UPSC Essay

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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 the UPSC exam.

How to write the essay for UPSC?

  1. Read the topics carefully 

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.
  1. 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:

  1. Introduction
  2. Historical
  3. Main issue/problem/subject
  4. Current scenario/current news related to the topic
  5. Positive and negative aspects
  6. Obstacles
  7. 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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