It won’t be wrong to say that UPSC answer writing will put the ultimate test with 7 subjective papers that carry 250 marks each, with 3 hours allotted to every paper.
So, it doesn’t matter how many times you have read, revise and re-revise your books, and Notes if you can’t produce it on the answer sheet.
Practicing answer writing is not limited to a week or two. Answer writing is a continuous exercise and part of your study plan that you must follow with dedication and determination.
In order to excel in the UPSC mains examination, one should have great command over answer writing skill and presenting it properly.
A well-written answer not only reveals the knowledge of a UPSC aspirant but also his/her ability to tailor the content in a manner suited to meet the expectations of the question.
Having said all this, let us move on the right strategy and great tips of UPSC Mains answer writing that will help you to get started with your new regime.
Some Important points to always remember throughout your UPSC journey
Read the Syllabus thoroughly and by heart the syllabus, it will be the lighthouse of your preparation.
Read any topic from 2-3 sources i.e NCERT, Reference Book, our Articles, that’s all, and then revise it multiple times (at least 8 times)
After completing the topic from the syllabus refer to the questions from the previous years’ and try to frame answers.
Don’t make notes for every topic as It will be time-consuming. Prepare self-notes for only those topics which you find very difficult to comprehend.
For Paper 1, do a special focus on Human Geography.
For Paper 2, make small bullet point notes for often repeated topics from standard sources.
Prepare region-wise maps of India from standard books in which all aspects of a region are covered like terrain, drainage, resources, agriculture, industries, etc. Basically, this is the regional approach to study geography which can be adopted for Paper 2.
Always try to link the subject matter of Paper 1 and Paper 2. For example, read Climatology, Population and Settlement Geography, Regional Development and Planning etc together for both papers and use examples from one paper in the other while writing answers.
Start your preparation of geography optional before one year of the Prelims exam.
Make the strategy to complete the syllabus Topic-wise. (Not book-wise)
The Basic concepts of each topic should be clear so that one can write in his language in the examination.
Try to incorporate maximum figures in your answers. Geography is the subject where one can make answers crisp and attractive by figures.
Wherever Map is required to draw it. Between two questions of choice in the exam, attempt the questions in which chances of drawing figures are more.
The most important fact which one should keep in mind in geography is time Management.
Each aspirant feels difficulty in attempting all questions in geography.
Continuous answer writing practice (from day-1 of your preparation)
UPSC Answer writing Tips and Strategy
1. Answer writing in “UPSC Size loose sheets
Always Practice your answer writing in “UPSC Size loose sheets” rather than practicing your answer writing on the rough sheet or any resister, a lot of aspirants use your own resister for answer writing but I will recommend you that please don’t use your resister or rough copy.
2. Time Limit
Without time limit, it is possible for almost everyone to deliver the best answer in the UPSC exam, but in the time limit, it is possible for only a few people. The most challenging part in UPSC exam is to complete the whole paper within the given time limit therefore always practice answer writing within the time limit as per UPSC.
3. Model answer
In your preparation phase of UPSC, try to develop your own model answer for each previous year questions.
4. Daily answer writing
At the beginning of UPSC preparation, many aspirants think that first of all gain the knowledge after that we will start the answer writing practice, but don’t do that. Start your answer writing from the beginning of your preparation.
5. Previous year question paper and UPSC Syllabus
Use the previous year question paper and UPSC Syllabus for understanding the trend of UPSC examination and read the syllabus thoroughly and by heart the UPSC syllabus.
6. 15 words per Marks
Write an approximate 15 words per Marks
7. Go to the point
Answer to the Question (i.e. Go to the point fast) rather than writing a story to show the examiner that look, I know this, don’t do that.
8. Keep your answer simple
Use a simple language in your UPSC answers as much as possible. Don’t use tough English terms and try to avoid long paragraphs in your answer copy. UPSC does not care for ornamentation of your answers. What they expect to read is clearly applied concepts and understanding written down as a precise comprehension in basic vocabulary.
9. Use Quotes in your answer
Quotes are always plus point in your answers, therefore, sprinkle some quotes with facts and figures.
10. Use facts in your answer
If you want to put weight and authenticity in your answers, so, please use Facts as well in your UPSC Mains answers.
11. Use flow-charts, diagrams, maps, schematics in your answer
Map, flow-chart, and diagrams are very important into your answers for stealing half or one extra marks from the teacher over other aspirants.
12. Try to link from current affairs
Use your current affairs knowledge in GS paper 2, 3 and geography optional paper-2 as well.
13. Use case studies and label, it
Collect case studies from current affairs and magazines and use them into your answers.
14. Geographer full names and geographical terms
Use geographer full names and geographical terms for your geography optional answers.
15. Integrated approach
Use an integrated approach for your geography optional answer writing.
16. Keep your handwriting neat and clean
We know that you have a time-frame to stick to, and the tension of the examination hall paired with the need to recall just makes it harder. This is why you must practice every day to write within the set time we mentioned in point 1, in clear, neat and presentable handwriting.
17. Points over paragraphs
Writing in points makes your answer more presentable, clear and readable for the examiner. If your answer demands paragraphs, make sure to split them into small paragraphs of 4-5 lines each.
18. Use short paragraphs
If your answer demands paragraphs, make sure to split them into small paragraphs of 4-5 lines each.
19. Try to avoid wrong numeric data in your answers
If you aren’t able to recall any value or numeric data then don’t write the wrong data in your answer.
20. Highlight the important keywords and terms
Always underline the dates, authority names, crucial keywords, relevant phrases, and major events.
You can use your writing pen to underline. There is no need to carry a different ink just for the sake of highlighting.
21. Target to answer every part of the question
You must answer all the different parts of the question, whether asked implicitly or explicitly.
22. Don’t leave out any question
It is alright to not know the exact answer to what is asked. But you can use logic to answer some part of it.
23. Use headings
You must use appropriate headings and jot them down as they come into your mind.
24. The more pointers, The better
You must try to write more points for every question. This might seem difficult as you’ll have to spend a good chunk of your precious time, recalling the things you’ve learned about.
25. An introduction should be short
An introduction should be short (i.e. 2-4 lines)
26. Always read the question carefully
Always read the question carefully and underline the keywords of the question.
27. Underline keywords
Underline keywords and capitalize on reports/committees/organizations.
28. Longer hours of practice
Target longer hours of practice in your UPSC preparation phase.
29. The conclusion must be forward-looking
The conclusion must be forward-looking i.e. visionary or positive ending.