In this article, we will be tackling the issue of improving analytical skills for UPSC. I have broadly categorized this article into two parts:
- From The Learning Perspective
- From The Writing Perspective
Before we begin, it is crucial for you to understand the need for this article.
Why Good Analytical Thinking Is Important In UPSC
- The UPSC CSE is just as much a test of your knowledge as it is of your problem solving skills.
- In-depth knowledge and comprehensive writing skills go hand in hand for your exam.
- You can only write about what you know, and knowing everything is futile if you cannot deliver it analytically on paper. Simple.
- In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that your writing skills must surpass your knowledge, as the Mains stage is compulsorily writing-oriented.
- In recent years, UPSC has shifted focus from ‘static’ to ‘dynamic’ questions. This means that you will be asked more indirect questions that will force you to think deeper.
- And, thinking deeper requires strong analytical skills along with sound knowledge base.
- The reason why UPSC will throw bouncers at you is not because they enjoy seeing you numb your nerves, but because this examination is a test of your competency as a future civil services officer.
- When you are an officer in the future, you will find yourself in the midst of twisted scenarios everyday. It is your analytical skills that will help you in those times to correctly identify the problem at hand and remedy it effectively.
Tips to Develop Analytical Power for UPSC
From The Perspective Of Learning
To think analytically and to write great problem-solving solutions requires all-round knowledge on the subject.
Your first goal is to learn well and learn thorough.
1. Build A Strong Foundation
You must have sound basic knowledge of concepts. CSE is not your average exam where you can throw any relatable information at the examiner. Your answers must hit target.
For this, you must read well to understand the basics well.
While reading on gender inequality, you must go beyond the definition, and explore the history, reasons, types, examples and corrective measures for it.
2. Build Base, And Build It Up Further
Good work on cementing a strong base! The next step is to build up your structure around a strong outline. This means that you have to dissect the important topics further.
Every time you come across a topic, break it down into the following:
Once you have the answers to all these, you know you have learnt well. You must learn to connect the dots. This means that your mind must be able to effectively connect relatable associations (think of all possible angles) to your topic.
A news article reads “ discontent among party members over their president’s decision.”
You must research and infer on what the decision was, why was it taken, who all were affected, why were they affected, what circumstances brought forward the decision, what could be the effects of the decision on major stakeholders, etc.
3. Study the editorials of The Hindu
The editorial page is the most important page of this newspaper. You must read it with a fresh, open and curious mind everyday.
You will gather much needed insight from them regarding the biggest issues plaguing the nation at the time. Their writing style will also help you frame your answers better.
4. Trade Silly Arcade Games With Smart Brain Training Games
In your free time, engage in brain-power enhancing games like Sudoku, crossword puzzles, Riddle solving, etc. These games are the best kick for your analytical bent of mind.
These games will acquaint you with the habit of conceptualizing, analyzing and diagnosing tricky situations to get to the right answer.
5. Increase Your Inquisitiveness
To get to the crux of the matter, you need to have a curious mind! Boost your inquisitiveness by staying constantly curious. Ask yourself questions, maybe one, two, three or as many as you want that will help you gain a 360-degree understanding of your subject.
If employment in primary sector is decreasing, as yourself:
Why are the farmers walking away? Where are they employed now? What was their remuneration? How will they find work? What can be done to stop this? Is this situation desirable?
Now that you know how to learn efficaciously, let us move on to the final step of the preparation.
From The Perspective Of Writing
The two prime factors in writing are
You must practice to write accurate answers that are concisely worded into well-composed sentences.
Style is much more subjective and you must develop your own with these few tips:
State Your Stand At The Earliest
It is not a great idea to leave your examiner guessing your viewpoint. State your stand in the first two lines of your answer, and stick to it throughout. Give enough evidence to support your stand.
Follow A Feasible Structure Of Paragraphs
Once you know your stand, and have mentally mapped out the outline, you must pen it down in the specific order of most important to the least.
Use A Uniform Pattern Of Paragraphs
Try to maintain a uniform tone all throughout your answer. You must stick to one pattern of writing headings. Do not rephrase and repeat information under different headings. Couple similar information together and present them under one heading as per importance.
Sum It Up Well
A great summary tells the examiner that you have not lost your train of thought. It must not be abrupt and should lucidly connect to your previous paragraph.
Analytical thinking is a skill. You must hone it everyday. With proper practice and dedicated time, you can improve your analytical skills for your UPSC Exams right in time!