One of the greatest student in Indian History is Arjuna. His dedication and hard work to improve his skill of archery are unmatched.
Guru Dronacharya had instructed the cook at the ashram to not serve his students food at night. One day, however, the dinner got delayed. While everyone was eating at night, suddenly, the lights went off. As Arjuna ate in the dark, he realized that there was automatic coordination between his hands and mouth. He did not require vision to put his hand into his mouth. This was an amazing discovery for him. This meant that he could orient himself to shoot the target even in the night, through his other senses. He immediately took up his bow and arrow to practice in the dark. And from then on, the entire month, he would practice day and night!
Day and night- just practice.
If you want to ace your mains answer writing, then PRACTICE is your only option. Arjuna had practiced for decades before his real test in the Mahabharata war. Even you need to start your answer writing from day one and not leave it for “after the prelims” approach.
Be Arjuna of Answer writing!
Why Answer writing from Day 1 is necessary?
Let me first develop enough knowledge to write answers: This is the biggest lie we tell ourselves. There is no such thing as “ENOUGH” in UPSC preparation. It is better to train ourselves from Day 1 – How to apply the knowledge that I have?
Your knowledge is tested through your answers: If you have not learned the art to articulate your thoughts on paper, then that’s a disaster waiting to happen. Studying and writing answers is a symbiotic relationship and one reinforces the other.
Prelims Magic: We all want quick results, we want our answers to be brilliant within a week after we clear prelims. Hence, the common excuse – I will deal with answer writing after prelims. Sorry to break it to you but magic is limited to Harry Potter books.
Advantages of starting writing answer early:
- Helps you retain concepts, facts, and figures.
- Learning the trick to formulate the structure of the answer.
- Helps to revise things and learn new things not covered by conventional books.
- Improves your writing speed, and handwriting.
Some common mistakes students make in answer writing
- Not understanding the demand of the Question: Words like ‘Examine’, ‘Comment’, or ‘Discuss’ are used for a reason in the questions. Why would UPSC use different words if it wants the same structure from each question?
- Structure a Mental Framework: If you lack the practice then, you are not able to create a mental framework. This leads to poor answers- you write points as you remember in a haphazard manner. This completely compromises your presentation.
- Introduction, body, and conclusion: This is the ideal structure for the mains answer. One very common mistake is that students have a tendency to generalize the introduction and conclusion. Along with this, the scope of dimensions in the body is limited.
- Low hanging fruits: Some elements in your answer like a diagram, reports/commissions, and supreme court judgments can uplift the quality of your answers. Students have a tendency to skip them.
These are just a few mistakes, in the initial phase of answer writing, students make a lot of such mistakes which can cost them marks. The real Smart study is to overcome such silly mistakes in your answer writing from the very start.
This Handout is drafted by SAJAL SIR himself which deals with 20 key points for Mains answer writing. This handbook can give you a new insight into what mistakes you are making while writing answers.
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About the Author
Sajal sir is known to make Economics and IR as easy as a cakewalk. He scored one of the highest marks in GS in the 2017 UPSC exam. Under his guidance, more than 80 percent of Students qualified for UPSC interview 2020 in Smash mains Program.
Sajal sir’s marks in UPSC 2017 GS Mains paper were:
- GS Paper 1 – 132
- GS Paper 2 – 125
- GS Paper 3 – 130