The UPSC exam is widely recognised as one of the toughest exams in India. The second stage of the UPSC exam, known as the UPSC Mains, requires candidates to write explanatory answers to nine papers. Answer writing is a challenging aspect of the IAS Mains.
This article provides tips for writing excellent answers in the main exam and preparing for the next stage, the IAS interview. You can also download the updated UPSC syllabus from the linked article.
Writing practical answers is crucial in the IAS mains exam, as the content and how the answers are presented, count. No matter how much one has prepared, the answers are read and evaluated by the examiner; therefore, mastering the art of writing suitable and expected answers is of utmost importance. Here are a few tips that candidates should remember while writing answers for the UPSC mains exam.
The answers should impress the examiner and convey that a potential administrator wrote them. They should precisely answer the question asked in a neat, illustrative, and well-structured manner.
It is essential to remember that different types of answers are expected in the general studies papers compared to the optional papers. In optional, candidates are expected to demonstrate a deep understanding of the concepts since it is their chosen specialist field. Therefore, the answers should reflect this understanding. Candidates can explore the best options for UPSC here.
In the GS papers, candidates should understand the concepts well (not necessarily deeply) and present their answers multi-dimensionally. For example, suppose the question is related to international relations. In that case, the answer should be in that domain, but it would help if the candidate could link it to areas like polity and governance, social issues, internal security, etc.
The UPSC Mains Exam is made up of 9 papers, all of which contain descriptive answer questions. Aspiring candidates must clear three stages – Prelims, Mains, and Interview – to achieve their dream of passing the coveted IAS Exam. Many candidates find the Mains stage the most challenging, as they must produce accurate answers within a limited time frame, having read vast information.
Before delving into the 7-5-3 rule of answer writing, candidates should familiarise themselves with the questions asked in the UPSC Mains Exam, such as evaluate/critically evaluate, discuss, elucidate, critically examine, and comment. It is helpful for candidates to review previous years’ papers to understand the most commonly asked questions and incorporate them into their answer writing practice for UPSC 2022.
The 7-5-3 Rule of Answer Writing is based on many martial artists’ discipline codes. This rule is quite simple to follow, as it consists of three numbers:
Social, Economical, Political, and Geographical perspective
For, against, and conclusion
Completing the UPSC Mains paper is a significant task, and time management is crucial to avoid failure. Aspirants must start practising answer writing before the exam to prepare and manage their time.
Before starting answer writing practice, it is essential to build fundamental knowledge. Aspirants can refer to UPSC’s previous year’s papers to understand the questions asked in the Mains Exam.
Answer writing practice can begin 3-4 months before the UPSC Mains Exam. Initially, candidates may struggle and lack confidence, but they can still develop their skills with practice. As the proverb goes, “Practice makes perfect,” candidates can clear the UPSC Mains with adequate knowledge, time management, and practice in answer writing.
To practice, solving 2-3 questions daily is recommended. Reading editorials from The Hindu Newspaper can help develop comprehensive knowledge about a particular topic and provide insights into how to write effectively.
Below are some tips for improving your answer writing skills in the UPSC mains exam:
Take a multi-dimensional approach: While answering questions, approach them from different angles and write complete answers.
Use keywords: Highlight essential points in your answers by using keywords and underlining them.
Substantiate your answers: Provide evidence to support your answers. Use real-life examples and case studies where necessary.
Presentation matters: Make your answers easy to read by writing them neatly and adding headings, subheadings, tables, and figures.
Write in simple language: Make sure to use simple language and and avoid complicated sentences. your answer should be concise, precise and easy to understand.
Points or paragraphs: There is no specific rule when writing with bullet points or paragraphs, as it depends on personal preference.
Stick to the word count: Ensure that your answers are no longer than the UPSC’s word limit.
Practice, practice, practice: Practice writing answers as much as possible. Use resources like Comprehensive News Analysis to get practice questions and post your answers in the comments section for feedback.
Answer writing is essential to preparing for the UPSC IAS mains exam. To perform well in the UPSC IAS mains exam, it is vital to have a good grasp of the subject matter and convey your ideas clearly, concisely, and persuasively. You can improve your answer writing skills by practising regularly and following the tips outlined in this article, such as providing comprehensive answers, utilising keywords, and presenting your answers well. Using straightforward language and staying within the word limit specified by UPSC is crucial. With these skills, you can excel in mains answer writing and increase your chances of performing well in the IAS mains exam.
Q1:What is examine in UPSC mains answer writing?
Ans: In UPSC’s mains answer writing, “examine” means to critically analyse and evaluate the different aspects of a given topic or question. The candidate must support their viewpoints and arrive at a balanced conclusion. This type of question is expected in the mains exam and tests the candidate’s ability to think critically and present a well-reasoned argument.
Q2:How to you write UPSC Mains answers?
Ans: To write UPSC Mains answers effectively, you should approach the answer from multiple dimensions, use keywords to highlight essential points, substantiate your claims with real-life examples, present your answer neatly, use simple language, and adhere to the specified word count. It is also essential to practice writing many answers to improve your answer writing skills.
Q3:What is the 753 rule?
Ans:-The 7-5-3 rule is a technique for answer writing in the UPSC mains exam. Candidates should aim to answer questions within 7 minutes per question, write 5 points related to the keyword and elaborate each point in 3 dimensions using social, economic, political and geographical perspectives, for and against arguments, and What/Why/How.
Q4:How many pages is 150 words in UPSC?
Ans:150 words is typically equivalent to one page of writing in UPSC mains answer writing, assuming a standard font size and spacing.
Q5:How many words is 15 marks in UPSC?
Ans: The number of words required to score 15 marks in UPSC answer writing can vary depending on the question and its marking scheme. Generally, a well-structured and comprehensive answer with around 200-250 words can fetch 15 marks in the UPSC mains exam. Instead of emphasising the word count, it is crucial to prioritise the answer quality.