How to Handle Difficult Questions in UPSC Mains


The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts various exams every year. The Civil Services Examination is one of them, which is considered one of the toughest competitive exams not only in India but also in the world.

The UPSC exam usually comprises three stages – Preliminary Examination, Main Examination, and Personality Test. The UPSC CSE full form is the union public service commission civil services examination. The Main Examination consists of nine papers, including two language papers, one essay paper, and four papers on General Studies. One of the most demanding aspects of the Main Examination is handling difficult questions that can appear in any of the papers.

This blog will focus on some tips on handling difficult questions in the UPSC Mains.

Tips For Handling Difficult Questions

● Understand the Question

The first and foremost step in handling any question in the Examination, whether difficult or not, is understanding the question correctly. Read the question carefully, and try to grasp what is being asked. Sometimes UPSC questions can be complex and convoluted. In all such cases, you must try to break the question down into simpler parts and understand each individually. Make sure you are clear about the context and the scope of the question that is being asked.

● Analyse the Question

After understanding the question, the next step you should take is to analyze it. You must try to identify the key phrases or words in the question that can help you understand what the question is asking. Also, explore the question from all possible angles and try to see if there are any hidden meanings or implications in the question or not. It will help you better understand the question, enabling you to provide a more comprehensive answer.

● Plan Your Answer

Once you have analyzed the question very well, the next step is to plan your answer accordingly. This step involves organizing your thoughts and ideas and structuring your answer logically and coherently. But make sure you have a clear understanding of the question and also the scope of the solution. Also, identify the key points you want to cover exclusively in your response. It will not only help you stay focused but also help you avoid straying off-topic.

● Use Examples and Illustrations

One of the most efficient ways to handle difficult questions is to use examples and illustrations in your answers. It will help you explain your point of view more persuasively. Models and images can also provide context to your response, making it more relatable and exciting to the examiner. Moreover, examples and explanations can help you demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the topic much better, which enables you to score more marks and will also highlight your UPSC CSE full form preparation.

● Be Objective and Balanced

Additionally, while answering tricky questions in the Examination, it is essential to be objective and balanced. Avoid taking a biased or one-sided approach, as it can undermine credibility and weaken your argument. Try to present some different viewpoints and ideas in your answer and evaluate them objectively. This step will help you provide a more balanced and nuanced response to the question, which will impress the examiner.

● Be Concise and to the Point

Furthermore, it is seen that UPSC examiners appreciate answers that are concise and to the point. So, avoiding beating around the bush or providing irrelevant information in your response is better. Instead, focusing on answering the question directly and succinctly would be best. It will also help you save extra time and space, which you can utilize to provide more relevant and valuable information.

● Stay Calm and Composed

Finally, staying calm and composed while handling difficult questions is crucial. You should avoid getting panicky or flustering if you encounter a difficult question. Instead, calm yourself by taking a deep breath and staying focused. Remember that difficult questions are only designed to test your knowledge, understanding, and analytical skills. So, approach all difficult questions with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn.


Handling difficult questions in the UPSC Mains can be challenging, but it is not impossible with the right approach and strategy. By understanding the question, analyzing it, planning your answer, using examples and illustrations, being objective and balanced, being concise and to the point, and staying calm and composed, you can easily handle difficult questions effectively and impress the examiner. So, start your IAS CSE full form preparation to excel in the examination.


What should I do if I am running out of time and have a difficult question left to answer in UPSC Mains?

If you are running out of time while answering a difficult question in UPSC Mains, it is advisable to quickly summarize your key points and come to a good conclusion. You can write in bullet points or use diagrams to convey your ideas more quickly and efficiently. However, ensure that your answer is still coherent and well-structured, even if it is answered in brief.

How to structure my answer to a difficult question in UPSC Mains?

To structure your answer to a difficult question in UPSC Mains, you can start by introducing the topic and defining any key terms present in the question. Then, try to present your argument or viewpoint clearly and concisely by using evidence to support your claims. Finally, you can conclude your answer by summarizing your main points and offering the final insights or recommendations.

What to do if I encounter a difficult question during the exam?

If you encounter any difficult question during the exam, first take a deep breath and read the question very carefully. Identify the key terms in the question, and try to think of any relevant examples or evidence that you have studied and that you can use to support your answer. If you are still unsure about how to answer that particular question, move on to the next question and come back to it later after finishing the whole paper.

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