(Article) JKPSC : Answer Writing Skills for JKPSC Mains Exam

‘Answer Writing Skills for JKPSC Mains Exam’ by Shoaib Noor (JKPSC)

“You can have Brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them
across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”

With a huge weightage in the total tally of the marks i.e. 1950 Marks out of 2200 marks, Mains stage is the most crucial stage of the entire JKPSC exam. A Good Mains score guarantees you a place in the Interview and a good performance in interview helps you in getting the top slots. Unlike Preliminary examination, The Mains exam consists of descriptive type of questions. It focuses on testing the candidate for his overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding. Most of the Students who appear in JKPSC Mains exam are well versed in their subject and yet it is seen that they do not score well in their Mains Examination. What can be the Probable Reason? Faulty writing skill is one of the main reasons for their failure. Either they are not able to put their ideas across to the examiner or they are not able to comprehend what the examiner is demanding from them via his
questions. Writing skill is based on your knowledge base and conceptual understanding and comes through practice only. Having a Good Knowledge base gives flow and lucidity to your answers. Having a conceptual understanding will make your answer well organized and well integrated. Practice moulds and sharpens this skill. Just reading this article and not practicing answer writing vigorously at home will lead you to nothing, as in the same way like reading a good manual on swimming will not make you a good swimmer unless and until you are willing to practice in the waters. Thus, writing skill and content both should complement and supplement each other.

The Relation between a student and examiner vis-a- vis answer writing can be best understood with the analogy between that of a Host (Student) and a Guest (Examiner). You have to serve your guest with the best possible ‘ordered’ dish in a proper time. Your Dish should have the proper Ingredients (Content) and you should follow the Recipe (proper answer writing Guidelines). Starter (Introduction) should give him an idea of what is coming, the Main course (Body of the answer) should be served in a chronological and proper way. You have to serve the examiner with what he has demanded and not what you have in your Kitchen (Brain). Just imagine what will happen if you switch the dishes. The Dessert (Conclusion) should leave him with better memories of the answer.

Here are some important tips for Answer writing:

  1. Step into the Shoes of Examiner: What does an Examiner look in an Answer? Good Content, Clarity of thought, Lucidity, Well expressed language. In short, what he is looking for is Good Communication Skill (Written Communication) so that the answer script speaks for itself, because you will not be there to explain your view point or to clear his Doubts!

  2. Content: Content involves conceptual understanding of the subject and Facts. Something new should be incorporated in your answers - Diagrams, new ideas, latest reports, etc. Neat diagrams should only be introduced wherever they are required to give precision to your answer. BREAK THE MATERIAL BARRIER.

  3. Read the Question twice before answering. Try to understand what the question is demanding from you. The knack is putting yourself in the shoes of the examiner. Focus on the requirement of the question and stress on the Tail words (Key words); For example, Discuss the Indo-US nuclear deal; Critically analyze Indo US nuclear deal; Examine the Indo –US nuclear deal are not the same questions and hence will not have same answers. Some of the Meaning of the Tail words (Key words):
    i) Explain: It is conceptual in nature. You have to bring out one concept in detail.
    ii) Elaborate: In Elaborate the concept or idea is already given. You have to bring out a series of logic in support of the statement.
    iii) Discuss: You have to bring out the situation surrounding the topic
    iv) Analysis: it refers to taking various facts of parts or a given statement into consideration and bringing to light its nature or structure, you take each part one by one and examine.
    v) Examine: It refers to inspecting closely and bringing out fact i.e. you bring to light various aspects of given problem.
    vi) Critically examine: It means inspecting closely and forming or expressing judgment. That later is of greater relevance here problem. Your answer should not been seen favouring any one of them.
    vii) Review: Have a Look on the Historical facts of the statement.
    viii) Illustrate: One needs to follow the direction of the statement and explain it that way. Here too, relevant data, quotations and facts can help.
    ix) Why: It is asking the logic of certain things. If it is followed by you, it may solicit your opinion.
    x) What: The answer will be factual in nature.

  4. Structure you answer: Make a framework of the sixty and thirty markers like what would you write in the lead paragraph, body text and the conclusion before you proceed with writing the answer. This format of ‘Introduction-main body- conclusion’ need not to be followed in twenty markers, fifteen markers, ten markers. However a good conclusion is needed in questions where analysis or critical evaluation is asked for. Two markers and five markers should be preferably written in point format should be preferably written in Point format. e.g., A Two Marker on ‘Jyotiba Phule’ can be answered like this :
    • Social reformer who fought for social equality of depressed classes.
    • Popularly known as ‘Jyotibha Phule’.
    • Founded ‘Satyashohak Samaj’.
    • Wrote ‘Ghulamgiri, Dharam tritiya ratna, Ishara and Life of Shivaji.
    • Was honoured with the title of ‘Mahatma’ in 1888

  5. Adhere to the Word Limit: Don't exceed word limit in your answers. Just because you know everything about a topic doesn’t mean that you will vomit all that information on your paper. There is no word limit in a sixty marker question. That does not mean you have no word limit. Infact that is a bait from the examiner, and if you get lured you will end up wasting a lot of your time in answering one or two questions. Sticking to the word limit will save you time. Besides the number of marks you are going to achieve are not going to increase even if you exceed the word limit. It is the quality that matters and not quantity.

  6. Introduction: Try to make the introduction catchy while answering short and long questions. Students should use real-life examples to make the answers lively. e.g., An introduction that I read recently on the topic of Women reservation and empowerment, “The saga of human civilisation began with Adam and Eve and since then the history of civilsation has been nourished equally by both man and woman. Wherever there was a man, there was a woman sharing proudly her responsibilities with him- transcending space, time and faith. Though the Conquest of nature, the Building of civilisation, and the Exploration of intellectual and physical space have been attributed as male enterprises, but the role of woman as child bearers , as good and value based mothers, in creation of culture and human identity cannot be overlooked and over shadowed. It is only a peaceful and joyful soul which can invent and discover. Feminine characteristics and ethos, which have over time been idealized as Compassion, Love, Beauty, and Benevolence have given her the tag of weaker and vulnerable sex but the same virtues have given our own nation reverence of being our motherland. The status and stature of woman has marked the full circle on the canvas of women history. In ancient times, she was respected, honoured and all rights were bestowed on her; In medieval times, she was engulfed in the darkness where her rights were drastically reduced, trampled upon and even denied to her. Now in the today’s modern globalised world she is recollecting her lost confidence and our responsibility is to provide her with proper conducive environment for the same…….”

  7. Conclusion: Conclusion should consist of the gist of entire discussion. See this conclusion on the issue of Naxalism, “… Without economic development strong arm tactics will not succeed against the Naxalites even with the Strongest Possible anti-terror law. The government must remember, against whom the operations are going on are our own people; they are among us and at the same time, the Naxals must realize that they are killing their own people. They must realize that they can use Poverty as their Main Political weapon but their activities can do little to reduce the same. They can create a temporary Parallel Government but cannot create an alternative to a welfare state….”

  8. Use Simple language : Try to use Simple language in your answers. Writing skill does not mean a decorative language, having extra-ordinary vocabulary. It means that the ideas should be well expressed in a lucid manner. Simple language but a speaking Language is the demand i.e. the answer sheet should speak out everything for itself with requisite words. You have to impress the examiner with your ideas and not with your Words.

  9. Handwriting should be legible. Avoid too much of overwriting or arrows. Highlight the important points. Short sentences should be order of the day under time pressure, the script should not go from good to worse in the  later stages of the answer sheets. This may irritate the examiner. Grammatical errors should be avoided. SMS language and abbreviations are a strict no.

This exam should not be treated as an “experience gathering” exercise. To get a chance of writing Mains is a great opportunity, which you may not get again. Don’t be discouraged by negativities or pessimistic thoughts around you. Go for the exam with full vigour. Before I end I am leaving you with this story…. “Once upon a time there was a bunch of tiny frogs who arranged a running competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestant. The race began honestly, no one in crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. You heard statements such as: “oh, way too difficult!!” “They will never make it to the top.” Or: “not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!” The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one except for those, who in a  fresh tempo were climbing higher and higher? The crowd continued to yell, “It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!” More tiny frogs got tired and gave up…. But one continued higher and higher and higher…. This one wouldn’t give up! At the end everyone else had given up climbing the tower. Except for the one tiny frog that, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top! Then all of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it? A contestant asked the tiny frog how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal. It turned out…. That the winner was deaf!!!!”

The wisdom of this story is: Never listen to other people’s tendencies to be negative or pessimistic …. Because they take your most wonderful dreams and wishes away from you — the ones you have in your heart! Always think of the power words have. Because everything you hear and read will affect your actions! Therefore: Always be positive! And above all: Be deaf when people tell you that you cannot fulfill your dreams! Always think: By the will of Almighty God, I can do it.

Courtesy:  by Mr. Shoaib Noor