Many aspirants have asked this question frequently as how to write a good answer in Civil Service Main Exam. Another query that follows immediately is about writing a good and scoring essay. Having written a few books for Civil Service and State PCS and coaching a good number of candidates for various competitive exams, I have faced the questions regarding writing techniques a number of times. It has become imperatively urgent to write a short explanation, as per my views, for the benefit of many aspirants. So here we go.
Read the Question twice: Don’t rush to writing answer. Read the question or topic twice. If required, thrice. Understand connotation hidden in the question. Analyse the sentence and understand point of emphasis. May be in the first reading it appears to be a narration of an incident of history but deliberation reveals true nature in mentioning causes and effects. So, read, re-read and understand what is being asked in the question and what should be the main points of answer. For example, if the question is “Revolt of 1857 was born out of necessity and gave birth to important reforms. Explain.” Here the phrase – born out of necessity – demands causes that made the revolt necessary. The phrase – gave birth to – suggests that effects of the revolt should be included in the answer.
Break up the question in parts: If necessary, break up the question into parts. May be the question contains two parts, or sometimes three. Candidate has to answer all parts of the question systematically and in balanced proportion. Equal weightage to each part of the question is must. It is better to write paragraph wise answer for each part of the question. Don’t mix up all parts of answer in one paragraph. It becomes easy for the examiner to grasp the answer quickly.
Small and simple sentences: Always prefer small and simple sentences in your answer. It makes easy to understand the meaning. Complex and compound sentences should be avoided to the extent possible. Long sentences running into 3-4 lines will not suit nature of exam. You are writing answer and not a research paper. Your responsibility is to prove that you have answered the question and answers it properly. That’s all.
Don’t exceed word limit: Considering strict instructions given by commission to follow word limit, all answers must be answered in as accurate number of words as possible. Time is also limited. Habit of writing long has to be killed. Do more practice. Write point to point. You are not required to show how much you know extra. But just to show enough knowledge to answer the question. There are no extra marks for writing extra information. Rather, there are penalty marks for not respecting word limit.
Underline important phrase of sentence: While writing answer, you can develop a habit to simultaneously underlining important phrases in the answer. However, you should not end up underlining each and every single word. Two or three phrases in an answer should be the maximum limit of underlining. But strike at the most powerful phrase/sentence/fact in the answer.
Don’t write what you know, answer what is asked: Sometimes candidates have tendency to slip into writing what they know. What you know may be very important but if it is not relevant to the question, don’t write it. Limited words and limited time demands – sidhi baat, no bakwas. So, write only relevant facts, in short, simple and crisp sentences – to the point only.
Write legible: As suggested in the earlier paragraph, write different parts of answer in separate paragraphs. Also keep in mind that the examiner has to check many other papers. Having limited time, it becomes convenient for the examiner to go through your answer if it is written in legible and big handwriting, contrary to very small and illegible one.
Practice: Practice daily. Write at least one answer every day. Once in a week a medium size Essay is also expected. The more you practice, the more confident you feel. Not only confidence but your command over writing will increase drastically and you will feel without much delay progress made in your writing skills. So keep writing regularly.