Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Writing Skills

Now let's come to writing answers in mains.
IN GS you have a huge range of answers to write, from 20 word to 250 word answers. each type of question demands separate treatment.
20 word/ 2markers
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try to write as much information in less space.Write in phrases and not full grammatical sentences, punctuate these phrases with ";" , The idea is to write maxmum possible stuff about the topic under question.

10 marks
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These kind of question require writing about 100-120 words. Now you don't have much space to manouver around. Please do not write an introduction in these answers as that takes a lot of words. Start your actual answer with the first word.

20 marks/30 marks
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These questions appear in ur optional papers as well.
The word limit is aout 200-275 words. For these questions, write an introduction that is small and sweet. Try to mould the question itself in an answer format giving the examiner an idea that you know what you are talking about.For eg. If there is a question about President being a ceremonial position and noting else, You can start by stating that, Indian constitution has provided for a President as the head of the state, But the real position of importance is that of the PM who is the head of the govt. But while saying this, you should also continue and say that, Calling the institution of President merely a ceremonial one would be wrong because the constitution has provided some discretionary powers to the president. Now your 1st para ends.

Your introduction should be about 25-35 words.
In the next para, start with why president is a nominal head. quote art 74, 42nd amenment act, 44th AA and so on. Then in the next para write why he is not just a ceremonial head.

Do not waste words. every sentence should have relevance to the answer.

Then conclude the answer in about 20-30 words. But do not write a conclusion that is similar to your introduction.

60 Marks
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These appear only in optional papers.
For these answers you have no word limit whatsoever. I have written some answers as long as 950 words. But remember you can't do that to every answer. Maybe the 1st and 2nd 60 marker you can write upto this length, but your last 60 marker would somehow suffer. So choose your best 2 60 markers initially and try to wind them in 1:20 to 1:30 hours. Try to treat them the best. After that in something like 1.5 hours you have to finish 6 20 markers and 1 60 marker. That's how I wrote my papers.

In a 60 marker you have a lot of space. Write a good and lengthy introduction, something like 60 to 80 words or so. Then every paragraph should have a theme or idea. Please do not write in points a 60 marker answer. avoid writing in points your optional answer papers, even 20 markers.

Finish with a conclusion about 40-50 words long. Also underline the words or phrases that are instrumental to the answer. The underlining should not be overdone. I think one shoud refrain from using red or green clour pens to underline. I used either the same colour or black/blue combination.

Try to make figures if they are relevant to the answer. If you can, create your own figures.
you can make them even in a 20 marker.


Now, most of the students face this problem. When they first strat writing answers, they can't start the introduction. So please practice introduction writing for as many questions as you can. that will make it easier in the exam to start.

Secondly, your handwriting should be legible if not beautiful. Practice on it if you have a bad one. I had a v bad one. I worked on it.

Thirdly, you should practice answer writing regularly, if possible try to get them evaluated by a good teacher or a good student. Now, when you practice answer writing, write them in the time limit that the exam will offer you. A well written 20 marker in 2 hours won't serve any purpose whatsoever.

Last, try to write grammatical and sensible sentences. Do not go for the myth that flowery language or exotic vocabulary helps score better. write simple and meaningful sentences.

one more thing. before starting to answer a question, understand the demand of the question. Do not presuppose the demand of the question. Often we start writing w/o understanding the question correctly.

Then after understanding the question rightly, you should make a framework of your answer somewhere as to what all you want to write. This will help as in the process of writing you tend to forget points easily.

I hope this will help you in your mains.
I will follow this post with essay post.

TC

77 comments:

  1. thank u so much ma'am for this post about writing style.It clarified my doubt regarding paragraphs and points.

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  2. M'am Excellent material Thanks a ton

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  3. That's quite an effort you have put in....
    Thanks a lot ma'am....

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  4. Good one Ms. Shubra.... despite having a bad ( or awful :) ) hand-writing ( i believe that it is something we develop in childhood, so how much ever one works on it, it can only become legible, not candy ) you topped the list; commendable. This once again emphasizes that UPSC demands concise content not decoration...

    regards
    sreekanth

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  5. thanks for valuable advice .I just want to sahre my experince...i followed exactly the same startegy as u said in my last year but couldnt score well....but now came to know that even tooper has same startegy ....i may conclude my fault lies elsewhere ...(otherwise i was thinking of wrong writing strategy of mine)..thanks for sharing .one query what to do when very less time left for 20 marks ?in optionlas ..secondly what should be content ike in 200 words question in optionals. more factual or analytical???AS many 200 words question are open ended as they just give topic .without any specific question.eg Reproducvie health (in sociology)

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Ma'm plz suggets me some authentic material to study for GS that is must to read in GS & other than that nothing to read fot that particular module. like Spectrum fot modern india is more than enough that is what is being said and so on if material of any coaching inst. will help than plz suggest it like vajiram for polity and etc. One more thing mam what one should read if he is not reading news paper while preparing for mains. mam plz suggest me above w.r.t. main exam only.

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  8. Thanks Shubhraji , quells most of my doubts on the writing skills


    Parbat ,
    please post your query in GS related thread

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  9. thnxzz ma'am...tht was a gr8 help...the only problem am facing is to get my answers evaluated...thts the biggest drawback of not being in delhi...anyways one more thing i would like to ask is tht thr r certain subtitles in questions like assess,comment,elucidate,critically evaluate,critically examine n so on....so how to deal with them?

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  10. what to do when very less time left for 20 marks ?in optionlas ..secondly what should be content ike in 200 words question in optionals. more factual or analytical???


    if very less time left, go for points....try to put the maximum points possible..

    factual or analytical depends on the demand of question. But try to pack in maximum analysis/facts possible. That will fetch marks

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  11. anyways one more thing i would like to ask is tht thr r certain subtitles in questions like assess,comment,elucidate,critically evaluate,critically examine n so on....so how to deal with them?

    assess- give positives and negatives both and then see how valid the statement or point is

    comment- give your viewpoint

    elucidate- explain well giving examples

    critically evaluate- give positives and negatives like a critic would do.

    they are almost the same with few subtle differences.
    hope this helps

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  12. thanks a lot ....please let me know that does giving examples in answers helps in getting good marks??...or it is just a waste of words and should we stick to staright answers???

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  13. Hi Shubra,
    I am from IITD, its really amazing how your are using technology to reach out to aspirants! Kudos to you!!! I have really benefited a lot by your insights. I am enclosing a question herewith, if you could share your approach, may a framework or model answer(if time permits)...Plz accept my thanks again.

    Good Governance” is merely the addition of the word “good” before “governance”. Critically examine the statement in the context of developing countries’ administration.

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  14. Madam,
    1. Optional Mains: Can be use headings for grouping similar paragraphs in 60 marks questions? or headings should be totally avoided and complete answer should be in running paragraphs ?
    2. How to prioritize GS preparation for people having time constraints?Which topics/resources one must be thorough and which one can be assigned lower priorties? (Any pointer for optionals would be a bonus)
    Thanks a lot.

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  15. Thank you shubra ji, i for one do not believe in tuition and hence did not join one, but at the back of my mind there was a niggling doubt as to whether my answer writing skills were up to the mark, thanks to you i have some tips now i can build upon this

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  16. Thanks a lot..very nicely explained..it really helped..!

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  17. hi shubhraji,
    i have been keenly following your blog.can u plz clarify my doubt..
    i dont know whether my post in this thread is appropriate or not,since my doubt is abt mains -general studies
    1.i went through mains question papers of general studies and i found 2 marker questions very tricky,can u plz clarify whats the startegy to be followed to tackle this..also can u plz tell me how to practice for the map questions..
    i would be gratefull to u if u can answer these questions above
    thanks
    pradeeepks@gmail.com

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  18. it really helped a lot ma'am..thnxzz

    fxgn asked what i was planning to ask tht in 60 markers can we use headings {written with black pen in case we are using blue ink for the answer} for dividing paragraphs... for ex. in history if am writing ans on mauryan administration then can i divide paragraphs under following heads king,counsil of ministers,revenue adm,military admn...or thr shld not be headings but seperate paras.

    one more thing shld be use quotes said by famous persons with black ink while writing ans in optionals

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  19. well,I never did that in my optionals.

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  20. See, UPSC doesn't say what's the right way of using diff colours. That's something you have to decide for yourself as to what looks mature and what looks immature.

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  21. i agree ma'am....writing style is sumthin a person shld evolve his/her own with the time as thr r no parameters disclosed by upsc it gets difficult to reach on a conclusion wht works n wht not...as for diff colours i think we dont hv tht much time changing pens afer every four lines so better way out is to underline the thing we want to stress upon[as u said in the post].

    i asked u abt writing quotes becoz thts the way we used to write our university exams...but obivous we r not supposed to write in same manner for upsc.

    regards

    P.S.- am waiting for ur post on essay writing.

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  22. Mam u talked about improving ur handwritng.
    How u did it, using some cursive book for handwriting or just writing on plain paper again and again.
    Even my handwritng is not that not good. Can it be improved really? Does any handwritng experts help?

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  23. Hello Ma'am,
    Could you please tell me, what did you follow for Psychology apart from Pathak sir's notes.Secondly,what strategy would u suggest especially for paper-II.

    Profound Regards,
    Aijaz

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  24. chetan ,
    my 2 cents , cursive writing is not the way to go. Cursive way of writing is very time taking and its not legible to most of the folks . so please take that out of contention . . as for improvment , anybody can improve it with some conscious effort

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  25. hello mam. thank you very much for the tips. my doubt is while writing 2 markers eg rani of jhansi,my points would be similar to those of other candidates,then how to make sure that my answer is better than others?

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  26. pls elaborate on writing about the conclusion in the eg. of president as nominal head u have taken.

    regards
    aditi

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  27. Mam u talked about improving ur handwritng.
    How u did it, using some cursive book for handwriting or just writing on plain paper again and again.
    Even my handwritng is not that not good. Can it be improved really? Does any handwritng experts help?

    ************************************************
    consciously find out whats wronh with ur handwriting and then go about fixing that. For eg. if you feel you write too small letters, try writing bigger ones consciously. It will take time and effort.

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  28. @Aijaz
    go to psychology post.

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  29. hello mam. thank you very much for the tips. my doubt is while writing 2 markers eg rani of jhansi,my points would be similar to those of other candidates,then how to make sure that my answer is better than others?
    *******************************************
    Most ppl try to write gmammatically correct sentences w/o packing much info in the answer . Your effort should be to include as many points as possible in 20 words.



    pls elaborate on writing about the conclusion in the eg. of president as nominal head u have taken.
    **************************************
    I would conclude it smthg like: even though India's model of parliamentary democracy is based on UK's model, it differs significantly wrt to President's discretionary powers which The monarch in UK doesn't have. Thus,calling Indian Prsident a ceremonial head is a misnomer.


    This is a framework. You can make it better by framing it in your own words.

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  30. Hi shubra.

    can u clarify on this.

    To what extent writing quotes is necessary in optionals.

    if so where/how

    hope it is not a immature question.

    thank u very much

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  31. I never wrote any quotes in either Pub Ad of Psychology. I am not sure if you need to write quotes in other subjects but definitely not in PA and psychology.

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  32. hi ma'am ,

    I was cheered up when I saw ur blog . I'm ur big fan ..I wanted 2 add u in orkut ,but i don't know u r e-mail Id ...I shall feel thankful if u cud add me or let me acquaint ur e-mail .....I 'm there in Surya Pal Gangwar sir's profile ( ani"quest4excellence").......

    Ma'am , I 'm in govt. service .... I hav taken 2 yrs study leave especially 4 IAS prep. ...I hav made my mind to enroll myself in any coaching , ur gud self is humbly prayed to advice me some best reputed instites at delhi ........my optionals are History & Public Administration .

    Best wishes for effective training & good health ,

    With warm personal regards, I remain, ma’am ,

    yours very sincerely ,

    _ anil ,Simla

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  33. hello ma'am,
    please tell me, do one require just a pass degree or is there any minimum percentage required?

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  34. hello ma'am,
    please tell me, do one require just a pass degree or is there any minimum percentage required?

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  35. @Anil
    I can guide you here. Not on orkut.

    Please go through the posts and you will find most of your questions answered. I can not recommend anything regarding History as it was not my optional.

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  36. No Kartikey. No percentage requirement is there.

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  37. Dee ...thnx 4 guiding me in right direction..

    I hav Public Ad. as second optional , I'm studying following basic books in these days ... Plz recommend some standard books 4 main exam. in addition with following alone with some notes/ guides etc.

    1. New Horizons of public administration by
    Mohit Bhattacharya
    2. Administrative thinkers by Prasad and Prasad
    (Theories Part)
    3. Public Administration by Sharma and Sadana
    4. Public Administration by Avasthi and
    Maheshwari
    5. Indian Administration by Rajini Goyal and
    Arora
    6. Introduction to the constitution of India by
    D.D.Basu
    7. Sachdeva - Social welfare administration
    8. Public Policy – R.K Sapru
    9. Public Financial Administration –M.J.K
    Thavraj
    10. Local Government in India – S.R Maheshwari

    I don't hav words to appreciate ur gr8ness of showing path to all of us ...but i hav 2 say , " May you make the most of your unique gifts, and may happiness and love surround you always."

    Regards ,

    _anil

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  38. I have already given sources in a separate post.

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  39. hi shubra

    regarding quotes again...

    do we need to use quotes it in 200 marks essay paper?

    any where in entire IAS exam?
    -leave optionals.

    I appreciate ur efforts . You are a true manifestation of "serve people"

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  40. you can use quotes in essay.

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  41. hi ma'am ,

    Kindly advise me of d following quarries :

    1.How can I improve my writing & communication skills even better & How Imp. is speaking good english during an interview ?
    2.Is coaching important 4 sure success ?
    3.Shud I prepare my own notes ?
    4.Can an average student like also compete wid d rest ?
    5.Shud I go 4 postal coaching being a govt. employed aspirant ? Plz also suggest sum notes which can I get through post .
    6.How much does a gud biodata matter ?

    With fondest regards .

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  42. why are you posting the same questions again ?

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  43. M'am, you got 140 marks in Essay Paper ? is it possible to secure such admirable marks while writing in Hindi Medium? Did any Hindi Medium aspirant score ?
    Thanking you,
    Pratap

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  44. hello ma'm,
    I am swati and as all i am also a civil aspirant.i want to ask you how to prpare for an essay.does the coaching help in this?how to make the tnformations systematic for essys and from where to collect these informations?

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  45. @Pratap

    I dont know but I am sure ppl with Hindi medium can also score good marks in essay

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  46. I will write about essay in some time.

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  47. Regards!

    Maam i do have some questions-

    1. We should include figures wherever necessary or we should try to include figures and other innovations in maximum answers?

    2. How many words you wrote in a line and how many lines on a page? In mains they provided ruled or blank pages?

    3. B-copies are provided or not?

    Your answers will help me in improving writing and persentation skills leaving no further doubts.

    Honestly i am out of words to express gratitude for the useful post.

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  48. 1. wherever necessary and feasible
    2. I cant recall, must be 6-8.
    3. what are B copies? if u mean supplementary, yes.
    4

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  49. Yes maam,I did mean supplementary.

    Regards!

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  50. PLEASE give reason to why not to write in points as far as optionals are concerned?
    just opposite to general notion of writing better answers.

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  51. That's what is generally held belief that writing in explanatory form is preferable to writing in points.

    If you feel writing in points might be better,you can try that.

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  52. while writing mains answer should we count words like (the,so,or,a,of,for) or only words more than 3 letters.

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  53. Hello mam. .


    Does split handwriting score less? My running is very bad. . But split seems ok. . Can i continue??

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  54. Ma'am thanks a lot for the blog ma'am ... ma'am i would like to know how exactly should an aspirant read news papers ... for current affairs how many years news paper should we read ???
    and coming to handwriting in mains , is it necessary to write in cursive writing ?

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  55. Ma'am thanks a lot for the blog ma'am ... ma'am i would like to know how exactly should an aspirant read news papers ... for current affairs how many years news paper should we read ???
    and coming to handwriting in mains , is it necessary to write in cursive writing ?

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  56. Thanks mam for your valuable time in terms of enlightening so many aspirants..!!

    ReplyDelete
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  61. mam,
    is it necessary to write heading for every paragarphs

    ReplyDelete
  62. mam,
    is it necessary to write heading for every paragraph

    ReplyDelete
  63. hello mam, first of all i want to congrats that you are serving INDIA and on the next i wanted to know about the essay part of the mains so please make it for sure very soon so that i can start with that ASAP.

    and also the above posts and the top descriptions were fab.

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  64. first of all i want to congrats you mam as you are finally serving INDIA and on next i wanted to know all the fundamental aspects of writing an essay in the mains so please make it asap.

    and also all the above posts and the top page description are fab.

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  65. l want to know how to write a eassy

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  66. mam,
    whether cursive or normal handwriting have to be prefered...?

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  67. mam,
    whether cursive or normal type of handwriting have to be prefered..?

    ReplyDelete
  68. hello mam,..
    for pub admin paper 2 would it be suitable to take thinkers approach while writing answers or should i restrict it to only paper 1 and proceed with only constitution articles.
    please reply

    Ankita

    ReplyDelete
  69. so many comments but few of em become ias and i am one of them .....

    ReplyDelete
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  71. Hello madam,

    I am working professional of engineering field. i want to prepare for IAS, rather daily I am giving some of time for newspapers, online articles etc. Can you guide me in this regard?

    ReplyDelete