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How to write a good Mains answer?

There are no shortcuts for this. It takes some time, but if mastered once, it becomes a ‘Brahmastra’ for you throughout your life. It is a 3 step process –

  1. You learn the art of writing.
  2. You improve the art of writing, with the aim of convincing people with your words.
  3. You excel at the art of writing, with the aim of convincing the examiner and earning marks from him.

Step 1 Start writing on daily basis on topics which you are well versed in. It can be cinema, sports, cuisine, anything. Just write 500 words on your chosen topic every single day. Over a period of say 1 year, you will see how differently and effectively you have started conveying your ideas.

Step 2 : Here you are writing not just for yourself, but also for someone else who will be reading what you write. Hence, you need to be careful enough to write in a tone that makes sense and is easy to comprehend for the reader.

To Do : For this, I always suggest people to develop the habit of reading newspapers. The news items and editorials that are published are solely for the purpose of reading by the common man. It is easy to grasp their tone and flow, and learn how the columnists and reporters frame their articles. When this is done seriously, and with dedication, over a period of time, you shall automatically see the improvement that comes in your own writing style.

Step 3 : Having completed the first 2 steps, you now step into the arena of competition. Your writing should not just make sense to the reader, but must also be ‘better’ than 15000-odd competitors appearing for CSE Mains.

To Do : After the first 2 steps, you know ‘how’ to write and ‘what’ to write. Here, you need to get into specialised practice for CSE Mains. This should preferably be done 6 months before Mains. If that much time is not available, this practice must be begun after Prelims at all costs.

  1. Deeply analyse the nature of the questions that have been asked since 2013.
  2. Check the command words carefully – Analyse, Critically analyse, Comment, Describe – and frame your answer accordingly. A
  3. Enrol for a Test series, but don’t go by name of the institute only. The essential thing is to get feedback for your answers from knowledgable people. Take your pick accordingly. Don’t get too flustered by the marks you score in the tests. Learn gradually.
  4. As you cover your Mains syllabus, you will come across keywords which are used liberally at several places. Get hold of those keywords and use them in your answers. Example – Sustainable development, energy-efficient agriculture, inclusive growth etc.
  5. Always substantiate your answers with something irrefutable. Government reports, World Bank reports, NSSO surveys are some such fact/data banks that are to be used wherever feasible.
  6. Write answers point-wise as it gives you time to think about the next point, while you are writing the first one.

Structure of an answer:

There is no set structure to an answer. It varies with the question. But you can include:

An intro of one or two lines.

A body composed of two/three para. or points.

A digram (if prepared beforehand or can draw in 45 seconds)

Map for geography question.

Any committee’s recommendation.

Some current news information related to it.

Conclude on a positive note (kind of way forward).

All of it has to be done in seven/eight minutes in the final exam. But you can start writing it in any amount of time at the initial phase.

Anwer writing= brief introduction + theoretical static knowledge about the issue + current news (if any) + committee recommendation (if any) + relevant data + positive conclusion. (Typical answer format for GS paper 2 and paper 3 answers)

Thank you!

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