The Mains exam is a writing marathon, in my opinion. Spanning over a total of 27 hours and nine papers, one must be mentally active and at the same time make sure that each answer you write has some elements that will give you the best score possible. Remember, even the topper is awarded around 50% of the maximum marks. So what any aspirant must aim for, is to write an answer with all the necessary points along with some qualitative aspects. Given below given are some of the writing hacks one must follow to score more marks for your Mains exam.
1) Finish all the answers- This might seem an easy idea, but in reality, it is tough to do in the actual exam. Even a single mark can change your rank in the final list. Hence, make sure that you can attend every question that is asked, regardless of whether you know the answer to it or not. Also, make sure you have enough writing practise before the actual exam so that you know at what speed you are comfortable writing to finish the exam.
2) Previous Year Papers- Make sure you don’t leave any stone unturned. Going through the previous year papers allows you to understand the essential areas and focus your efforts on those particular areas for more marks.
3) Structuring of an answer- Make sure you follow the “Introduction- Body-Conclusion” format for answering questions. This ensures that the answer not only has a structure but also has an elegance when answering. The introduction allows the examiner to understand that you have understood the scope of the question, the body of the answer you write gives an impression that you know the details surrounding the issue, and the conclusion can also be a ‘way forward’ and allow you to present recommendations and innovative ideas on solving the problem. All these minor elements improve your marks.
4) Keywords- The mains exam is a race against time and space. You have limited time and writing space to produce your answer. Hence, every word you write counts. What counts more is the keywords that you incorporate. Rather than being verbose, if you could explain an idea in fewer words, it would give you more space to write and at the same time, impress the examiner by showing that you are ahead of others. For example, you may say that “one must prevent tyranny including the worst result of majority rule and to guarantee the liberty and rights of individuals” or, you could say “constitutionalism” must be present.
5) Figures- The reason is very simple-saves space and makes the answer look well-designed. Figures are like information that is concentrated in a small area. Sometimes, by using a simple figure, you can convey that you are aware of what the answer is and make sure that you can write any additional points. You can even use figures to save time and especially when you are running short of it.
6) Supportive arguments- Any arguments you make has to be supported by additional relevant points to show that you have not just bluffed your answer. The supportive arguments that you must provide are examples, data and facts from credible sources (government, international organizations etc.)
7) Sticking to the nature of the paper- Remember, each paper has its own nature-GS 1 has history, social issues etc., GS 2 has polity, GS 3 has Economics etc. Hence, it is better to write a GS3 paper with an economics angle and a GS2 paper with a Polity angle.
8) Splitting answer- Rather than a big chunk of the answer, make sure you use subheadings that are relevant to the question and underline the keywords. This helps the examiner identify the crucial points and also shows that by giving sub-headings, you have answered all the needed sub-questions in the question.
9) Handwriting- Though one cannot instantly change their handwriting, nor does it imply that good handwriting gives better marks, handwriting that is barely legible can definitely hurt you.Practice writing clearly and legibly to improve your answer writing.
The above given are just a few hacks to improve the marks. Nothing can be more rewarding than hard work, persistence and a basic understanding of concepts for cracking the Civil Services exam. On top of these, if you apply these techniques, it would definitely improve your scores.