The essay paper is a significant component of the UPSC civil services examinations. It is capable to make or break your outcome. Before writing an essay in the UPSC Mains Exam, there are a few things to consider. People frequently make silly mistakes when writing essays for the IAS Mains Exam. This article will help the aspirants with essay writing for UPSC examination.
Before beginning any piece of work, we ensure that it has a basic framework in order to be effective and coherent. It is necessary to understand what should be included and what should be left out when writing for this purpose. The common do’s and don’ts of essay writing assist in writing in a comprehensive and structured manner. They serve as guidelines for improving the content’s relevance and impact. They aid in reducing the most common errors we make when writing essays.
This paper is divided into two portions. Each component contains four themes from which you must select one for each portion. Each essay is graded on a scale of 125 points, for a total of 250 points.
Writing allows you to see inside your mind. The reader will be able to tell how you think, debate, and support your point of view based on what you write on paper. As a result, essays are required for the majority of competitive exams and academic admission exams. Despite its importance, aspirants frequently fail to give essay papers the attention they deserve. First-timers believe they will write a brilliant essay in the final test, but experienced applicants believe that having prepared extensively for GS will be sufficient to create a strong essay on its own. This is a deadly error in judgement.
Candidates may be asked to produce essays on a variety of subjects. They will be expected to stick to the essay’s topic, organise their thoughts in a logical manner, and write concisely. Effective and precise expression will be rewarded. In GS, marks are only given on the basis of substance, whereas in essays, marks are only given on the basis of content. Examiners will pay close attention not only to the content of your essay, but also to the coherence, language, and organisation of your writing. As a result, you must take extra care to organise your thoughts and avoid common spelling and grammatical mistakes.
What should you do and where should you start?
Your GS preparation will provide the majority of the content for your Essay. Aside from that, the following resources will be beneficial:
Nonfiction reading promotes the maturation of the mental process. In addition to communicating knowledge, they will enable you to come across good figures of speech, art of arguing, appealing rhetoric, and creative stuff, among other things. Develop the habit of reading non-fiction books in addition to UPSC-related material. It doesn’t mean you should start reading one nonfiction book every topic to improve your Essay scores; rather, reading them in your spare time will help you in the long run.
Referencing individual magazines: For specific topics, you can refer to various issues of Yojana/EPW/Economic Survey, etc. If you’re writing an essay on tribal issues or public health, for example, you can look through specific issues of these magazines to find the most up-to-date statistics (IMR, MMR, malnutrition levels, and so on) as well as information on the benefits and drawbacks of government programmes in those areas.
Gathering interesting stories, anecdotes, and quotes: Anecdotes, quotes, and true stories that you come across in newspapers and books and want to incorporate in your essay should be written down. Begin with a relevant anecdote or narrative with the essay topic as its underlying theme.
Language and expression improvement
The article should be written in simple, basic English with as little complexity as possible. If you’re going to use a complicated definitional concept like “Constitutionalism” or “Sanskritization,” define it first in a phrase. The examiner will also comprehend exactly what you’re trying to say. Clear writing equates to clear thinking. And it’s exactly what a reader is looking for.
Keep your sentences succinct and precise. Because of the long, twisted language, it’s difficult to read and understand. You get a bad sentence sprawl when you utilise conjunctions to add one clause after another.
To create a good essay, it is not required to memorise complex words. Using a strong term or a witty phrase every now and then, on the other hand, will offer your content a competitive edge. Reading nonfiction and English newspapers is the simplest approach to expand your vocabulary. While reading them, if you come across a good turn of phrase or a word you don’t recognise, scribble it down in a book, look it up in a dictionary, and understand the context in which it was used. This helps with long-term memory. A dictionary app on your phone is also beneficial. It takes time to build a vast vocabulary, but with practise, anyone may enhance their ability to employ a wide range of words.
How to make a smooth transition from one paragraph to the next
1. Using a linking sentence at the conclusion of each paragraph:
You write a statement at the conclusion of each para to let the examiner know what’s coming next
2. Using a question:
Instead of a link sentence, you can add a question at the end of a paragraph to helplessly carry the examiner’s attention to the next.
3. Starting the next paragraph with a shift signal:
Simply insert a word or two at the beginning of each para to indicate a change in your subtopic.
Creating Main Content from the Topic
This is analogous to spinning a web from a thread. Depending on the topic, you can select the best option from the list below.
- Temporal: the past, the present, and the future
- Sectors include media, science and technology, business, sports, religion, politics, and administration, among others.
- Individual, Family, Professional Workplace, Society, Community, National, and Global Problems and Solutions: Concept (historical evolution + status), benefits, problems, and solutions
- Social, political, economic, administrative, international, environmental, historical, scientific, security/defence, and legal standards.
- Original: An essay should be formed primarily by your understanding and perceptions, rather than entirely on borrowed opinions.
- Exploration of relevant dimensions with causation, points-counterpoints, logical evaluation, inferences, and so on.
- Effective communication: An essay should be distinguished by clarity and flow, with no “silt” of bulky information or difficult academic ideas. These factors disrupt the flow. Effective communication requires a simple style, small sentences, appropriate vocabulary, an emotional appeal, quotes, punch lines, and the right thrust at the right times, among other things.
- Structure: Because an essay is a structured piece of writing, it must have a distinct introduction, main body (description), and conclusion.
- Consistency and coherence- Consistency and coherence help to keep our arguments from becoming contradictory or conflicting.
- Signposting- A predetermined trajectory, path, or direction denoted by the orderly placement of point numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, etc. It does not imply that each aspect should be numbered, but rather that all aspects should be in a way that the examiner can see the direction and order in your writing.
- Focus and relevance: The writing in an essay should be concentrated and pertinent to the major issue and its aspects because it is thought in orbit.
- Organic Connection: An essay should be distinguished by links between ideas in each paragraph. To be more specific, an essay should develop organically through childhood, adolescence, youth, maturity, and old age. An essay does not consist of isolated points; they must be related to the context and perspectives of the given topic.
- Quote placement: Using the right quotes in the right places adds punch, thrust, and value.
- Critical Thinking: The hallmarks of an essay are critical thinking, insight, understanding, consistency, and coherence.
- Stay away from political and ideological biases: Neutrality and the absence of prejudice and bias are important indicators of rationality. Only facts, real-life observations, and established wisdom should guide you to a logical evolution and conclusion; political or ideological affiliations should have no bearing on your writing.
- Avoid giving a long background; instead, get to the topic as soon as possible.
- Avoid grammatical errors: As much as possible, avoid grammatical and syntax errors.
- Keep your emotions in check. Control: Avoid being swayed by emotions; instead, try to stay anchored in logic, rationality, and wisdom.
- Avoid being unbalanced and biased: A balanced and rational approach is the best approach in intellectual endeavour. Without a doubt, an essay should be analytical, draw inferences, and make value judgments, but it should also be emotionally balanced (anger, vengeance, retribution, abuse, naming and shaming should be avoided) and politically neutral (obsession, fetish, bias, prejudice, contempt, outlandish views right or left should be avoided)
- Avoid using exclamatory words: Ornamental words may be appropriate in some situations, but the beauty of communication lies in its simplicity.
- Content and references that are irrelevant should be avoided: It is best to avoid dragging irrelevant ideas that aren’t related to the topic, major idea, or theme.
- Stick to the context: In the name of unconventional thought, avoid straying too far from the theme. Avoid arrogance and self-righteousness: in other words, respect ideas that are different from yours but nonetheless relevant. You can criticise a competitor’s idea, but you can’t put it down.
- Starting paragraphs with borrowed opinions or quotes is not a good idea: Avoid relying on quotations to build or ride each paragraph. It’s permissible to use a citation at the start of the introduction and at the end of the conclusion, or wherever you think it’ll be most effective. However, don’t overdo it. You can cite statements and quotes within a paragraph to support your argument if you create a hypothesis and assess it rationally, but you should avoid starting paragraphs with borrowed ideas or quotes.
To manage time while taking the Mains exam, you must understand how to dedicate the appropriate amount of time to each question so that you may complete all of the questions in the allotted period of three hours. In this instance, the three rules of thumb for time management are:
- go with the flow while writing and thinking; learn to trust yourself; and avoid self-doubt, such as being unable to decide whether or not to write something.
- do not become trapped with one question – temporarily abandon the question that you are unable to write at a given time and move on to the next question;
- come back to the tough question as and when you have the opportunity to do so. You should be able to master the time management aspects of the Mains examination with enough practise.
- Stick to the word limit; improve your writing speed; try to use as little personal time as possible – in the exam hall, drinking water, going to the bathroom, changing pens, imagining how others are doing, and so on all qualify as personal time; and finally, do not try to achieve ‘perfection’ with your answers – the Mains examination is not the right platform for such things – instead, try to consistently maintain above average quality in all of your answers. It’s important to be consistent than to write an outstanding answer and then follow it up with a poor response.
How to conclude an essay
The conclusion should be upbeat and optimistic. You must summarise the entire essay in 3-4 sentences before writing your future vision. You can find some useful terms in PM Modi’s speeches. Sabka saath sabka vikas, Reform-Perform-Transform, Building A New India, and other phrases can be useful. To conclude your essay, use rhetoric, lofty expressions, constitutional ideals, Sanskrit slokas, and quotes. However, if you mentioned a fictitious character in your introduction, it’s always a good idea to end your write-up with a reference to that character. It gives the essay a sense of completion.
If you make it a practise to read superb UPSC essays on a regular basis, you’ll be able to write excellent essays. As part of your UPSC civil service preparation, incorporate reading essays. It’s also worth noting that consulting prior year UPSC essay papers can be really beneficial. Practice makes perfect, as they say.