Writing Tips for IAS Mains

UPSC Civil Services Examination is a three-tier examination. Prelims, Mains and Interview are its three stages. The format of examination in these stages are different as prelims are purely objective in nature (MCQ)  whereas main has nine conventional-type papers (theory-based answers). The Personality Test is the interview stage.

Candidates often hear the importance of integrated preparation when it comes to the UPSC Examination, however, various candidates get confused when it comes to writing answers for the Mains examination. This article will provide you with some tips on how to prepare yourself for Mains. One of the important segments to prepare is Current Affairs 2021 for the UPSC recruitment this year, hence candidates will also get some tips to integrate their current affairs knowledge with their Mains answers.

Brief about UPSC Mains

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has designed the syllabus of the IAS Mains in a manner that fulfills the demand of each of the nine papers. These nine papers are:

  1. 2 compulsory but qualifying Language Papers
    1. Indian Language Paper – A candidate has to choose any language from the list of official languages of India,
    1. English Language Paper
  2. 4 General Studies Papers
    1. General Studies Paper-I – IndianHeritage and Culture, World History, Geography, Indian Society
    1. General Studies Paper-II – Indian Polity, International Relations
    1. General Studies Paper-III – Indian Economy, Science and Technology, Biodiversity and Environment
    1. General Studies Paper-IV – Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
  3. 2 Optional Papers
    1. A candidate has to select one optional subject out of the list of 48 subjects. There are two papers based on that subject.
  4. Essay Paper

How different is Prelims Preparation than Mains?

The difference is in the nature of the examination. While in prelims, a candidate has to select a right answer from the multiple choices provided, in mains a candidate has to write theory-based answers in each of the nine papers.

The Mains examination is not only the test of answer-writing speed but also skills. One who has learnt comprehensively is expected to write answers that fulfil the demand of questions that are bent towards analysis and dynamism. Hence, it becomes important to know the below-mentioned tips to write answers with confidence:

Tips to Write Answers in UPSC Mains

  1. Practise answer writing from the very beginning of your preparation –  Mostly candidates get trapped in this assumption to write answers only when the syllabus is completed. However, that isn’t a fruitful approach. Since the syllabus is so comprehensive in nature, candidates would take time to finish it, hence one must not wait for the last day to start answering the questions.
  • Start with small steps – One shouldn’t expect to write flawlessly from the very beginning. One must remember that it is a sprint and not a marathon. It is true for answer-writing as well. In a one-year preparation, even if candidates write 2-5 answers daily at the least, then also he/she can get ample amount of learnings with this.
  • Start with your favourite subject – One shouldn’t be too hard on themselves when it comes to learning for the IAS Exam. There are multiple subjects that a candidate has to study. Hence, to begin with their answer-writing, one must choose a subject they are most comfortable with. This way, they would be able to find out the challenges in writing answers to those questions that they already know or felt confident about. Gradually, candidates can opt for other subjects.
  • Know 50 words at the least about every topic – A basic introduction of the topic is a must for candidates. This helps them to begin their answers. For example, if there is a question concerning sustainable development; candidates first should know what it means and what is the applied theory of sustainability. This will help them to start their answers. Similarly, it goes for every other topic mentioned in the IAS syllabus.
  • Follow a format in your answers – It is a cliche but a must to know. Candidates should follow a simple answer-structure:
    • Introduction of 2-3 lines
    • Body  – It would include the main part of your answer.
    • Conclusion – A positive approach to end your answer. It could be substantiated with solutions, a positive quote, etc.
  • “Sweat more in the training” to “Bleed Less in the War” – It is a famous saying that is motivational enough for serious IAS aspirants. The more you practise today, the less you fear in the future.

Many candidates have a doubt regarding where to practise these questions since they haven’t finished the syllabus. The answer lies in the previous years’ UPSC Question Paper. It is one of the biggest tools to learn your answer-writing from. Take any question from the last 25 years of those topics that remain static in nature, and start writing an answer.

Candidates shouldn’t forget to share their answers with their peers or mentors for feedback and guidance.