Approach to CSE Mains – GS Papers 1,2,3 and 4

Mains Answer Writing Strategy

Civil Services is not about choosing the potential writers rather the administrators delivering the required . Writing is the only way the examiner evaluates the level of understanding of an aspirant on various topics, his/her ability to deal with unexpected situations and eventually the potential as a civil servant.

In order to write well it is important to understand the demand of the question before writing the answers. Don’t write ‘what you know’ but write ‘what is asked for’. The content would automatically come if one understands the context.

For an Essay:

  • Choose a topic where you can include both time and space domain with just not sectoral examples but global examples, global impact and a global way forward.
  • Then substantiate your statement with facts and figure which tells how your thesis stands up to the challenge of a counter argument
  • Discuss in different angles .
  • Heading and subheading on different dimensions in a phrasal form .They provide the framework to the evaluator of what all has been addressed in a compartmentalized manner.
  • Insert historical background where needed.
  • Underline only the keywords to keep the sentence neat .
  • Include an executive summary.This is meant to give an idea of what one is going to write in the following pages .
  • Give the examples from the past or the current happenings to substantiate what you have opinionated. Also try to give the names of Reports and statistics to justify the proposition.
  • Theories and names of thinkers of your particular optional must be avoided.
  • Insert one poetry of 6 to 8 lines in my essay.
  • Counter-argument may appear within a paragraph
  • Justify arguments with Data/Citation/Report etc.
  • Be wary of paragraph openers that lead off with “time”words (“first,” “next,” “after,” “then”) or “listing” words(“also,” “another,” “in addition”).
  • Keep in mind that Poor essays generally have a descriptive thesis rather than an argumentative one.
  • Need not remember who said the quote,but present the quote as if it is your own saying .Include quotes from the Hindu.
  • Have a Conclusion:Moralistic and ethical.
  • In the way forward: have a to the point address of the solution.


In the following section is a framework of how and what must be followed while writing an essay.

Figure: A Framework to the answer writing provides us ample time and space to work effectively upon the content.

Essay writing checks the thought process, while Answer writing in General Studies checks not only the thinking process but also the knowledge .

In the following section we shall see the structure to incorporate for General Studies answer writing .


  • Can be definitional
  • Or some contextual background
  • Address to the demand of the question.
  • Map of India highlighting the region where the asked art form exists
  • Diagram: Eg. Stupa, Ashokan Pillar, IVC Script on seal, Temple styles etc.
  • Any recent initiatives by the Ministry of Culture
  • any institution is taking place;
  • or contribution of the art form in Indian culture
  • Incorporate the Dynamic nature of the topic.
  • Why the issue has been in news; or,
  • Give some finding of any report w.r.t. the issue asked
  • Address to the demand of the question
  • focus on the meaning of the terms given in the question
  • Life cycle approach can be shown through flowchart;
  • or, map of India can be drawn to locate the regions where a particular issue has occurred e.g. Dalit atrocities in Una, Bhima Koregaon etc.
  • Any specific body,
  • policies, schemes etc. to address such issues can be cited.
  • Try to associate the introduction with the major currents of the time like 1st World War, Non Cooperation Movement, Civil Disobedience Movement etc.
  • context should be provided as why the question has been asked
  • Address the demand of the question directly
  • For personality question ,give introduction of the personality in 1 or 2 line and then directly address .
  • Region where the event asked had taken
  • The future impact of the event in shaping Indian freedom struggle etc.
  • For physical geography questions, names of theories can be given.
  • For human geography questions, a general trend on the distribution, pattern etc. can be provided.
  • reports can be cited
  • Write what was given in the theory, i.e. for physical geography, core concepts should be written.
  • For human geography, any recent socio- political developments can be written to meet the demands of the question
  • At least 1 for 10 markers and at least 2 for 15 markers;
  • Map of India and world can be practiced
  • Shading of the regions
  • Diagram in 1/4th of the size of the paper.
  • Any recent Agreement, policies etc. can be cited. Eg. In every question related to climatology, global warming and the Paris Agreement can be cited
  • Articles,
  • CAAs,
  • SC Judgements, names of important cases with the year etc. can be used
  • address the demand but through the language of constitution/law.
  • using words like federalism, basic features etc.
  • Use of constitutional articles in brackets for constitutional bodies
  • Very Less scope
  • Widely accepted view among the intellectuals; or
  • substantiated by SC judgement;
  • basic feature
  • Can be dynamic,
  • statistics-based or
  • from any report of government
  • Address the demand.
  • It is important for questions on governance to identify the  various stakeholders and the role of the various implementing agencies.
  • Reports and Committee names can be given wherever required
  • Facts and figures
  • The recent steps taken to tackle the previous governance
  • deficit in given sector can be highlighted.
  • Also, use of Sustainable development goals
  • Incorporate Dynamic events
  • Meeting the demand of the question
  • Substantiate argument by facts like India Nepal treaty of 1950 etc.
  • Map of India or world ,to represent specific region like SCS.
  • Articles
  • How are approach are in line with our foreign policy.
  • To make different data sets of progress.
  • Divide it into 1947 vs 1991,1991 vs 2008.
  • And relevant figure to substantiate or negate the statement .
  • Take topics from the syllabus and make a data set on the topics based on the available data.
  • Body=fact +analysis
  • Failure of earlier plan and the new scopes.
  • Models,eg Harrod donar
  • Mahalonobis plan,
  • Formulas .
  • Schemes ,
  • policies of government,
  • substantiated on the basis of the data you provide .eg mega food parks and cold chains.
  • Definitional
  • Dynamic eg,blockchain and Artificial intelligence.
  • Address the demand
  • For static:know about PSLV,Missiles etc.their range ,fuel type.
  • Standard diagram
  • Or Based on your understanding of the topic
  • Department of science and tech has done relevant to the field..

(solve as many previous year questions )

  • Definition
  • Historical background
  • Dynamic issues
  • Include bodies like paramilitary,itbp,bsf etc.
  • Security acts,policies, institutions eg NCIIPC ,Cert-in, Cert-Fin,PMLA-ED
  • Or Based on your understanding of the topic
  • Maps should be drawn
  • Any recent initiative of the  government
  • Explain the term/keyword given in the question
  •  It is also important to use the terms given in the syllabus to write the answers.
  • Eg. CoC, CoE, accountability, etc.
  • Address the demand of the question
  • Mention personal as well as professional well known examples to substantiate .
  • Also, not all answers demand point format or merit-demerit approach. Some answers can be plainly written in paragraphs
  • In the form of flowcharts
  • Case studies: Mention the facts of the case
  • Identify Stakeholders
  •  Identify ethical dilemmas (if any)
  • Start addressing the questions:
  • In giving solutions, practical/ life scenarios should be considered rather than only the context of the question
  • Always have a ethical stance .
  • Can name any reports or studies .
  • As such, government schemes and policies can be incorporated in your answers. Eg. Aadhaar, DBT, Ambulance service etc.


Best Wishes
Officers IAS Academy – Best IAS Coaching in Chennai.

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