Practicing answer writing is critical part of one’s UPSC mains preparation and their are very few people who score well without any kind of practice. But there is a majority of section who despite numerous practice are unable to write or score well in mains. Following are some tips that you follow sequentially to make your practice sessions effective and rewarding:
- BEGINNER STAGE: In the initial stage, try writing not more than 2 answers a day. Practise Answer writing on Magiqa. Best would be to choose questions from past year UPSC papers. Read the question. Do brainstorming and write everything in short on a rough page regarding whatever you remember regarding the topic. Then try to arrange them logically and write a well-structured answer.
- Now many will think this is it, answer writing practice done. But no, this is just a “rough draft” and many layers of improvement will only make it perfect. Now you need to refer the relevant sources- NCERTs, reference books, newspaper articles. Note down the points which you find new here or you missed in your answer.
- Write the answer again including these points and some exact phrases as used in books. All this may take you 1–2 hours per question. But its said,
“The more you sweat in peacetime, the lesser you bleed in war”
Practice like this for 2–3 months and you will feel the difference.
- AMATEUR STAGE: By now, you have accumulated good amount of knowledge. But a good answer is not just about putting down facts and information. Its also about presentation. You should try to break the monotony of the answer by including tables, charts, schematics in all your answers. You can keep a few schematics ready beforehand which are generic in nature and applied to variety of questions. If possible get your answer reviewed by your teacher, peers and seniors. Try to incorporate to include their suggestions you feel are genuine.
- REVISION STAGE: Almost 3–4 months before mains is the time when you need to revise everything with mains perspective. Pick up a mock test paper from any good institute of the paper/section of a paper you wish to revise. Go through it and make a list of all topics asked in the question. Do not read the entire question, only the core of the question for eg inter-linking of rivers and hunger-poverty are two core concepts of following two questions:
- Not many years ago, river linking was a concept but it is becoming reality in the country. Discuss the advantages of river linking and its possible impact on the environment.(CSE 2017)
- Hunger and Poverty are the biggest challenges for good governance in India still today. Evaluate how far successive governments have progressed in dealing with these humongous problems. Suggest measures for improvement.(CSE 2017)
- Now use this list to revise all these topics comprehensively. Learn a few facts related to these, few good lines or quotes and some related Supreme court or government report findings. Finally write a model answer keeping all of this in mind.
- PROFESSIONAL STAGE: Now is the time to start timing yourself. This is around 2 months before mains. Take mock tests and just sit down to complete in fixed 3 hours.
Though its true that the model answer you write at the revision stage will not be replicated within the time frame, yet it will help you keep in mind what a good answer requires. So even if you touch 60% of your ideal/model answer you are way ahead others. And after all its a competition and this is what matters.