Dr. Rajkumar IAS / KAS Academy

UPSC CSE Mains Answer Writing

UPSC CSE Mains Answer Writing:


UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) conducts the CSE (Civil Services Examination) in three stages that is Prelims, Mains, and Interview. In the three stages of the examination the Mains plays a key role in scoring, and which supports the candidate to get good rank as well. The real UPSC CSE is falls in Mains contains 85% of the weightage. To make sure whoever appearing for the Mains keep the below
points in your mind.


Answer Writing for Mains:

Writing is an art, the candidate should put right effort, regular practice, and proper guidance to perform well, answer writing categorised into three sections:

  • Basic
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Do understand the question fully and correctly, it helps the candidates to develop a basic mental framework, don’t wait for the answer to come to you, gather the information, facts, and ideas, don’t overstretch your imagination- good understanding of the issue.


To structure the answer candidate supposed to follow three steps:

  • Step 1- Write a fitting Introduction to your answer, narrate the central premise of your answer.
  • Step 2- Divide the main body of the answer to paragraphs or bullets.
  • Step 3- Wrap up your answer with well balanced conclusion always healthy positive opinion.


Problem, issue, definition, and data, one line version of the answer. If the space permits – verdict, statement & judgement it should be 3 sentences.


Simple sentences bring together all the main elements of the answer, positive opinion, last sentence would be the general statement reiterating with the introduction.
The Intermediate:
The ABC of answer writing – Accuracy, Brevity, and Clarity. Most important thing is the word limit of your answer writing –

  • GS Paper – Maximum 150–200-word limit.
  • Ethics Paper – 150, 250, and 300 words limits.
  • Optional Papers – 150 Word Limit.
  • Essay Paper – 100 to 1200 Word limit.

Word limits and marks:

Time Management:

Three rules of thumb –

  • Go with the flow while writing and thinking, trust yourself, do not indulge in self-doubt.
  • Write in language that naturally comes to you.
  • Do not get stuck with one question.

Other than that – Stick with word limits, develop a good writing speed, consume less time as possible, do not try to reach perfection in answer. 

The Advanced:
  • Abilities to recall.
  • Process of writing.
  • Write down the thoughts.

To begin with do open-book answer writing, and then move on to answer writing from your memory.

How to develop answer writing?
Discard the use of complex language, use the language universally understood, write an easy and simple understand sentence, and develop templates for your answer
that you can recall at a short notice.

Directives and Meaning:

  • Meaning: Choose your position on the topic/issue, provide arguments with facts/examples in favour of option, to critically comment, mention both sides of the argument with examples.
  • Approach: Introduction to the topic, in the main body/bullets put down the and the facts, end with conclusion. To critically comment, write the positive argument first, followed by the negative arguments.


  • Meaning: Probe Deeper into the given topic, support your answer with details like causes, implications, and the way forward.
  • Approach: Begin with brief discussion of the various issue on the topic, provide details and conclude in the same paragraph if possible.

Critically Examine:

  • Meaning: Go into details along with causes and reasons, strengths, and weakness. Mention consequences, implications and action taken for the issue at hand.
  • Approach: Similar to examine, but write the strength and weakness in separate paragraph, consequences, etc should be in separate paragraph and conclude without takin sides.


  • Meaning: Cover broadly, mentoring strength/weakness/and positives/ negatives, mention causes and consequences as well.
  • Approach: After introduction, go into positive/negative aspects, followed by causes and consequences, in addition, provide solutions, suggestions, examples etc and conclude with the holistic view of the topic.

Critically Discuss:
Same as discuss and be careful with the reasoning to arrive at conclusion.


  • Meaning: Assess both sides of the statement/topic, mention the worthiness or usefulness of the statement, mention briefly positive and negative aspects of the statement of the topic.
  • Approach: Introduce the statement/topic and then break into paragraph of positive/ negative aspects and end with a concluding remark on what you think is worthy or unworthy.

Critically Evaluate:
In addition to the evaluate, bring out value of the topic, same as evaluate, but you can lean towards either the positive aspects or negative, depending on the topic.


  • Meaning: Break the main idea into its constituent parts, examine each part separately.
  • Approach: After introducing, move to examine each broken down ideas one by one, then conclude by addressing the central idea of the topic.


  • Meaning: Give clear reasons to show what/how/why something is happening or has happened.
  • Approach: Introduction, Main body, and Conclusion formal should work


  • Meaning: To elucidate is to make something clear that was formerly confusing, to bring clarity, cite evidence, examples, facts etc.
  • Approach: Introduction, Main Body, and Conclusion format should work

Meaning: Give Evidence in support of what is being said that is cite reports, facts, and events etc. same approach as Elucidate