- Keep your answers clear and simple
. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” The more you keep your answers simple and the better you demonstrate your conceptual clarity, the higher your score gets. Superficial knowledge and rote memorization of any institute’s or topper’s notes will not help.
- Present more content in your answer using shorter points
Don’t try to educate the examiner in your answer. Try and convey as many points in your answer, directly targeting the demand of the question. Add more dimensions, more examples, more facts and more recommendations. 10 points – 2 lines each is any day better than 5 points – 4 lines each.
- Practice past question papers and frame model answers
UPSC keeps rephrasing the same questions in a different language year after year. Pick-up the last 10 years questions papers and try to answer as many questions as possible. Use all your text books and notes, in helping you frame the answers. Solve at least for 5 questions every day. Show the answers to your mentor or anybody who has scored high in Public administration to see if you are approaching the answers, the right way. Try to also see, what relevant examples from day to day news you can use in your answers.
- Sign-up for a mock test series after prelims
This will help you manage time and schedule your preparation for completion of syllabus. Attend answer paper discussions after every test, so as to add new points or make corrections to your approach. Discussions I would say are as equally important as writing mock-tests.
- Make the right connections, but not too many
Relate portions of paper 2 with paper 1. For example, as a solution to make administrative reforms more effective, Mary Parker Follet’s “Integration” can be applied, to reconcile differences between the political executive, the bureaucracy and the citizens.
For another example, Taylor’s concept of piece-rate payment can be related to the pay commission recommendation of outcome-based incentives.
Make such connections, but don’t make far too many of them, that you miss the core demand of the question and end-up making only interlinkages.
- Support your answers with facts, figures and recommendations
For example, in a question on performance of Public sector enterprises, support your arguments about performance with facts on aggregate profits earned by PSEs, how many are loss making, what is the total outlay, return on investment for the Government etc. The Economic Survey document can prove to be very useful in this regard.
Also be very thorough with recommendations of various committees and commissions, most importantly of the 2nd ARC, Punchhi etc. and support your views with their observations and recommendations with them. This will make your answers, very substantial.
- Begin your answer attacking the fundamental crux of the questions
Go for the bull-eye in the introductory paragraph and use of the rest of the answer in supporting your understanding and arguments. Introduction should be a summary of all that you’re going to convey in your answer.
- Conclude your answer with a futuristic solution
End your answer charting out the way forward with an innovative and pragmatic solutions. Do this even if the question does not explicitly ask for it. If the question asks for 10, give it 11. That’s what can give your score the extra push.
- Equitably answer every dimension of the question
A question may have more than 1 part, sometimes even 3. Don’t concentrate your energies on just one part and use short fillers for the other portions. Each part of the question will carry a designated mark and you must be sure to answer each of them adequately.
- Constitution is the ultimate back-bone
Articles from the Indian Constitution, its provisions and statutory acts should be quoted wherever applicable in support of your answer. Let us not forget that “constitutionalism is the foundation of the administrative edifice”. It was also a question in the 2017 Paper. For Example, in an answer about powers of the CAG, mention relevant articles 148-151. But ensure that insertions of these articles look organic and give a flow to your answer.
- Don’t stray away from the demand of the question (Only Top 10, but adding the 11th, as that’s how you give the little extra to the examiner)
You could even underline the key words in the question and keep looking it at often while answering, to ensure you’re not straying away and dumping all that you know about the topic without direct relevance. Just like how efficiency should be a marking trait of every IAS officer, such should be the efficiency you display in your answer writing as well. Don’t repeat your points.
Aside from this approach, you can use mind-maps in your preparation to interlink topics/sub-topics and make a note of all the keywords under every sub-topic for quick revision before the examination. And let me remind you again: More content, fewer lines, simplicity, clarity, examples and necessary connections are your keywords for a topper’s score.
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