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How to write a good Essay?

how to write an essay?

Writing is a window to your thought process. What you write on paper will tell the reader how you think, how you argue and the way you justify your point of view. This is why for most competitive examinations and academic entrance tests, essay is mandatory.

In the Civil Services Exam too, we have a paper worth 250 marks, equivalent to a General Studies paper. Despite its importance, essay paper often does not get the attention it deserves from aspirants. First timers think they will write an excellent essay in the final exam itself, whereas experienced aspirants believe that since they had already studied a ton for GS, it will alone be enough to write a good essay. This is a fatal miscalculation.

Keywords of the essay syllabus

  • ‘closely’: Any deviation from the topic will be tolerated only up to a certain point. One must, therefore, as a rule stick as closely as possible to the topic at hand. Any example, quote, anecdote or reference must be on topic or related closely to it.
  • ‘arrange’: The essay must be in an arranged form. The aspirant is supposed to plan ahead and form a structure of the essay before actually writing it down.
  • ‘orderly’: The ideas or arguments put forward in the essay must follow an order. A haphazard essay that does not flow sequentially, must be avoided at all costs.
  • ‘concise’: The essay and the matter discussed therein must be express as precisely possible. Clarity of thought and brevity of expression is what is looked for in the CSE essay.
  • ‘effective’: The essay must be write in a language that makes a strong impression. Thus, one needs to be conveying a point with every sentence, every paragraph. Flowery language is best avoided.
  • ‘coherent’: Coherence is required of all forms of writing, including answer writing, but in the CSE essay one must be extra careful to check that all individual sentences in the essay are making sense. Also, paragraphs as a whole must convey a clear and well thought out exposition on the theme of the essay.

What follows is an elaborate post on how you should tackle the Essay paper. Here is the content as follows:

  1. What UPSC says about the essay paper
  2. How and from where to prepare?
  3. Improving language and expression
  4. On subheadings and rough drafts
  5. What you must avoid?
  6. How to write a powerful introduction?
  7. Developing the content of an Essay
  8. Substantiating your arguments
  9. How to conclude an Essay?
What UPSC says about the essay paper

“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.”

Essay distinguishes itself from GS in the sense that in GS, marks will be awarded purely for content. But in essay, examiners will pay special attention to not just the content, but also the language, coherence and the way you organise your write-up.
So you must take adequate care to arrange your ideas properly and not commit any fundamental spelling or grammatical errors.

How and from where to prepare
  1. Current Affairs: Stay updated with national and international events, social issues, economic developments, and political happenings. Reading newspapers, magazines, and online resources will help you stay informed.
  2. Previous Year Papers: Analyze previous years’ essay questions to understand the pattern and the type of topics usually asked.
  3. General Knowledge: Enhance your knowledge of diverse subjects, including history, geography, science, culture, and environment.
  4. Literary Sources: Read classic literature and renowned essays to improve your language and writing skills.
Improving language and expression
  1. Read Extensively: Reading books, articles, and essays from different genres will expose you to varied writing styles and enrich your vocabulary.
  2. Practice Writing: Regularly write on different topics to refine your writing skills and express your thoughts clearly.
  3. Use Simple Language: Avoid using jargon or complicated language. Aim for clarity and simplicity in expression.
  4. Edit and Revise: After writing, review your essays, identify areas for improvement, and edit them to enhance clarity and coherence.
On subheadings and rough drafts
  1. Subheadings: In the UPSC Essay paper, there is no provision for subheadings. Present your ideas in a coherent and well-structured manner without using subheadings.
  2. Rough Drafts: Before writing the final essay, prepare a rough draft to organize your thoughts and ideas logically. It will help you refine your arguments and improve the flow of the essay.
What you must avoid
  1. Avoid Bias: Maintain objectivity and avoid expressing personal biases or extreme opinions.
  2. Avoid Plagiarism: Do not copy content from sources without giving proper credit. Plagiarism can lead to disqualification.
  3. Stay Within Word Limit: Stick to the specified word limit; excessive length may lead to deduction of marks.
How to write a powerful introduction
  1. Hook: Begin with a compelling or thought-provoking statement to grab the reader’s attention.
  2. Background: Provide a brief context or background of the topic to set the stage.
  3. Thesis Statement: Clearly state your main argument or the central idea of the essay.
  4. Outline: Give a glimpse of the essay’s structure, mentioning the key points you’ll discuss.
Developing the content of an Essay
  1. Logical Flow: Present your ideas in a logical and coherent manner. Each paragraph should lead to the next naturally.
  2. Paragraph Structure: Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces the main idea, followed by supporting arguments and examples.
  3. Evidence and Examples: Substantiate your arguments with relevant facts, data, examples, and real-life instances.
  4. Address Counterarguments: Acknowledge opposing views and counter them with well-reasoned arguments.
Substantiating your arguments
  1. Research: Thoroughly research the topic to gather sufficient information and evidence to support your arguments.
  2. Credible Sources: Use reliable and authoritative sources to back up your claims.
  3. Statistics and Data: Incorporate relevant statistics and data to strengthen your arguments.
  4. Analogies and Comparisons: Use analogies or comparisons to make complex ideas more understandable.
How to conclude an Essay
  1. Summarize Key Points: Provide a concise summary of the main arguments discussed in the essay.
  2. Restate Thesis: Reinstate the thesis statement in light of the arguments presented.
  3. Closing Remark: End with a thought-provoking statement or a call to action related to the topic.
  4. Leave an Impression: Ensure that your conclusion leaves a lasting impact on the reader and rounds off the essay effectively.

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