another major advantage of answer writing practice is that you will be able to learn more by writing. Writing helps in internalizing what you have read. This assumes greater significance when you have to read a huge syllabus. Also, writing helps in organizing your thoughts. You will learn to write what is asked and not what you know.