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How to Write Great Essays for UPSC Mains?

What is an Essay?

An essay is generally a short piece of writing outlining the writer’s perspective or story.

There are two types of essays - formal and informal. In UPSC we are concerned with formal essays. A formal essay is relatively impersonal.

For the CSE essay paper, two essays have to be written in under 3 hours within the 1000-1200 word limit. Each essay carries 125 marks for a total of 250. Let us decode each and every part of it:

A. General Tips : 1. Collects Quotes, Anecdotes, Stories, Poems, facts etc on General Important topics like Health, Education, Infrastructure, Women Empowerment etc. 2. Read Toppers answer sheets of those who have scored Great in Essays. Try to observe how have they written an essay and try to incorporate good points in your essay well. 3. Copy Introduction and Conclusions from Toppers essays on general topics and use them in your essays. 4. Prepare a Rough draft of general topics beforehand so that you don't have to think when a similar topic comes. You can just modify it a little bit and use the points in your essay. 5. Have 25-30 topics prepared beforehand with conclusions and Intros ready. This will save you time in the main paper. 6. Yojana, Economic Survey, Budget can be a good source for data related to topics – But only for some issues. You can refer to these resources for topics you are not getting data for. 7. Practice test Series and get yourself evaluated. Write practice essays and evaluate it yourself and also get them evaluated by your peer group, family friends etc. the motive is to get an external view of your essay.

B. Essay Introduction: Introduction can be around 120-150 words. An effective introduction can contain a story, Quotes etc.

An engaging Introduction is well received by Examiner, but it should be relevant to the topic. Let's answer some basic questions about the introduction

1. What can be included in Intros?

1.1 Starting with a Story, Anecdote, or a fact from an authentic source adds value to the introduction.

1.2 Another way to start is with a question. Ask a question and try to answer it in your main body.

1.3 You can also begin with a quote or Poem

B. Essay Introduction :

2. What if you could not find any quotes , anecdotes etc ?

2.1 If not Quotes, Anecdotes then you can also write any recent judgements, legislation, or government scheme introduced about the topic.

2.2 You can mention any recent example in the news that relates to the issue

2.3 If anything does not click you can also define the terms in the Essay ( Like we do in General studies ) ( although it is not the right approach for writing an Essay )

C. Main Body of the Essay :

1. Connected to the intro. Connect the main body to the introduction to maintain coherence and flow.

2. Neat order and Proper Structure: Present your essay in neat order and make a proper structure before writing the essay.

3. Paragraphs should be linked to each other and the flow of an essay should be smooth.

4. Writing main body :

4.1 Capture the evolution of the subject from origin to the present. Write a few points about the history of the topic.

4.2 Analyse the topic from a Micro to Macro perspective ie. From Individual to Global World

4.3 Discuss the concept, its history to present situation, offer solutions, benefits , Disadvantages etc

4.4 Writing points for and against a topic by ending it with a stand

4.5 Make it multidimensional: Analysing the statement from different angles Like Social, Political, Economical, Administrative, International, Environmental, Historical, Scientific, Security, and Legal.

4.6 Use Innovative Subheadings: Each paragraph should discuss about a topic and there should a heading for each topic. 4.7 Prefer not to use Flow charts or diagrams in essays.

D. Conclusion : 1. It should give an overview of the essay and should contain summary and major points 2. It should leave a good impression on the examiner. An emotional arousing could work best. 3. If the essay contains a problem then write solution to the problem and way forward

4. Conclusion can be around 200-300 words.

5. Write major points, Problems, solutions, significance etc to sum up the essay.

6. Tone of the conclusion should be optimistic and hopeful and you should emphasise solutions

7. Ending with a powerful quote by a famous person to make your point leaves an impression.

8. If the start of the essay was with fictional story or a character then end your essay with a reference to that story.

Examples of Essay Start

Conclusions Example :

E. Conclusion :

1. Transition Phrases: In conclusion, In summary, To sum up, In the final analysis, On the whole, As discussed above etc these are some of the phrases that you can use to write the conclusion of your essay.

2. 1st Paragraph of conclusion: Summarise your points with problems and solutions

3. 2nd Paragraph: It can have a Rhetoric ending. ie the reader should be persuaded by your point.

Example of Conclusion :

Can Capitalism bring inclusive growth? Conclusion :

To sum up, Capitalism indeed helps in creating wealth. But by itself, it cannot bring inclusive growth. Capitalism is like a powerful energy. Undirected and unchecked, it can cause immense damage. What we need is a new kind of capitalism—an inclusive capitalism— that has equity and fairness at the heart of it, and we must take urgent measures to ensure it.

Now mention 3-4 problems and solutions

Last, the government must play a predominant role in sectors that are ignored by markets: health, education, rural livelihoods, poverty eradication and the like. This way, we strike a balance between equity and efficiency, wealth and welfare.

For a deeper understanding of this strategy

please watch:


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