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Monday, September 2, 2013

Essay Writing Tips For IAS / UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination

The UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination has an important paper on Essay writing for 250 marks from 2013 Main Exam onwards, earlier the paper was of 200 marks. The essay paper has a choice of at least 5-6 topics covering all the broad areas that a UPSC aspirant is expected to know.
The UPSC demands the following from the candidates in its essay paper:
  • Candidates are required to write an essay on a specific topic out of the choice of topics given
  • Candidates are expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay
  • Candidates are expected to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion
  • Candidates are expected to write concisely
  • Credit will be given for effective and exact expression

While the above mentioned guidelines given by UPSC may seem very innocuous, but understanding it and adhering to these guiding principles can easily fetch one a good score of 150+ in essay paper. 

Choice of Topic - First and foremost thing while writing an essay is to select the topic you are most comfortable with as otherwise you will invariably run out of ideas while writing your essay. The topic about which you know the most would be your best bet for getting a decent score.

Brainstorming - Once you have zeroed down on the topic, the next and most crucial step is to ideate, i.e., to brainstorm for at least a good 30-45 minutes and jot down all the ideas that come to your mind about the topic in question.

Orderly Arrangement of Ideas - Once one has jotted down all the points, one should arrange them in coherent, logical sequence. One should then think of an introduction and conclusion of the essay from the points jotted down.

Length of Essay - The length of the essay should be around 1000-1200 words and any essay much shorter or much longer would be a waste of time and effort. The heading of the essay should be written in a neat fashion and underlined. Also important statements within the body of the essay should also be underlined for the desired impact but underlining should not be overdone.

Sticking to the Essay Topic - One idea or point should ideally be covered in one paragraph and paragraphs should follow in a logical manner without much abruptness. A common pitfall while writing essay for UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination is that candidates tend to get carried away from the topic of the essay and this is counterproductive and goes against the UPSC guideline of keeping closely to the subject of the essay. Not keeping this important tenet in mind would lead you to digress from the topic of the essay and lessen your chances of getting a decent score.

Quoting Facts and Figures – One can and should quote statistics in the essay if it helps in emphasising one's point of view but there is no harm in not quoting any figures if one is not sure or does not remember any particular statistic. Avoid bluffing and making up any kind of statistic in the essay paper as it will be a big negative and can lead to very poor scores.

Effective and Exact Expression - While UPSC does not expect candidates to write an essay using flowery language but it does expect the candidates to write essay using simple but grammatically correct sentences. A good vocabulary helps the candidate to use the right expression and convey the exact meaning without writing too much. For this, a candidate should focus on improving one's vocabulary and rely on constructing simple sentences rather than using a difficult word out of context just for the sake of using it.

Practice is the Key - For getting a good score in essay paper, one should practice writing down points for at least 8-10 probable essay topics and 2-4 full length essays and get them evaluated from a subject expert. Few topics that can be prepared for essay writing are – Democracy and its Challenges, Women Empowerment and Violence Against Women, Climate Change and Disaster Management, Curbing Corruption in Public Life, Growing Role of Social Media in Forming public Opinion etc.

In case of any queries please post in the comments section of this blog http://upsc-prelims.blogspot.in

All the best !

Abhishek ( http://upsc-prelims.blogspot.in)


Abidz said...

Essay now (2013)of 250 marks and equal to a whole paper of Optional/ GS.

Abhishek said...

Thanks for the update Abid !
UPSC has done few flip-flops this year regarding the scheme of Mains Exam and yes marks in Essay Paper have been increased to 250 ...

Anonymous said...

Thanks Man. Please keep posting any other relevant essays you can think of. Indian Cinema can also be a potential topic given it completed its 100 years, same with media and related isues.

shankar kumar sah said...

Hi,abhishek sir, i am shankar,final year B.TECH student. i am preaparing for UPSC.sir upto 10th class my study medium was hindi. now i am facing problem regarding writing essay. can you pls suggest me what should i do to write effective essay..

Abhishek said...

@ shankar kumar ... the first and foremost thing you should start doing is reading newspapers and magazines and improve your vocabulary. While reading articles in newspapers focus on how sentences are framed, look up the words in a dictionary whose meaning is not clear ... all these things should become a habit with you ...UPSC demands essays written in simple grammatical english which is not a very difficult art to master if one is willing to work hard .. all d best