Students mostly ignore the ‘Essay portion’ in civil services preparation. They focus mainly on GS-1, 2, 3, 4 but hardly have they devised any dedicated strategy for preparation of essay. But it is a very important portion which cannot be ignored. It carries 250 important marks. Few misunderstandings about the Essay paper: One needs a very good command over English. (It’s not the case, only average level of English command is sufficient) You do not need to prepare separately for essay. Your GS preparation is sufficient. (Writing an essay is different than writing GS answers) Essay marks cannot be improved. (They can be improved with practice)
How to approach an essay?
You should choose that topic about which you have a comprehensive understanding. Choose a comfortable topic. Do not go for unconventional topic simply to be different from the crowd. You can end up losing marks.
Understand the topic rightly-
Many people just jump on writing on seeing their favorite topic. Take your time. Read gain the topic. UPSC is focusing more on philosophical topics recently. These topics can confuse you. Philosophical topics cover all aspects of society and mankind. So critically analyze the topic before writing.
Once you have selected the topic, you need to generate ideas to get the fodder material to be written in essay. Following are the steps you can take: Look for the keywords in the topic. Suppose the topic is ‘Wisdom finds truth’. The keywords here are wisdom and truth. Inquire about how the keywords have evolved in past, present and future. This will give you the framework of your essay. There are some checks which should be followed. These are Social, Economic, Political, Cultural, Legal, International, and Individual. Think on these points related to the topic.
Structure of the essay-
Now you have gathered the fodder information. You need to frame this info in a structured way. A good structure will seamlessly convey your story to the examiner. Following things must be focused on while writing your essay: Make an outline: How your essay will flow. Imagine your essay to be a smooth river. It should flow. There should not be any jump like Brahmaputra! You can write about the topic’s past in the beginning of essay. Then you can move to discuss the current issues. At the end you should provide the ‘Way forward’. You can make other outlines of your choice. Sub parts of essay: Divide your essay in sub-parts
Now you can start writing the essay. Think, so much time has to be devoted before actually writing the essay. You can devote 20 minutes for this. Devote 1.5 hours for essay writing. Keep few minutes for revising your essay. How to prepare for essay? Focus on newspapers’ editorials. Keep noting good lines or examples. Prepare for social issues like women, health, education, technology. Have a readymade fodder material for social issues. Refer to previous year essay UPSC papers. Try to write 8-10 essays. Get them evaluated by teachers or experienced friends. Improve upon their suggestions.