Below are some of the Important Directives that are aksed in UPSC IAS Mains Questions.
So first of all what is a directive and what is its purpose in a question?
"Directives" ask you to answer, or present information, in a particular way. And thus it is very important, because though you know an answer if you don't write in the directive asked you may loose marks.
Some examples of Directives are Analyze, Discuss, Comment etc.
Below are some of the important Directives that are seen in UPSC IAS Mains question paper and i have tried to explain in detail their meaning and context.
Critically analyze – When asked to analyze, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgement.
Analyse – When asked to analyze, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary
Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.
Characterize: Describe the distinctive nature or features of.
Clarify: Literally make something clearer and, where appropriate, simplify it. This could involve, for example, explaining in simpler terms a complex process or theory, or the relationship between two variables.
Comment: The directive ‘comment’ is usually followed by a statement made by some famous personality, or taken out from a famous book. When you are asked to comment, you have to pick main points and give your ‘opinion’ on them based on evidences or arguments stemming from your wide reading. Your opinion may be for or against, but you must back your argument with evidences. These types of question offer you a chance to consolidate your reading of different subjects to justify your opinion.
Compare: Identify the similarities and differences between two or more phenomena. Say if any of the shared similarities or differences are more important than others. ‘Compare’ and ‘contrast’ will often feature together in an essay question. Examine for the purpose of noting similarities and differences.
Consider: Say what you think and have observed about something. Back up your comments using appropriate evidence from external sources, or your own experience. Include any views which are contrary to your own and how they relate to what you originally thought.
Contrast / Distinguish: Similar to compare but concentrate on the dissimilarities between two or more phenomena, or what sets them apart. Point out any differences which are particularly significant. Contrast means write differences not similarities. You can write similarities as well as differences if asked to Compare and Contrast.
Critically: An important term and a favorite of UPSC. Whenever it is asking Critically Examine, Critically Comment or Critically Analyze just remember that you have to write both pros and cons and give a fair, unbiased or value loaded judgement. It should always give a feeling of closure. Critically means ‘in a way that involves the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.’ When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.
Define: This simply means write the definition. A bit of memory helps here as you should try to reproduce verbatim and at least include all possible keywords and phrases which you know are essential parts of that particular definition. To give in precise terms the meaning of something. Bring to attention any problems posed with the definition and different interpretations that may exist.
Demonstrate: Show how, with examples to illustrate.
Discuss: Essentially this is a written debate where you are using your skill at reasoning, backed up by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of a given context. So, talk over, write about, consider or examine by argument or from various point of view; debate; present the different sides but you have to give reasons for both for against arguments. And remember to arrive at a conclusion. To write about an idea in detail showing the different ideas and opinions about it. This is a presentation of an idea & its contents and opinion of other significant person on it.
Elaborate / Expand: It means detailed explanation. To give in more detail, provide more information on.
Elucidate: Elucidate means make it clear with examples to make it clear.
Enumerate: Simply list the points about the topic and don't give detailed explanation.
Evaluate / Assess: Weigh up to what extent something is true. Persuade the reader of your argument by citing relevant research but also remember to point out any flaws and counter-arguments as well. Conclude by stating clearly how far you are in agreement with the original proposition. Give your verdict as to what extent a statement or findings within a piece of research are true, or to what extent you agree with them. Provide evidence taken from a wide range of sources which both agree with and contradict an argument. Come to a final conclusion, basing your decision on what you judge to be the most important factors and justify how you have made your choice. Judge the value or character of something; appraise; evaluate the positive points and the negative ones; give an opinion regarding the value of; discuss the advantages and disadvantages.
Estimate: Measurement of positive & negative of an idea. It doesn't show exact situation. (Note: No conclusion is written in this type of question).
Examine: Look in close detail and establish the key facts and important issues surrounding a topic. This should be a critical evaluation and you should try and offer reasons as to why the facts and issues you have identified are the most important, as well as explain the different ways they could be construed. Detailed explanations are required. Write in details whatever you know, include one to two lines of introduction followed by three to four lines in favor and three to four lines against the given topic. One to two lines of implications if any, and then limitations of the concepts and finally the conclusion in two to three lines needs to be added.
Explore: Adopt a questioning approach and consider a variety of different viewpoints. Where possible reconcile opposing views by presenting a final line of argument.
Give an account of: Means give a detailed description of something. Not to be confused with ‘account for’ which asks you not only what, but why something happened.
Identify: Determine what the key points to be addressed are and implications thereof. Cite specific events, phenomena, and show a connection.
Illustrate / Exemplify: A similar instruction to ‘explain’ whereby you are asked to show the workings of something, making use of definite examples and statistics if appropriate to add weight to your explanation.
Implications / Consequences / Outcomes / Results: Write about the possible scenario or impact of the event in question.
Interpret: Demonstrate your understanding of an issue or topic. This can be the use of particular terminology by an author, or what the findings from a piece of research suggest to you. In the latter instance, comment on any significant patterns and causal relationships.
Justify / Advocate: Here you have to argue in favor of and write favorable comments as far as reasonably possible. Make a case by providing a body of evidence to support your ideas and points of view. In order to present a balanced argument, consider opinions which may run contrary to your own before stating your conclusion.
Narrate / Describe: This is the easiest thing to do and just theoretical knowledge is required here. You have to write basically its parts, what it is made up of, constituents, characteristics and attributes. Provide a detailed explanation as to how and why something happens. Give an account in words of (someone or something), including all the relevant characteristics, qualities, or events.
Outline: Convey the main points placing emphasis on global structures and interrelationships rather than minute detail. Just give description of main facts involved.
Purpose / Goal / Objective / Target: What is to be achieved, what is the purpose, the goal, the objectives or the targets?
Review: Look thoroughly into a subject. This should be a critical assessment and not merely descriptive.
Substantiate: Support your answer with evidences (case studies).
Show how: Present, in a logical order, and with reference to relevant evidence the stages and combination of factors that give rise to something.
Significance / Importance: What happens because it exists or what happen if it doesn't exist.
State: To specify in clear terms the key aspects pertaining to a topic without being overly descriptive. Refer to evidence and examples where appropriate.
Summarise: Give a condensed version drawing out the main facts and omit superfluous information. Brief or general examples will normally suffice for this kind of answer.
To what extent: Evokes a similar response to questions containing 'How far...’ This type of question calls for a thorough assessment of the evidence in presenting your argument. Explore alternative explanations where they exist.
Hopefully this will be enough for you to understand Directives and excel in answer writing.
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