How to Write Essay in UPSC Exam/How to write essay for UPSC Exam/how to write an essay in UPSC exam?/Essay writing in UPSC/Essay for UPSC Mains/Essay writing in UPSC
The Essay Paper is one of the nine papers in the UPSC civil services mains exam. In this paper, you will have to write two essays each with a word count of 1000 – 1200. One topic can be selected from a choice of four topics. The Essay Paper is for a total of 250 marks with one essay for 125 marks. You would have read many articles on our website on how to prepare for the essay paper in the IAS mains exam. This article tells you how to write an essay for UPSC exam.
It is recommended that you follow certain steps while writing the essay paper.
How to write essay for UPSC?
- Read the topics thoroughly
This is the most important step in the process. You should choose one out of four topics. While selecting your topic, make sure you know most about that topic out of the given topics. What not to select:
- A sensitive or controversial topic like say, feminism.
- A topic about which you are too passionate or feel strongly about. In this case, you may tend to get excited and fail to write a balanced essay. This can work against you.
Also Read | How to choose the right essay topic: UPSC Mains
- Think for some time
Once you’ve selected your topic, you should not start writing straight away. It is prudent to think for some time and collect your thoughts. Write in pencil the points you want to write. This is important because only then you can write your points in the correct sequence. For instance, if you are writing about India’s relations with her neighbours, you need to write the historical facts and events in the beginning. Suppose you start writing the essay, and realise only towards the end that you have forgotten to mention a crucial detail in the historical part; it would be too late to add it because of a space crunch. Therefore, it helps if you write your rough points in the beginning.
Once you have the rough points in hand, you can start writing the essay. While writing, you must adhere to a good structure. The structure of a good essay is as follows:
- Main issue/problem/subject
- Current scenario/current news related to the topic
- Positive and negative aspects
- Reforms/way forward
You can get brownie points if you also include:
- Relevant quotes/sayings by famous personalities (ensure to quote verbatim – wrong quotes make you look careless or lazy).
- Relevant government schemes and policies.
- Any figures or numbers (must be accurate otherwise don’t include them).
Important pointers to note while you write:
- Don’t resort to name-calling. Never get personal in your essay.
- Don’t have extreme views. The Buddha’s middle path can help you here!
- Don’t just present problems. Give possible reforms/solutions also.
- Don’t criticise the government/administration excessively.
- Even if the topic is provocative, your essay shouldn’t be. Present a balanced picture. You don’t HAVE to agree to the topic.
- Avoid writing utopian solutions.
- Keep in mind you are a future officer, not a journalist!
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The essay paper is an important aspect of the UPSC civil services exams. It can make or break your outcome. There are two sections in this paper. Each section gives you four topics out of which you have to choose one topic each. Each essay you write is marked out of 125 making a total of 250 marks.
Click here to downloadthe UPSC Mains Essay Paper 2016.
While you don’t have to study separate content for the civil services essay paper, for your general studies preparation is enough to cover possible topics, you do have to remember certain aspects of writing a good essay if you want to have an edge over your fellow UPSC aspirants. A lot of IAS aspirants make the mistake of not focusing on the essay paper because of its general nature. However, there are many advantages of concentrating on this paper such as:
- You have the option of selecting one topic out of four. You should be able to leverage this to your advantage and shine in this paper.
- The essay paper is an area where you can let lose your creativity while displaying your knowledge about the topics.
- Also, you have three hours to write about 1000 to 1200 words per topic (word limit for essay in UPSC exam). Hence, you can do justice to the essay topic as you have ample time to structure your thoughts and then start writing.
Let us look at how your essay should be structured
Your essay should ideally have an introduction, content, basic theme and conclusion. The introduction and conclusion are self-explanatory. Content should give a historical perspective to your topic. It should also include facts and events related to your topic. Try to cover relevant aspects of the topic. The basic theme should talk about your views on the topic. Take a stand but a balanced one. You should also describe negative and positive aspects of the topic chosen.
How to select the UPSC essay topic
- Go through all the given topics well.
- Choose a topic that you are most aware of and have significant knowledge about.
- Try to avoid provocative issues like feminism since you don’t know about the examiner’s gender or personal bias.
- Select the topic only if you are sure of the meaning. For example, know what IT refers to in a given case – information technology or income tax.
- Don’t necessarily pick a topic because it excites you. You should have content and a balanced approach while writing about it.
Features of a good essay
- It should resonate with the topic given. Don’t stray from the topic merely to fill up the word count.
- It should engross the reader. A good essay should ignite the reader’s curiosity about the topic. It should not be boring. The reader should feel like going on reading it.
- It should be multi-dimensional. Don’t have a single viewpoint. Analyse the topic from different perspectives. You can provide new insights about the topic and impress the examiner.
- It should be simple but effective and coherent. You need not write the Queen’s English but let the language drive home whatever point you are trying to make.
- It should be grammatically perfect. Not only does it enhances your essay’s clarity it also avoids a negative impression.
- It should be neat. This is why it is important to first think about what you want to write before you start. Clearly picture in your head the order of things you want to write in your essay. This avoids scratching.
- There should be continuity in your essay. Don’t jump from one point to another. Make your shifts seamless and smooth. Let there be a natural flow of points. This indicates clarity of thoughts.
- It should contain quotes, headings, sub-headings and diagrams if required.
- It should be structured appropriately.
Things to avoid in a UPSC essay paper
- Avoid writing in the first person.
- Avoid being too aggressive in your writing. You want to portray an image of a composed person with balanced views. Aggressiveness can also show inflexibility.
- Avoid being pessimistic in your writing. UPSC wants officers with a cheerful and positive disposition!
- Avoid writing in points. Remember you are writing an essay.
- You don’t have to agree with the stand taken by the question. Sometimes, a question can be a statement giving a particular view. You can write both negative and positive aspects of it.
- Don’t stray away from the topic.
- Don’t get too personal and name politicians or political parties unnecessarily. You are going to be a bureaucrat, not a politician or journalist!
- Avoid giving quotes that you are not sure of. Don’t attribute quotes to the wrong people. And, definitely do not make up quotes. You can’t fool the examiner. Doing so will certainly get you penalised.
You can write good essays if you develop the habit of reading good UPSC essays on a regular basis. Incorporate reading essays as a part of your UPSC civil services preparation. Remember, practice makes perfect! For essay writing practice, take part in the BYJU’S essay writing contest and win a cash prize along with learning. Click here for more. UPSC Essay Writing Contest
For more on UPSC essay writing, read Useful technique to practice on essay topics for UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam