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UPSC 2019: How to write accurate and analytical answers in Mains

Posted on Monday, July 8, 2019

Most candidates write single dimensional answer and fail to analyse the correct perspective asked in the question, writes Manoj K Jha

To perform well in UPSC Mains, knowing the answer is not enough; it is also about writing skills that determine a candidate’s success. But what is a good answer? Here are some methodologies for mastering the art of answer writing skills.
While answering subjective questions one must carefully approach the questions, asses the analytical demand of the question, and focus on the common instructions i.e. analyse, critically analyze, discuss, evaluate or explain the question. Many a times candidates answer the question based on only one dimension and fail to analyze the correct perspective asked. Thus, firstly understanding of these terms is must. When it says:
Analyse - Break up an issue/event into its component parts and explain how these relate to one another
Assess - Consider the importance of something given in the question
Compare - Simply examine the similarities and differences
Contrast - Concentrate only 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
The flow of the answer should be proper. The answer should clearly depict the — Introduction: In GS question it should be of maximum two lines as increasing its length may reduce the main body content due to strict word limit guideline. The introduction may be in form of definition, fact, etc; Main Body: It should depict the different dimensions asked in the question. If the answer is related to pros and cons or similar to that, it should be written in point format. This will increase the visibility of different dimensions covered and candidate will be able to stick to word limit. In the answer related to critical analysis paragraphs should be placed under each dimension with proper justification; Conclusion: It should depict the crux of the answer as well as the way forward.
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. More practice helps in consolidating information.
(The author is director of GS Score Institute)


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