How to Write Good Quality Answers for UPSC Mains

It goes without saying that answer writing should be practised regularly to score good marks and to get an edge over other candidates in the UPSC Mains Exam. Unlike UPSC Prelims, Mains paper is descriptive in nature, and hence effective answer writing plays a vital role in creating a good impression in the examiner’s mind.

UPSC Mains is about the expression of your views on the topics asked in the exam. Thus, practising how to present your opinion is a crucial part of UPSC exam preparation. One fundamental mistake that many aspirants commit during the Mains preparation is, they read and revise over and over but don’t practice enough answer writing.  

Remember that the examiner checking your copy will have no clue about the number of books you’ve read or the number of hours you’ve worked hard. Your answers are all that he has to judge you. So it makes sense to practice and master the ‘Art of Answer Writing’.

How to Write a Good Answer

This is the most crucial concern of every candidate, and we will address it in the most simple way possible in this article. 

Writing a good answer requires constant practice and a ‘Particular’ approach that creates a strong impression in the examiner’s mind. 

When framing answers, always keep in mind the most commonly used directives by UPSC such as Examine, Comment, Analyze, Evaluate, Discuss, Critically comment, Critically analyze, and Assess. Answer accordingly! Read further to know more about the Directives of questions.

Directives of UPSC Questions

Some of the common directives used by the UPSC are listed below:

Examine: When you are asked to examine a particular question, all you have to do is probe deeper into the topic and support your answer with essential ingredients like causes, implications, and the way forward. 

Comment: Your opinion/position on the topic is analyzed when you answer questions that require your comment. In such questions, you should introduce the topic, and provide the relevant arguments with the facts and figures. 

Critically Analyze: When asked to analyze critically, you should include a fair judgement after analyzing the nature of each part and the interrelationship between them.

Also read: Recommended books for UPSC Mains Preparation

Anatomy of a Perfect Answer

A perfect answer that always catches the attention of the examiner has the below-mentioned things in perfect order:

Introduction

This is where most candidates tend to commit mistakes and give an unsatisfactory kickstart to the answer. They give the main information in the first paragraph itself, rather than introducing the topic in a subtle manner. The introduction should be given in a compact and straightforward manner with a focus on the following:

  • Definition
  • The relevant data such as Reports, Rankings, Indices
  • Current events related to the topic. 
  • Use the relevant constitutional articles if applicable.

Main Body

The main body of the answer should be well-structured, informative, and factual. Your focus should be on starting your answer with the most important points with the relevant facts and figures (if required). Since the UPSC Mains questions are of two types: Opinion and Fact-based, you should answer them accordingly. 

For the fact-based answers, state the facts and give emphasis on reality. As far as opinions based answers are concerned, you should never neglect the facts. Always mention the facts that support the opinions you are sharing in the answer.

Conclusion

The answer should be concluded with a balanced approach. Don’t complicate the facts in the ending; rather, end the answer with a simple sentence that unites all the main points/elements/arguments of the answer. 

The conclusion can include the following elements:

  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
  • Mention relevant suggestions of Niti Aayog and committees. 
  • Relevant government schemes and best practices if any. 

Pro Tips to Improve Writing Skills for UPSC Mains Exam

# Tip 1 Read the question very carefully. By doing so you will understand what is specifically being asked and subsequently, you will be able to frame your answer accordingly.

# Tip 2 While writing answers for UPSC Mains, avoid unnecessary jargons or technical terms. Also, restrict the use of cliches. Always remember, quality content is better appreciated than quantity.

# Tip 3 Present your opinion and write your answers in such a way that they don’t seem biased. Maintain a rational tone while writing answers and have clarity of expression.

# Tip 4 To make your answer more appealing and presentable, split your answers into paragraphs. Also, don’t write too long paragraphs. Do change paragraphs when you shift to a new subject matter.

# Tip 5 Always make sure that your answers are grammatically correct and error-free. You don’t want to annoy the examiner with silly grammatical mistakes!

# Tip 6 It is always recommended to adhere to the word limit of the answer. Try to include all the necessary information in your answer and conclude it within the given word limit.

# Tip 7 Never write long sentences and paragraphs. Prefer simplicity over complexity! Making long sentences increases the complexity of the answers.

# Tip 8 Practice makes perfect! This phrase deserves a special mention for UPSC exam preparation. Unless you practice writing answers regularly during UPSC Mains preparation, you won’t be able to score good marks in the exam. Practise well and maintain your motivation all the time. 

Also read: How To Stay Motivated Throughout Your UPSC Preparation Journey

# Tip 9 Last but not least, make sure the handwriting is legible. It should be your job to make the examiner’s job of checking your paper a convenient one.

We hope this article has helped you gauge the importance of writing good-quality answers to crack the UPSC Mains and make way for the Final Interview round. 

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Raminder Singh

Raminder is a Content Writer at PrepLadder. He is working to provide students with informative articles and the latest updates about UPSC and GATE exams.