Answer Writing Tips for IAS Exam

Ever since the surprising UPSC IAS Prelims Paper of 2016 ended, aspirants are anticipating of an equivalent unpredicted mains exam too. Here we provide an effective strategy for improving Answer Writing Skills for UPSC MAINS Exam.

Ever since the UPSC IAS Prelims 2016 result was declared, students are left with a presumption on whether UPSC will continue emphasizing on current affairs or it may change the streak and ask static questions based on current events. Whatever may be the inclination, only one skill can save the sinking boat i.e. efficient and consolidated writing skills.

For the students who started their answer writing preparation, our first advice would be to lighten up and try to appreciate the golden opportunity vested in them to be able to write the mains exam and share their individualistic views on issues.

We should understand that CSE Mains preparation is not only about syllabus but it is a situational study where your strength and stress management is tested every day. Keeping focus on latest trends in questions, we would try to devise a personalized strategy via this article to guide the aspirants appearing for mains 2016.

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Approaching CSE-Mains 2016

UPSC official guidelines states the questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio‐ economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers. This should your guiding light while approaching any question asked in exam.


What should be the ideal answer for any question? - This is a baffling question in itself. With varied background came varied ideas and perspectives but it’s totally on an aspirant’s judgment to decide what is apt to be mentioned and what not. Therefore we would like to deduce certain superlative characteristics that should be kept in mind while writing an answer to any subject.

The mains examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory. The questions will be such as to test general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in civil services.

The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goals, objectives and demands. The answers should be relevant, meaningful and succinct. Credit will be given to orderly, effective and exact expression combined with due economy of words in all subjects of the examination.
Therefore it’s very essential for an aspirant to develop an opinion based only on certain established principles.

The biggest challenge for CSE-Mains 2016 still lies unanswered i.e. how to develop proficiency for impactful answers in less than 2 months. The following quick tips are an inference we have derived after researching various study resources and model answers of previous toppers.
These easy enhancements tricks can change the way to approach any question and will provide better insight for a surprising question.


First step should be to understand the framework of the question which will help to decide the flow of answer. In this regard let’s consider the following table:


Types of questions

Directives used in statement

Requirement of answer




Elaborate, Narrate, Give an account etc

Emphasis should be given to factual content complemented with a short introduction and summative conclusion.




Elucidate, Demonstrate, Justify, Give an reasoned account etc

Introduction should be cumulative of issue at hand.

Give logical arguments for the consequences of the same.

Conclusion should be summative of your given arguments.


Examining the issue

Analyze, Discuss

Discuss the multiple aspects of the issue at hand.

Supplement relevant facts to support your view and conclude at a positive and futuristic note.


Comment on specific event

Asses, Evaluate, Critically discuss

Estimate the strengths and limitations associated with event and provide a profound analysis of cause effect on the issue.

Conclude holistically with some suggestions.


Hypothesis oriented

Formulate, Derive, Deduce

Such questions are mostly seen in ethics paper. Estimate the intensity of the topic accordingly to supplement the body with innovative and original ideation.

Second most important aspect is the introductory and conclusive notes of your answer but very few aspirants practice for it thinking that all the questions are unique and hence preparing introduction for each and every practice question is waste of time.
With reference to the above statement we would like to give some points on how to start and end your answers:

--> Prepare a short 50 word introduction for all the general static topics mentioned in the syllabus of CSE Mains. You may think what good it will do? Let me give you an example:
Some introducing lines on land reforms (a topic mentioned in GS-Paper 3) can be prepared in advance to deal with any random question asked on land.

--> Formulate a topic list from last one year current affairs segregated paper wise and prepare introductory notes on it using the editorials or analysis articles of Yogana.

--> Concluding lines can be prepared using recommendation of different government committees and reports. Every report has some pages on suggestions; it can prove to be very beneficial source.
For example many conclusive lines for ethics paper can be directly prepared from ARC Report Recommendations.


Third step is substituting your data with good presentation techniques like Venn diagram in comparing two entities or tables to represent significant data.

It serves the twin purpose as it saves you from overshooting the word limit and also makes your answers more appealing to the examiner. Try to convert cause-effect analysis into flowcharts. It will be easier to draw once you start practicing.


We should understand that CSE Mains requires timely effective actions directed toward our ideals and objective to crack the Mains exam. It’s a time taking initiative and challenges you to step out of your comfort zone to achieve big. All instruments that you will ever require to crack this exam can be found via introspection. Lastly stop worrying and start believing in your hard work and face the challenge of UPSC Mains with open arms.

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