Many times, the IAS aspirants facing the Mains for the Civil Services Exam feel highly confused concerning various directives in the questions. As a result, they are often unable to answer the questions as per the UPSC requirements. What makes the matters worse is that the candidates even leave the question(s) un-attempted due to their failure to interpret the directives in the right manner.

Most of the qualitative IAS coaching institutions in Delhi help the students understand the significance of directive. Go on reading and you will discover for yourself how important it is to understand and analyze the directive that UPSC very often provides with the questions for CSE Mains.

What is A Directive?

If you are still confused as to what a directive actually is, your query would be solved here. A directive as the word explains itself is used for providing directions. Thus, the directive provides the candidates with the instructions concerning the manner a question needs to be answered.

Some of the examples for the directives used by UPSC include:

  1. Discuss
  2. Elucidate
  3. Comment
  4. Examine
  5. Critically Examine
  6. Analyze
  7. Critically Evaluate
  8. Assess
  9. Outline
  10. Justify
  11. Discuss Critically, etc.

What role does a directive play to help you score higher?

Understanding the directive thoroughly well and answering a question accordingly helps you score much higher than what you might have done otherwise. And definitely your score in various Papers for the Mains is going to push your rank higher when UPSC declares the civil services Exam result. If you score well, and rank higher than the competition, you might well be allowed by UPSC to join the Indian Administrative Services. And that is what you aim at.

Thus, understanding the directives should not be taken lightly by any means. Though the task might appear to be a simple one in the beginning, it can help you materialize your goal to join IAS, the cadre that is the most coveted out of all others by the educated Indian youth.

Here are a few ways that understanding the directives helps you score higher:

It helps you set the right kind of tone for you answer

Throwing a careful glance at the list of the directives provided above would help you notice that a directive sets a clear manner in which the question needs to be answered. For instance, a question followed by a directive Discuss would definitely be answered in a manner quite different from the one that makes use of the directive Discuss Critically.

Sharpens your answer writing skills

Thus, when you get a clear understanding of the manner in which a question needs to be answered, your answer writing skills are sharpened to a considerable extent. When you answer well, the probability of scoring well in the Exam is also heightened considerably.

Helps you through all the scoring Papers of Mains

The second stage of the Civil Services Exam, i.e., the Mains comprises 9 Papers. Two are qualifying in nature.

However, there are four Papers for General Studies and two for the Optional subject. Each of the Papers for General Studies carries 250 marks. Besides, each of the Papers for the Optional subjects carries 250 marks each as well.

Thus, in total, the Papers specified above come up to 1500 marks and that is something you simply cannot ignore! Now, that makes the point clear even further that if you understand the directives well, you are definitely going to answer as per what the question requires.

And that would be simply great concerning your probability to score high!

It helps you gain a better critical insight

It should be noted that understanding the directive helps you gain a sharp critical insight into what the question requires. And it further evolves into a far better insight into the various issues/topics etc., required to answer the question well.

Needless to say, the critical insight into various issues helps you opt for a balanced perspective. Thus, you may balance the answer with various perspectives keeping the requirements of the directive of course in mind.

It further makes your answers more scoring. And all IAS aspirants would obviously aim at scoring higher and thereby beating the competition. A good score and a rank higher than the competition is the only way that leads you towards the path to success i.e., joining IAS. So, if you keenly aim at materializing your goal to join IAS, you must not ignore the directives.

Helps you gain a mindset free of all prejudices

When you answer as per the directives, you find yourself considering the question requirements rather than your own personal opinions. You might be having your own opinions and ideas concerning the issue or topic or whatever the question has been based on.

However, it would be in the best of your interests to keep in mind that it is the question’s requirement rather than your personal opinion that counts more. Besides, UPSC looks for unprejudiced minds while looking for potential administrators.

And how is UPSC going to find if you are unprejudiced or not? Of course, by how you answer. Thus, following the directive helps you opt for answering in a manner keeping all the prejudices at a bay. Thus, when you answer in an unbiased manner, your answers reflect an ideology that is justifiable to all for your answer is more likely to be based on the well balanced perspective(s).


Last, but not the least of course, all the good practices need perseverance to evolve to their best. And the practice of understanding the directives and answering accordingly forms no exception. Thus, it is advisable to answer the maximum number of the Test Series. Also do not miss any of the Mock Tests if you are enrolled at an IAS coaching institution. Besides, you must not ignore solving the previous years’ CSE question papers. The more you practice the greater would be your skill to answer the questions as per the directives when you face the Civil Services Exam.