How To Complete UPSC Mains Paper in 3 Hours? – A Clear-Cut Guide

how to complete upsc mains paper in 3 hours

How to complete UPSC Mains Paper in 3 hours is the question that comes across most of the aspirant’s minds. UPSC Mains is the second phase of the UPSC Civil Services Examination.

There is a total of 9 papers in UPSC Mains and each of the 9 papers has a time duration of 3 hours. All 9 papers are descriptive in nature which means you need to practice writing an answer beforehand so that you can write a well-structured answer in an exam to clear UPSC Mains.

Since many of the candidates think about how many questions have to be attempted to clear UPSC Mains. Do we need to attempt all or not and many such types of questions are gushing across their minds? This article resolves all such queries as it revolves around on how to complete UPSC mains paper in 3 hours

Number Of Questions To Be Answered/Attempted In UPSC Mains

Before figuring out how to complete UPSC Mains paper in 3 hours, let us look at the number of questions to be attempted.

250 is the maximum marks allotted for GS Paper, optional paper, and Essay paper whereas 300 maximum marks are allotted for Indian language and English paper.

Usually, 20 questions (varies according to the subjects) are asked in each of the 9 papers of UPSC Mains, and 3 hours are allotted to complete the paper. Candidates try to attempt each and every question to be in a race of scoring higher marks in UPSC Mains. Generally, it is said that the people who have attempted the entire paper may score higher marks rather than the one who has not completed the entire UPSC Mains paper.

How To Complete UPSC Mains Paper In 3 Hours?

Completing the UPSC Mains Question Paper on time can be a daunting or stressful task but can be achieved with the right strategy of preparation and mindfulness. Despite being well versed in the respective subject, most of us are unable to complete the entire paper on time as we are unable to manage time or stress/anxiety levels in the exam hall.

Prior to the actual exam, practice sufficient mock papers so that you can manage the time and avoid wasting time thinking or framing answers. Beforehand practice also help you to keep your stress level in check.

Keep one thing in mind, at exam time approach asked questions with a proper/correct plan. Keep an eye on the time so that instead of wasting it, you can make the most of it. The following points listed below will help you to know how to complete UPSC Mains paper in 3 hours.

Practice, Is A Key To Success

The more you practice, the more you will be versed not only in writing the perfect answer but also in managing time properly so that you do not waste it framing the perfect answer. It will also increase your writing speed. This will enable your thoughts to flow logically so that you can write an answer in a coherent and organized way.

Attempting The Questions You Know First

First, attempt those questions which you know so that you can write a proper answer. This will help you to bring the ball in your court by fetching the allotted marks of that question, increasing your confidence level, and will save you enough time. Save time for difficult questions by doing the easy ones first.

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Keep An Eye On The time

If you are running out of time then keep your paragraphs short. Try to mold your answer in bullet form. Use mind maps, flow charts or diagrams instead of long paragraphs which will not only save your time but your answer will look visually appealing.

Don’t Skip Any Questions You Are Familiar With

If you don’t know the answer to any question but have a limited idea then attempt it instead of leaving it. As this will fetch some marks under your account. In other words, instead of leaving an unfamiliar question write some relevant points related to the question you have some idea about. Whatever you know with respect to that question, write something so that you may have a chance to score some marks on that question.

Tips To Increase Number Of Questions Attempted

Follow the given tips to attempt the maximum number of questions in UPSC Mains:

  1. Increase your speed to complete the entire paper in time. For this have answer practice beforehand. Practice will increase your writing speed. Besides speed, it will help you to be accurate while answering the asked questions so that you will refrain from writing the bush.
  2. Spend a reasonable amount of time answering one question before moving on to the next. But don’t spend too much time on a single question.
  3. Accuracy will help you to have a knowledge of that respective subject. This can be achieved via revision and practice.
  4. Don’t switch between multiple pens in the exam hall. This will only waste your time and hinder you to attempt more questions due to time constraints.
  5. Refrain yourself from writing the wrong data or facts in a fact-based answer. Write the correct facts or figures, or else leave it. In short, stick to what is asked instead of what you know.
  6. In case you are not aware of the answer to a question, do not leave it unanswered, as doing so will greatly hurt your chances of answering it later in the exam. The best approach to take to such a question is to answer something relevant that you know and keep it aside to try it out later in the exam.
  7. Answer questions in bullet points, diagrams, and any other methods, rather than in tedious paragraphs. How you present your answers is important. The examiner will undoubtedly notice this.
  8. Instead of wasting the last minute in defining the keywords. Stick to the crux of a question asked in the exam.

Knowledge and writing skills alone will not help you to complete the entire UPSC Mains paper on time. Following the tips/strategies mentioned above will help you to complete the exam paper on time.

How Can One Write A 250 Word Answer In 7-8 Minutes In UPSC Mains Exam

It may sound easy but it is not. In UPSC Mains Exam, you need to write 250 words in 7-8 minutes. This is not easy, but it can be done if you follow some tips and techniques.

  1. Pay close attention to the questions asked in the question paper and be sure you understand them.
  2. Make an outline of your answer. This will help you structure your answer easily and systematically. This is a habit that you can cultivate during mock exams. Practicing daily answer writing during mock tests will help you to a great extent.
  3. The UPSC examiners want you to understand the issue and come up with a complete answer that is easy to read and comprehend. The examiner wants to assess you with your opinion-based answer. Do not drift off into irrelevant thoughts. Overbrooding leads to confusion, so avoid any unnecessary details.
  4. Try to underline your most important points and sentences. This can save time and fetch you extra marks. Keep your handwriting neat and legible. A neat answer will help you score high.

With clarity of thoughts/concepts with respect to the asked questions and a sufficient amount of practice, one can write a 250-words answer in 7 to 8 minutes in UPSC Mains Exam with ease.

Importance Of Finishing The Entire Paper In UPSC

The recommendation is to spend no more than seven minutes per answer for essay type answers in the Mains Examination. If one can’t answer a question in seven minutes, a plan is then needed to make up for the time spent answering the previous question.

A candidate has to remember that they have an equal amount of time to answer all the questions and all the question carries the same weightage, so giving an inordinate amount of time to one question is unfair to the others.

So, candidates should try and complete all questions within their stipulated time limit and not be carried away by any particular question.



Though it is uncertain to succeed in the exam,
But hard work will significantly increase the chance of doing well in exams.

Time management is the key to success in the UPSC CSE as you cannot ask for extra time. You should manage your time wisely so that you can complete all questions within a predefined period of time. Ensure that you have ample time to answer each question, otherwise, you will not have enough time to answer the questions completely. So, follow the tips above and prepare yourself to write 250 words in 7-8 minutes.

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