It can be easily said that many UPSC exam aspirants overlook the importance of preparing their essays well. A majority of novices mistakenly feel they can write the perfect essay on their exam day, while the repeaters equate the knowledge gained through their General studies preparation to successful writing. In both cases, writing practice is left unconsidered.
UPSC essay writing carries a total of 250 marks comprising of 2 essays in total (125 marks each). Leaving behind writing a good essay of 1000 to 1200 words to mere chance is a grave error.
Do not worry, we have you covered!
Check out these tried and tested Essay Writing Tips
Our experts understand the significance of converting your gained knowledge conceptually into well put-down words. Therefore, we have compiled a list of 9 superb essay writing tips that’ll help you prepare the right way : –
1. To write an astounding essay, you must first possess the right knowledge
UPSC essay writing is not your regular school or college question. Here, along with your knowledge of a topic, your ability to produce it sequentially, consistently and with precision is given equal importance.
So, how do you gain the knowledge to do that?
Undoubtedly, the content will come from your general studies preparation.
Besides this, you must regularly read magazines like Economic and Political weekly, Yojana, etc. These magazines will not only help you revise your GS content, but will also give you good ideas regarding content presentation.
You must also try reading non-fiction occasionally; it’s a great way to grow your thought process and learn how to represent them powerfully through words.
2. Do not stuff your essay with unnecessary jargon
You must keep the language of your essay simple. The exam tests your vocabulary too, agreed, but avoid using complex words just to sound well-read.
Instead, concentrate on writing clear, concise and meaningful sentences that put your point across. It is best to avoid redundant sentences. A common mistake made by many is writing lengthy sentences. It’s best to put down small and simple sentences rather than elaborate ones that will make the reader lose out on the crux of your point.
3. Keep up the good vocabulary
As mentioned above, a good vocabulary showcases how well-read you are. This doesn’t mean you use it incessantly. But, a strong word can add value to your sentences when used the right way.
We know that you can’t read up an entire dictionary in a week. And we do not expect you to do so too.
The best way to build-up a strong vocabulary is by reading the newspaper daily. Even reading non-fiction can be of great help here. What you must do is write down the words, phrases and quotes that seem unique alongside their meanings. Writing an example sentence along with it will also help you retain it in your memory longer.
4. Create intelligent and wordly-wise subheadings
The subheading is the entire body copy at a glance. Representing a paragraph with a catchy, smart and content-aligned subheading can get you major points in an essay exam. It raises the interest of the examiner, and also aids readability.
5. Keep your paragraphs coherent to each other
When writing a long essay of 1000-1200 words, it’s quite easy to end up losing out on the main message you want to convey.
To ensure that you deliver the desired message, it is crucial to present your sentences/paragraphs in an organized and sequential manner.
Practice is essential if you want to deliver a write-up that showcases your well-connected thinking ability. You can end a paragraph with a question, or an introduction to the next paragraph. This will help you maintain a smooth connect between your subtopics.
Example, let’s take a look at two sample paragraphs for the essay topic – “women, gender inequality and the Indian economy,”
The practice of men handling major financial decisions and managing the family’s income in India’s traditional patriarchal society is another reason for the sad state of womens’ dependence on men. Such practices hinder potential women equality in economic development.
Similar practice in higher echelons of the corporate sector where women are obstructed in entering powerful positions by way of glass-ceiling is a continuation of such patriarchal ideologies.
Notice how the underlined sentences actually tell and take forward the message in a sequence respectively.
Giving an outro and intro to your paragraphs is a great way of establishing a connect and sequence between the two.
6. The introduction should ideally be a relatable quote, or an event
Starting your GS answers with a definition is the right thing to do, but doing so in essays just makes it stale and boring.
You must try to up the examiner’s interest by quoting a famous personality, an interesting quote, or a relatable real-life/fictional event.
Books, magazines and newspapers will help you learn essay-worthy anecdotes and incidents.
Let’s take the same topic as above as an example,
- Starting with a definition,
“In simple terms Gender Inequality can be defined as the unequal treatment of individuals because of their gender.”
- Starting with an interesting fictional event/ story,
“Let me take you to a modest two-room house in a remote village in India. Rupa is crying in a corner of her room. Her father wouldn’t allow her to go to her primary school anymore. Her brother has already left for today’s class, but Rupa has chores to finish around the house. Father says it’s not important for girls to study.”
The contrast between the two is stark and clearly the latter reads more interesting to the reader.
7. Create your essay’s content as per the topic
One way of writing for a particular topic might not necessarily work for the other. You must first understand the nature of your topic and then decide how you want to tackle it down further.
For example, topics presented as a question are best written in the problem and solution pattern.
8. Back-up your arguments with substantial reasons
To add value to your content, it is a must to include constitutional provisions, examples, statistics and expert opinions.
Let’s say, in an essay on “women, gender inequality and the Indian economy,” it is not enough to state that : –
“Gender inequality is predominant in the education sector in India. The bridge between the enrolment ratio of men and women has widened. The drop-out rates of girls are alarmingly more than boys, which adds to the gender gap prevalent in our society.”
Agreed, the points made are valid, but substantiating them with required facts is important to add value to it.
So, adding a fact like below will back up your opinions and fetch you more marks.
“at higher education level, the GER for males is approximately 19 %, while for females, it is merely 15-16% approximately (as per 12th five year plan.)”
9. Write a powerful conclusion
You must always summarise your essay on an optimistic note in 3-4 lines. It is advisable to not skip on giving your vision for the future.
Important Essay Topics for UPSC CSE
There are certain topics that have a higher possibility of being included. These are: –
- Rural Empowerment
- Women Empowerment
- Internal Security
- Social Justice
Although highly suggested, please do not limit yourself to the above strictly.
Let’s take a look at some good essay questions from previous papers : –
- Science and Mysticism: Are they compatible?
- Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative, economic and developmental implications
- Does Indian cinema shape our popular culture or merely reflect it?
- Is the criticism that the ‘Public-Private-Partnership’ (PPP) model for development is more of a bane than a boon in the Indian context, justified?
To conclude, keep your essays expansive yet meaningful and relevant to the topic. You must try not to steer away from what is asked. And finally, when preparing for essay writing for UPSC, keep up the daily reading, and do not forget, “practice makes perfect.”