Tips to Prepare Essay Writing for UPSC Mains

When candidates start their Civil Services Mains preparation, most of their energy and time is spent studying General Studies and Optional subject which is acceptable. 

However, the Civil Services aspirants should never forget to equally focus on the Essay paper during the UPSC exam preparation as it carries crucial 250 marks of the UPSC Mains exam. If prepared in the proper manner, it is quite possible to score 150+ marks in the Essay paper which eventually can be a rank booster! 

There are several instances where candidates fail to fetch good marks in the GS papers but interestingly perform well in the essay paper, eventually making it to the Interview round.

Despite its importance, the Essay paper fails to get the attention it deserves from the aspirants. Reason? First-timers think that it is easy and they can write a good essay in the exam. And the ones who have previously appeared for the Mains before, believe that they have sufficient knowledge of General Studies papers and can write essays accordingly. 

That’s a cardinal sin! 

Essay is one of the deciding factors in your Mains score. So, please don’t take it for granted.

Also read: How to Write Good Quality Answers for UPSC Mains

Read further to know more about the preparation strategy for the Essay paper, tips, and tricks to prepare it effectively. 

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 orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression. 

It is clear that you are expected to present your ideas in a well-structured and professional manner. The examiner will pay attention to the written content and focus on the coherence and how you express your views. 

Common UPSC Essay Topics

We have enlisted all the common essay topics that are frequently asked in the Mains exam. During your preparation, you should prepare material on topics such as: 

  • Education
  • Healthcare 
  • Economic growth and development
  • Internet/IT
  • Administration
  • Federalism/Decentralisation
  • Women
  • Environment
  • Social Justice/Poverty
  • Democracy/India since Independence

Practical Tips to Prepare for Essay Writing

The following are a few crucial tips that will make your essays more impactful. Keep them in mind and implement them in your essays to get a good score in the subject:

  • To know what constitutes an ideal and a good essay read as many articles and essays as you can. 
  • Focus on sequential flow and presentation of ideas. It is essential to have a balanced and comprehensive view while writing essays.
  • Always maintain a neutral approach while writing essays. Do not criticize the government for the sake of criticizing the government.
  • Since most of the time, essay questions are asked from current affairs, it is imperative to read newspapers daily (The Hindu/The Indian Express).
  • While reading newspapers/books, always jot down the relevant quotes or lines you can use while writing essays. 
  • Focus on your vocabulary while essay writing.
  • To make your essay more effective, try to approach and write it from different dimensions like social, political, historical, ethical, environmental, etc. 
  • Structure your essay with a compelling introduction, main body, and a proper conclusion.

Also read: How to Prepare International Relations for UPSC Mains

What not to do in UPSC Mains Essay Writing?

Now when you are aware of what has to be done while writing essays that inspire, there are a few things that you must avoid at all costs, such as:

  • Rather than directly jumping to write the essay, spend some time introspecting about the topic, its pros and cons, the arguments, facts, figures that will add value to the essay.
  • Avoid focusing too much on one point or one particular dimension (Political/Historical/Social). It will make your essay dull. 
  • Don’t deviate from the topic and write unnecessarily just because you can write! Instead, only write what is asked and stick to the theme of the essay topic. 
  • Since you are given a choice of selecting topics to write in the Essay paper, use it wisely! Do not pick a topic just for the sake of writing.
  • Avoid using too much technical jargons.
  • Do not spend too much time writing the first essay as you don’t want to create chaos while writing the second essay. Since both carry equal marks, it is recommended to invest equal time in them. 

To understand the right approach required for attempting the Essay paper, watch this detailed video lecture by India’s best educator for UPSC Mains answer writing, Dr Awdhesh Singh:

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Raminder Singh

Raminder is a Content Writer at PrepLadder. He is working to provide students with informative articles and the latest updates about UPSC and GATE exams.