Study Material | Prelims Analysis

Mains Strategy

upsc mains Approach and Strategy


               Sri Karthikeya IAS Academy following Simple, Practical and Focused approach will help aspirants understand the demand of UPSC exam effectively. Our strategy is to constantly innovate to keep the preparation process dynamic and give personalized attention to individual aspirants based on factors like core competence, availability of time and resource and the requirement of civil service Exam. Our Interactive learning approach will continuously improve aspirants’ performance and move their preparation in the right direction.

      The best way to prepare for the Mains is to selectively choose or leave topics. But such decisions have to be taken after due considerations and not just randomly. Topics that have been in the news are generally considered as more important. So they must be prepared at all costs.

     There are going to be areas of the syllabus that you will be familiar with and there will be topics that will be relatively easier for you to master. These areas should serve as your strength and in no way should you take them lightly. These areas should rather be intensively studied, so that whenever a question comes from ‘your area of expertise’ you can answer them with gusto and lucidity. For areas in the syllabus that you find challenging it is best to tackle them relentlessly until you succeed but it must also be kept in mind that time is of the essence here. Do not waste time chasing after topics, the study of which require unreasonable amounts of time. Remember to maximize your gains and cut your losses

The Skill of Answer Writing

      Please go through the following points and remember them by heart because it will help you not only in CSE Mains but also everytime you open a question paper in any examination at your life.

  • To write an answer first understand the question. Every question should be read and re-read at least two to three times before attempting an answer. In the meaning of the question lies the secret to a good answer. Only if the aspirant can understand what the question is demanding then he or she can treat it with finesse. Please consult the table given here to see what different types of questions mean.
  • Before attempting an answer it is necessary to have at least a bare minimum framework for the answer. Things like how to begin, what point should come where and how to close the answer, should be decided before-hand. This helps streamline thoughts and saves valuable time. You can use the rough pages in the answer sheet for this purpose.
  • Always and as a rule of thumb answer only what the question demands. Do not write unnecessary things or give useless data (false information is even worse) related to the topic but not demanded by the question. This will generate a negative impression on the examiner and may even affect the marking process. It will also save time. If there are multiple parts in a question, remember to answer the question completely and not just one part - do justice to all parts of the question. Also do not overshoot the word limit as it would be a double penalty as one would lose out on time and may also be penalized by the paper checker.
  • When writing an answer always end on a positive note. Even after an intense criticism, find a way to end on a positive note. This is because the Mains test is meant for budding Civil Servants and not University students. Civil Servants are supposed to be positive individuals with a positive outlook in life. So, remember to put yourself in the shoes of a Civil Servant while answering any question in the Mains examination. Remember the saying ‘every dark cloud has its silver lining’ and apply it to your answer writing.
  • This is perhaps one of the most popular and yet one of the best advices for someone aiming to conquer the Mains exam - Practice Makes A Man Perfect. Practising answer-writing is a quintessential part of any Mains preparation. Write answers (including essays) daily and try to get them evaluated by either peers or professionals. Any form of evaluation is better than practising answer-writing all by oneself. You may join Our IAS Mains test series for evaluating your answers. Remember that keeping stock of progress is very important and should be done at regular intervals.
  • Last but not the least, it is imperative to address the language side of the UPSC answer-writing technique UPSC wants its candidates to write in precise, easy to understand language. This basically means that if an aspirant has a good command over the language he or she is writing in, it is best to write simple and fluid sentences while avoiding complex words and unnecessary stylistic elements. For those who have to struggle a bit with the written language it is best to write in points or bullets the main parts of the answer, while writing simple and easy introductions and conclusions in paragraphs. It is therefore important to remember that for CSE Mains, ‘content is more important than expression’, but at the same time mistakes in things like grammar and spellings may sometimes cause a reduction in marks. So, it does no harm in practising answer-writing that is expressive and yet free from common spelling and grammatical mistakes.


  “The main examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory”.


  Our expert team will evaluate the aspirants’ answer sheet on the following indicators uing their experience in the field of UPSC


1. Introduction Competence :  Impressive Beginning with simple Language

2. Content Competence :  Content of the answer in the contextual framework

3. Language Competence : Appropriate words at proper place, word limit, simple, clear

4. Alignment Competence :

  • Write answer according to the actual requirement of the questions 
  • Focus on Key Words and Tail Words like Elucidate, Explain, Comment, Discuss, Critically examine, Analyze, Review, Justify.

5. Context Competence :

  • Contextual Understanding of the questions, formation, choice of words, proper statement.

 6. Structure-Presentation Competence :

  • Proper systematization in the structure of the answer , proper consideration of priority and focus of given ideas
  • Logical Structure of sentence and their connectivity
  • Proper visibility of Idea through facts, data , diagram, figure.

 7. Conclusion Competence :

  • Impressive Conclusion with simple Language
  • Incorporate your opinion from different perspective in balance manner Proper
  • Give your opinion only when asked for it.

The fundamental difference between CSE Prelims and Mains is that while the Prelims focusses on recognition (of information) and requires an exhaustive study covering a wide variety of topics, Mains need the ability to recall, analyse and express (ideas and information, including one’s own thoughts) properly which can only be done through an intensive study of the topic.

Therefore it is very important to stay focussed and cover in-depth, the topics that you have picked for Mains and in doing so you have to match your skills with the subject at hand. Using the right approach and picking the right parts of the syllabus for intensive study will not only help manage time but also garner more marks in the end.

It is also equally important to understand the syllabus for the Mains pretty well. The syllabus is designed in such a manner that it cannot be directly studied in isolation from current happenings. Moreover the syllabus is open-ended and requires much analysis and an understanding of the underlying trends and ideas.

In order to help you grasp the Mains syllabus we have divided it into ‘core and peripheral’ areas. Core areas are essential to help build the ‘Mains vocabulary’ and should not be ignored at any costs. If due to the paucity of time one is unable to thoroughly study all of the core areas of the syllabus, at least the basic level of study, by going through the relevant NCERTs, must be done. The peripheral areas can be safely kept aside for study in free time or can be covered when the core areas are done.

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