Some "Old is Gold" Observations on Answer Writing - ForumIAS

Some "Old is Gold" Observations on Answer Writing

I was going through this debate on Answer writing on Quest, and I was compelled to share this screenshot, which captures the experience of ForumIAS Community Member crazyphoton and shared with me by louislitt - both of them now serving in IAS with Ranks 1 and 87 respectively.

Link to the discussion, which prompted this blog post

The Screenshots!

curious_kid,Neyawnand13 otherslike this


Sir,can we use quotes by PM or can we quote C Rajamohan in conclusion part,especially IR/polity?


Truly thanks sir for sharing this,you always have been a lighthouse to us in this ocean of upsc

When you quote the PM, use the words PM and not PM Modi. i.e. refer to the office and not the person, as he is a political and living person. 

Yes you can can quote C Rajamohan. Augurs fine for an answer.

@Akbar_Birbal Sir when will you write a post sharing your prelims strategy ?

A small post will be helpful given that you didn’t at first clear and then you did. Just a ten point something will help!


@Neyawn sir. 

What worked for me? What different i did? Lesson for and from Prelims 

IMO knowledge in itself is insufficient [we have witnessed this in 2018/19 papers], what matter more is linkages, connecting the dots and lateral thinking

1. Early prep of prelims [compared to previous attempts] - Thanks to IGP, i started prelims prep from Jan itself [earlier i used to start from Mar], which gave me ample time to work on my fundamentals with each test and revise multiple number of times to feel confident about my prep.

2. Focus on understanding due to early start - prevented much rattafication and therefore, i was able to retain topics due to better revision along with tests. e.g. Q on Methane Hydrate Option 3 was tricky "CH4 in atmosphere oxidizes in decade OR two."

We have already read from Shankar that Lifetime of CH4 is 12 [more than a decade]. Also it is normal that once lifetime is over CH4 as a gas has to covert into some other form [conservation of mass principle]. Also the question uses the word OR means Either. So, very high chance of Option 3 being correct. So, ALL are correct here [D]. 

3. Statistical analysis of my intuitive guesses - this has been already discussed, but a must to do IMO. We we know round by round accuracy across a decent sample of quality mocks, say 25-30 [vision abhyaas, forum simulators, UPSC PYQs], we will be able to know the level of hit ration for us. Doing this analysis for a good number of mocks [FLTs] will give us a better clarity about ourselves, we can also work on our mistakes and make our accuracy better and check the same. On the D-Day it helped to confidently complete the paper. Example - 


Sim 1

Attempted - 91

Overall [C-63, W-28] >69%

Score - 107.33

R1 [C-41, W-15] = >73%

R2 [C-22, W-13] =>62%

4. Fearlessness, Courage and Alertness - a very important ingredient IMO, if we lack these traits, it will be very difficult for us to mark doubtful options on D-Day, we need to take logical risks, which can only come with prior practice. We need to back our instincts. If we have a record of our accuracy, then it is highly likely to repeat on the D-Day too. This is my personal observation. It worked for me. 

5. Avoiding resource overload, but at the same time not shying away from accepting useful info from prelims point of view - it can either be from tests, group discussion [Q&A], newspapers etc. This might help one get edge of 1-2 Qs like 99th amendment related to NJAC and coal sector nationalization under IG. 

6. Solving PYQs of NDA/CAPF/CDS - It helps, it has already been discussed. But i am reemphasising this because it worked for me this time. The Q on Kanganahalli which came this yr, was from CDS 2014 PYQ. So, an edge of even +2.66 marks due to such Q matters a lot.

7. Go with an open mind but have different strategies for different scenarios. I got Section B. Starting 2 Qs were very difficult. Q1 related to Agri Soils, Cattle releases and Poultry industry. Q2 related to Aliyapur, Isapur and Kangasbati. I got stuck. Then quickly i got the idea to start from Q100. Actually in mocks i used this approach and it worked for me 9/10 times. I did it and bingo, i quickly solved 6-7Qs in a row, confidence went up and then was able to finish 69 Qs in 1:15hrs. So, just starting from backwards, changed the whole perspective and performace. 

Other points are redundant, which we all know. These are few points which worked for me. I hope this will be helpful. My best wishes with you all. 


Sir, you suggested to make notes on static topics as well in a video last year and also on this platform. what does that mean?

When i was revising for this year mains i had notes for CA but not for static. It took me to almost 4-5 days to complete lakshmikant (even though i had revised it for 6 times) which is too much in crucial mains gap. Same is for other basic books.

So, Should We make notes out of basic books like lakshmikant. If yes how? Mains focused? Because for prelims we would have to revise whole books anyhow.
Or is there is a way to make notes for pre too.


No no no. Sorry sorry if I have confused you. By making notes of static I mean that pick up the issues from Polity and make notes.

Some topics from Polity for example where questions are asked are

Basic Structure Doctrine, Presidential VS Prime Minsiterial form of Govt , Relevance of Office of Governor , CAG criticisms and reforms, NCW , Finamce Commission Issues. 

Don’t make notes of Laxmikant. It’s notes in itself . For mains make notes of these topics. You will see that all test series will ask these questions.for mains the one line mantra is , identify issues and make notes.


thanks sir

But the issue is in identifying topics. some question from last 2 years include CAT, attorney general, estimates committee, RPA, financial emergency etc. If one identifies topic on that basis he would end up making notes on entire laksmikant and beyond. 

is there a list of topics you can provide or from any previous toppers 

This information would be an edge for the students preparing for GS, Thanks for sharing this information with us.

Write your comment…