UPSC Mains is the second stage in the three-tier selection process of the UPSC examination. Unlike Prelims, the mains examination is a subjective exam with questions that have to be written in the essay format. Considering the essay format of the answers, candidates should give importance to the three sections of an essay that is; introduction, body, and conclusion. Ignoring the writing format often results in a poor answer with no complete meaning.

Writing a good answer is not always natural unless you have been from an arts background, but it can surely be developed over a period of time through intensive writing practices. Practice is the only key to succeed in the examination, but how should the answer writing practice for UPSC mains be done? Read on the given tips to enhance your answer writing for UPSC mains.

Tips for Answer Writing for UPSC Mains

  • Understanding Question In order to write an answer to a question, the first step is the analysis of the keywords in the question. Without understanding the requirement of the question, one cannot approach its answer.
  • Multidimensional Approach –Even the approach to answer should not be a linear one; it should have a multidimensional approach to form an answer overall. This will help you reach the word-limit through logical points. However, this multidimensional approach should strictly avoid unwanted parts.
  • Keywords-The keywords or the important words in your question should always be highly visible in your answer frequently.
  • Examples-Answers asked in the UPSC Mains are mainly practical and can be related to everyday life and current happenings in the world and the nation. Therefore, while answering the questions, one should remain stick to the current affairs and add the happenings as examples to your answers. This will show your understanding of the answer and will make you stand out among a number of answer sheets.
  • Presentation-Write your answers in neat and legible handwriting. Use headings and subheadings to enhance the way it looks. Also, have tables and figures if it will augment the quality of your answers.
  • Simple Language-Usage of flowery language or jargon can only cause ambiguity ( confusing meaning) in the answers. One should remember that the answers asked in the Mains are direct and simple, and therefore their answers should also be straight, concise, and easy to read.
  • Paragraphs and Points-A poor arrangement of answers makes the answer look unpleasant and difficult to read. To make an answer easy on reading, one must divide it into paragraphs ( introduction, body, conclusion); in order to divide the paragraphs further, we can use heading and bullet points.
  • Word Count-One should remain adhered to the word-count provided in the questions. Usually, the word count in the Mains essays is 250 words for optional questions and between 250 to 150 words in the General studies. However, must read the question paper carefully for the provided word-limit.
  • Practice-Practice is the key to a better writer. Even if you are not from a background that does not involve writing, practice can make you better day by day. There are a number of test-series available online as well as offline. These test-series suggest corrections and improvements in your answers and make you a better writer.

Tips to Improve the Introduction and Conclusion in UPSC Mains Answer Writing Practice

One should understand the importance of an introduction and a conclusion to an answer. A good introduction grabs the very attention of your examiner. Since it is the first paragraph in your answer, it should be the one that provides the examiner a clear view of your thoughts about the preceding answer. While a good conclusion brings the overall crux of your answer in a single paragraph. Both the introduction and the conclusion remain important because these two paragraphs make a reader stop and read for the longest time in the whole answer.

How to Write a Good Introduction?

  • The topic of your answer must be introduced in your answer. Avoid any irrelevant wording to the topic.
  • UPSC mainly asks subjective answers. Therefore, you must start by introducing or defining the given topic or keywords in the topic.
  • If you don’t have any relevant definition, then you may start with the most relevant facts or news in the introduction.
  • Your introduction must be catchy or attention-seeking, which brings your answer the closest to the examiner.
  • These facts or information used must be true and verifiable
  • You may also add an anecdote to make your introduction interesting enough. An anecdote is a short, crisped story, and here the story must be a true and verifiable one. It should be relevant to the topic.
  • You may also use dialogues of a thinker about that topic.
  • Starting an answer with an attention-grabbing question and then making an answer to it brings a trajectory to your answer.
  • You may use one or two lines to portray your answer in general terms.

How to Write a Good Conclusion?

  • Your conclusion should create a reverse loop to your introduction. Revising the introduction and then writing a conclusion brings up the connection in your answer and the reader does not feel lost with your understanding of the answer.
  • Using keywords and phrases from your introduction, build a parallel image and or mirror image, “loop.”
  • Summing it is the first role of a conclusion. Your conclusion should involve words that can sum up your answer in the best possible words.
  • It should avoid any new idea or argument but just end what you have started before.
  • Linking is another role of the conclusion. Try linking all the main or keywords in your body and introduction.
  • Your conclusion can also be a suggestion to the problems involved in the topic of your answer. But this suggestion should also pave the ways for the readers to think on their own.


Introduction and conclusion make an answer look complete, but it should not be a single day rule. To avoid poor introductions and conclusions in your actuarial UPSC Mains, one should keep practising answer writing in their test series or self-practice. From foundation courses to crash courses UPSC Pathshala offers different UPSC preparation courses to the aspirants. To know more UPSC specific content and preparation courses, visit UPSC Pathshala.

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What Should I Do to Improve the Introduction and Conclusion in UPSC Mains Answer Writing Practice?
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What Should I Do to Improve the Introduction and Conclusion in UPSC Mains Answer Writing Practice?
What should I do to improve the introduction and conclusion in UPSC Mains answer writing practice? Read the article below to enhance your UPSC Mains answers.
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