Answer Writing for UPSC


“Practice makes a man perfect “

Yes! Practice, Practice and Practice is the key to write perfect answers. Keeping different directive words, the demand of the question and the word limit, in mind will help to write and think fast in the examination hall.

Aspirants’ should always understand that writing answers for the four General Studies Papers of UPSC Mains exam and the Optional Papers are totally different. For General Studies Papers, one should focus on facts and the presentation of these facts within the specified word limit and the stipulated time.

Important tips to keep in mind while writing answers for UPSC.

  1. Understand the question properly.
  2. Pick out the keywords from the question.
  3. Analyse those keywords.
  4. Make an outline frame of your answer.
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  1. Begin with an eye catchy quotation.
  2. Write about all the possible aspects of the topic.
  3. Points should be well organised in the body of the essay or answer.
  4. Try to relate the answer with any current event or case study.

The understanding of question is the most important task while writing an answer. Some of the frequently used directives use in the UPSC question papers are :- ‘Examine’, ‘Comment’, ‘Analyze’, ‘ ‘Evaluate’, ‘Discuss’, ‘Critically Examine’, Critically Comment’, ‘Critically Analyze’, ‘Assess’, etc. Let’s understand the meaning of some of these words.

  • Evaluate / Assess / Examine:

It means that the examinee has to give a detailed explanation of the question or the topic discussed in the question. All the useful information one knows can put into the answer in a well structured form.

  • Enumerate:

Simply list the points about the topic and don't give detailed explaination. Eg; "The population ratio of India is 93 females per 100 males".

  • Narrate:

The examinee has to discuss the events in the chronological order i.e. early to late narration of the events. Also, one can predict the course in future, if asked.

  • Define:

"This simply means write the definition, including all the possible keywords and phrases which can be the essential parts of that particular definition."

  • Opinion / Comment / Views:

One's opinion is asked in the question when the above mentioned words are used. Optimistic approach should be there while answering. One can give future oriented and progressive ideas. Moreover, the opinion should be written in a fashion which is largely acceptable.

  • Purpose / Goal / Objective / Target:

The possible purpose/ goal/ objective/ target of the given topic / question is to be answered with a brief description of the main idea.

  • Analyse:

When it comes to analyse, it is the same as evaluation, assessment or examination plus your opinion is also needed here. So, once you give your opinion it means you are interpreting the event according to your knowledge apart from detailed explanations.

  • Discuss:

The tone of writing should be in such a way that the examinee is talking with the examiner. One can write whatever knowledge he/she is having. A differing opinion can be used.

  • Describe:

This is the easiest thing to do and just theoretical knowledge is required here. Write basically the parts, what the topic is made up of, its constituents, characteristics and attributes.

  • Critically:

An important term and a favourite of UPSC. Whenever it is asking Critically Examine, Critically Comment or Critically Analyse just remember that you have to write both pros and cons and give a fair, unbiased or value loaded judgement. It should always give a feeling of closure.

  • Elucidate / Elaborate / Expand / Exemplify:

These are more or less similar words but not exactly the same. Elucidate means make it clear with examples to make it clear. Elaborate and Expand mean detailed explanations. Exemplify means - give a typical example of that particular category. Must include contemporary affairs, connections or current affairs.

  • Implications / Consequences / Outcomes / Results:

The possible scenario or impact of the event in question is the main content of these kind of questions.

  • Contrast / Distinguish:

Distinguish means differences not similarities. You can write similarities as well as differences if asked to Compare and Contrast.

  • Significance / Importance:

What happens because it exists or what happen if it doesn't exist.

  • Justify / Advocate:

Here you have to argue in favour of and write favourable comments as far as reasonably possible.

  • Illustrate:

Use examples; data, diagrams and charts to make the topic or content more effective or clear.


Essay Writing Skill for UPSC paper cannot be developed by reading any one book or magazine osr in a month or two. Practice more to get the confidence. Writing enough about different topisc will help you in do so. Make yourself habitual of reading from diverse sources. To write decently on any topic, you need to have in-depth knowledge i.e. huge content.

Do's / don’ts

 These are a few do and don't which one should remember while writing answers or essays.

  • Avoid grammatical mistakes.
  • Always have an optimistic approach.
  • Use good vocabulary but don’t overuse it.
  • Don’t deviate from the theme.
  • Good handwriting is the key.
  • Diagrams and flowcharts should be used.

Try to improve your mistakes and practice a lot to write better answers in the UPSC examination.  Make a dairy for noting new words, phrases, idioms, etc. Also try to analyze the current affairs and new examples that how one can use them in their answers.

With all these tips one can surely achieve their aim of writing in a better way for UPSC. Practice and read good content. Only a good reader can write good answers. Work smartly and all the best for preparation.

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