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Answer Writing Strategy by Medha Anand, AIR-13, UPSC CSE-2023

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Medha Anand, who achieved rank 13 in the UPSC Civil Services Examination 2023, shares her extensive experience and strategies for essay writing and answer writing across the General Studies papers. This was her fifth attempt, providing her with significant insights into effective preparation techniques.

Essay Writing Strategy:

  • Personal Comfort with Writing: Medha emphasizes the importance of practicing essay writing, especially for those who do not naturally enjoy it. She personally found that using quotes did not suit her style, preferring to start essays with anecdotes or stories to engage the reader.
  • Multi-Dimensional Approach: Essays should cover multiple perspectives. Medha suggests considering various aspects such as political, economic, and social dimensions to enrich the essay's content.
  • Learning from Others: Analyzing essays from previous toppers helped Medha understand different successful strategies. This analysis is crucial for developing one’s own approach to tackling essay topics.
  • Counterpoints: Introducing a counterpoint or an alternate perspective in the essay can add depth and show critical thinking.
  • Strong Conclusions: Conclusions should recapitulate the essay effectively, tying back to how the essay started to create a sense of closure.

General Studies Answer Writing:

  • Base Material Preparation: Before attempting answer writing, one should have a strong grasp of the material through multiple readings and concise notes based on past year question papers.
  • Regular Practice: Post-prelims results, Medha wrote six to seven answers daily, incorporating both PYQs and current affairs topics, to refine her answer writing skills.
  • Relevance and Precision: It is crucial to address exactly what the question asks, rather than deviating from the topic.
  • Incorporation of Data: Including relevant data, graphs, and charts can significantly enhance the quality of answers. Medha suggests having a set of versatile data that can be applied across various questions to demonstrate informed arguments.
  • GS-4 Specifics: For the Ethics paper, allocating adequate time for case studies is important as they form a substantial part of the exam.

Continuous Improvement:

  • Feedback Utilization: Engaging with feedback, especially from coaching institutes or peers, is vital for improving answer quality. Medha benefitted from free daily answer writing initiatives like those offered by GS Score, which provide timely feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Final Tips:

  • Comprehensive Practice: Consistent practice is key to excelling in answer writing. Medha emphasizes the importance of writing under timed conditions to simulate actual exam scenarios.
  • Strategic Planning: Developing a strategy for time management and question selection during the exam is crucial, especially for papers with optional questions like the sociology paper.

Medha’s journey underscores the importance of persistence, strategic preparation, and the ability to adapt one’s writing style to meet the rigorous demands of the UPSC examination.


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