How to write answers – Mains – General Studies

How to Write Answers – Mains – General Studies – For UPSC Civil Service Aspirants

  1. Whatever be the word limit – 150, 200 or 250 words – please remember every single word counts. Don’t write a word or sentence that won’t add VALUE to your answer.
  2. Read the question carefully. You should answer the question that is printed on the page, not the one you imagine in your head. Look for the VERB. Describe, discuss, suggest, highlight, identify, assess, analyze, comment, examine, analyze, evaluate, justify, etc. – please treat these verbs as the main pointers when you frame your answer in your head.
  3. Begin your answer by rephrasing the question as a statement. The best way to start an answer is to re-word the question in the form of a statement. The first sentence should connect with the last sentence of your answer. It will give your answer a sense of STRUCTURE, continuity and coherence.
  4. Be sure that your answer has a clear point. Even in a compare/contrast situation, you need to be very clear what your argument is.
  5. While answering a question, you must use three to six KEY WORDS to strengthen your argument. And you should know what these keywords are for every single question.
  6. Be specific while answering questions from geography, economy and agriculture sections. Don’t write VAGUE essays. Quote official documents and Ministry reports.
  7. Don’t fuss over definition of concepts or technical terms if the question is NOT specifically framed that way.
  8. Start by answering the questions you can handle properly. This will boost your confidence.
  9. Pay attention to your GRAMMAR and PUNCTUATION. Poor grammar and punctuation can affect your marks. Try to use correct grammar and punctuation as you write because you may not have time to go back and proofread your work.
  10. If it is a question relating to current situation (economy, science and technology or environment, etc.), don’t write an answer that looks DATED.
  11. Write as NEATLY as you can. Every examiner appreciates good handwriting. Try to be neat. But, don’t let that slow down your pace. Draw diagrams and flowcharts wherever required. This will help you frame your answers better and make them interesting.
  12. Recheck your paper before you hand over the answer sheet to the invigilator. Try setting aside the last 15 minutes of your exam for rechecking your paper. You can come across errors that might’ve cost you your marks.
  13. Answer writing is a SKILL. Practice with previous years’ question papers. Practice with mock test papers. Practice in your room without books, TV, internet, music and mobile phone. Don’t try to be an allrounder unless your name is Sir Garfield St Aubrun Sobers, AO, OCC.
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