[Strategy] “Extremely Slow Handwriting” – How Yo_Yo_Choti_Singh fought it to get IAS Rank 104

One of my friends once said “UPSC is all about balancing and management of Harmones and Neurons.

My reply was “No it’s about balancing and managing your Handwriting skills too.”

For those who have normal or above-normal handwriting speed this topic may feel irrelevant. Some may even side away this topic as merely lack of knowledge or adequate revision or writing beyond stated limits.
But having faced this issue for about 5-6 years now, I say “It’s not THAT SIMPLE pal.” After seeing mine this year’s mains marks , I can reasonably say which I used to say (what hardly anyone used to believe) that THE DAY I WILL BE ABLE TO MERELY FINISH MY PAPERS , I WILL CLEAR THIS EXAM. Today after having completed (~95%) the papers FIRST TIME in 5th attempt and having secured rank 104 in CSE2018 – I think it’s the high time for me to discuss my efforts and learnings to tackle this serious and HUGE MARKS DIFFERENTIATOR issue in CSE competition.Issue name- EXTREMELY SLOW HANDWRITING SPEED.

Are you a victim of it ? – Yes if even in 2nd+ mains you are not able to complete >90℅ of papers despite knowing it.

What I can do to tackle this issue ? Or more suitably What all you did to tackle your slow handwriting speed ?

1. First identify your true problem:-

A) If you are a fresher who have not written any mains till now probably it’s not your problem. Your problem is lack of adequate content, lack of adequate writing practice, lack of enough revision and lack of command over language expression etc.

B) If it’s your 2nd mains and still you are fearful that you will not be able to complete your papers as seen from your test series experience – it’s time to get serious. Start practicing more and more tests. Write regularly atleast half test each day irrespective of what you know. Revise more and make small notes. Improve your language competence. You can try V7 or V5 Gel pen if you are not using it till now.

C) If it’s your 3rd mains I.e. you have written atleast 2 mains without being able to complete any of them satisfactorily – you are the True and Only victim of really slow hand movement and slow handwriting w.r.t. what is desirable for CSE.

2. What I can/should do if I am the C) type victim ?

A) Do everything which is suggested to type A) and type B) victims above. You are no exception in that matter. Even if you have done all of it increase your degree and count of efforts. Simply because IT’S ALL YOUR BENEFIT. EACH MARK CAN DEFINE OR MAR YOU FEAT IN THUS EXAM.

B) Change your pen – I was told about Vision Elite 130 rs pen by Amit g (IAS Rajsthan cadre) during a brief meeting merely 15 days before mains exam this year. The suggestion worked wonder. It increased my speed beyond my expectations. Not only it increased speed but it helped me to give page full content feeling with merely 170 180 words written actually due to its big tip. That’s why this pen is not useful for those who have normal or above normal writing speed because it will eat your writing space at a faster speed. For rest Pilot V7 or V5 is always a best deal.

C) Improve your strokes and connections style in your language script – I took one VERY COSTLY (~6k ₹of one class) handwriting improvement class of 4-5 hours from a Chandigarh Professor who called himself a handwriting expert. My self analysis after the class and practice was that it was more beneficial for those having lack of legibility issue in writing then speed as such. But still I improved few serious non-required strokes in my script and learnt to write cursive type without allowing picking up of pen tip unnecessarily while writing.

D) Learn the art of Diagram and Flow chart making – one of the best way to fill space, earn good marks and give a sense of completion is to do this well discussed but less practiced art. Practice enough and practice hard standard flow charts and diagram designs so that you can reproduce and draw same in minimum time in any or many type of questions in actual mains. Remember no excuse leverage to you here as EACH MARK COUNT.

E) Learn to grip the pen from as far as possible from the bottom tip and also always write without cap attached to the pen – this will smoothen and fasten your writing speed in a very minute degree. Still it matters. Because EACH MARK COUNT.

F) Make a copy+ 3 4 charts in room for DATA / FACTS/ Reports/Policies/Schemes name etc – keep revising them. It’s a MUST for you. Each second will count for you. You must have everything on your tips. Mind and hands both should go simultaneously.

G) Make a copy of good english phrases- Not flowery english but simple yet meaningful sentences useful for starting the answer or ending it or connecting it in between. For ex “Like every rose has its thorns so also the ____” ; “Independence is good but with accountability it is far better.” etc. Such good lines/phrases can improve your language competence in final exam if prepared beforehand.

H) Learn the habit of writing pointed answers without long introduction/ conclusion- you have to write atleast 3 4 questions in final exam in each paper in this manner to complete paper in time.

I) You can do fast writing practice by hearing 10 15 minutes AIR News every night and try to write down it’s transcript at maximum speed possible in your own handwriting script. This particular practice can help you to complete some questions faster in the end part of scheduled duration of papers in final exam.

J) Avoid writing while keeping your wrist positioned in locked or twisted manner – try to keep wrist as straight and as normal as possible. Locking wrist situation slows down the writing speed for many people who have habit of doing so.

K) Focus on legibility, not beauty of handwriting. With my limited experience of about 5 mains, I can rest assure you that UPSC doesn’t give a shit about beauty of your handwriting. Not even a single extra mark is awarded due to beauty of handwriting. Only and Only legibility is what is expected from you and rewarded for in UPSC.

I am again reminding you, in CSE each and every mark count. Having lost place in final holy PDF due to my slow handwriting ATLEAST Twice , I can tell you that it’s TOO PAINFUL. Do whatever you can and whatever you can’t but DO COMPLETE EACH PAPER ADEQUATELY AND TIMELY.
Because it matters. 7 papers * 5-9 marks loss in each paper due to slow handwriting issue = fall from IAS/IPS to out of holy PDF. Decision is yours. I have faced it, I have improved it – I can feel the pain too. Its hard, it’s very hard But it’s possible. As I always say, keep going.


फिर मिलेंगे.

Yo Yo Choti Singh

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