The civil services main exam consists of descriptive type of questions. It focuses on testing the candidate on various levels. The time limit for the essay paper is 3 hrs without a word limit, but for the optional paper, there are questions with specific word limits like 250 words in optional subjects and 250 words, 150 words and 20 words in general studies. The candidate then has to prepare himself to answer all types of questions. The most important thing to be kept in mind is the time constraint. Therefore it becomes necessary to answer these questions quickly and effectively and in minimum words.
One common doubt that students have is with regard to the style of answering questions, whether to adopt the paragraph or the point style of answering questions. Though there is no set rule, it is wise to adopt a style depending on the question asked. If the question says to discuss, analyse or critically examine, it would be better to answer the question the paragraph format. On the other hand, if the question asks you to list the advantages or give reasons for/ against etc., it is better to go in for the point format of answering.
8 Tips to improve answer writing skills in UPSC Mains Exam
Style of Answering Questions:
For this it is very important to understand the question first. Depending on what the question is, whether one is asked to “discuss”, “elucidate”, “explain”,”critically Appreciate” or “give reasons for and against”, the answer should be written Accordingly because it is only through the examiners style of answering questions that one can assess his or her originality of thought and analytical abilities. The question should be read properly, in fact the question paper should be read thoroughly in the first five or ten minutes of the exam and then one should decide on the questions which are to be answered first. Time should also be given to frame the answer so that there is no confusion later on.
A good way to write effective and precise answers is to pracise writing out answers. our answers should present the facts and concepts in an interesting way and should never read like a passage from a book. It is best to use simple English and avoid flowy and decorative language which takes our attention away from the original facts and our opinions about a given topic. Making a practice of writing out answers is especially useful in managing the time limit set for the exam and to write the best possible answer in the allotted time It not only improves one’s style of expression, but also one gets used to the time and word limits.
How to Write a Good Answer:
It is just not enough to know all the facts and information but the most important thing to be kept in mind is to write an answer which has a clear and a logical frame, which presents information in a clear and concise manner, which does not contain any irrelevant or piling up of information, which is interesting and able to hold one’s attention.
So the next logical step is to know how to write a good answer. The first step is to prepare the framework where one can list all ideas, thoughts and facts and write them down. It is important to adopt an answering style which is natural, original and to the point. Emphasis should be given to the kind of language used, one which is simple and clear without unnecessary use of nouns and verbs. Use of archaic and fancy words or language should be avoided at all costs. Care should be taken to avoid grammatical mistakes which will give a negative opinion however good the answer may be. Last but not the least, it is very important to have a good and a legible handwriting.
How to Answer the Effective Part of the Question:
Answer Writing Tips For UPSC Mains
Everyone repeatedly talks about the effective part of the question. This is different from the Introduction, Body and Conclusion of any answer which is its structure. The effective part means which angle or perspective do they wish the answers to be seen. The facts remain the same but the presentation differs. So enumerate means represent in numbers and views means your opinion on those very numbers or facts. For example in enumerate the population ratio you give data like 93 females per 100 males. But in views you write that – The man woman ratio needs to be the same for which we need to take care of the girl child etc etc.
We will explain to you the meaning and application of some of the terms that appear repeatedly in questions in the IAS mains exam. We rae not going by facts and the sentences may be funny at times. We are simply trying to drive the point home.
How to write answer when asked to Enumerate:
Simply list the points about the topic and don’t give detailed explanation. “The population ratio of India is 93 females per 100 males”.
How to write answer when asked to Narrate:
‘Early to late’ this is how narration occurs. So, temporal (time related) sequencing is critical. You can even predict the course in future if asked. “The Sex Ratio in India was okay till the time of Independence, but has been against women since then. In ancient times there seemed to be more females than males as males seemed to have more than one wife each. With growing say of women more and more women and girl children will be taken care of and so we will perhaps go back to having more females as compared to men.”
How to write answer when asked to Define:
This simply means write the definition. A bit of memory helps here as you should try to reproduce verbatim and at least include all possible keywords and phrases which you know are essential parts of that particular definition. “Population Ratio is the sex ratio or the ratio of males to females in a population. Sex Ratio is a term used to define the number of females per 1000 males.”
How to answer when asked to Evaluate / Assess / Examine:
Detailed explanations are required. Write in details whatever you know, include one to two lines of introduction followed by three to four lines in favor and three to four lines against the given topic. One to two lines of implications if any, and then limitations of the concepts and finally the conclusion in two to three lines needs to be added. “The human sex ratio, is defined in terms of the number of males per 100 females which varies greatly between countries and regions. The biological norm is for the sex ratio at birth to be about 105 more or less everywhere – meaning just over 51% of births are boys and just under 49% are girls….”
Tips to answer when asked for Opinion / Comment / Views:
Whenever your opinion is asked, it should be full of optimism and your answer should be full of zeal and enthusiasm. Give constructive opinions with optimistic, future oriented and progressive ideas. However your opinions should be largely acceptable. “With India’s growing economy, gender equality and improving health facilites we are sure to have a better sex ratio.”
Answer writing tips for Purpose / Goal / Objective / Target:
What is to be achieved, what is the purpose, the goal, the objectives or the targets? “India needs to control its population but at the same time needs to bring a balance in the population ratio. A balanced ratio reflects the progress and future of a country.”
How to write answer when asked to Analyse:
When it comes to analyse, it is the same as evaluation, assessment or examination plus your opinion is also needed here. So, once you give your opinion it means you are interpreting the event according to your knowledge apart from detailed explanations. “The human sex ratio, is defined in terms of the number of males per 100 females which varies greatly between countries and regions. The biological norm is for the sex ratio at birth to be about 105 more or less everywhere – meaning just over 51% of births are boys and just under 49% are girls…… and with India’s growing economy, gender equality and improving health facilities we are sure to have a better sex ratio.”
How to write answer when asked to Discuss:
A frequently used term, it means you can write whatever you know but the most important thing is to write as if you are talking to the examiner. A differing opinion can be used. “Surely India needs to do something to balance the sex ratio. We should do extra policing and stop clinics from doing sex determination….”
How to write answer when asked to Describe:
This is the easiest thing to do and just theoretical knowledge is required here. You have to write basically its parts, what it is made up of, constituents, characteristics and attributes. “Population Ratio is the sex ratio or the ratio of males to females in a population. It is the number of males per 100 females. Advanced countries have a sex ratio around 100:97 but India has 100:106…..”
How to answer when asked to Critically examine:
An important term and a favorite of UPSC. Whenever it is asking Critically Examine, Critically Comment or Critically Analyse just remember that you have to write both pros and cons and give a fair, unbiased or value loaded judgement. It should always give a feeling of closure.
“Increasing the women population may increase the number of dependents in a family in rural India and for a while it may be counter productive but as more girls get educated they will find jobs and support their families. Also educating a girl will only lead to increased level of education in the next generation of the family as she will make sure all her children go to school.”
Answer writing tips for Elucidate / Elaborate / Expand / Exemplify:
These are more or less similar words but not exactly the same. Elucidate means make it clear with examples to make it clear. Elaborate and Expand mean detailed explanations. Exemplify means – give a typical example of that particular category. Please include contemporary affairs, connections or current affairs. “Kerala with 1084 females for every 1000 males has the highest sex ratio because of high levels of education whereas the union territory of Chandigarh has only 818 females for every 1000 males due to the gender bias in Punjab and Haryana. Since more states are like chandigarh the overall India ratio is 940 females/1000 males. ”
Answer writing tips for Implications / Consequences / Outcomes / Results:
Write about the possible scenario or impact of the event in question. ” Due to better health facilities and reach of education the Indian sex ratio has shown major signs of improvement in the last 10 years. From a small number of 933 in 2001, the bar has been raised to 940 in the 2011 Census of India.”
How to write answer when asked to Contrast / Distinguish:
It means write differences not similarities. You can write similarities as well as differences if asked to Compare and Contrast. “Kerala with 1084 females for every 1000 males has the highest sex ratio because of high levels of education whereas the union territory of Chandigarh has only 818 females for every 1000 males.”
How to answer when asked about Significance / Importance:
What happens because it exists or what happen if it doesn’t exist. “Sex Ratio is a great source to find the equality of males and females in a society at a given period of time.”
How to answer when asked to Justify / Advocate:
Here you have to argue in favor of and write favorable comments as far as reasonably possible. “More men per women is actually a good thing as women are known to live longer than men and as India develops we are sure to catch up. We will not have the problem of missing men any time soon like Russia has with sex ratio of 100:45.”
How to write answer when asked to Illustrate:
Use examples; data, diagrams and charts to make it clearer.