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Answer writing for Main Examination

( By : Rugved Thakur )

Answer writing is the key to getting good marks in Main Examination. 2 Main areas of concentration should be Meeting expectation of UPSC answering style and Presentation.

When an answer requires 250 words or more, it is better to prepare synoptic notes in rough. This involves quickly jotting down the main points we are to write in the answer. Arranging the points in order of importance. This gives a good structure and flow to the answer.

Try as far as possible to stick to the word limit mentioned in the question. Good control over language will help you to write more points in lesser number of words. Read the editorials of the newspaper and try to use that language in your answers. Exceeding the word limit may lead to problems in completing the paper. There is no need to count the exact number of words in the answer. During preparation itself one should know the length of the page that one needs to write for a 100, 200, 250, 300 and 600 words answer.

Non completion of any paper is an unforgivable offence for an UPSC Civil Services aspirant. Gauge the question paper quickly and assess whether it will be difficult to complete - in such cases reduce the length of certain answers but ensure that all questions are given due respect and the paper is completed.

Answer writing in UPSC Examination
  1. Specificity - One has to be very specific in the answer with regard to scope or focus of the question. The answer should be such that it satisfies the demand of the question. Vague and round about answering will not fetch marks. Write answer to the question that is asked, not what we know about the topic.
    • It will be helpful if one is able to gauge the purpose of the question. eg: Essay on "Women Empowerment.", "Women Empowerment?" and "Women Empowerment!" would be different - not from content point of view but orientation of the essay.
    • eg: in history if a question is asked regarding "rise of Gandhiji in India", write the answer related to Gandhiji's arrival in India and his initial activities that made him a leader. Confine the answer to "rise" do not write about the 1920s, 1930s etc.
  2. Introduction - The introduction to the answer should contain a brief of what is to follow in the answer. By reading the introduction the examiner will come to know that you have understood the question. The examiner will also be aware of your viewpoint and will not have to search for it in the answer. 
    • This type of introduction is different from an introduction in an university examination - In an University examination, the introduction would contain the background of the topic you are dealing with in that particular answer.
    • eg: If we are asked a question in polity - "President of India is a mere rubber stamp. Comment". In the introduction itself we will say that "Our parliamentary system necessitates presence of Article 74 in the constitution, but in spite of Article 74 the president can act on his own in certain circumstances if required". The rest can be explained in the main body of the answer. 
  3. Conclusion - This is the place for suggestions or improvements (if any). The conclusion should always be positive even if the answer has a negative tone to it. 
    • eg: If one is asked to "enumerate the problems in India's PDS system". Conclude by suggesting some steps to tackle the problems. 
  4. Analytic Approach - This is the essential requirement of an administrator. Thus answers should be analytic and not merely chronological. Also the answers should not be a collection of facts. Facts should be provided in support of an analytic point that we have made.
    • eg: If we are required to write about "India - Israel relations". Then instead of just enumerating various events/ aspects like RADAR transfer, Satellite launching etc we should divide the answer into political, social, economic, cultural, military etc relations.
  5. Diagrams - Diagrams give a good impression of the understanding of a subject to the examiner. Thus if we can come up with diagrams relevant to the answer, it would help in getting a few additional marks. We have to think about what diagrams to draw beforehand during the preparation itself. It is very difficult to think about diagrams in the exam hall. Diagrams can be very simple - consisting of a few boxes, arrows etc.
  6. Lateral Thinking - This involves thinking about as many angles as possible related to the answer. The more the number of perspectives/ viewpoints/ angles to the answer, the more the marks.
    • eg: If we are required to write an answer to some latest drug discovery in science and technology section - mention its social benefit (if any) in addition to the obvious health benefits.   
    These are common points some of which we are following since 10th standard examination.
    1. Write answers in paragraphs - Preferably 1 point per paragraph.
    2. Underlining the main points in the paragraph.
    3. Clean and legible writing. Spacious writing.


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