Effective answer writing tips for IAS Mains Exam 2019

Helping preparation for Civil Services Exam 2019

: Aug 14, 2019    : Milan Anshuman

The journey from being a Civil Services aspirant to becoming a successful Civil Servant undoubtedly takes the candidates through tough terrains, but the destination is indeed so powerful that it is worth taking those challenging terrains.

After appearing for Civil Services Preliminary examination 2019, aspirants must be having a tough time while preparing for mains, as prelims exam went quite unexpected. The weightage of the questions had shifted a lot from the typical analytical questions to current-affairs based questions, stressing much on testing general knowledge of the aspirants in this year’s preliminary Exam. Looking at the unpredictability of the examination, it is difficult to predict what can be asked, but a general awareness about the pattern, the demand of UPSC and some important tips to make your answer well meeting the expectations of UPSC will surely help you get an edge.

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Here are some tips on Art of Answering a well formulated answer for Civil Services Mains Examination

Now, one common doubt aspirants often have in regards to writing answers during the mains exam is whether they should write in paragraphs or in pointers. So answering to this common dilemma, there is no set rule and it completely depends upon the question asked. For eg., if a question says ‘discuss, analyze and critically examine’, it is suggested to write the answer in a detailed paragraph form; while, on the other hand, if you are asked to list the advantages or state reasons, it is better to opt the pointers format for answering the particular question.

The basic process of answer as per the expectation of UPSC is that your answer should present the facts and concepts in an interesting manner and should not be straightly written like a passage. It should be more like communication, expression of opinions considering all the aspects of the questions. Always use simple English and not very flowery words. Only having a good knowledge about the topic is not sufficient enough, but there must a right framing of that knowledge with a blend of logics, opinions which ads meaning to your answer as far as UPSC examination is concerned.

Note: Aspirants are always advised to practice answer writing, solve previous year question paper and enroll for Mains Test Series to get experts’ feedback before going for the actual quest.

Read your question well – Always read your question properly and re-read it until you have understood what is exactly expected in your answer. You must spend an approximate of 8-9 minutes per question, so try to spend no more than the 1 minute of your time to read your question, understand it and underline the keywords, you must weave your answer around.

(i). What to do in the question if asked to ‘Enumerate’ or if asked to ‘Narrate’?

You must have an understanding of the application of some of the generally used terms by UPSC in various questions. ‘Enumerate’ means to represent in numbers. For example, while enumerating, you will write the exact facts and figures representing in numbers. For eg. While giving the population figure, you will give data like 100 males and 93 females, but if you are asked to ‘Narrate’ or ‘express views’, you will be expected to state your opinions on those facts. For eg., you would write, the man and woman ratio need to be equal, and we must take care of the girl child, etc. Or you will explain it further stating the fact that till independence, the sex ration in India was fine, but after that it has been declining.

(ii). Now, you might be asked to ‘Define’

Here, it simply means you need to define it, write the definition of it. Try to include all the important phrases and keyword which can support or you feel are essential for the particular definition.

  1. Analyze all the aspects – Having understood the exact demand of the question, analyze all the aspects that must be mentioned, starting from giving background details of the subject to explaining the subject further in detail. Cover as many dimensions as possible in an answer rather than just covering the issue in depth with quality analysis. Do not forget to recall the facts and current in-news information related to the topic.
  2. Frame a well-structured answer – Introduce your subject in a short paragraph, giving immediate way to the main explanation of the question being asked. Just avoid giving lengthy paragraphs and instead use pointers for multiple arguments or sub-points to the explanation. Balance your answer with multi-faceted aspects of the topics and explain it all in as brief manner as you can. Conclude this answer on a positive note, for, the examiner will appreciate your affirmative take on the situation.
  3. Mind your hand-writing – Handwriting has never, in Civil Services Exam, been considered for marking a candidate’s suitability and caliber for the job. But in our opinion, a good handwriting will always stimulate your examiners’ mind and help them come at ease with your answers. So, ensure making your answer presentable with clear handwriting, decently big characters’ size and enough space between the words.
  4. Enrich your answer with facts/dates/names/other details – An exceptional answer, especially considering the current trend of questions, must have enough factual backing of the current affairs details, views, dates, names, etc. about the topics and a little more about the related aspects of your topic.
  5. Explain your answers more clearly and precisely with the help of diagrams, charts, maps & quotations – Students are always advised to back their answers with the relevant and supporting diagrams & charts; and for the answer related to geography-based questions, maps are the ultimate rescue. Use these extra, but relevant elements to enhance your answer quality. It is no-where advisable to overload your answer with these elements, as a supporting paragraph to explain your answer is always better than doing away with the embellishment. Give diagrams and other elements, only where needed!
  6. Quality comes with regularity in practice – As we mentioned above, to master the art of writing efficient answers in the Civil Services Examination, rigorous practice is crucial. Hence, you must solve as many Previous Year papers and Mock Tests as you can.

Good Luck for your Examination!

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