Answer Writing For IAS Mains Exam - Abhipedia

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Answer Writing

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Presentation of Answers is one of the most important aspect of Mains or we can say it is the utmost important factor in realising your dream. Understanding of subject is one thing that cannot be undermined, But it is just the presentation of answers that matter in deciding your score. You cannot cultivate this skill overnight before mains. You need to start earlier. So lets discuss everything in detail here. Mains examination, which is a subjective examination, carries 1750 marks out of a total of 2025. Developing Answer Writing skill is an absolute necessity for cracking the Civil Services Examination. Besides adequate knowledge in General Studies, understanding the demand of question, better structuring of the content, excellent articulation and the presentation skills matter equally.

Few questions/doubts related to answer writing

  • How to start answer writing?
  • What is balance approach in answers?
  • How can we score higher?
  • What examiner is looking at in our answers?
  • How to impress examiner even if you have moderate knowledge?
  • When should we start answer writing?
  • What is the time period required to get hold over it?
  • What is ideal answer?
  • Do we need to write ideal answer all the times to sail through?
  • Do we need to follow word limit?
  • Do we need strong command over English( Grammer or Vocabulary)?
  • How is it different from answering our university papers?

Go through this article and you will get aswers to all your queries.


How Beginners Should Start

  • As a beginner starting from point zero one can buy previous years question paper module and attempt some questions daily, moreover the questions from NCERT too will help.
  • Start writing answers as and when you study, don’t wait for the whole or even sufficient amount of syllabus to be finished.
  • Say you are studying polity and finished President, soon after, check previous years’ papers on this topic and try to answer as many as you wish, you could pick a single question that is the easiest for you and start answering on a piece of paper.You might not be able to answer questions that involve president and the prime minister as you wouldn’t have covered the latter yet. You can skip such questions for later.


Qualities Of Answer To Score High


  1. Multifaceted answers are appreciated.
  2. Short introduction and conclusion are required.
  3. Reiteration of the similar thoughts is to be avioded.
  4. Use as many concepts as possible especially for your optional papers.
  5. Give as many examples as possible to support your view. Try to have a contemporary relevance to you answer.
  6. Use simple English , Don't use jargons.
  7. Dynamic and holistic perspective answers is required. As UPSC says “The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.
  8. Write answers directly; do not beat around the bush. Some punctuation marks like this one (;) play a crucial role.



Balance Approach


  • For a balanced answer that too within the specified word limit -you first need a reasonable level of knowledge base.
  • First read and learn a topic. Attempt simple questions, Commit mistakes again and again while practising. Practice makes it perfect.
  • When a Question is asked to present your views try to give a generalist’s view. Sometimes you need not to give your suggestion, but you are expected to present existing facts in the present context. For e.g. Instead of writing ‘I feel’,it is better to write ‘it is felt….’.
  • If they are asking what innovation means, then a simple definition with one relevant example will be better rather than explaining it with lot of jargon/theory/models.
  • Also while writing for a particular paper do not think that you can write points from that particular syllabus only. Take a holistic view, broaden your outlook, Use relevant concepts/knowledge from other subjects also.
  • Communication skill, command over a language etc are known as SOFT Skills. A good vocabulary is needed to articulate your thought in a precise manner.


How it is different from College/University


Examiner intent

University is checking your knowledge about the subject. UPSC is looking for a leader in you. So its not just about knowledge but the perspective that matter.

Word Limit

In University theory papers word limit doesn't matter, But it matters in UPSC and it is expected from you that you would not cross that limit.

Quality Of Answer

In university paper, both matter but in CSE -quantity is fixed and quality only rules.


In university exams questions are quite repetitive but in CSE ,No one knows.





Tips And Tricks

Understand Question And Directive

Understand the directive asked, which will decide how your answer will look like.  Examples are justify, critically evaluate, discuss, comment, examine, analyse, etc. Each of them warrants a specific approach to answer writing in IAS mains exam.

Answers It completely

Use multidimensional approach to answer the questions. Use many perspectives and balance your answer. Most importantly, answer all the subparts.


Always use keywords to highlight important points and scoring points in your answers. Highlight these keywords to grap examiner's attention.

Substantiate your answers

Don’t forget to substantiate what you claim in your answers. This will give legitimacy to your answers, not to mention, make you look well-read to the examiner. In some questions, you will be asked to ‘substantiate’. In these cases, it is mandatory to give real-life examples to situations.


Presentation is important since you are not typing the answers. It is important to make the answers neat and legible. Give headings and subheadings wherever necessary. Also, have tables and figures if it will augment the quality of your answers.


The last tip in improving your answer writing in IAS mains is daily practice. Practice makes perfect and this can be the key that will separate you from your rivals. You can enroll for the BYJU’S Mains Answer Writing Series that will help enhance your answer writing skills and also give you a good practice for the actual exam.

Enrich your answer
As the questions are quite analytical in nature, the answer should incorporate multi-dimensions. Placing different dimensions requires proper understanding of the question as well as good active reading skill through which a student may be able to jot down good points from the article, report and place that at Right time at Right place.


So, 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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