Essays are a part of school and college syllabi and an integral part of tough competitive examinations like UPSC. The main idea behind asking for essays in examinations is to test the writing ability of students in terms of expression, communicating ideas and the in-depth knowledge they possess regarding a particular subject.
Essays could be general essays, topical essays, technical essays, subject essays, and many more. A variety of essay topics can be researched on the net to get input for writing on a particular topic.
In the UPSC exam, the essay paper is covered in the mains examination. Those candidates who have successfully cleared the prelims exam have to attempt an essay question in the mains compulsorily.
Candidates are required to write an elaborate essay, as long as 1500 to 2000 words. Candidates have to choose one topic from a list of 5 to 6 topics according to their knowledge and interest in the topic.
1. Selecting Most Appropriate Topic
Candidates have to be choosy while selecting the topic to write on. Choosing the right topic in itself is a big task. It will pave the way for you to show your writing ability and much more to the examiner.
Topics must be chosen not based on their popularity but on the candidate’s ability to write a good, elaborate essay that will essentially fetch him higher marks in the exam. The idea is not to impress the examiner but to express your ideas and content in a fruitful manner.
2. Listing Key Points on the Topic
When you start with an essay, it’s good to spend the first five minutes trying to familiarize yourself with whatever you know about the chosen topic.
Try to question yourself and analyze the depth of knowledge you have in the chosen topic. When you write down whatever you know, you will get better clarity of ideas and realise how creatively you can write your content in the essay.
3. Organizing Content of Essay
Now you have listed all relevant points related to your essay. The most important and crucial step is to organise and reorganize them in the most suitable fashion. Try to segregate your essay into a crisp and concise introduction. Explain the theme or the core of your essay in the body of the essay. Conclude your essay on a positive note and leave room for further thinking.
It is always good to write your essay in medium length paragraphs. Neither too big nor too small. Arrange your ideas accordingly. You could use headings and subheadings for better presentation. Highlight topics that you think are very important from the subject point of view.
4. Presenting Important Facts
We have come across different types of essays. Some essays may be generic and may not have strong facts and figures attached to them. Nevertheless, it’s necessary to quote at least a bit of fact and figures and not make your essay appear like a full length story.
This aspect is purely from the examination point of view. It shows the examiner that you are well versed with the topic and are well aware of relevant information.
5. Working Around the Central Theme of Essay
Many candidates in the examination tend to make mistakes when writing an essay. They start with the central theme; put a focus on the subject initially. Later, when they start naming more sub-headings for their essay, they go astray and away from the central theme.
This makes a greater part of the essay unnecessary and unwanted. You have to compulsorily make sure that the essay is sewed around the central subject only. Whatever you write should have a connection with the core subject matter. Leaving that aside and bringing in more points from a mere subheading will give a negative impression to the examiner.
6. Neutrally Expressing Your Views
An essay essentially tests a candidate on many grounds. The ability of a student to express his ideas, state his opinions, display his communication skills, reflect his thoughts and organised thinking, etc. So, mainly, we are writing to enhance our writing skills and not to display any emotions whatsoever. Whatever we write, we have to be sensitive and neutral towards the content in our writing.
At any point of time, there shouldn’t be a place in the essay where somebody or some community or group’s sentiments got hurt with our writing. We have to take care to be open minded and write in a neutral fashion as much as possible. Personal opinions and personal comments should strictly not be portrayed in essays.
7. Writing Content That Should Be Reachable to an Audience
Speaking is different from writing. When you speak, you include your body language along with your speech that will make your communication more effective. When you write, it’s only your words and your writing style that will matter the most. Be careful with the words you choose.
If it’s a technical essay, then care should be taken to include more technically relevant words and less of generic words. Displaying more affinity towards the content and quality of writing will yield a positive impression for your writing. Remember, writing is an art. The mere writing of words and putting them together as on a string will not do much good.
All ingredients necessary for a good essay should be worked into it, and the design and art of creating a good essay must be reflected in our writing. The content that you write for the core theme carries the maximum marks. Apart from that, an effective expression of ideas and the quality of your writing will decide your final marks in the essay paper.
8. Effective Communication of Ideas
When you write, you should be able to express it clearly. Writing essays shouldn’t confuse the reader pr make them ambiguous about your content. A reader should be able to relate to your writing and also in a position to understand what you have written.
Using very complex language containing difficult and complicated words to add to the beauty of the essay will only reduce the essay score. Use simple and straight forward language that can be understood by a common man.
You must keep in mind that the level of proficiency in the English language varies from person to person. Hence, no matter your level of proficiency in the language, you should always make your essay more reader-friendly.
9. Including the Latest Developments Relevant to Essay Topic
If you are aware of any latest developments concerning the essay topic, include that in your essay as well. These are essential and critical areas where one can score well.
You should customise your essay according to the topic and write any necessary information relevant to the subject without fail. Topics on general awareness and current affairs will have more such updates from the latest trends, and it’s wise not to leave them out without putting across a mention.
10. Attention to Punctuation Marks & Usage of Good Grammar
Placing appropriate punctuation marks in the right places is necessary. Even a small mistake in the usage of punctuation marks could mislead the reader. The whole meaning of a sentence could change due to the wrong usage of punctuation marks. There would be conflict in the essay due to this. What you are trying to express could become a different point by reading with misplaced punctuation.
Usage the most appropriate grammar in the essay. Using correct tenses of the words, count of words and paying attention to the sentence formation is going to make all the difference. Different and confusing grammar could lead to misinterpretation of writing.
11. Avoiding Spelling Mistakes
This is a common error made by candidates. Writing correct spellings is a must. You don’t have a choice here. If you aren’t thorough with the spelling of a particular word, omit that word itself. Use another word that will sound like a good replacement for that word.
If in case you have happened to miswrite a word with a spelling mistake, just put a scratch across the word and immediately write the correct word next to it. Owning a standard dictionary for reference will create wonders with your vocabulary. Work on it.
Revise your essay as many times as possible. Give importance to writing a clean essay with good and legible handwriting. Use a pen that will write clearly without blotting ink on the writing place. Phrase your essay and make it appear friendly from an examination point of view.
You should write from an author’s point of view and read it from an examiner’s point of view. Use language that is simple to follow and understand. Add a touch of creativity to your essay in the right measure with the right tone and expression.