Civil Services

Useful tips for writing essay paper

 The essay paper having two sections A and B with four topics each (the candidates have to select a topic from each section and write on it for 1,000-2,000 words with a time duration of three hours) for total marks of 250 (125x2) in the civil services main examination is crucial in determining the final outcome, selection and ranking. It is critical because it is a compulsory paper and its score is incorporated in computing the total. It is decisive because there is no specialisation in an essay and so no aspirant cannot claim expertise, unlike optional subjects.
Finally, an essay is a paper, which does not have a reservoir of definitive information as in the case of general studies. All this constitutes a challenge. It is vital to understand that an essay is a reflection of the personality -- ideas, views, analysis, assessments and inferences, values, attitude, aptitude, orientation and communication (written) abilities, all the attributes that are wanted by UPSC in an aspirant.
An essay is considered a complete composition. The essentials of essay writing would be the format (framework, structure), information (content, substance), language (expression, presentation), and logic (analysis and information).
The conventional design of looking at essay writing in terms of the introduction, body and conclusion is only the format. Although, this is fundamental to essay writing, the concept of an essay is quite intricate. An essay is expected to be a topical text that is self-explanatory and comprehensive, concise, composite and unambiguous, informative and logical.
For every effective composition one should ideally begin with clarifying the purpose of the composition to oneself. This is true about all written and spoken communication. It's best that this principle be applied to essay writing. Although, the question cues that are recommended at this point may appear archaic, they are useful and often overlooked. At every critical juncture, while writing a topical text all applicable queries must be asked to oneself about the issue in question, e.g. who, what, where, when, why, how?
These questions would obtain answers that would make the text organised and accurate and also ensure that no aspect has been omitted. Proficiency in applying this principle, i.e. the appropriate choice of questions, will come with extensive practise, periodic evaluation and critical analysis.
The format comprises:
o An impact-oriented thematic introduction containing the core conceptual scheme, the defining criteria, the central idea, etc.
o A series of paragraphs containing arguments based on information, analysis and systematic inter-connectivity
o An overall impressive synoptic presentation or an effective conclusion or a final inference.
The introduction is the opening part of the essay and should be confined to a paragraph, especially since, unlike a book, the introduction of an essay is not captioned. The introductory paragraph is expected to introduce the topic, and wherever necessary, explain the central theme or idea, basic or core concepts, and definitional criteria. The introduction should arouse interest and generate curiosity in the mind of the reader, be it an examiner.
The main text of an essay, after the introductory part is over, essentially is a systematic organisation of information based on a consistent methodology. It deals with the topic and related issues to be addressed, the correlation of facts, figures, ideas, views, concepts; an in-depth, systematic, coherent analysis based on the topic leading to logical inferences; as well as making (if it is required) plausible projections and providing with (if necessary) viable solutions. The text of the composition must develop, support and explain the main ideas stated in your introduction or thesis paragraph.
As the text draws close to the conclusion, the essay should have reached the stage of 'critical mass', a sort of a climax. The conclusion, a summary, should express the essence of the essay. It should not contain any fresh evidence, facts or figures.
How to Write a Good Essay in Civil Service Mains Exam?
Write an essay on any one of the following topics:
1. In the context of Gandhiji’s views on the matter, explore, on an evolutionary scale, the terms ‘Swadhinata’, ‘Swaraj’ and ‘Dharmarajya’. Critically comment on their contemporary relevance to Indian democracy.
2. Is the criticism that the ‘Public-Private-Partnership’ (PPP) model for development is more of a bane than a boon in the Indian context, justified?
3. Science and Mysticism: Are they compatible?
4. Managing work and home – is the Indian working women getting a fair deal?
1. Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative, economic and developmental implications
2. Does Indian cinema shape our popular culture or merely reflect it?
3. Credit-based higher education system –status, opportunities and challenges
4. In the Indian context, both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial and combating terrorism.
• Go through well written essays by experts in newspapers and magazines, and understand how they frame the ‘Introduction’ and ‘Conclusion’ passages.
• There should be a logical continuation from beginning to end.
• Essay should be organized in well structured paragraphs coherent with the flow of the essay.
• Don’t be too aggressive or pessimistic in your tone.
• Come up with good points and express new view points.
• In most cases there will not be any need for separate coaching or preparation for essays, and candidates’ reading and preparation for General Studies Mains should suffice. But make sure your writing and analytical skills are upto the UPSC expectations; if not, polish it.
• Write mock essays and get it evaluated by experts in the field.
Topics like Women empowerment, Rural development, Social Justice, Terrorism and Internal Security etc are hot topics for essays.


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