Your skills as an essayist are definitely going to play an important role while you attempt writing the essays in the UPSC exam. It is important to note that the Essay paper in the Mains of the UPSC exam carries 250 marks. The candidate is required to write two essays that carry 125 marks each.
Essay writing is one of the tremendous creative skills that mankind is endowed with. Some have a natural flair for writing. However, you may cultivate it as well if you so desire. There are several online essay test series conducted by IAS coaching in Delhi.
Now let’s discuss – how does a well-written essay help shoot your score (and hence the rank) higher in the UPSC merit list?
As already said above, the candidate is required to pen down 2 essays in the UPSC exam, each for 125 marks, thus making up to a total of 250 marks. Needless to say, if both the essays are adequately attempted, i.e., if they are written well, the score thus gained would help to push the final rank in the UPSC result higher. Therefore the Essays in the UPSC exam deserve specific attention of the candidate and should not be taken lightly.
What does it take to make a good essayist specifically for the UPSC exam?
Cracking the UPSC exam is the dream of almost every educated youth (a graduate, at least) who comes of age (21 years or more, but within the prescribed age limits) in India. However, the exam requires a thorough knowledge of the subjects and/or the areas of study prescribed by the UPSC syllabus. And the Essay paper forms no exception.
Besides a tight grip over the subject he is going to write on, the Essayist should have a few other qualities that would only serve to hone his skills further as an Essayist, specifically when he is going to write the Essay in the UPSC exam.
Quite a few of the significant attributes that help a UPSC candidate to write the Essays in the best possible manner in the UPSC exam are listed below:
- Do not be impulsive: It is best not to get hasty and begin writing on the spur of the moment even if you observe one of your favorite topics in the question paper. It always makes more of sense to pick the subject of your choice after careful consideration and take a little time, say 15 to 20 minutes before you begin to write.
Arrange all your thoughts and ideas logically before you pen them down: The time thus gained would allow you to think well not only about what you want to write, but also the sequence in which you wish to arrange all your thoughts, ideas and opinions concerning the topic you are writing about.
- Try to recollect whatever you know about the topic you are going to write on. While you arrange every vital detail that you may think of, put it all in a logical sequence, i.e., to say, you must be fully aware of the sequence you are going to pen down your thoughts on the paper before you actually begin to write.
- Thorough knowledge of the subject: It is advisable that the candidate should have an in-depth understanding of the issue that he chooses to write upon. Besides, the essay should be penned down in a manner so that it makes interesting reading.
Thus the information that the candidate provides in his essay in the UPSC exam should be presented in a logically appealing manner so that the beginning seems to proceed further with a consistent flow to the middle followed by a reasonably convincing conclusion.
- Stay unprejudiced: Almost all would agree that an unbiased mind makes a good writer, thus helping him convey his thoughts in a balanced manner and being fair to all concerned. And a UPSC exam Essay forms no exception.
Besides, an unbiased mind is likely to add up to your capabilities later as an administrator. Thus whenever a candidate attempts writing an Essay in the UPSC exam, it would only make more of sense to take the entire perspective into account and put forth your ideas with a justifiably balanced consideration of all and everything concerned with the topic/subject that you choose to write upon.
- Co-relate topic/subject with the current issues: UPSC does put your knowledge of current affairs to test. Though throwing light on the historical background (if any) of the topic/subject you are writing on is of course, appreciable, it really is an excellent idea to co-relate the topic/subject of your Essay with what goes on currently on the national and/or international scene.
Besides your knowledge of the current affairs also highlights how aware you are of what goes around you on both the national as well as the international platforms.
Moreover, as already said earlier, your ability to co-relate the current affairs with the topic of the Essay does count. And it should not be forgotten that it also brings forward your capability to be analytical and aware for when you co-relate, your analytical mind is at work making you more knowledgeable (and vice versa) of the current issues as related to the context of the Essay’s topic that you are writing on at present.
And it cannot be denied that apart from the thorough knowledge, an analytical, aware and alert mind makes up for a great administrator and a significant majority of the candidates that aspire to crack the UPSC does dream of joining Indian Administrative Services!
Needless to say, if you aim at joining IAS, writing the Essay in the UPSC exam with a thorough knowledge of the topic/subject that you write on coupled with a sharply analytical, aware and alert mind would definitely let you materialize your dream with greater ease.
- Do not digress: It is best not to digress. Stay focused on the topic/subject that you are writing the Essay on. Though a passing reference as and when required to the relevant details is ok, but it definitely does not make any sense if the passing reference gets transformed into a digression.
For example, while writing on the effect of the economy on culture, it’s ok to mention how the two are correlated, but the focus should be retained on culture only, and you should not digress to the extent that the focus gets shifted from culture to economy.
- Quote aptly and correctly: Though it is good to make use of suitable quotes in support of what is being conveyed in your Essay, you should take care that nothing should be misquoted. Make use of a quote only when you are absolutely confident that you remember the entire quote as it actually stands.
In case you do not remember a quote perfectly well, it would be better to name the person whose utterance you want to make use of to strengthen the view that your Essay conveys, and then put forward the opinion expressed in the quote in your own words.
- Express your opinion convincingly: Your Essay should analyze and present the root cause of the problem (in case you are discussing one) with the feasible solution(s) (if you think there are any) in a logically convincing manner.
Additional features that may help you convey your ideas effectively: Though you are to write while putting forth your opinions in the Essay in the UPSC exam, following features may be of great help to convey your ideas effectively:
- You may employ tables, diagrams, pie-charts, bar charts, graphs or for that matter, any kinds of the graphics if you think that they can be placed suitably in your Essay to strengthen the ideas/thoughts/opinions that it conveys.
- Quotes if they can be placed aptly
- Current affairs
- Any developments on the national and/or international platform that might be of any significance concerning the topic/subject of the Essay you are writing on
- Does the topic/subject you are writing the Essay on hold a relevant background that might be of historical/economic/political/social or for that matter any kind of the relevance concerning your Essay? If so, it only makes sense to include all the relevant details.
Word of Caution
Well, so far, so good! Till now, we have been focusing on how to write an Essay in the UPSC exam, i.e., what all you should be taking care of, in other words, what all your Essay should encompass so that your attempt at writing it in the UPSC exam is successful.
However, there are quite a few factors that do not fall into the scope of your Essay irrespective of the topic/subject that you choose to write upon. For example, as already said earlier, it is best to stay unbiased. It obviously implies that you should not get personal while putting forth your opinions in the Essay.
You should never allow yourself to forget that as a Civil Servant, and even more so, specifically as an administrator, if you join IAS, after cracking the UPSC exam, you would be required to administer keeping the legitimate interests of all into consideration in a justifiably balanced manner. So needless to say, your Essay should encompass all the pros and cons of the topic/subject that you are writing on.