The ultimate key to scoring good marks in any examination is good answers, as in the end, it’s not about how much or what you have studied, but what you write on that ultimate sheet of paper.
Many aspirants question on ‘How to write answers in UPSC Mains?’ Answer writing is an art, and anyone willing to learn is an artist here. Just like any other skill, this can be acquired and adapted over time and aced by anybody with dedication, hard work, and practice. Here is the way you can follow on how to write a good answer in UPSC Mains?
UPSC Mains Answer Writing
UPSC is among one of the highest looked after examinations, and UPSC Mains is further the second level of it. The paper includes written subjective answers or essay-type answers for nine papers. Thus, answer framing is one of the most crucial things for Mains exams. So answer writing in Mains has some unsaid expectations and you need to write as per that.
- The answers should be effective and presentable enough to catch the checker’s attention and hold him/her throughout to give you an edge in the competition.
- It should be clear and precise. Write about what’s asked directly and keep it up to the point, only after understanding the question properly.
- Analyse the question type and answer accordingly, deep or brief. Do not stretch your answers and imaginations with unnecessary words.
- Look for the keywords or the directional words and answer around them, they’ll guide you about how and what to write in the answer.
- Word Limit
Strictly follow the word count and do not stretch over it, just give out what’s asked directly. All the papers have their different word limits, read and highlight that beforehand and write within the same.
For the essays choose a topic you will be comfortable with and be able to cover it in the given word count. In optional subject answers, choose the word limit according to the time and marks allotted to the question.
In cases of opinion-based answers go for open-ended paragraphs whereas in fact-based answers choose pointers and bullets. Though you can write paragraphs too, bullets help you highlight your pointers and headings straight away.
Time and Speed
Managing time within the exam hall of Mains is very important. It’s about knowing how to distribute and allot your time to different questions. Invest your time very wisely. Maintain a good constant speed from the start and minimise your personal time as much as possible.
Write the answers as you understand, don’t run behind perfect answers. For the question of how to improve answer writing in UPSC Mains? Maintain consistency and that’s it! This skill comes with practice over time, and you can master it with few important steps like –
The three rules of thumb –
- Follow the flow of the questions and do not indulge in self-doubts and lower your self-esteem at any point of the paper.
- Write in your natural language. Don’t waste time in fancy made-up writing styles.
- Don’t get stuck at any one question for more than five minutes of thinking. Leave that for that instance and move on to the next one.
Structure Your Answer
Give a proper structure to your answer in your mind, before jotting it down on the paper. This helps you to write in the flow, and you don’t get lost in midway. Do not repeat points anywhere. Maintain a universal answer structure of an introduction, principle matter, and conclusion.
Have a proper introduction to the answer, where you narrate the central theme of the answer. This shouldn’t be too long, but somewhere around 10% of the word limit. It should show that you are very well aware of the answer and the content below is not just beating around the bush.
Divide the main body of the answer into required paragraphs or bullet points as per their importance. Sum up your answer in a balanced conclusion. Have an ideal opinion on the topic which should be preferably positive. End with general statements and never end with negative comments. Give some line of hope and changes in the situations.
Substantiate your answers. Claim what you write, and show the examiner that it’s your original work. Give real-life and personal examples or case studies in questions, where asked.
Choice of Questions
One major question that pops up after every question in the Mains is whether to attempt a question or not? And the choices of questions you answer will determine your score. Leave the unfamiliar clueless questions initially and focus on the ones you are most confident with.
Go for the unfamiliar ones only if time permits and if you might know more than 30-40% of the answer or if you have some clues about the answer. Don’t write just to reach the word limit that’ll lower your impression in front of the examiner.
Test Series and Question Papers
If possible, definitely solve a test series and take them seriously. This will keep you on your toes, and force you to make and follow a timetable. The regular results of your tests will keep you on track, and the feedback for the answers will benefit you for good.
If not a test series, solve the question papers seriously within time limits and get your answers checked by others.
Practice Answer Writing
Have a thorough practice of your answers and the writing style which will fix your structures in mind and save your time during the paper. The key answer to the common question “how to improve answer writing in UPSC Mains?” is practice and only practice!
Your mind is needed to recall the information instantly, for which you need to develop that habit prior. You may start with open book tests and answer writings until you are good and quick at it. Once comfortable, you may update to the CSE question papers with time limits.
In the end, when you are asked to answer a question, just answer it precisely and up to the point. Don’t just write the pre-known facts or beat around the bush to fool anybody or show the extra fancy knowledge and language and end up scoring below-average marks.
Have a lucid style of answering with lucid language and words known universally, be crisp and up to a point with beautiful presentation, and boom! You will master the art of answer writing in UPSC Mains.
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