Q. Can you clarify the meaning and approach one should follow while answering the question with different phrases like Discuss, Critically analyse, Evaluate, Elucidate etc.


Following is Copy paste from Sivaharimani’s thread on IO forum

How to Write Answers

The civil services main exam consists of descriptive type of questions. It focusses on testing the candidate on various levels. The time limit for the essay paper is 3 hrs without a word limit, but for the optional paper, there are questions with specific word limit like 250 words in optional subjects and 250 words, 150 words and 20 words in general studies. The candidate then has to prepare himself to answer all types of questions. The most important thing to be kept in mind is the time constraint. Therefore it becomes necessary to answer these questions quickly and effectively and in minimum words. One common doubt that students have is with regard to the style of answering questions, whether to adopt the paragraph or the point style of answering questions. Though there is no set rule, it is wise to adopt a style depending on the question asked. If the question says to discuss, analyse or critically examine, it would be better to answer the question the paragraph format. On the other hand, if the question asks you to list the advantages or give reasons for/ against etc., it is better to go in for the point format of answering.

It is just not enough to know all the facts and information but the most important thing to be kept in mind is to write an answer which has a clear and a logical frame, which presents information in a clear and concise manner, which does not contain any irrelevant or piling up of information, which is interesting and able to hold one’s attention. So the next logical step is to know how to write a good answer. The first step is to prepare the framework where one can list all ideas, thoughts and facts and write them down. It is important to adopt an answering style which is natural, original and to the point. Emphasis should be given to the kind of language used, one which is simple and clear without unnecessary use of nouns and verbs. Use of archaic and fancy words or language should be avoided at all costs. Care should be taken to avoid grammatical mistakes which will give a negative opinion however good the answer may be. Last but not the least, it is very important to have a good and a legible handwriting.

Try to give answers in accordence with the logic of questions.
If a question seems to ask positive answer, then give a positive answer.,
if it seems to be negative approach, carefully approach the question to give a negative writing.
“never try to give a challenging answer to a challenging question ie against Constitution / govt policy”
for ex: Analyse the impact of SEZ , is it creating political charisma?
2.emergency provisions need to be revamped. comment
3.gandhianism, practically ignored concept in the constitution. Critically analyse
4. Critically analyse the indian foreign policy with US

you may feel that these questions are simple and need a wide kowledge. You are right but the trap of UPSC is there in hyde. for this question we have to give positive or balanced approach. Giving negative answer is not good. We are not officers or policy makers to criticise the emergency provision/indian forign policy, but we are just candidates to go by with the constitution/policy.

Give a continuty to the answer when you sift over to next page.