‘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.”
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:
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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…….”
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….”
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
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