As I was writing answers for my book, it struck me what if I am not able to convey my idea of a model-answer through these samples? What if instead of focussing on the structure, a candidate focuses too much on the content alone? An answer is equal parts content and equal parts structure. I thus hurriedly made a list of things that I think are essential to be borne in mind before writing an answer. This is not an exhaustive list and as and when something will come to mind, I will add it here. Thus, you may keep revisiting this periodically to check for new updates, and to revise the old ones. 

The following are the essentials of 'my' model-answer:
  • Keep the answer short. Nobody has the time to read a lengthy answer. Just focus on what is being asked and move on. The examiner checks with an indicative answer-key which enlists all the legal points your answer needs to have and he thus awards marks accordingly. He probably has some 40-50 answer-sheets to finish till he can call it a night and will not appreciate unnecessary ramblings.
  • Needless to say, there is only one accepted way to tackle a problem based question which is guaranteed to fetch you marks and save some time. It is the beautiful IRAC method, to which I was introduced in my early years of law-school and have ever since taken a strong liking to it. IRAC stands for Issue-Rule-Analysis-Conclusion. It is pretty self explanatory. The chronology you will follow will be: 1. Identifying the issue(s), 2. Writing down the Rule i.e the legal provisions or, if it is a case-based law then that, 3. Analysis is where you will bring together the rule and the issue and examine the issue through the lenses of the rule you just wrote. This part will also include landmark or relevant cases, if any. Seriously, don't stress about case-laws too much. If you can recall them it's okay. if not, your analysis will still fetch you good marks; and lastly 4. Conclusion where you simply pronounce the outcome in one or two lines. Answer writing samples can be found here.
  • The basic structure of a typical descriptive type answer, if it bears 10 marks or more should be something like this: an introduction, acknowledging what you will deal with, the legal provisions concerning the problem, a discussion including landmark case-laws, if any, and a one/two line conclusion. It will be wise to follow the IRAC chronology, just not as objectively and strictly. The issue part is substituted by a wider, introduction part. But be careful not to over-introduce the topic. Introduce the topic in simple and concise words.  In the declaratory decree answer here, I have made sub-topics to provide clarity but the actual answer should be shorter. Answer writing samples can be found here
  • Refer to the full name of the legislation you are referring to, and if you have to refer to it multiple times in the answer, assign an acronym to it. For example, don't write "under section 9 of the CPC". Instead write "under Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereinafter referred to as the "CPC")". In later parts of the answer, you may refer to it simply as 'CPC'.
  • Remember, in answer writing an act and an Act aren't the same thing, when it comes to legal writing. An act is a verb and an Act refers to the piece of legislation you have earlier referred to. Example: "thus it seems imperative that A'a act would amount to breach of contract under the Act."
  • Sometimes it is good to refer to the purpose of the law on which the question is asked. For example, if it is a question asking whether the parties are liable to get a divorce or not, I would refer to the purpose of a marriage under the law applicable to the parties, and thus move on to say whether that is being fulfilled in the instant case or not, and then substantiate that with the actual legal provision, if it is codified (as we know, some grounds are not codified under muslim law). Long essays could be written on the purpose of marriage, thus I would stick to introducing all the key elements and not dwell too much on the philosophical aspect. Again, one or two sentences max.
  • Did you notice how I used 'max' in the above sentence? Using this kind of language is a strict no-no. Leave all the cool lingos outside the examination hall. Use proper, 'formal' words.
  • If you think that though the answer has been asked under one 'subject' (because this is how we aspirants see each piece of legislation when it comes to the exam), but reference to another subject would be quite beneficial, then don't shy away from doing that as long as you do not deviate entirely from the intended subject because ultimately what you need are marks and how you will get them is by complying to the answer-sheet the examiner has been provided by the High Court/PSC conducting your exam. But a few brownie points don't hurt anyone, so act smartly. An example can be found in this answer on specific enforcement of a contract for the sale of property
  • It's always a good idea to refer to the courts as 'honourable'. Thus, my typical answer would contain something like this: "the Hon'ble Supreme Court held in the case.." It's a small thing and nobody is going to penalise you for not complying but it's always a good idea to develop the habit of writing like this; something that even I developed during my mains preparation days.
  • It is a good idea to write in paragraph form as opposed to in pointers in a long-answer. If it is a 2-4 marks answer, you may write in pointers (like I have in this check-list). I personally prefer pointers as I find them time and effort saving for the examiner but I have been warned against them by my professors repeatedly and thus have given up on them when it comes to answer-writing. As one would not expect a good judgment, or a good book to be written in bullet points, one does not expect the same out of a good answer.
*If you have any queries that I may have missed, you can shoot them in the comment section below. 


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