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Improving Your Essay Writing Skills for UPSC Exams

Improving Your Essay Writing

The UPSC Mains exam poses a significant challenge with its essay paper, accounting for a substantial part of the 250 marks available. It requires you to write two essays on different topics, which can be quite daunting. If you’re feeling uncertain about how to approach your Mains essay, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive into the details and explore some tips to help you tackle this challenge.

UPSC Essays & Their Highlights

The UPSC Essay paper is a crucial part of the UPSC Mains exam, with two essays to write, each carrying 125 marks, making it a total of 250 marks. Each essay should be around 1000 to 1200 words, and you have 3 hours to complete this paper. It’s common for experienced candidates to rely on their General Studies knowledge, while newcomers often underestimate its importance, which can be a big mistake.

The UPSC essay isn’t just about regurgitating facts; it’s about showcasing your creativity, critical thinking, and ability to express ideas effectively. The Union Public Service Commission, which conducts the exam, expects candidates to stay on topic, organize their thoughts logically, and write clearly and concisely.

When grading UPSC essays, examiners look at various aspects, including the content, language proficiency, vocabulary, writing clarity, grammar, expressions, and overall coherence. So, how can you improve your essay writing skills for the UPSC exam? Let’s dive into the details.

UPSC Essay Writing in 5 Simple Steps

1. Choose the Right Topic

When it comes to the UPSC essay exam, you’ll encounter a question paper with four different topics to choose from. Your choice here is a big deal, as it should align with your knowledge and comfort level. So, be sure to select a topic that you feel confident and at ease writing about.

2. Organise your thoughts

After selecting your topic, don’t rush into writing it right away. Take some time to:

  1. Gather your thoughts and ideas about the topic.
  2. Use a pencil to jot down the key points you want to include.
  3. Organize these points in a logical order.

Once you’ve structured your points in a meaningful sequence, you can start crafting your essay. A well-structured essay typically follows the “Introduction-Body-Conclusion” format, where the “Body” section delves into the main subject, issue, or problem related to your chosen topic.

3. Develop the main content from the topic

Creating a strong essay is like building a complex web starting with a single thread. When choosing your topic, consider various approaches to develop your narrative:

  1. Time Perspective: You can explore the present, past, or future aspects of your topic.
  2. Sector Focus: Select a specific area of interest, like media, sports, science, technology, religion, politics, business, or administration.
  3. Scope: Your essay can revolve around different levels, from personal and family matters to societal, community, national, or global issues.
  4. Problem-Solution: Discuss the concept, advantages, problems, and their potential solutions related to your chosen subject.
  5. Standards: Analyze your topic from various angles, such as legal, environmental, scientific, historical, political, international, economic, social, or defense perspectives.

By considering these approaches, you can effectively expand and enrich your essay content.

4. Corroborate your Arguments

In the main part of your essay, it’s essential to provide strong support for your arguments. Each paragraph should focus on a specific point and provide evidence to support it. You can do this by using:

  1. Statistics
  2. Real-life examples
  3. Insights from experts
  4. References to relevant laws and regulations
  5. Information about government initiatives and policies

5. Conclude your Essay

Finish your essay with a powerful conclusion that matches the strength of your introduction. End on a positive and forward-looking note. Provide a brief summary of your essay and share your vision for the future. Incorporate impactful quotes or phrases to leave your readers with something to ponder.

Improving Your UPSC Essay Writing Skills

Writing an essay for the UPSC exam is quite different from your typical school or college essays. It demands a well-structured, clear, and engaging approach to catch the examiner’s attention. To excel in this, you need to present your thoughts effectively and organize your information thoughtfully.

The content of your essay mostly comes from your General Studies (GS) preparation, but you can further enhance your skills with these additional sources:

  1. Non-fiction Books: Reading non-fiction works, such as novels, can boost your vocabulary, sentence structure, and argumentative abilities.
  2. Stories, Anecdotes, and Quotes: Including real-life stories and quotes can make your essay more engaging and earn you extra points.
  3. References: Incorporate statistical data and refer to government schemes to support your arguments.

Many candidates believe that extensive reading alone is sufficient for essay writing. However, good essay writing requires practice and skill development. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Diversify your reading sources to expand your knowledge.
  • Use simple, straightforward sentences to convey your ideas.
  • Opt for impactful vocabulary that adds value to your essay, avoiding overly complex words.
  • Employ phrases to give your essay a distinctive quality.

Building your vocabulary is an ongoing process. When you encounter unfamiliar words in books or newspapers, make an effort to understand them, note their meanings, and incorporate them into your writing. This will help you refine your essay-writing skills over time.

Tips to Write a Well-Structured UPSC Essay

As we’ve discussed earlier in this blog, crafting a top-notch essay requires a solid structure. To master essay writing, here are some key tips:

  • Begin with a captivating introduction and a compelling conclusion, which should together make up about 5-7% of your essay.
  • Focus on the body of your essay, covering around 86-90% of its content.
  • Select a topic that you feel comfortable with.
  • Stay on track with the main theme of your chosen topic.
  • Make your essay thorough and multi-dimensional.
  • Kickstart your essay with real-life stories or anecdotes to engage your readers.
  • Use relevant and accurate quotes to support your arguments.
  • Avoid extreme or highly unpopular viewpoints when concluding your argument.
  • Manage your time effectively for each essay.
  • Present both positive and negative aspects and finish with a balanced perspective.
  • Ensure smooth transitions between paragraphs by using connecting words and phrases.
  • Always remember the ABCs of essay writing: A for Accuracy, B for Brevity, and C for Creativity. These three elements will help boost your scores in the essay paper.

In a nutshell, the UPSC essay test is more about mastering writing and organization skills than a shortage of content. With regular practice and learning from your mistakes, you can excel in the UPSC essay without a doubt.

Read Also: DJS Mains Test Series by IAS NEXT

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