How to write an Essay in UPSC Mains and other Competitive Exams?

Posted by Notes Mantra on

Students are required to write essays in UPSC mains and other competitive exams such as SBI PO, IB ACIO, etc. This post will take a look at tips to write these essays efficiently so as to score maximum marks in the competitive exams.

Students might come across a plethora of articles on online as well as other sources that guide them on ways to write an essay. In this blog, we will focus particularly on methods to write it inside the examination hall.

Write an Essay in UPSC Mains

We will consider the scenario of a UPSC main exam, however, the procedure to write an essay remains the same for all competitive examinations. In the UPSC mains essay writing examinations, aspirants are given with a choice of 4 to 5 topics. One choice has to be made amongst these topics on which the aspirants desires to write the essay. The time limit allowed to complete the paper is 3 hours. The maximum marks one can score in the papers is 200.

Going by this simple logic that for a question worth 2 marks, UPSC demands that the answer should be in 20 words, the word limit of the essay should ideally be 2000 words if it is for 200 marks in total. So, let us start with the tips.

Tip 1: Put in a sufficient amount of thinking

Consider this example – Suppose you chose to write a topic on Mahatma Gandhi. You have already started writing it and more than half way through. You are taking care to mention all the events of his life in a chronological order. You end up writing something like this:

Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi popularly recognized as Mahatma Gandhi and awarded the title of the “Father of the Nation” was born in the Porbandar city in Gujarat. He visited England and South Africa to pursue his higher education……..He came back and got involved in the freedom struggle……………Gandhi Round Table Conference……..Salt March……………

You are on the verge of finishing your essay and you suddenly recall that in the event of putting across every incident in a chronological order, you have missed out to mention the Champaran’s Indigo Struggle. What do you do now? There is no space to add the topic in between as obviously there will be no space left to do so. Hence, you may try to incorporate the event in the conclusion.

Hence, it is important that you invest enough time in thinking before you actually start writing. At the same time, you should keep aside the time judiciously for deciding what key points you have to write about. Begin with recalling and mentioning all the points you want to write about in a rough corner. Once you are done writing, review these points thoroughly for any additions or modifications.

The next thing you will need to do is to arrange these points in the order of importance you will want them to be mentioned in. Taking care of small things like this will allow you to scoop up all those brownie points.

You can refer to UPSC test series or other IAS books to sample the way of writing essays in the paper.

Tip 2: What you need to avoid writing about?

  • Do not criticize the democracy just because it is giving you the freedom to do so.
  • Criticize the government or administration in rule excessively.
  • Throwing lights only on the negatives without actually knowing about the reforms that have been brought into place.

You can follow UPSC notes in Hindi or English as per your convenience to study about a topic in details or refer to other IAS books as well to gain overall knowledge about a certain topic. This will help you in writing essays that are well informed.


Tip 3: Refrain from writing provocative essays

You will be given topics with which you will want to agree throughout your essay. Consider this:

  • Panchayati Raj should cease to exist as it is unfair to the tax payers (While you may want to agree with this with all your mind and heart remember to strike a balance).
  • Poor people are a threat to their own selves.

In such instances, you must remember that just because you are put given a situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to write for the motion throughout the paper. Remember to cast light on the other perspective of the topic as well.

For doing so, it is ideal to go through UPSC notes in Hindi and English, IAS Books and practice UPSC Test series as they will help you to understand the pro and cons of a particular topic very efficiently. And, once you have understood the topic well, you will automatically be able to debate a topic efficiently.

Following all the above tips you will certainly be able to write a well – informed and scoring essay.

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