How to Write Essay For UPSC Exam?

This article is Part 1 of our 3 Article series on How to Write Essay For UPSC Exam? In this article, we have covered basic rules of Essay Writing in detail.


Essay is the biggest conundrum in UPSC preparation; it is one paper which ranges from minimum 50 marks to maximum175 marks out of 250 marks. So it is quite evident that it is one of the most dynamic parts of UPSC preparation, but the good thing is it is scoring if practiced well. In general, students don’t prepare essays and leave it for the last phase of preparation. They feel that enough reading of General studies is sufficient for an essay. But this is one common mistake made by many aspirants.

Essay for UPSC is different from academic one; two sections are there – First section has topics from current issues and the other section from philosophical topics. Expectations from students in the essay paper are clearly mentioned by UPSC in its notification, “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 for effective and exact expression.”

Keywords in syllabus of Essay for UPSC

Here is the brief explanation of   some keywords mentioned in the essay syllabus.

  • ‘Closely’: It means that deviation from the topic will be tolerated only up to a certain point. One must, therefore, as a rule stick as closely as possible to the topic at hand. Any example, quote, anecdote or reference must be on topic or related directly to it, avoid superfluous examples and statements 
  • ‘Arrange’: The essay should be properly arranged. One is supposed to plan ahead and form a structure of the essay before actually writing it down.
  • ‘Orderly’: The ideas or arguments put forward in the essay must be in an order.  Haphazard essays that do not flow sequentially must be avoided at all costs.
  • ‘Concise’: The essay and the matter discussed therein must be expressed as precisely possible. Clarity of thought and brevity of expression is what is looked for in the CSE essay.
  • ‘Effective’: The essay must be written in a language that makes a strong impression. Thus, one needs to be conveying a point with every sentence, every paragraph. Flowery language is best avoided.
  • ‘Coherent’: Coherence is required of all forms of writing, including answer writing, but in the CSE essay one must be extra careful to check that all individual sentences in the essay are making sense. Also, paragraphs as a whole must convey a clear and well thought out exposition on the theme of the essay.

By explaining these keywords, the picture is somewhat clear. One need not to prepare special vocabulary or use of jargons in essays. Though use of some selective word for exact expression creates a good impression on the examiner.

The most important thing is holistic coverage of topics in an orderly manner with use of proper anecdotes (short story), facts, figures, and reports. Essay should be very fluid like one is drinking water. For this, one needs to make small-small sentences in paragraphs, big sentences break the flow of the essay. Minimum grammatical mistakes and good legible handwriting  give an edge.

                      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. One should use connecting words from one paragraph to another and from one dimension to another dimension. For example after discussing the social dimension, one could write, “We have covered social aspects of these topics, now going to discuss some political aspects”. This will help evaluators to understand the smooth transition of essay from one to another dimension.

Some Don’t while writing Essay:

  • Don’t resort to name-calling. Never get personal in your essay.
  • Don’t have extreme views, take the middle path.
  • Don’t just present problems. Give possible reforms/solutions also.
  • Don’t criticize the government/administration excessively.
  • Even if the topic is provocative, your essay shouldn’t be. Present a balanced picture.
  • Avoid writing utopian solutions.

                 In short, essay for UPSC should be crisp, concise, and fluid and ideas should be tightly intertwined. Reading PIB articles and Yojana magazines help you to understand the form and language of essay paper, which is required for the Civil Services Exam. Also, reading nonfiction novels will enhance your writing skills.

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