How To Write UPSC Mains Answers ? - Learn Seven-Five-Three Rule

There are a few effective answers to the question ‘How to write UPSC Mains answers?’ to clear the civil services examination. This article will provide you with the ‘Seven-Five-Three Rule‘, which aspirants should follow during answer writing practice for IAS Exam. Following this method will make it easy for them to answer questions in the Mains exam.

Aspirants can check the following links to align their preparation for UPSC 2020 examination:

UPSC Mains Question Pattern

UPSC Mains consists of 9 papers, all of which have descriptive answer type questions. To achieve the dream to clear this coveted IAS Exam, an aspirant has to go through three stages – Prelims, Mains and Interview. Mains stage for many will be the most challenging as after reading a lot of information, one has to produce the answers in a limited span of time and that too accurately.

Before getting into the rule, let’s take a look at the pattern of questions asked in the UPSC Mains Exam, which every candidate should be aware of. It will give them a fair idea about how to answer a question within the given word limit and stipulated time.

Major types of questions asked in the UPSC Mains Exam

  • Evaluate/critically evaluate
  • Discuss
  • Elucidate
  • Critically Examine
  • Comment

It is useful for aspirants to go through UPSC previous years’ papers (Linked above) to know the type of questions that have been most commonly asked. The answer writing practice for UPSC 2020 should incorporate most frequently asked questions to be effective. In the following paragraphs, we will explain what is the 7-5-3 rule for answer writing in Mains.

The 7-5-3 Rule of Answer Writing

The name of this rule is taken from the code of discipline that many martial artists use. The 7-5-3 rule is as simple as the numbers given, where:

  • SEVEN – Candidates’ should aim to answer questions within 7 minutes per question.
  • FIVE – Write 5 points in their answers related to the keyword. It would be better to break down the answer into bulleted points.
  • THREE – Elaborate each point in 3 dimensions as per the requirements listed in the question. The following are useful pointers:
    • Social, Economic, Political and Geographical perspective
    • For, against, and conclusion
    • What/Why/How

Now, let us learn with how to apply the 7-5-3 rule for answer writing in IAS Mains Exam.

First and foremost, aspirants’ should read the questions thoroughly (twice at least) then recognize the type of the question and identify the keyword/s in the question.

Example Question: Krishnadeva Raya, the King of Vijayanagar was not only an accomplished scholar himself but was also a great patron of learning and literature. Discuss. (UPSC 2016 Civil Services Mains Question)

The First part of the rule: Identify the keyword/s

  • The keyword is Krishnadeva Raya as a scholar
  • Write a small introduction.
  • Write five points on the keyword
  • How he patronized learning and literature
  • His contribution to literature and learning
  • Scholars who adorned his court and whom he patronized
  • Famous literature work
  • How literature flourished during this period
  • Discuss each point written and conclude it with how the learning and literature flourished during this period and ensure you are done with answering in 7 minutes.

Some questions may require a conclusion that summarizes the bullet points listed in their answer. Other questions may require essay type answers where they should justify their argument with supporting facts through charts, flowcharts or diagrams as required.

It would be useful for aspirants to go through sample answers for UPSC Mains from answer keys. This would give good templates to apply the above rules and check if the highest scoring answers and the ones written during answer writing practice match. If not, aspirants can focus on the areas that need improvement.

This is how the 7-5-3 rule can be applied while answering the questions asked in the UPSC Mains exam. If IAS aspirants follow this method during answer writing practice, it would become easy to employ it during the exam.

The key to scoring high is to perform intensive answer writing practice in a time-constrained setting. Candidates should also refer to the UPSC Syllabus from time to time. It would enable aspirants to increase speed and accuracy while deploying this method and guarantee success in UPSC 2020.

To read more about IAS preparation:

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