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Essay

DECODING THE ESSAY PAPER FOR UPSC MAINS 2020

Hey All Aspirants….!!!!!

Welcome back to VAJIRAO IAS ACADEMY.

In the previous articles of the series, we are done with the GS papers of the UPSC Mains. Now, in this article, we will be discussing about the “Tips and Strategies for Essay Paper”. You can also have a look at our previous articles in the series “The Race to UPSC CSE 2020”.

Before starting, have a look at instruction given by UPSC for 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.”

A relevant question pops out of the mind on seeing the instruction – Is there any significant difference between the General Studies paper and Essay paper in UPSC Mains??

The answer is YES….!!!!! If we go by the perspective of UPSC, the basic difference lies in the fact that, the GS papers will be evaluated on the basis of the content provided whereas, the Essay stands the test of evaluation based not only the content provided but also the structuring of the write-up, language, ideas, views, coherence etc. So, it will be apt for the aspirants to take utmost care in shaping their ideas for any essay topic.

Writing is an art in itself.

The Essay paper weighs 250 marks i.e. an average 14% of the total 1750 marks awarded in the UPSC Mains Exam. Still the paper is mostly ignored by the aspirants as a common thought process is that the essay paper does not require any specific preparation. It can be mingled with the GS preparation itself.

But this might not be the right approach. You need to spend atleast certain few hours of your preparation time for this paper also. The notion that you will write a perfect essay once for all right in the actual exam itself. Many aspirants and even UPSC toppers have confessed to have done the mistakes in their previous attempts.

Now, the second question arises – What all to study for the Essay Paper???

Well, if done smartly, most of the content and ideas for your essay will come out from the GS preparation. Good thing is that, you need cover bulky books separately for it. Apart from the GS papers, the following things can help you streamline tour essay preparation:

  • Keeping a tab of real-life examples and stories –

Collecting daily life stories and examples pertaining to various social issues or other relevant essay topics appearing in newspapers will hold good to specify in your answers. You can make judicious use of such example in the paper to gain that 1-2 mark extra edge over fellow counterparts.

  • Reading Particular Magazines –

Specific issues of certain magazines like the Yojana, Kurukshetra, Down to Earth and other such can be referred and it is advisable to make suitable notes for the particular topics separately. These magazines will provide with the latest analytics and facts about the contemporary issues for the society at large.

  • Non-Fiction Books –

Reading such books will help you in developing a secular and analytic view on particular things. It will also improve your language competency for the essays. Develop a habit of reading non-fictions for example, “My Experiments with truth” by Mahatma Gandhi. But that does not anyway means to indulge yourself in deep learning of such books. Use your free time to enrich your knowledge with them.

Tips and Strategies

  • Make a proper list of quotes, saying of the greats and real-life examples collected from newspapers and refer them from time-to-time.
  • Develop a set structure of writing an essay. The most common structuring will be the
    INTRODUCTION-BODY-CONCLUSION pattern.
  • Before writing any essay, prepare a rough draft of the topic and brainstorm the ideas, whatever comes to your mind and jolt it down. Prepare a set pattern of those ideas and proceed accordingly.
  • Start your essay with a proper introduction containing either any quote, any real-life example, articles of constitution or simply defining the terms included in your essay topic.
  • In the Body part, you can breakdown your essay into different sub-topics and sub-headings. Make sure you touch each and every aspect of your topic. Be it Historical, Political, Economic, Cultural, contemporary everything.
  • Divide and devote roughly same amount of words for each sub-topics. Do not indulge very deep in a particular one.
  • Make your essay presentable. Make use of diagrams, flowcharts, spoke-wheel diagrams etc. It is bound to impress your examiner.
  • Pay good amount of attention to the language and vocabulary of your essay. You need not make use of very ornamental languages to fetch good marks. Simple and short sentences will do but should be grammatically error-free.
  • In order to ace the paper, the ideas you created for the particular must be conveyed to the examiner convincingly. For this, be to the point in your approach and keep it simple.

Essay paper sometimes become a make-or-break paper in terms of securing a place in the final merit list. The marks awarded, varies between 30 to 16o. You can imagine the fluctuation level.
What’s within your reach is a steady preparation for essay. Leave no stone unturned and give your best shot in the mains exam. Success is bound to be yours.

Well, with this in-depth breakdown of the essay paper, we are sure you must have acquired a good idea as to how to ace the paper. We conclude with this, but don’t forget our mantra to achieve success in UPSC:

“Read, Re-read, Write, Revise, Repeat”

Stay tuned for further updates in the series…..
Till then…..Think Positive, Stay Healthy…..!!!!!!

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