How to Approach Tough Questions in UPSC Mains?

One of the hardest competitive tests in India is the UPSC Mains exam. The test consists of a written portion broken down into nine papers. Both objective and subjective question types are present on the test. Questions of the personal variety are more challenging than those of the accurate variety. The candidates who take the UPSC Mains exam must be well-versed in the subject matter and possess exceptional problem-solving abilities. Answering challenging questions is one of the hurdles applicants experience during the exam. This post offers UPSC CSE candidates advice on approaching complex problems in the UPSC Mains.

Understanding the question

Understanding the question correctly is the first step in providing a satisfactory response. Many applicants frequently need to give it more time to sink in. To deliver an appropriate and accurate response, it is imperative that you fully comprehend the question. The questions in the UPSC Mains examination can be challenging. Thus, candidates should carefully examine them to prevent misinterpretation.

Analysing the Question

The second stage is to analyse the question once you have understood it. To respond thoroughly, the candidates must divide the question into smaller components. The aspirants will be able to arrange their thoughts more effectively by identifying the question’s significant elements and analysing them.

Brainstorming and Outlining

The following phase for the aspirants is to brainstorm and outline their solution once they have evaluated the question. Brainstorming entails coming up with concepts and ideas relevant to the question. The candidates can generate ideas using various strategies, including mind maps, diagrams, and bullet points.

Answering the Question

Answering the question comes after question analysis, brainstorming, and outlining. The candidates should open their responses with a succinct, direct remark that answers the question. The statement should make it apparent which way the solution will go in. The candidates should next offer a comprehensive, well-organised response covering the topic. Examples, case studies, and pertinent data should be used to substantiate the arguments and points presented in the response. 

Also, the candidates should refrain from offering material that is extraneous or unrelated to the topic. While responding to the question, utilising good vocabulary and terminology is crucial. Candidates should refrain from using technical or jargon language that the examiner might not comprehend.

Dealing with Difficult Questions

Handling difficult questions in UPSC Mains can be a challenging task. Difficult questions require a higher level of thinking, and the aspirants may need to apply their critical thinking skills to answer them effectively. Here are some tips on how to deal with difficult questions in UPSC Mains:

  • Take a deep breath and maintain your composure: Maintaining composure is critical when answering a challenging question. Deep breathing can assist in calming the mind and lessen stress. Addressing the question with optimism and avoiding tension or panic is critical.
  • Break the question down:Breaking the question into smaller components can aid in better comprehension. The candidates can pick out the essential parts of the question and concentrate on answering each independently.
  • Utilise case studies and examples:Case studies and models can make an answer more relatable and tangible. The ideas and points expressed can also be shown through examples and case studies.
  • Use critical thinking skills:Complex questions could call for deeper thought. Thus, candidates may need to use their critical thinking abilities. Analysing and assessing data, spotting assumptions and biases, and coming to informed conclusions are all critical thinking abilities.
  • Request clarification:Candidates may ask the examiner for clarification if they do not comprehend a question or are not sure what is being asked. Asking for clarification is preferable to respond with anything that is inaccurate or irrelevant.


In the UPSC Mains, answering challenging questions calls for a combination of abilities and tactics. The UPSC IAS application process is simple. The aspirants must comprehend the question, analyse it, come up with a few ideas for responses, develop an outline for those ideas, and finally respond to the topic in a way that is organised and cohesive. When answering challenging questions, candidates may need to use a higher level of thought as well as their critical thinking abilities.


Q1. How can I accurately comprehend the question in the UPSC Mains?

A1. To correctly understand the question in the UPSC Mains, you should recognise its keywords, scan it for any terms that serve as instructions or directives, and read it slowly to prevent misunderstandings.

Q2. How can I examine the UPSC Mains question?

A2. To evaluate a question in the UPSC Mains, you should break it down into smaller parts, figure out what it is asking about, what problem or issue it is trying to solve, what arguments or points need to be made, and what evidence or examples may be used to back up those arguments or points.

Q3. How can I approach challenging questions in the UPSC Mains?

A3. To manage challenging questions in the UPSC Mains, take a deep breath, remain composed, break the question down, use examples and case studies, exercise critical thinking, and ask for clarification if required. It’s crucial to adhere to the word count and refrain from including unrelated details.

Q4. In the UPSC Mains, may I express my own views when responding to a question?

A4. You can express your own thoughts when responding to a topic in the UPSC Mains, but it’s crucial to back them up with pertinent data and examples. It’s crucial to present a well-reasoned argument and avoid being prejudiced or opinionated.

Q5. How can I make sure that my UPSC Mains response is well-organised and coherent?

A5. You should begin by formulating your response, make sure you have covered all aspects of the issue, and then arrange your response in a logical and sequential manner to ensure that it is well-structured and cohesive for UPSC Mains.

Q6. How can I prepare myself to answer tough questions in UPSC mains?

A6: To prepare yourself for tough questions in UPSC mains, you should have a thorough understanding of the subject matter, as well as strong analytical and critical thinking skills. Practice writing answers to a variety of questions, including those that are difficult or outside your comfort zone. This will help you develop your writing style, build confidence, and hone your problem-solving skills.

the authorABHIYAN
Abhiyan Chhetri is a cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Abhiyan is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.