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How do I prepare Essays for the UPSC Civil Services examination?

First, let me address why we should focus on essays?

  1. UPSC Prelims is only qualifying paper

  2. Your Rank is decided by your mains and Interview marks and as the mains carries most of the marks, it becomes important for deciding your rank. You might have seen toppers who did not do well in the Interview but still were on the toppers list because their mains marks were phenomenal.

  3. If we break down the main subjects, 3 major sections play a major role in deciding your rank in UPSC civil service. (a) Optional Subjects: Aspirants who score well in Optional generally get a good rank (b) Ethics paper: Ethics paper is also a rank decider in UPSC (c) Essay: This paper carries the same marks as other papers and is a rank decider in itself.

  4. Why are only these three papers decide your rank? This is because other papers are common and all aspirants who have cleared prelims know more or less the same thing, they will also write the same thing as you do, so marks in other GS papers tend to be similar.

  5. The difference is created in your optional papers, ethics and essay paper. So it is super important to master all of these so that you get your name on the toppers list. So I will address one of these papers today that is an Essay.

How can we write stunning essays? Let's see

  1. Master GS topics: Major content of your Essay will come from your GS preparation so if your GS preparation is strong then you have a good foundation to build upon. Along with this, you will have to use stories, anecdotes, quotes, any relevant poems if you could remember and a good foundation of the language that you are writing in. You do not need to know a lot of vocabulary to write good essays and frankly speaking, do not use hifi words to impress the examiner because if he will not understand the meaning he would straight away skip through your content and award you with fewer marks.

  2. Read Newspapers Daily: Reading newspaper not only helps you to improve your language and vocabulary but also helps extract good real-life examples, stories, anecdotes, quotes that you can utilise in your essays. When you come across such a quote or a phrase note it down in your essay copy or wherever you make notes like Evernote etc. Also, note down important statistics and findings of important reports that you can use in essays. Some sectors like health, education, infrastructure, poverty are important and hence any statistics that you can get on these topics, note it down. Also, brainstorm other important topics which will come to you naturally when you read newspapers daily.

  3. Other resources: Other resources like Yojana and Economic survey are good resources for getting statistics and data on issues like Financial Inclusion etc.

  4. Prepare a draft of major essay themes: When I say previous year questions are a pot of gold you have for free, I mean it. Previous years questions will guide you and give you a direction on how to think and study. Analyse the previous year questions and see what themes have been asked earlier. Some of the themes like educations, health, foreign policy, science and tech, economic reforms etc have been asked previously. For these topics prepare a rough essay containing major points and data and other relevant anecdotes and stories. Just prepare an outline and not a complete essay. This will also help you in preparing a quick draft for your essay in the real exam.

  5. Practice Practice Practice: The only mantra to get good at anything is to practice. You might have heard "Practice makes a man perfect" and it holds true in civil services preparation. The more essays you will practice the better you will get at it. Make a habit of writing one essay per week. Now you might have an excuse " How will I evaluate".Well send it to us and we shall do it for you or show it to your friends and take the feedback but please start writing from today onwards. Also, make sure you write essays within the time limit UPSC allows you. With this practice, you would be getting closer to your dream rank.

  6. Learn from topper copies: what is a better way to learn rather than comparing yourself with toppers themselves. With that said, you can download topper copies available on the internet. Read through their essays, try to see how have they addressed what has been asked in the question. Try to take insights from their essays and incorporate them into yours. To start you can just read essays in topper answer sheets and try to see how to write, once you have read several toppers copies, start writing essays yourself.

Mastering essays is going to be a gradual process. The first essay you write might be pathetic but you have to start to make them great one day and you will reap the rewards later in the mains.

Now that is the basic stuff I have told you how to approach, if you want me to discuss in detail each and every part of the essay, starting from introduction to the main body and final conclusion then please let me know by commenting "yes" in the comment section down below. Until then I would see you in our next blog with another important topic. Until then stay safe study hard and don't stop until you get to your goal.

My friends, we at The Layman Way strive harder each day to make a difference in your life. What we need is just a little push to make us work even harder and impact more lives positively. This push comes to us from you all, who are our ambassadors. If at all we are adding any value to your preparation or your life, I have a favor to ask you. Spread the word for us so that we can reach out to more aspirants and leave us a review on Google Reviews help other aspirants to know that this is the place they need to be for learning more and enhancing their UPSC preparation. Help us make a difference and we shall together strive to help you ACE UPSC.

Have a wonderful day and make your mission to make someone else life better. I will see you in our next blog.


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