How to write a good essay?

Essay Syllabus:

An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author’s personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author etc.The importance of writing essays needs to be underlined because in Civil Services Main examination Essay is a separate paper whose marks are counted in the mains examination.

From 2014, there are eight topics in the IAS Mains Essay paper segregated in 2 sections. Write two essays choosing one from each of the sections A and B in about 1,000-2,000 words each. The word limit must be adhered to strictly.

Each essay will be marked on 125.

Candidates will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

Why is Essay important?
The UPSC examiner doesn’t know you as a person, your paper is what she/he has, to know who you are. If you are compassionate, honest, truthful, prove it on paper – as of now, that is the only way.

Points to be noted before writing an essay: 

  1. Essay paper is subjective and there are chances of different interpretation of same essay by different examiner. Essay shows what you are.  In Psychology, the recency effect dictates that a normal human being tends to remember the beginnings and ends most of all. So, your introductions and conclusions must be eventful, impactful and something the reader can connect with.
  2. You introduction could be an story picked up from any news section or magazine or a wonderful quote (Its should be exact quote) or a poem or prose. The bottomline is that when you begin, you must connect to the topic as a human being. Don’t become a robot and write mechanically.
  3. Think empathetically – think what would you do if you were in a situation and then break it down on paper.
  4. Conclusions must be optimistic, and forward looking. You can choose to give solutions in conclusions or finish with a futuristic vision. That would be sufficient.
  5. Body of the essay must be multi-dimensional: Social, Political, Economic, Cultural, Linguistic/Local, International, Humanistic, ethical dimensions.
  6. Before writing body part, try to make a flow chart on rough pages and arrange ideas coherently and in order.
  7. Your English needs not to be the level of Shashi Tharoor in essay paper. A simple English is sufficient. But grammatical & spelling mistakes need to be avoided.
  8. Where ever possible, you can quote well known facts like poverty, IMR, MMR, Gender equality, crime related figures, Women’s participation in labor force, parliament etc.
  9. It’s not necessary to have balanced opinions. You are allowed to have a strong opinion on something, but don’t be opinionated alone, be informed also. Present the situation, lay down the facts and then explain with logic why you hold a certain point of view.
  10. Paragraph is fine, sub headings are fine. Don’t worry about all these issues a lot. You can draw something in the essay only if it is really relevant. For example, if you are writing an essay on tourism, drawing a map will be highly relevant and desirable. But generally, too many diagrams are not really required or wanted in an essay.

Last but not the least- Always practice one essay per week till the exam to score average 145+ marks.

Thank you!

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