Art of Essay Writing for UPSC IAS Mains 2020-Click Here To Download Full Details-

In this strategy we will tackle one of the most important challenges faced by CSE aspirants i.e. how to write a good answer in the Mains examination.

It is said that answer writing is an art.The good news is that any form of art can be learnt over a period of time. All it takes is will and effort, regular practice and some guidance. We are here to provide you help with the guidance part and we hope you successfully integrate the tips we are going to provide in your preparation.

This answer writing guide has been divided into three sections – Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. As the names for the section headings suggest,one should proceed step by step, understanding each section completely before proceeding to the next. Ultimately you should be able to use the tips from all sections in your answer writing in a holistic manner.

The Basics

The Basics section of answer writing tackles the bare minimum requirements needed for effective answer writing. The answer you are going to write has to be effective in order to earn an advantage over the competition. To write an effective answer there are certain basic tricks that you need to know and these are discussed below.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do understand the question fully and correctly before contemplating an answer for it. Questions in the Mains examination come with certain directives like ‘discuss/ critically discuss’ etc and you should be able to grasp clearly what that particular directive is asking you to do. You should consult the accompanying table on various directives and their meanings for a proper appreciation of what the examiner is expecting from you in the answer. This is also the most basic and yet a very important skill that you should have for effective answer writing.
  • Do develop a basic mental framework of the answer before actually committing anything to paper. This is a very crucial skill that you need to develop on a war footing. It should be that the moment you have read and understood a given question, you immediately start forming the structure for the answer in your mind. With practice, it becomes easier and easier to do this and if required, jot down (with a pencil) whatever you remember as and when you remember it. The last point is important because sometimes we tend to forget or we simply are unable to recall from memory at the very last minute (or while writing) which can drastically affect the quality of our answer.
  • Don’t wait for the answer to come to you, instead force it out. It is important that you learn how to force an answer out of you. This is not something very hard to achieve. Think of it in this way. You are a serious aspirant and you have prepared considerably for the Mains examination and as a result you are in the possession of a considerable amount of information, facts, ideas etc. If time were not an issue you could contemplate generously before each and every sentence you write but within a given time limit you do not have such luxuries of time. For example, suppose you can recall only two points (fully) for an answer and you think you need at least four points for a complete answer. In such a case you should not waste time trying to recall all the points before attempting to answer and instead force yourself to write the answer with whatever information you’ve got. That way, without wasting time you give your best shot to the question.
  • Don’t overstretch your imagination. UPSC requires that you have a good understanding of a given issue and that the same should be readily understandable when expressed. Thus, one should not slip into thoughts, ideas or arguments that are not absolutely necessary for writing a particular answer. Overbrooding and philosophizing may lead to confusion and as such it should be left out of Mains answer writing. Moreover, this can save you time and effort which can be used in answering other questions efficiently.


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