Compared to UPSC Prelims, the Mains is a subjective exam. Hence, the answers are not presented in front of you as options like in Prelims. Instead, wide ranges of questions are asked, which require you to explain and support your arguments when you attempt them. This requires facts, figures, examples, interlinking of topics and solutions to get the best marks.
How to use facts in UPSC Mains?
When broken down into basic requirements of answer writing, the first thing you have to do is understand the question\’s need and make a structure for seamless flow in answering. When you are ready to answer a Mains question, make sure that the points you raise follow the need of the question. Here, to support your point, you should use facts wherever necessary. These facts are to be collected from good current affairs material and preferably have the latest data to get the best result. Wherever required, it would be wise to show the source of these facts to convince the examiner that these facts you share are from a reputed source. When facts are presented, it would involve numbers, factual statement, examples etc. Also, while you give these facts, if required, you can diagrammatically represent them to save space and make them more appealing. For example, you may use bar charts and graphs to provide a more visual yet space-saving appearance.
These facts should not overpower the overall answer but should be supportive in nature. You are not meant to dump the facts everywhere without any correlation, but instead sufficiently use them, only to strengthen what you wrote as the main point.
Also, to memorise these facts, you should write/store them down separately and label them under topics that they can be interlinked with. You may use a notebook or a digital medium, but you should often revise it.
How to connect current affairs with a topic?
Many students often face the problem of connecting current affairs with a static topic. Initially, this would seem challenging, but you would automatically identify to do this as time progresses. You may get acclimatised to this by doing two things.
1) Think how a particular static topic can be correlated to current affairs while studying the static topic, or
2) Think which static topics can be applied while reading your current affairs material.
While doing this, kindly keep in mind that it would be better to link multiple dimensions of current affairs to a static topic. For example, for a static topic like environmental pollution, you can add current affairs topics like the latest legislation related to the environment (Polity current affairs), monetary loss due to biodiversity destruction (economics current affairs) etc. Hence, not only should you use current affairs, but you should also try to interlink it with multiple dimensions like Polity, Economy, Environment, Geography etc.
Last but not least, to improve your skill of incorporating current affairs into your mains answers, kindly start your answer writing practice. As you progress, you will find it easy to use facts and how various dimensions can be linked. Moreover, go through the previous years\’ Mains question papers to test your effort and improve them after analysing them. All the best!