UPSC Essay Paper
To understand what UPSC essay paper is all about, first, we need to understand what this abbreviation stands for. UPSC stands for Union Public Service Commission. UPSC aspirants have to write certain essays in their mains examination on the topics given in the question paper. UPSC's main examination which is an essay paper is a Civil Service exam that has continued to be a tricky step for UPSC aspirants who sit for it. UPSC examination is known to be one of the toughest exams in our country and so can be seen in the previous years' papers that candidates attempt to, every year a new challenge appears for the aspirants.
Understanding Essay Writing
To be thorough with the UPSE essay, we need to understand what essay writing really means. An essay typically refers to a type of writing that focuses upon any given topic. It is written in a certain manner and follows a given format. Many critics have their own individual opinion on the definition of essay writing. A famous critic, M. H. Abrams says that essay writing is a written composition in prose which sheds light upon a certain matter, expresses a perspective, or persuades us to accept a thesis on any matter.
There are two types of essays that are being written all over the world that are formal and informal. People prefer formal essays for official work. The reason is that they are not personal, are expected to be least emotional, have the contents on point and are written in an authority. This type of essay never involves a conversation or first-person references. Such types of essays just involve factual elements and data statistics from different studies all over the globe. These are the type of essays that are expected out of the aspirants that are to appear in CSE examinations.
Writing an Essay for CSE
In order to qualify for the CSE examination, the aspirations are required to write two essays having a word count of around 1000 to 1600 words. The time limit to write these two essays is three hours. In the paper, there are 4 essays in total, and each one contains 125 marks.
The paper of this exam is divided into two sections i.e., sections A and B. Each section of the paper has 4 essays given as a choice. The candidate must only choose one essay from each of the sections to write upon.
The expectations of the examiner and the exam itself are all mentioned thoroughly in the guidelines of the syllabus of this paper. Aspirants are expected to stay focused on the topic and organise their ideas and thoughts in the most presentable way. The guidelines also say that credit is only to be provided when there is a strong and clear expression of the idea.
Essay's Basic Structure
The most basic way that there is to draft a good essay is to divide the whole prose into perfectly structured paragraphs. This type of writing not only includes the introduction and conclusion but also involves in it the method of body paragraphs. The aspirant writing the exam is expected to manage and fit all these ideas into these body paragraphs.
Generally speaking, body paragraphs might be narrative, critical, or supporting. Any argument should ideally begin with a well-written narrative paragraph that briefly describes the subject and then transitions into a concluding paragraph that presents a few persuasive facts or thoughts. There are no strict rules about the order in which critical paragraphs should be utilised; for some themes, they can even serve as the topic's introduction.
Keywords of the Essay Syllabus
When we are writing about a certain topic in the UPSE exam, deviation from the topic is a kind of blunder that is entertained only up to a certain level. This is solely the reason why we should not deviate from the points and stick as close to the topic as we can be. This rule should be followed by each and every aspirant or examinee. All the examples, anecdotes, quotes and references, should focus on the point that has been made or is closely related to it.
The essay should be written properly and everything about it should be in proper order, be it the points about it or anything else. If the points are scattered in the essay, it wouldn't lack sense but also display our thought process. This is the reason why it is very important for the aspirants to first structure their answers and plan how they are going to go around the topic, before writing the essay immediately.
In addition to the arrangement of the points, there should be a specific order to them as well. As written earlier, an essay which is written without a particular sequence displays poorly upon the writer and it also costs a lot of marks in examinations like UPSC. Essays should be well organised and must follow a logical path from the start through the body and along the conclusion as well.
The matter of the essay needs to be as exact as it is supposed to be and should not include unnecessary details. It is a very important aspect of this type of essay writing that the candidate should think clearly and has a firm grip on his thoughts. This helps the candidate to write an effective and concise essay.
Effective language must be used to create a lasting impression in the essay. As a result, every sentence and every paragraph must make a point. It's best to avoid using flowery jargon.
All writing, including answer writing, must be coherent, but while writing the UPSE essay, it is especially important to ensure that each sentence makes sense. Additionally, the entire paragraph must provide a concise and well-reasoned explanation of the topic.
Not to pick a controversial topic
A topic about which you are too passionate or feel strongly about. In this case, you may tend to get excited and fail to write a balanced essay. This can work against you.
Reflecting upon the topic first
Once the subject is decided, one should never begin to write immediately. It is a very smart and important thing to gather thoughts and understand what the question is really asking about. Reflecting upon the given topic gives us a broader view of the way in which a certain essay can be written and the dynamics that can be involved in it. As we go through with the ideas, jotting them down with a pencil works as a great technique so we don't get confused later on.
There is another point that one should always write down the statistical data and information beforehand so that we don't have to lose our time thinking about it. This strategy goes with not only data but other points as well. Adding the historical and other important details towards the beginning is believed to be a good strategy by some people as if we reach the conclusion and then remember a crucial historical detail that needed to be there, it would be too late to adjust it in the essay. This is why all candidates must write their rough points at the beginning itself.
Don'ts in essay writing
Just like there is something which we must add to our essays, there are some very important things that we should take care of. They are as follows: -
Do not make any kind of use of name-calling- When we are writing an essay, we should never write it from a personal place. It should always be general and from the people's perspective and not the writer's. Getting personal in the essay provides an impression that the writer isn't professional enough.
Do not have extreme opinions- We should never have either left or right in our essay as this leaves the examiner to make an impression that we are strong believers of a certain ideology and lack flexibility. This can reflect upon really poorly and so we should try to take the Buddha's middle path.
There shouldn't be 'just' problems- While writing an essay, a lot of people commit a common mistake of not explaining valid solutions even though they thoroughly explain the problem and the causes of it as well. This kind of writing won't help in winning the game as there should always be solutions to certain problems and not just problems alone.
Do not be entirely against the government- It is okay to write about the things that we think should be reflected upon in the administration by the government but excessively criticizing the government would turn out not so well and could always lead to low marks. There should be a certain threshold to which we disagree with the system or want to alter it so it could work in a better way.
Essay doesn't need to be provocative- A lot of times, a lot of aspirants say that the topics that come in the CSE exam are tricky and hard to understand. It is not necessary for us to nod in agreement with what the topic is saying and write in that way. The key to this is to present a balanced picture. To find a middle ground that doesn't work against us.
Try not to write unrealistic solutions- There is a huge difference between what we think can be done and what can actually be done. This huge contrast between ideal governance and actual governance signifies how realistic we can be in our essays. We should never write utopian solutions to actual real-life problems as that signifies how we can only think about it and won't be able to do it. Answers should be as realistic as they can be and even more.
It's a civil service exam and not journalism- We should never give too much of an effort to the way we write our essay but focus on what we write in our essay and how we go around the given topic. We are not there to write for a newspaper so beating around the bush would get us nowhere and so wouldn't stylish writing. Realism and intelligence should be the real pillar of our answers throughout.
It is a very big task to even complete a UPSC mains examination. The reason behind it is the strict and very tough criteria under which it is examined and the conditions under which the question paper is based. Many of the aspirants fail to make it to the end of the essay just because of different reasons such as time management, abrupt thoughts and so on. A good way to eliminate this is to practice essay writing before the exam so one can work on his/ her time management issue.
The exam is indeed a tough one and only the best of the best walk through it the one who does is praised for his effort and hard work for a long time. But anyone can be that person who clears this exam with flying colors. The only homework is to do time management, gathering of knowledge and great practice of formal essay writing.