Decoding the Directive Words to Clear UPSC Exam

Study strategy may differ, but everybody studies the same syllabus reads the same newspaper, refer the same books, answers the same previous year UPSC question paper, still some of them fail to mould a perfect answer. Why? This article helps you understand this question and gives you some tips to create a differentiation factor.

Aspirants would find this article very helpful while preparing for the IAS Exam.

Aspirants should begin their preparation by solving UPSC Previous Year Question Papers now!!

To complement your preparation for the upcoming exam, check the following links:

Directive Words – Introduction

Writing an answer is easy but writing an answer according to the need of question word is quite troublesome. Civil service Main examination, the second stage of the Civil service exam is all about creating perfect answers. Background knowledge of the subject matter is essential. But mere evidence of this knowledge is not enough for this.

To write a good answer, you firstly need to have a proper idea of what the question is demanding from you to do. ‘Answer’ does not mean that everything you know about that particular topic. It is something drafted in a simple manner with equipoise, according to the demand of directive words/task word. The use of more jargonized words is not necessary to express an idea. There should be a logical flow and conceptual clarity between every line. Directive words/ Task words instruct you on how to answer the question. Understanding the meaning of these task words is a vital first step in writing an answer.

What is a Directive Word?

Directive words/Task words are the words or phrases which tell you what to do. The foremost step to write an answer is that knowing the nature or in-depth meaning of these directive words. Reading and understanding the question with heartsease is very important to dismantle the taboos. Imbibe the essence of the directive words and dismantle the question. Brainstorm, plan to organize and start writing.

Knowing the Directive Words and Understanding the Question

There are lots of task words that tell you what to do. Some of them are ‘Critically evaluate, Discuss, Evaluate, Elucidate, Justify, Analyze, Do you agree etc. Unpacking the directive words enables us to write flawlessly.


Analyze is digging deeper than examine but into every aspect of the question. It is very necessary to dismantle the questions into parts and explain. One has to demonstrate how principles, theory or ideas works, apply theory to practice or through the use of specific examples rather than just describing discuss how and/or why. Look in depth at each and every part using supporting arguments and evidence for and against as well as and how it interrelates to one another.


It is a detailed analysis and assessment of something, especially a literary, philosophical, or political theory. One has to give your judgment about the topic/issue or opinions about the truth of facts and back your judgment by a discussion of the evidence, to show the good and bad points.

Critically Analyze

‘Critically’ is usually added when the examiner clearly demands a fair judgment from candidates. One has to investigate and explain the nature of the definitions or concepts of a question or topic and explain the way they are interrelated. This includes a vast discussion of the strengths and weaknesses, pros, and cons of the definitions and concepts. Here one has to support their argument by providing supporting evidence.

Critically Evaluate 

Mark your verdict as to what extent a statement or findings as a part of the research are true, or to what extent you agree with the findings of the research. This keyword demands to site evidence/ examples taken from a wide range of sources which both agree with as well as contradict an argument. Write a final conclusion, based on your decision on what you think to be the most important factors and then you need to give a justification for your choice.

Comment on

This is the task where you have to identify and to write about the main issues/problem, giving your responses based upon what you have read or heard. Expressing a purely personal opinion can be avoided here.


This is a written debate where one has to use your skill at reasoning, backed up by deliberately selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of a given context.


This task word demand candidate to give the main characteristics or features of topic/issue/schemes or to outline the main events. Evaluate: Site and form an idea of the amount, your opinion or judgment of the topic’s validity or determine the significance, worth, or quality of.

Examine: It means to inspect something in detail and investigate the implications. Candidates have to look closer, give the details regarding the important issues and key facts surrounding the given topic. This should be a proper evaluation regarding the given topic and you should try giving precise reasons as to why the issues identified by you are the most important, as well as explain the different ways they could be construed.


To give in more detail, provide more information on.

Give an Account of

Here one has to give a detailed description of the topic/issue asked. ‘Account for’ asks you not only what, but why that specific topic/issue has happened.


This keyword asks you to exemplify or to provide examples. Define the topic by giving a detailed account as to how it happens and why it occurs, or what is meant by the use of this term in a particular context. The writing should have clarity so that complex terminology and sequences of events can be conveyed easily. Use of definite examples and statistics will add more to your explanation.


Site adequate grounds or examples from the subject matter to support your position or conclusions. In order to present equipoise argument, consider opinions which may run contrary to your own before stating your conclusion.


Deliver the main points placing emphasis on global structures and interrelationships rather than minute detail. Candidate should include the important facts of a subject or a situation.


Candidates are supposed to give a concise account of the main points only, omitting details or examples.


To follow the order of different stages in an event or process.

Candidates appearing for the upcoming UPSC examination must check out the relevant links for assistance-

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Best Hindi Newspapers For IAS Preparation Important Pointers for Essay Writing in the IAS Exam Top 12 Tips to Beat Exam Stress: UPSC Civil Services Preparation
How to Search the Internet Optimally for UPSC Preparation IAS Preparation during Graduation- Relevant Strategies Importance of Solving Previous Years Question Papers for IAS Exam Preparation
How Discipline Can Help You Crack UPSC Civil Services Exam How Good Handwriting Skills can Boost your Scores in UPSC Exam? How to Create the Perfect Study Environment for UPSC Exam
9 Tips to Overcome Distractions while Studying Best pen for UPSC mains Can An Average Student Crack IAS Exam?

The above details would help candidates prepare for UPSC 2023. UPSC exam-related preparation materials will be found through the links given below.

Current Affairs Quiz UPSC Syllabus
IAS Salary Static GK
Best Optional Subjects for UPSC 10 Must-Read Books for IAS Aspirants
UPSC Monthly Current Affairs Magazine UPSC Prelims exam
Eligibility Criteria For UPSC UPSC Mains
UPSC Exam Pattern Check Trend Analysis of UPSC Prelims
UPSC Books Daily News Analysis
IAS Exam UPSC Calendar 2023

Aspirants can find complete information about upcoming Government Exams through the linked article.

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