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Structuring An Answer

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Good quality in individual answers helps you fetch those above-average marks that lead you to the rank you desire. It is important to show some form of structure to the answer.

Introduction, Body, and Conclusion format is one of the tried-and-tested approach. It also helps create an impression on the evaluator and portrays you as a thoughtful and organised person

Introduction

It acts as a way into the answer where one builds-up to the main content. It shouldn’t be more than 10% of the answer, else the evaluator may lose the connect to your answer by the time important points are being discussed. Try and stick to 1 or 2 lines at the maximum.
Some common approaches used are:

  1. Using a quote (try only if you are comfortable; don’t unnecessarily force them into your answers)

  2. Defining the concept being discussed (pretty useful in Ethics and Geography)

  3. Quoting stats and figures along with their source (an easy way into answers for GS2 and GS3)

  4. Mentioning the context in which the question is asked. It shows the examiner that you are aware of the recent developments. For example: If a question talks about fire safety guidelines, you can mention the recent case of the Surat coaching centre.

 


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Body

It is the part where you do the heavy lifting. It has the maximum weightage and needs to be addressed well. Various aspects and subparts of the questions need to be answered.
Some important tips for writing the “body” of your answer:

  1. Keep in mind the various directives given in the questions such as Elaborate, Discuss, Critically Analyse etc. You will learn about their differences with more practice. For example, in questions with “critically analyse” directive, you need to present both the sides. First criticise and then give the positives. It ends your answer on a good note.

  2. Quality of arguments is very crucial to get good marks. It is important to prioritise points and write the best ones at the start. Generalist points should be written later.

  3. Avoid writing 1-2 word points. Also don’t be too verbose and explain a lot. There has to be a fine balance between writing less and not over-explaining.

  4. Use “data” smartly. Don’t fret over mentioning them in your answers excessively. Excess of anything looks bad. There needs to be a balance of opinion and facts.

    Moreover, it is difficult to remember stats, especially for first-timers. With revision and practice, you will automatically start remembering and recalling them as and when needed.

    It is recommended to quote stats The more you revise, the better you can recall. The reason why people use data is to provide a rational basis for their arguments.

    Prepare a cheat sheet of stats ready for quick revision. You can keep updating it.

  5. Although not necessary, diagrams, flow charts, hub-and-spoke models, etc do help to some extent. If creativity is not your forte, don’t do it. If you can think and present using them, it can certainly provide you some edge. They also help you write more in fewer words. Diagrams are especially needed for geography answers.

 

Smart use of Maps to write more in less words. The question asked about “regional soil quality variation in India”..

  1. Always split the questions into multiple subparts (if not done in the question already) and write on them sequentially. It will streamline both your thoughts and your answer.

    In 250-word limit questions without subparts, please judge by yourself and add one or two aspects to provide closure to the answer (and also fill up the words!). Writing 250-word answer for a topic you don’t know is one of the toughest challenges!

  2. Addressing all the subparts and highlighting them is important if the question itself has subparts.

    Provide adequate heading, make a box around it or write it in block letter or underline it. But do not forget to highlight and address them. Also, adequate weightage needs to be given to all the subparts in the question with respect to content allocation in the main body.

  3. Neat presentation is very important. It helps the examiner in evaluating the answer. Generally, examiner evaluates by having a quick glance and then reading the points in depth.

    1. Try to ensure proper space between words and lines.

    2. Proper alignment and indentation is also veey important.

    3. Highlighting various subparts helps in easy identification.

  4. Underline keywords. It helps catch the eye in first look. But desist from underlining whole sentences.

 


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Conclusion

It is a very important aspect of your answer. Do not underestimate its value. It leaves that lasting impression and provides a sense of closure to the answer. It can be just a single line but don’t leave it at any cost. Try to be optimistic and forward-looking and, if possible, avoid writing qualifiers like So, Therefore, Hence, etc. Do not criticize unless you can provide some solution.

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