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How To Tackle Remaining General Studies Papers?

Five Thousand Words in just 3 Hours?!

In 2013 UPSC civil services Mains exam, UPSC ‘expected’ candidates to answer questions in these many words, but it also added a caveat that ‘Content of the answer is more important than its Length.’

There were 25 questions in each paper and each question, carrying 10 marks, had to be answered in not more than 200 words.

Earlier for a Ten marks questions, 100 words was the limit.

Now this unexpected change has stumped every candidate. They say it’s next to impossible to write 5000 words in 180 minutes.

How to tackle this? Does one have to write really 5000 words? How to maintain speed?

  • The first instruction related to Word Limit in the question paper is: Word Limit in questions, if specified, should be adhered to.
  • The second instruction is: Content of the answer is more important than its Length

The first instruction implies that a candidate should not write more than the word limit specified. Here ‘should be adhered’ is not ‘Must be adhered’.

The second instruction, which is new, clearly says that candidate’s focus should be on ‘content‘ and not on number of words. This is a precaution UPSC has given to candidates who might take word limit  for granted  and try to answer in as many words.

So, what should one do?

  1. First answer the questions for which you know perfect answers. When you know answers well, you write them fast.
  2. Don’t think ‘Three Blank Pages’ below each question ‘must be filled’. You can write a good answer in one page itself.
  3. Don’t waste time on ‘structuring’ your answer. Give your thoughts free run. Read question 3-4 times and start writing answers. In this exam key to success is maximizing Marks. You get more marks if you answer more questions. Howsoever beautifully you answer a 10 marks question, you won’t be given 11 marks to it.
  4. As we already told you in an earlier post, never take your eyes off the answer sheet. Keep writing and writing.
  5. Enjoy the questions. Don’t think about the examiner while writing. Don’t think about impressing anyone. Write what you think is right.
  6. The advantage is you have more space below each question. You can come back later and add extra points. So, first try to answer all questions. If time permits, revisit the answer you are not satisfied with and tweak it.

Wish you all the best.

For Paper-3, you can scan this document as a last-minute preparation.