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How can I improve my quality of answers for the UPSC CSE Mains?

In my perspective, the Mains exam is a marathon of writing. For 27 hours and nine papers, one must remain cognitively alert while also ensuring that each answer they write contains certain components that will give them the maximum marks they can get. Keep in mind that even the toppers receives only around half of the maximum marks. Therefore, the goal for each aspirant should be to compose an answer that includes all pertinent information as well as some qualitative elements. The writing tips listed below will help you ace your Mains exam and earn the well deserved Interview call.


1) Previous Year Papers: Make sure to go through all the previously asked questions. Reading over these papers enables you to comprehend the crucial parts and concentrate your efforts on those specific areas for better marks. By doing so, you get well versed in those areas that are consistently asked.

2) Usage of keywords: The Mains test is a race against time and space. You are given a limited amount of time and space to write your answer. Thus, each word you write is important. The keywords you use matter more than anything else. If you could describe ideas in fewer words, as opposed to using unnecessary words, you would have more room to write and, at the same time, would impress the examiner by demonstrating that you are ahead of others. For instance, you can assert that “constitutionalism is a must”, instead of saying that “one must resist tyranny, including the worst outcome of majority rule, to ensure the liberty and rights of individuals.”

3) Complete all of the questions: This can sound like an easy notion, but it is challenging to complete all of the questions throughout the exam. Your position on the final list might be affected by as little as one mark. As a result, whether you are familiar with the answer or not, make sure you are able to attempt every question. Additionally, make sure you practice answer writing before the exam so you know the pace at which you can comfortably complete the exam.

4) Writing according to the nature of the paper: Remember that each paper has a certain nature. For example, GS 1 covers history, social concerns, and other topics; GS 2 covers politics; GS 3 covers economics, among other topics. Therefore, it is preferable to produce a GS3 answer from an economics perspective and a GS2 paper from a political one.

5) Handwriting: Although one cannot instantaneously modify their handwriting, one that is difficult to read might indeed be detrimental to the scores. To aid you in drafting your answers, get practice at writing legibly and coherently.

6) Properly structuring the answering: When responding to questions, always use the “Introduction-Body-Conclusion” approach. This guarantees that the response has both a structure and beauty while answering. The body of the answer you write gives the impression that you are knowledgeable about the specifics of the problem, and the conclusion can also be a “way forward” and allow you to present recommendations and creative solutions to the problem. The introduction enables the examiner to understand that you have understood the scope of the question. All of these tiny details contribute to raising your score.

7) Supportive arguments: To demonstrate that you have not given a random statement, whatever arguments you give must be backed up by extra pertinent points. Examples, statistics, and facts from reliable sources (government, international organizations, etc.) are required as supporting evidence.

8) Figures: The rationale is straightforward; they save space and gives the response a professional appearance. Figures are similar to information that is confined to a certain space. You may sometimes show that you are aware of the solution and ensure that you have room to express any further points by utilizing a specific figure. Even flowcharts and diagrams may be used to save time, especially when you’re short on time.

9) Dividing the answer into sections: Instead of writing the entire response in one long paragraph, utilize subheadings that are pertinent to the topic and highlight the crucial phrases as you write. This enables the examiner to recognize the key details and demonstrates that you have addressed all the sub-questions in the question by providing sub-headings.


For passing the Civil Services exam, nothing may be more gratifying than perseverance, hard work, and a fundamental grasp of subjects. Additionally, if you use these strategies, your marks will undoubtedly increase. If you need step-by-step guidance for clearing the Mains exam, click here to join our Mains Program to receive the best IAS coaching experience, both offline and online. I wish you the very best for your upcoming Mains exam.




Published by
Officers IAS Academy – Best IAS Academy in Chennai.

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