Handwriting to Diagrams: UPSC Toppers Share How To Write Great Answers in GS Mains!

“The only answer here is practice. One has to write answers and attempt mock tests within the proper time limit. I started first by writing answers daily which was three answers within the stipulated time limit,” shares Akshat.

One of the items on your priority list when preparing for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Service Exam (CSE) should be to write clear and concise answers quickly. To find out how toppers bested the time crunch, The Better India got in touch with Akshat Jain, AIR 2 CSE 2018, and Vishal Sah, AIR 63 CSE 2018. Here are some valuable tips that worked for them.

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“The only answer here is practice. One has to write answers and attempt mock tests within the proper time limit. I started by writing three answers daily within the stipulated time limit,” shares Akshat.

It was during this period that Akshat understood three important aspects of writing an answer for UPSC CSE.

• Structuring content
• Attempting mock tests
• Analysing mistakes

Your content must be well-structured – it has to be to the point and presented in a way that helps the examiner understand it.

“After a while, I shifted to writing complete mock tests in 3 hours. After each mock test, I used to analyse my answers and compare them with the model answers. If I could not complete the paper on time, I analysed the reasons for it,” says Akshat.


Representational image

“Do note that one does not have to make the handwriting spectacular – legible is what the examiners are looking for,” says Akshat.

“I have many colleagues whose handwriting was just about legible, and they still scored great marks. An aspirant just needs to choose a pen suited to their hand, which lets them write smoothly. After that, it is all about practice.”

Vishal Sah, AIR 63 CSE 2018 shares his pointers about the structure of answers. “Once you have internalised the question, it is important that you structure the answer in a cohesive manner.”

He adds that aspirants must break down their answers into an introduction, body and a clear conclusion.

Guidelines for introduction:

There can be three ways in which one may begin the answer – anecdote-based, quote-based or data-based. “It might be a good idea to take an optimistic approach while beginning the answer. You could also try and weave the beginning into the conclusion. Do think about that before attempting the essay,” he advises.

Body of the essay:

Capitalise the heading and subheadings in the essay. This draws attention to them and makes it easy for the examiner to follow the thread. “Do remember to answer all questions in terms of – what, when, where, why, and how. Additionally, remember to write about the challenges, obstacles and effective ways to overcome the topic chosen for your essay,” informs Vishal.

The body of the essay must be content-rich and should cover all aspects of the topic. Aspirants must showcase their all-round knowledge of the topic being discussed. “If there are reports from NITI Aayog, statistics from the Census or even visual aids like graphs and diagrams to explain the topic better, then aspirants must use these available materials,” says Vishal.

Vishal’s final advice is to draw from the introduction and string in the same data while bringing out your opinion about the topic.

Also Read: Primary School Teacher Cracks UPSC, Makes Father’s Dream Come True!

(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)

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