ESSAY STRATEGY BY ESSAY TOPPER
Chandra Mohan Garg, Rank 25
Essay Marks 149
Essay is the most taken for granted area in civil services preparation. We spend months preparing for GS-1, 2, 3, 4 but hardly any of us give any dedicated time for preparation of essay. It is important to understand that one essay paper is equivalent to almost 1.5 G.S papers in terms or scoring.
In 2014 I went without any preparation and ended up scoring 121 marks. In order to improve my rank I needed to focus on essay as there was a good scope of 30 plus marks. I made a strategy and worked on it, this helped me in scoring 149 in this attempt.
Before I begin, let me do away with few misunderstandings
- You need to be a champ in English ( your grammar, spelling mistakes, poor vocabulary cannot stop you from scoring high)
- Essay does not need preparation. Your GS knowledge can provide fodder but Essay unlike GS answers need lot more.
- You cannot improve so easily in essay. I increased 28 marks in Essay despite the fact that this year essay has been less scoring compared to last year.
Now let me discuss how to approach an essay:
- Choice of topic
Choice of topic should be clearly based on your holistic understanding of the subject matter. So choose a topic with which you are most comfortable. At times we think that the topic is so common that most of the people will choose it, so let me choose some unconventional topic. This is a totally wrong thinking, many people end up scoring poor marks due to this. So fight with your best weapons on.
- Interpretation of the essay topic
Do not be in a hurry to write an essay. Many people see the broader title and start writing the essay without even understanding the theme of the topic.
Eg- With greater power comes greater responsibility [2014 ].Now the moment people see power they somehow relate it to politics and bureaucracy and start building their essay around it, writing all theories, quotes and examples they know related to it. Here the theme of this topic is philosophical which talks of power present in any institutional system (family, religion, community, politics, administration etc), throughout society power is banked from people to a leader so that he can use that power for a common good. So with greater power comes greater responsibility. In this context we need to critically analyse the theme of the essay.
After selection of the topic we need to brainstorm to get fodder material that we can write in the essay. There are various things and various ways to brainstorm.
Key words:- break the topic and look for key words to tinker upon. Example – With greater power comes greater responsibilitywe know power and responsibility are key words. Now you can brainstorm around key words
Past-Present-Future: – Another way to think upon to get points related to the topic.
SPECLIH:-Think from Social, Political, Economic, Cultural, Legal, International, Humanistic perspective. You can make your own acronym and add more dimensions to think from
Now what to brainstorm: You can look for quotes, examples, events, illustrations, case studies, Government initiatives, and facts and figures etc. So anything that can make the essay more informative and interesting.
- Structuring the essay
Information is one thing but how to put that information in a structured and systematic way is very important. So need to focus on few things while structuring your essay
Outline: Create an outline of essay i.e. how will your essay proceed. I feel PAST-PRESENT- FUTURE is a good technique, you can have other ways to decide the flow of the essay as well. E.g.- “Dreams that should not let India sleep”, here I discussed Nehru’s speech of tryst with destiny to explain what those dreams were, Then came on present why that dream is faltering and then talked of future that what are these dreams and how can we fulfil it.
Breakup: Break up your essay properly
Once you have brainstormed the points, created an outline and structured your essay, now you are ready to write the content.
Language & Presentation: Write in simple language. No need of flowery expressions. Keep short sentences and small paragraphs
Explanation of points: Explain through examples or illustrations whatever you are trying to explain. Mention government Initiatives, policies & plans wherever possible. International examples or case study wherever possible.
Focus of essay: Throughout the essay the theme should be reflected and flow should be maintained from beginning to end. Each paragraph should link to the other .Also do not focus only on covering lot of dimensions in the essay. In this race we lose the flow of essay. More than knowledge essay should reflect your vision and ideas.
Introduction: Your Introduction should clearly lay down what the essay will entail, giving a brief idea to the reader. You can always use a story, quote, fact/Information or abstract way to create a context and then build your introduction over it.
Example:- “Is sting operation an Invasion in Privacy”. Here you could begin your Intro with the Tehelka story of Gujarat riots that hit the news and then raise questions was it good or bad and discuss that in the body.
Body: This part is all about analysis. Here three things are Important. 1.) If the topic is debatable you need to discuss both sides. If not then it will be straight-forward. 2.) In any case you will have certain line of arguments to put your case. 3.) Explain each of them through some examples.
Example: “Is sting operation an Invasion in Privacy”. This is debatable topic. So you will have both sides. Yes it in an invasion, No it is not an invasion. To discuss both sides you will have some arguments. Now when you put your arguments substantiate with the example and illustrations.
Conclusion: In conclusion focus on three things 1.) Summarise the topic 2.) Put your concluding stand 3.) Tell a way ahead. Try to end your essay on some positive/visionary note.
- What preparations you can do for the essay
Read: You need to read some good essays and learn how beautifully people put up their arguments. These essay don’t have diversity but depth. So reading some good essays can tell you how to begin an essay, write arguments, and conclude. Most Important is how to create a structure of essay.
Prepare: I don’t think coaching helps here. It has to be you.
- In your daily newspaper reading if you find some good lines or examples then keep noting them. Especially editorials.
- Take up some common/general topics like women, education, healthcare, internet, science (look at last 20 years essay) and prepare some fodder on it. Like quotes, imp case studies, examples, factual info, government initiatives etc.
- Have a repository of good opening and closing lines. You will find this through reading newspapers, good essays of others etc.
Write and evaluate: One should write at least 5-6 essays. When you write try to apply the points I explained above in this article. And most importantly get your essays evaluated by some teachers, selected candidates or sincere friends. This will help in making improvements.
- Time division
There is no hard and fast rule, it is totally your discretion but am telling it as this will be asked. So am sharing what I used to do.
- Topic Selection : 5 minutes
- Brain storming/creating outline/structure of essay : 15 minutes
- Essay Writing : 1hr to 1hr 5 minutes
- Revising Essay: 5 minutes
I have tried to explain to the best of my capabilities. If you still have doubts I have created a page on FB named CSE Preparation, you can post your queries there. Here is the link https://www.facebook.com/chandramohangargpage/
- What I wrote in 2015?
I don’t remember exactly what all I wrote in the essay, but yes I can share a brief where I can tell on what lines I tried to write my essay.
I wrote essays – 1. Education without values makes us a clever Devil and 2. Dreams that should not let India Sleep (writing topic in brief)
Sharing Essay-1 brief layout :
IAS Mains Important Essay Topics
India’s poor ranking in Environmental Performance Index 2018 & Impact
Jan 25, 2018India has the world’s largest population without access to modern energy services. Over 800 million people rely on traditional biomass for cooking. As per the most recent data available, 75% of the rural population depend on solid fuels for cooking and heating in India. This is surely a cause of concern.
Cleaning of River Ganga: Programmes & Achievements
Dec 27, 2017Rapidly increasing population, rising standards of living and exponential growth of industrialization and urbanization has exposed water resources, in general, and rivers, in particular, to various forms of degradation. The mighty Ganga is no exception.
IAS Exam Essay 2017:Relevance of Non-Alignment Movement (NAM)
Nov 8, 2017The countries of the Non-Aligned Movement represent nearly two-thirds of the United Nations' members and contain 55% of the world population. But the relevance of NAM is diluting as the world is becoming multipolar and geoeconomic interests are overpowering the geostrategic interests. Here, we are providing an outline of the relevance of NAM in today's multipolar world as asked recently in the IAS Exam Essay paper 2017.
IAS Exam: India against Terrorism
Nov 19, 2016Terrorism has become a global issue which causing hindrance for the existence of humanity on earth. The IAS aspirants must have the knowledge of India’s stand against the menace of terrorism. Here, we have provided India’s approach to deal with the problem of terrorism within its territory and outside of its territory.
IAS Exam: Environmental Concern is changing the course of International Politics
Nov 15, 2016Ecological Footprint and the Carrying Capacity became the buzzwords in the International Politics since 1992. The International Politics is moving towards the consensus to achieve the Environmental goals spelt out in the UNFCC in 1992. Let us analyse, how the Environmental Concerns is shaping the world Politics.
IAS Main Exam : Energy Security in India
Nov 4, 2016Energy security is the prerequisite for any nation to become a super power. In India we don’t have the Energy security but in near future we will be having energy surplus nation. See here the real analysis for the Energy Security Initiative taken by GOI
Current Affairs Analysis : Geospatial Information Regulation Bill
Aug 29, 2016Current Affairs is the key for the IAS Preparation and it is well established after the IAS Prelims Exam. But as we said earlier also, Its the Current Affairs background and Analysis which help in the IAS Main Exam and it is the imperative for the IAS Prepration. In recent years, the nature of questions asked in UPSC IAS Mains as well as Prelims Exam has changed significantly. Please read this important current affairs analysis of the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill
IAS Exam : Agriculture Marketing in India
Jun 23, 2016Agriculture is the main stay of the Indian Economy and their are various Government Schemes which are trying to minimise the burden of the Indian Farmers. Agriculture is also a very important topic for the IAS Exam. This article is all about the Agriculture Marketing in India and the APMC ACT.
UPSC IAS Exam : Drought in India
Jun 21, 2016Indian Economy is very much depends on the interaction of Monsoon and Drought. Each year Monsoon and its predictions are done and strategies are suggested to mitigate the drought in India. Here are the comprehensive approach to understand the drought in India
UPSC IAS Exam: Cooperative federalism in India
May 6, 2016IAS Preparation always requires a good understanding of UPSC Syllabus as a whole which comprises of Indian Polity, Indian Economy, Geography as a whole and Geography of India as a whole and the other Topics of Socio- Economic importance. Cooperative Federalism is one such important Topic for the Civil Services
UPSC IAS Exam: Animal Husbandry in India
May 6, 2016A Civil Services aspirant should try his/her best to prepare every burning topics of National and International importance for the UPSC IAS Exam. There is huge possibility of asking questions from such topics in Civil Services IAS Prelims as well as in IAS Mains Exams. So, in a regular interval, we are trying to provide such study materials which are more informative and very much helpful for the Preparation of Essay and General Studies Papers of UPSC IAS Mains Exam.
UPSC IAS EXAM : Nuclear Security Summit
Apr 20, 2016IAS Exam always ask the question on the issue of National and International Importance. Nuclear Security Summit was one such issue which will change and affect the interaction of Nuclear for Peaceful purpose among the countries.
IAS Exam:Religious Liberty and Women Rights
Apr 19, 2016IAS Exam preparation serves as a turning point in the candidates life irrespective of his or her selection inthe Civil Services. IAS Preparation changes the life of the candidates his perspective and the outlook towards life. Rights,Lberty and Duties are the intertwined concepts and requires deeper understanding of their inter-relationship of all the three.
IAS Exam:Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan
Apr 18, 2016Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan will be a flagship program of the Government of India to propagate the information regarding the vaious goverment schemes for the farmers in the villages.
IAS Exam : Fourth Industrial Revolution: Impact and Implication
Apr 18, 2016Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it is, how to respond, has three things about the ongoing transformation and advancement mark it out as a new phase rather than a prolongation of the current revolution Scope, Velocity and Systems impact.