How to Improve Your Writing Skills for the UPSC Mains Exam

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” – Gustave Flaubert

The UPSC Prelims exam is scheduled to be held on 18th June 2017 as per the 2017 UPSC Notification. If you clear this exam with the required cut-off, you will be eligible to sit for the UPSC mains exam which will be held on October this year. As you know the IAS mains exam consists of nine descriptive papers. Here also, you must score the minimum required marks to get the interview call from the board. Thousands of people take the mains written exam and mostly all of them study similar material. So, how do you distinguish your answers from the pile? You need to write in a style that is good, neat, systematic, error-free, aesthetic, and one that shows your erudition. This article gives you insights on how to improve writing skills for UPSC mains exam and more tips on answer writing skills for IAS exam.

Put on your reading glasses

You can improve your writing by reading a lot. Sure, you have to read a lot for your IAS preparation, but the next time when you read a newspaper or magazine, do focus on the written content style also. Reading more familiarises you with good writing practices subconsciously and this will be reflected in your writing as well. So, reading more is the first step in knowing how to improve answer writing in UPSC mains exam.

 Keep your writing outline right

The outline refers to the basic structure of your written piece, in your case, answers. You should have an introduction, body and conclusion to your piece. 

Eliminate jargon, clichés and unnecessary words

While writing answers in the UPSC mains, restrict the use of unnecessarily technical words and clichés. Don’t write just to fill up the word count. Remember that quality is better appreciated than quantity. The examiner will most likely be put off by a paper that comes across as written by a person trying to show off his knowledge.

Avoid generalizations

In any writing, generalizations are best avoided. Always give material that you can substantiate.

Don’t go overboard on the embellishments

You must definitely give quotes in your answer. They certainly show your erudition. But avoid giving too many quotes. Also, you can give a few metaphors and similes in your answers. But only very rarely and when you think they are absolutely essential to the point being told. Otherwise, save the embellishments for the English literature optional paper!

Be original

This point is self-explanatory. Don’t just reproduce what you read as it is onto the answer paper. Write in your own words. Don’t invent stuff up. But don’t curtail your creativity in writing.

Practice makes perfect

Nothing can be perfected or at least improved without practice. Practice answer writing for the UPSC exam as it can make the difference between winning and losing in this high-competition exam.

 Take care to make your writing error-free

Always make sure that your answers are free from grammatical and spelling errors.


Inculcate all the above-mentioned tips in your writing practice daily and you will see yourself becoming more adept at this art. Mere knowledge is not enough to pass the IAS exam. You need to convince the examiner correcting your answer booklet that you have good knowledge and ideas to become a first-class civil servant. This is possible by writing simple yet effective answers that not only give the required information but also is a pleasure to read as well.

Happy writing!

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