November 17th, 2020       Civil Services Preparation

UPSC notification says that “candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay, to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.”

Through the essay, the examiner will not only evaluate the content of the aspirant but also his thought process, viewpoints on critical matters, clarity in thinking, ability to explain his viewpoint concisely and effectively, ability of coherence and putting his ideas in an orderly fashion, language.

Essay is considered to be very dicey paper as one year a candidate may score 155 and the following year the score may drop to 100. Further, the range of marks varies from as low as 10 to around 160 in CSE 2019.

However, if one compares GS papers score with that of essay one can find out that it is difficult to achieve a score of more than 50% marks in the former whereas aspirants touch 60-65% in the essay paper. There have been candidates who have drastically increased their marks from scores like 100-110 to 150-160 with proper strategy and preparation.

 

The purpose of this blog is to help aspirants strategise their essay preparation in such a manner that they are able to cross the 65% marks barrier in the exam.

First of all, aspirants should avoid the highly believed misconceptions that there is no preparation required for essay paper-GS and optional knowledge will suffice and that there is no difference between language paper essay and ‘Essay’ paper. The importance of both is vastly different. One is aimed to judge the language of the aspirant whereas the other is aimed to bring out the true traits of a potential Civil Servant.

What shall be the sources to prepare?

What should be avoided in the essay?

How to prepare for the essay?

 

  • Reading toppers’ transcripts gives the feel of well-written essay.
  • An aspirant should prepare fodder on all the general themes that have been asked in the exam previously. A separate notebook for essay should be prepared where fodder collected from the mentioned sources should be written.
  • Whenever aspirant takes a particular topic, he should to try to think of all the possible themes/ dimensions of it. For eg: Consider the topic “With great power, comes great responsibility”. Aspirant can think of the topic from SPECLIH perspective- Social, Political, Economic, Cultural, Legal, International and Humanistic. This is one way of covering multiple dimensions.
  • Next step is to write essays. Pick up the previous year papers and practice them at home in exam conditions. Self-evaluate and get a feedback from mentors, peers and teachers.

 

Tips for essay:

 

  1. Aspirant should have clear cut plan ready for attempting the essay paper. It should be clear in his mind before entering the examination hall how he is going to manage the time. Eg: Topic Selection: 5 minutes, Brainstorming: 10-15 minutes, writing: 1 hour, revision: 5 minutes.
  2. Choose the essay, which you can interpret in true spirit and have sufficient content.
  3. Next thing is to interpret the topic. One should understand the theme of the topic. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT ESSAY WRITING IS PROPER UNDERSTANDING OF THE TOPIC AND “WRITING ON THAT TOPIC”. DOING THIS MUCH ENSURES THAT ONE WILL NOT GET BELOW ANERAGE MARKS.
  4. Write introduction strictly according to the demand of the topic. This can be a fictitious story, real life anecdote, quote, a paragraph on what all is going be covered in the essay.
  5. Enrich the body part with data, facts, reports, as well as whatever you know, even optional thinkers, quotes etc. Don’t write unsubstantiated points. Put very logical arguments.
  6. Themes/ dimensions to be covered eg: SPECLIH, temporal, sectoral, walks of life, problem and solution format.
  7. Try to use the theme of essay in the last sentence of every paragraph.  Use connecting words when you shift from one paragraph to the other- Further, Moreover, Similarly, Even, Simultaneously, or to contrast- However, although etc.
  8. Interact with the examiner, by raising questions, for example, Is this right? Are we heading in a right direction? Let’s discuss etc.
  9. Try to provide concrete solutions to the issue, you can take help of some case studies, committee recommendations, reports of national and international bodies etc.
  10. Conclusion: it should always be on a futuristic and optimistic note. Summarize the essay in 4 to 5 lines and then write the vision for future. Some saying, quote, lines of eminent personalities can be used.

 

Aspirants should remember that if they cannot write well, they cannot think well and if they cannot think well others will do the thinking for them and this is not an acceptable trait of a civil servant. This is what exactly UPSC is looking to evaluate from the aspirant’s essay. Does the aspirant have the traits to become a decision maker for tomorrow? Aspirants are advised to prepare the essay in this spirit. And finally, always remember to answer what has been asked in the question rather than beating around the bush. Accomplishing this makes win half the battle.

 

Study hard!! Keep Learning!!

One Comment

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