Nishant Jain, a 2015 Batch IAS officer has an inspiring story to share. With an All India Rank of 13, he also scored the maximum marks awarded in the essay paper.
An M.Phil. in Hindi Literature from the University of Delhi and a Master in Public Management from Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), he has also authored a book on UPSC preparation strategy titled All About UPSC Civil Services Exam.
Nishant explains the strategy you can adopt for attempting the essay paper. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) syllabus states, “Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion and to write concisely. Credit will be given to effective and exact expression.”
Talking about focussing on the topic you choose, Nishant says, “You must stay as connected as possible to the basic idea of the topic. Make your essay presentation in an organised manner to fetch maximum marks.”
Nishant’s Seven Rules to Essay Writing
“Your essay must hold the attention of the examiner and that is possible only if there is an easy flow to your work,” says Nishant. Always remember that a good essay is a sequential presentation of ideas. “Therefore, while presenting your ideas, identify the interrelated ideas, and present these sequentially in your essay,” he adds.
Upon completion of one paragraph, there should be a very organic transition into the next paragraph. “The examiner must not be left with any unanswered questions in their mind,” says Nishant. This can be achieved with regular essay writing practice.
2. Balanced and Comprehensive View
“It is advisable that you choose a middle path while writing answers, rather than take sides or present an extreme point of view,” advises Nishant. Avoid having a very narrow point of view about the subject, the broader your vision, the better the impact.
Do not look at the topic only via one prism. Explore all aspects, which include social, cultural, economic, political, philosophical, religious, scientific, historical, geographical, and environmental.
3. Present A View That Is Respectful To Others
“Always look at the topic in totality. Refrain from focusing on just one aspect and making your essay one-dimensional,” says Nishant. It is also important that you respect all views and present the essay in such a manner only.
4. Strong Introduction and Conclusion
While there is no clear-cut formula on how to frame the introduction and conclusion, you can keep in mind the following points.
“Some prefer introducing the topic with the help of quotes and statistics, while others start with an anecdote or facts. Pick what you feel works best for the topic and go with that,” explains Nishant.
In conclusion, you must leave the examiner with a balanced and tactful point of view which captures the essence of the article.
5. Writing Style and Presentation
“Spend some time sprucing up your essay and making it look good,” he says. The Commission’s guidelines lay emphasis on a ‘legible hand-writing,’ so that is important to follow.
In Nishant’s view, a few points to remember to improve presentation include:
(i) Write in small paragraphs
(ii) Minimise grammatical errors
(iii) Use simple vocabulary
(iv) Maintain good legible handwriting
(v) Underline and highlight important points
6. Use of Quotations
In Nishant’s opinion, “Quotes should be used according to the context. It should not appear as if it is being imposed; rather it should suit the essay’s topic. Also, do not make controversial statements.”
7. Selection of the Topic
“Half the battle is won if you choose the right topic,” says Nishant. When asked what to consider while choosing an essay topic, Nishant shares:
– Select a topic you are most familiar with. Citing his own example, he shares, “I chose to write on the topic – ‘Is sting operation an invasion on privacy,’ because I had a reasonably good understanding of this topic.” Similarly, look for familiarity and level of comfort while picking your topic.
What To Do And What Not To
- Develop and maintain the habit of reading, writing, discussing and thinking.
- There is no other substitute for writing practice. If you want to make it better, practice the writing of essays every week and get them evaluated so that you can improve your writing skills.
- Participate in group discussion as it will enhance your understanding of the topic and will always leave you with new points to ponder over.
- Stay positive and believe in your preparation
- Pay attention to time-management. It is compulsory to write both essays in the paper. Therefore devote equal time to them.
- Do not exceed the word limit, as you will not get any credit for it.
Nishant went from a group ‘C’ government job to group ‘B’ and finally to group ‘A’ by cracking the UPSC civil service exam. He imparts this advice with the hope that it will help other aspirants too.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)