Strategy to prepare for the Essay Paper

Essay paper is an essential component of the Mains examination. To devise an effective strategy for the Essay paper, it is crucial to understand the motive of UPSC behind introducing this paper. There are four GS papers that test the aptitude of candidates. Then why was there a need for a separate Essay paper? 

The content you write, especially in the essay, is a reflection of your personality, your ideology and your ideas. If you analyse the past essay papers, who would notice a trend towards asking more philosophical questions. This is an important development as UPSC is making a conscious effort to draw a line between the GS papers and the Essay paper. So, candidates' strategy should be different from the approach they take in GS papers.

Since the essay paper does not have a designated syllabus, candidates should look at the Previous Years' Question papers to prepare for this paper. Questions are repeated, too, so practice as many essays as you can.

Choose quality books and reference material

You can score good marks in the exam if you provide quality content. You should gather information from various sources such as books, websites, novels, and newspapers for quality content. Among these sources, books have their significance. So, choose books wisely. We have compiled some books for your reference. 

For general reading -

  • My experiments with truth - M.K Gandhi
  • India after independence - Bipin Chandra
  • Discovery of India - J.L Nehru
  • Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty - Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson
  • The End of History and the Last Man- Francis Fukuyama
  • Getting India back on track - Ratan Tata

Studying diverse texts and essential books on wide-ranging topics is important to prepare for the essay paper. To inculcate the habit of reading in yourself. 

The editorial section of newspapers is another excellent resource. Collect quotes that you think will be helpful.

Structure of Essays

Introduction and Conclusion are essential parts of your essay. So keep a good collection of opening and closing lines. 

There are some general topics such as women, education, healthcare, technology, and science. Prepare material for these beforehand. You should prepare on these topics and include case studies, government initiatives, quotations, etc., while presenting the answers. 

The real-life example makes your essay emphatical. Thus, use real-life examples. It might be that many topics are theoretical, but you should present your ideas using real-life scenarios. 

The content of the essay must be well rounded include aspects like social, historical, environmental, ethical, and political. Refrain from giving one-sided arguments in the essay as the essay should depict the whole argument- Positive as well as negative.

Prioritise Important Topics 

It is right that essay topics are general topics, and UPSC can ask to write on any topic, but it does not mean that you should choose any topic randomly. Devote some time to search general topics and then proceed towards learning more content for any topic. To know about the important topics, you should analyse the previous year's questions and know the trend. For example, in 2020 and 2021, the nature of questions was philosophical, so students should develop philosophical views to write essay papers. 

The essay paper is divided into two sections- One section comprises four topics, and another section includes four topics, and students are asked to write 1000 words in two essays. After analysing the essay topics, focus on writing 2000 words in three hours on important topics.

Use Time Management Skills 

Essay writing is not about putting the whole words together or making the correct sentences. It is about giving the meaning of the written materials. You need to write two essay topics in 3 hours, for which you should organise your thoughts, write the thesis statement, and provide error-free content. These all are possible if you manage your time. Start practising writing for an essay from the very beginning of your preparation and utilise each and every minute of your time. 

Role of Evaluation

Consistently writing essays is not sufficient. You must get it evaluated by experts to get feedback to make sure that you are improving. Enrol in an essay writing program to improve your writing skills and get feedback on the content and structure of your essay.