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UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE) is not just about knowledge, but also about exam skills. Here, we present 12 exam hall tips to boost your UPSC CSE Main (written) exam marks.
1. Manage your time properly
In UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE), each General Studies Paper is for 250 marks. Though there can be variations, there are usually 20 questions to answer in each paper - the time available is 180 minutes (3 hours). You can take approximately 8-9 minutes to answer each question if all questions carry same marks. If mark varies from question to question, set time accordingly.
Having said that, if sticking to time-limit for each question is not easy for you - set hourly target. In the first hour make sure you answer 6 questions and in the second and third-hour answer 7 questions each. That too will do the job!
2. Plan your answer structure
The framework of your answer should clearly convey the examinor that you know the answer well. Make sure that reading your answers is a pleasure for him and not a pain.
Plan what should be included in the introduction, body, and conclusion to make your answer stand out. Make sure you include multiple dimensions of the question topic - social, political, economical etc - in your answer body.
3. Write answers based on directives and keywords
Don't beat around the bush. Always be focused. Check the specific keywords used in the question. Also, keep a note on the directive words (Eg: Critically Examine). Answer as per the demand of the question.
4. Give an attention-grabbing introduction
Your introduction should give a hint about what you are going to write in the body. In 1-2 lines, make the reader curious about what you are trying to present.
5. Connect your answers with current affairs
In General Studies, many questions are some way related to current affairs - even if not explicitly mentioned. Whenever possible, candidates are advised to connect static information with current affairs. For example, in a question on election commission, connect it with current issues associated with election commission.
6. Present your answers well
Presentation of the answer is really important. Use diagrams whenever suitable. Use of bullet points in questions where it is appropriate is suggested. For other questions, use paragraph format with headings and sub-headings. Underlining the keywords is also a good idea. The easier you make your answer readable for the examiner, the more marks you get.
7. Don't use extreme statements
Use moderate statements. For example, if the question is about a particular scheme, never present 'XYZ' scheme as a complete failure. Instead, write 'The XYZ scheme did not achieve the desired results because of the following reasons:'.
8. Don't generalise too much
It is said that one who generalises, generally lies. Each situation is different. So, unless, you are absolutely sure, don't generalise.
9. Bring multiple perspectives into General Studies Paper IV
A popular misconception is that General Studies Paper IV is only about Ethics. However, it is wrong. The paper covers a lot of other areas - integrity, aptitude, attitude etc. being some of them.
So while writing answers in GS Paper IV, just don't stick to the ethical dimension. Rather provide a complete picture.
10. Give examples and practical solutions
Always try to substantiate your answer with relevant examples. Also, if you can provide realistic solutions to problems, you are proving yourself as a capable officer before the examiner. Always keep this golden rule in mind.
11. Provide a Positive Conclusion
Everyone loves positive people. It would be great if your conclusion is optimistic. Afterall, UPSC is looking for candidates who can DO something. Here too, don't go overboard. Just conclude what you have aleady mentioned in the intro and body, maintaining the flow of your answer.
12. To win the race you have to complete the race
Candidates should manage time properly to write answers to all the questions asked in the paper. If you face time constraints, it is always advisable to write an average answer to all the questions rather than writing an exceptional answer for just 2-3 questions and ending up wasting time and missing other questions.