UPSC Essay Writing : How to write perfect essays 2017

Essay writing tips for Mains

UPSC Essay Writing

Going through the Internet, Deepak has recently found ‘The Top 10 Tips to Improve your essay Writing skills. The top one says – ‘Writing Daily would exponentially help’. It sounds so legit that Deepak has bought a new notebook and a Pilot pen, and wasted three hours looking for the right topics for the entire week. He made an effective use of time, he thinks.

One of the topics is – ‘Energy Security in India’.

Sitting on his old grey chair, he ponders the topic. He knows that every nation requires Energy security, and India, now—doesn’t have the energy security. But soon, India too will be an energy surplus nation. He knows the analysis on Energy Security initiatives should be covered, and pros and cons must be explained. But, what he doesn’t know, is how to approach the topic, how to begin the essay, how to mud-fight in between and then, most importantly, how to end it.
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That’s the important detail, and that’s why, sadly, Deepak can’t write good essays. We like Deepak, and

Here is what he can do to improve on his essay writing skills;

Think before essay Writing

You have 3 hours to write two essays, out of which 20% time, roughly around 30 minutes should be spent on thinking.
Here are a few hints:
  • Try to recall everything you know about, and everything around the topic.
  • Recall if there is any relevant diagram or table you can use.
  • Remember if you know any quotes, current event, administrative policies and historical events related to the topic.
Put everything on the paper with a pencil and let it rest for when you’re ready.  

Follow an Order

Like everything in life, ‘order’ is important. Well, you can follow any sensible pattern in your mind, but having one and sticking to it is crucial. Here is a suggested order;
  • Introduction
  • History or the background of the topic
  • Discussion on the topic
  • Current events related to the topic
  • Pros and Cons
  • Suggested reforms
  • Conclusion

Keep the Content Simple

Your language and presentation should be simple. Let’s save all the flowery expressions for poems that you write in your personal dairy. Keep them there. It’s advisable to make use of illustrations, policies and plans, international examples and current events to give credibility to your essay. Try to maintain a flow throughout the essay, and throughout, stick to the essay’s theme. Every paragraph must contribute to the essay’s conclusion. The essay, in its entirety, must be dominated by your vision and ideas. It should also follow an order as the last point states; introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction should provide a brief idea to the reader of what essay entails. To achieve that, you can make use of a quote, story, some current event or even an abstract to build an introduction to your essay. The body should have your analysis part and discuss all the aspects of the topic. Pick some arguments to make your case further credible and explain them with examples. Conclusion broadly focuses on three things; summarizing the essay’s topic, making a concluding point and then, most importantly, finish it, preferably, with a visionary perspective. I found this really detailed guide to writing an essay conclusion. It covers the key aspects, suggested structures and some illustrative examples. Here is the link –

Time Division

It’s a subjective point and you can sensibly divide your time according to your comfort. But here is a reference for Deepak—what’s suggested by our subject matter experts. Topic Selection – 5 Minutes Recalling – 10 Minutes Formulating a structure – 10 Minutes Essay writing – 1 Hour Revision – 5 Minutes

Some extra Tips for Deepak to write balanced essays;

What not to write is more important than what to write.
  • Never come up with a solution if it’s is not Always try to give supportive answers or opinions if you state a strong viewpoint or a solution.
  • Do not excessively criticise the Government
  • Not suggesting reforms after mentioning uncountable problems in the system
Empathy is nice, but don’t get too emotional. Emotional management must be seen in your essay writing
  • Do not pinpoint a specific celebrity or politician for a problem
  • Always be neutral; don’t take side of a political party
  • Examiners are not extremists, so try to imagine their perspective and write a balanced opinion accordingly.
Do not deviate from the topic
  • Do not beat around the bushes if what you’re looking for is somewhere else.
  • Avoid writing too many quotes, proverb and case studies; while a right quantity of them would make your essay look credible, too much of them would make you a man with no opinion.
  • Don’t pick the wrong topic. Unless you have enough thought content on a certain issue, do not blindly start writing it.
Do you have something else that can help candidates improve their essay writing? Comment below. Learn more about cracking civil services exams here.