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  • Writing Speed for Mains

    What should be the writing speed according to UPSC ?

    Lets do the math:
    In GS paper one needs to attempt 250 marks questions in 3 hours. Which means:
    125 marks in 1.5 hours.
    83.3 marks in 1 hour that is 60 minutes
    which gives 7.2 minute for a 10 marker question and 10.8 minutes for a 15 marker question.
    But this is only for ideal condition when you are just going to write answers for complete three hours. However I prefer to read the complete question paper once in the beginning to know which questions I know and which I don’t so that I don’t waste my time on questions I don’t know.
    This normally takes 10 minutes in reading the 20 questions in paper. When I write answers, I need to read the question again which takes half a minute per question. Thus from writing time we need to deduct 20 minutes, 10 for the first reading and 10 for reading the questions again while writing.
    If you don’t do initial reading then still each question will take 1 minute for reading and understanding demand of question therefore it is prudent to decrease 20 minutes from total writing time. Lets now to the math:
    When total time was 180 minutes, 10 marker question took 7.2 minutes
    When total time is 160 minutes:
    10 marker question will take 6.5 minutes and
    15 marker question will take 9 minutes.
    This should be the ideal timing in GS paper. For 10 marker question word limit was 150 words while for 15 marker question word limit was 250 words which writing speed of:
    23 words per minute for 10 marker question.
    27 words per minute for 15 marks question.
    Difference in writing speed for the two types of questions is there because the suggested word limit is not in proportion to the marks allotted to them by UPSC.
    Taking a weighted average of two speeds we can arrive at
    (2310+2715)/(10+15)=25.4
    25 words per minute as ideal writing speed in GS papers.
    However if you draw diagrams which take more space but relatively lesser time (depending on your practice) then you may be able to relax your speed by a word or two per minute.
    During the exam I use a digital stop watch with a countdown timer like this:

    So just before writing an answer i will look at the stop watch which is running a count down of three hours. Suppose it shows 02:27:56 which means 2 hours and 27 minutes left. If it is a 10 marker then I will mentally set that I am going to conclude this answer by 02:21:00 that is 6 minutes. While writing I try to have a quick glance of the watch to ensure i am on time. By the time it reaches 02:22:00, I start concluding the answer. If I breach the time limit in some answers then I try to make up for it in some other answer.


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