March 24, 2023
UPSC Answer

How to manage time while writing UPSC answer?

UPSC  answer Mains consists of two sections: Reasoning and General Studies. There are 300 questions from each section, however, 250 questions from each section may be answered through the use of a reference text or booklet – which can be downloaded online for free to study before the exam. The general syllabus of UPSC Mains consists of:

Category: Reasoning

Reference text: A book on a specific topic (such as Microeconomics or Sanskrit) that covers all the topics in the syllabus and which gives an overview of all the topics. It must be a highly acclaimed book that is part of the syllabus and it should be written in a language other than English, which can be partially translated through software. The syllabus of UPSC Mains consists of:

Category: General Studies

Reference text: A book on a specific topic (such as Indian polity or history) that covers all the topics in the syllabus and which gives an overview of all the topics. It must be a highly acclaimed book that is part of the syllabus and it should be written in a language other than English, which can be partially translated through software. 

Category: English Comprehension

A booklet that presents passages written in English and has questions in English to test your reading comprehension skills. The booklet will have around ten passages – half of them will address social issues, while the other half will address economic issues. Each passage will carry two questions, one of which will be related to the section of the syllabus that you are covering, while the other question may or may not bear any relation to the section. The subject of each passage is also specifically mentioned by category in the booklet. 

Tips And Tricks To Manage Time While Writing UPSC Answer

  1. Set a time limit- a reasonable amount of time for each question. (Unless you get lazy and can’t finish within the allotted time, which is fine as well)
  1. Assess your strengths and weaknesses- if you need to, seek help from another student or friend who took the exam in the past, especially if you have difficulties with that section. Many students who had difficulties with that section in the exam asked their friends to write the questions for them or seek help from their teachers. Ask your friend to focus on only one area related to that section – this will help your friend keep track of his/her area of expertise.
  1. With so many reference texts and booklets, it is hard to keep track of the questions and passages. Make sure you label the books with markers- these markers will help you find UPSC answer quickly.
  1. Create a schedule for yourself according to your strengths and weaknesses: If your strengths are in reasoning, try to complete as many questions from that section as possible by taking advantage of your time limit. The rest of your time would be used on sections such as General Studies or English Comprehension (if applicable).
  1. If you are good at General Studies, take advantage of that section by doing most of the sections in this category first. 

  1. Create a schedule for all three sections, in case you have time left over after completing one section. Once you complete all the sections, move on to number 5 again.
  1. Avoid writing long answers – Stick to the main point of the question and write only about 2-3 lines describing your thoughts on the topic. Long UPSC answer will most likely be irrelevant to the question or they will contain information that has been explained in detail in your response. This would make your answer appear incoherent, which would reflect poorly when you are assessed. 
  1. Try to upsc answer questions that are not directly related to the section – for example, questions about a topic you have not covered in the section. This is because you will be using your reasoning skills to figure out whether such a topic is relevant or not. 
  1. Once you are sure of your answer, write down the answers on scrap paper. If you have leftover time, you can go back and review the scrap paper to make sure that your UPSC answers make sense or that they contain relevant information.
  1. Just before the end of the exam, check if there is any question for which you have no answer. In that case, try to come up with an answer by putting 2-3 points together in as few words as possible and then move on to write the rest of your UPSC answer. 
  1. It is better to start explaining your answer from the beginning of a response, but if you are too lazy or do not have time to complete a long response, then you can write down the main points of the questions and then move on.
  1. If you leave out a word or a line in your answer (which is understandable because some responses will contain a lot of information), try to pick up that word/line in your next response. This will give your UPSC answer an appearance of coherence and it would be evaluated positively. 
  1. Once you think all your answers are complete, read through them and pick out the main points of your response. The option would be to move on and answer the next question, or read through again and write down the main points. 


Even if you are not comfortable with the exam, do your best. If you answer all questions (even if they are written in a language that is not your native language), the examiner would have to mark you as qualified.

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