Since, answer writing has played a key role in my success and helped me in scoring 2nd highest Mains marks in CSE-2018. Therefore, I decided to write this article for CSE aspirants. Considering the inertia encountered by many while initiating answer writing practice I will first delineate the importance of hard work.
NEVER BASE YOUR EFFORTS AND CHANCES OF SUCCESS ON EXCEPTIONS. Many aspirants want to avoid hard work. Such aspirants always follow rare cases of few who managed to succeed with bare minimum efforts. I often hear ‘See this topper wrote no tests still topped, so this answer writing is a fluke’. Such toppers might have good writing ability, may have good writing speed, natural ability to write to the point. But the question every aspirant should ask himself/herself is ‘Do I have such natural talent and is there any harm from taking a tougher route to success?’.
If you don’t work hard, you MAY succeed, but if you undergo grinding and polishing you will CERTAINLY sparkle like a diamond.
Importance of Answer Writing Practice:
Our knowledge and understanding of various subjects and issues are to be conveyed to the examiner in almost 450 Pages that we write during 5 days of Mains examination. Evaluators go through these pages and award us marks. We need to fill these pages in such a manner that Evaluator feels satisfied and interested. If we strain him/her with obscure, vague content and bad presentation our chances of selection too will be strained. So, make the job of evaluator easy by doing the following things –
- Simple vocabulary and simple sentences – avoid being Tharoor 😛
- Structure your answer : Introduction, main content, recommendations/suggestions/way forward followed by a conclusion.
- Use keywords mentioned in question as subheadings.
- Underline KEYWORDS and EXAMPLES.
- Complement content with diagrams, flowcharts, schematic representations, maps etc.
- Spacing between Paragraphs, and between points help in improving visibility.
I did a lot of answer Writing practice (for my second attempt) and benefits were:
- In my first attempt, I was unable to answer to questions worth 200 marks due to slow speed and poor time management. So, Answer Writing helped me to tame time management and improving speed as well. In my second and third attempt I was able to answer all questions.
- Improved my presentation skills – gaps between paragraphs and points etc.
- Structuring according to the demands of the question.
- Coping with questions for which I didn’t know anything.
- Practicing RECALL in exam stressed environment.
- It gave me a sense of confidence in my efforts.
Now, many questions arise. Should we do it daily or via a test series. Let my clarify here. We should do both.
Both types of practice have their own importance.
- Daily answer writing : practice it with an aim to learn to structure and improve presentation skills.
- Test series: We should understand that Running a 100m RACE (3 questions daily) and a MARATHON(3 Hr full tests) are different, and believe me CSE Mains is TRIATHLON. So, test series help us to improve TIME MANAGEMENT, improve exam psychology, practice recall, maintain handwriting throughout.
Any answer has two basic aspects: CONTENT AND PRESENTATION. Above discussion addresses the presentation part of the answer. However, content is equally important. Content for any answer is guided by the demands of the question. It should be precise and terse. To add value we must include verified and authentic data from RBI, NABARD, CSO, NSSO, NITI Aayog, Govt. reports, Policy documents, various reports and indices etc. Further Government schemes and recommendations of Committees and Commissions if quoted aptly can improve GS marks. If one can come up with an innovative solution to the issue or problem raised in the question, one should write it as a suggestion.
Please visit Harsha Koya sir’s ( Rank 6, CSE-2017) blog to understand the points I have mentioned above. His GS and Anthropology test copies served as an inspiration to me for improving my presentation. Click on the button below to visit his blog.
Both content development and presentation improvement require consistent efforts. Hence, don’t chide away from hard work. Do it SMARTLY. Read what is must and ignore anything that is not within the purview of syllabus.
One final piece of advice. Don’t aim at securing higher marks in tests. Aim at finding your flaws, removing those flaws and improving. Test series should serve as a medium of self evaluation and an endeavor for self improvement. Use them wisely.
I hope you all find this article helpful.
REVISE. RECALL. PRACTISE. REPEAT.
All the best everyone!