Answer Writing Techniques for Mains

  • by Manoj K. Jha

Mains examination questions of general studies unfolded many thing, about word limit, approach to the questions, analytical demand of the question, and many turns and twists.

By Manoj K. Jha

What is a good answer? Million dollar question! Especially in the given scenario when good marks in IAS Mains Exam is distant dream. In the notification for the last year’s IAS Main examination, clear instruction was given regarding the changed expected writing behaviour. Instruction in UPSC notification clearly deliberates: “Candidates should note that instead of separate Question Paper and answer book, a consolidated Question Paper-cum-Answer book, having space below each part/sub part of a question shall be provided to them for writing the answers. Candidates shall be required to attempt answer to the part/sub-part of a question strictly within the pre-defined space. Any attempt outside the pre-defined space shall not be evaluated.”

Mains examination questions of general studies unfolded many thing, about word limit, approach to the questions, analytical demand of the question, and many turn and twist attached to most of the question in the form of common instructions i.e. Analyse, Critically analyse, discuss, evaluate, explain etc.

Though I will keep writing on these issues and, also will share the exclusive model answer of UPSC in the coming month, which I had discussed in classroom with many aspirants who wrote IAS Mains exam last year. Here I am presenting the meaning of the common instructions attached to the Questions in the Mains paper.

ANALYSE: Break up an issue/event into its component parts and explain how these relate to one another.

ASSESS: consider the importance of something stress is given in the question.

COMPARE: simply examine the similarities and differences.

CONTRAST: concentrate on the differences.

CRITIQUE: point out the limitations and usefulness of the subject in the question.

DESCRIBE: give detailed account of a topic

DISCUSS: explain various perspective and present a logical argument

EVALUATE : weigh up the importance, success or value of something with evidence to support your view

EXAMINE : give a detailed account, questioning and exploring the relevant issue

EXPLAIN: give a precise account, with reasons for why or how it is as it is.

ILLUSTRATE: use examples from a range of source to demonstrate your understanding of the subject.

JUSTIFY: make a case for a particular perspective. Establish the truth through supporting evidence or logical reasoning

REVIEW : examine how a topic has been studied and comment on value and limitations of its treatment

To what extent… : explore the case for and against a claim