Out of 9 papers of UPSC Mains, the essay paper is one of those comprising of 250 marks. In the essay paper, you will have to write two bases of word count 1000-1200, and each essay Writing is for 125 marks. Writing essays in the UPSC exam as a tricky thing so you need to read many articles related to the IAS mains examination to have clarity on the topics being asked in UPSC civil services examination.
Understanding essay writing for UPSC:
Essay writing for UPSC Mains and GS 4 Ethics is the best paper to score more marks with fewer efforts. Marks in the essay can vary from the lowest 80 to highest 160+ which can single handily determine your rank and cadre. Aspirants are ‘expected to keep their thoughts closely to the UPSC driven subject and arrange their ideas accordingly. It further states that credit will be given for effective and coherent expression’ in essay writing.
3 Key principles in essay writing for UPSC CSE:
- Keep it close: One must stick to the topic as close as possible without any deviations.
For example, in the environment-related topic, one can write-consumerism promoted by capitalism is one of the main drivers of resource exploitation. But need not deviate from the topic by dwelling on the capitalism vs socialism debate in order to promote the wise use of resources.
- Concise is the mantra: keep your essay as precise as possible with fewer words.
For example, one can write India is a bowl of salad with an intermingling of religions, races, castes, etc. But imagine if the same sentence is written like “India is a beautiful country. It has people belonging to many religions, races, castes, etc. It is called a bowl of salad. It is because people of all these religions, races, castes intermingle and live together peacefully. I am leaving it to your judgment about what should be the ideal sentence.
- Coherent: Coherence is required of all forms of writing, including answer writing, but in the UPSC CSE essay, one must be extra careful to check that all individual sentences in the essay are making sense. Also, paragraphs as a whole must convey a clear and well thought out exposition on the theme of the essay.
For example, if one is discussing environment-economics relations in a para, one should stick to it instead of clubbing it with politics or any other issue.
3 golden steps while writing the essay for the UPSC Civil Services Examination:
Understanding the essay pattern for UPSC CSE: Underline all the keywords mentioned in the essay and try to figure out the central theme. Link the central theme with keywords and elaborate on it.
For eg: Neglect of primary health care and education in India are reasons for its backwardness
Key words= primary health care, education
Central theme= backwardness
In this essay writing, simply throwing facts, reports about health and education is not enough but one has to link how these are related to the backwardness of India.
Note down all the points that you can think of, related to the topic of the paper. One can take 15-20 minutes for a brainstorm on a single topic.
One can practice brainstorming for various topics before the exam itself.
After brainstorming, arrange the ideas in the proper order to finalize the structure and content of the essay. Keep in mind a well-structured essay brings incoherence, order, and more marks.
3 parts of the structure of the essay for UPSC CSE:
The introduction is the first impression on an essay and as popularly said: “the first impression is the best impression”. So, the introduction must be very attractive to arouse the examiner’s interest in your essay. One to one and a half page can be dedicated to the introduction.
Different types of introduction:
- Start by defining the terms in an essay – more suitable for GS but not for the essay. But you can prefer it if you lack ideas for other types of the intro because it is better to pluck low-hanging fruits first.
- Start with a brief explanation of the topic itself – you should clearly explain what you are going to discuss in the rest of the essay. You can add personal experiences, quotes, facts, reports, etc here. But make it comprehensive.
- Start with an anecdote- you can begin with an interesting story based on real-life or your own development according to the topic. This type of introduction can fetch you more marks, but storytelling is an art and not everyone can do so. You will have to practice anecdotes for various topics before the exam.
- Body of the essay:
One can write an essay along different dimensions by following the PESTLE analysis- Politics, Economics, Social, Technological, Legal, Environmental.
For example, any general essay writing can be answered following this method like
“Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms”- you can write about the influence of education on different fields of a nation.
or can also write by following the family tree method- that includes individual, family, society, nation, and international. For example,
“Best for an individual is not necessarily best for the society” can be elaborately explained following the above method.
Writing in small paragraphs is easier to read thereby making it more interesting to read. Each paragraph can be dedicated to each dimension. Paragraphs should be interlinked to bring incoherence and continuity in reading. You can make use of connecting statements at the end of the para or the beginning of the para.
Subheadings & Rough Drafts: We can be a little innovative in our subheadings. Instead of bland subheadings such as ‘Benefits of Nuclear Energy,’ we can use “Nuclear Energy: Promise or Peril?’ Similarly, for the essay on Social Media, instead of writing ‘Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media’, I wrote “Social Media: A Double-Edged Sword”
You can use logical arguments backed by reports, indices, facts, quotes to support your stand. Sprinkle constitution related articles here and there. You can also use the ethical and moral principles of GS 4 as per the topic.
A good conclusion is as important as a good introduction. The conclusion can be a summary of your entire essay in different words. You can conclude with a positive course of action or suggestions. You can use popular anecdotes like SABKA SATH SABKA VIKAS, NEW INDIA, etc to make it stronger and appealing. Do not forget to link a conclusion to the introduction. It brings a complete view of the essay to the examiner at the end.
The essay paper has more than enough time. So, you can revise your paper after you finish to correct any spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.