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UPSC / IAS Preparation:
Improving Essay Writing
Posted on June 23, 2014 by THESUPERMANRETURNS 5 Comments
Improving Essay Writing
I thought I had written a very good essay last year. Yet, when the marks came,
I found out I had got only 80 / 200. Essay, together with GS, had pulled my
rank down. So I sat down with my father, spoke to a couple of friends, took
everybodys feedback and concluded that there were 3-4 things I needed to
work upon. I tried to improve upon them this year, and thankfully it worked and
I got 135 / 250 this time. So in this article, I would just try to list those lessons
learnt so that others may take some cues.
Click here for my last years essay.
Click here for this years essay.
Lesson #1: An essay should be for a general person and not a subject
expert
Last year I wrote on the PPP topic which was from my subject area
(Economics). So while writing the essay, I put in many higher economics
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6/23/2014 UPSC / IAS Preparation: Improving Essay Writing | Khelo India
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concepts like lemons problem, information asymmetry, agent principle
problem. I thought this would give my essay a killer punch. But this didnt and
couldnt have worked as the persons checking the essay are not economists
they may have other background. So I should have written an essay without
the use of any technical concepts and phrases, in simple simple language
only. This is what I did this time.
Lesson #2: Points should be covered in sufficient depth
While practicing last year, I used to write in detail about whatever points I was
writing. It used to take around 1900 2000 words. I used to send my mock
essays to my friends for feedback, and a friend wrongly advised me (and I
believed him) that I should cut down the length to around 1200 words. I did
that in the exam but the result was that I couldnt cover any of my points in the
needed detail. If you look at my past years essay, you would find I began a
point, wrote one sentence about it and then immediately concluded it. Now I
am not saying that 1200 words essays are not good, but just that one should
write as much as the proper coverage of points in the essay demands. It may
be 1200 or 2000 or 2500, but coverage should be proper. This year I worked
on it and covered my points in somewhat greater detail.
Lesson #3: Wide range of points should be covered
Last year, I later realized, I had covered only a narrow range of points and that
too from a limited economists perspective. I had neglected the social,
political, cultural aspects of the problem and as such my essay was not
comprehensive. So this year I worked on it and tried to cover S&T issues from
as wide angle as possible and as many relevant points as I could think.
Lesson #4: Continuity in Essay: Essay Structure
Almost everybody advises us to have continuity between various parts of the
essay and make them coherent. Now this is an art and many people are able
to accomplish this. But I am not as gifted with arts, so I tried to create at least
an appearance of continuity this time. I chose a central theme of my essay
(that S&T are very important, without them nothing will happen, but they are
not the panacea and we need proper policies and administrative framework
to reap maximum benefits) and reinforced this theme from the introduction to
throughout the essay. For any point I took, be it agriculture or energy or
medicine or industry, I kept on reinforcing this point again and again. This
gives an impression and also actually lends some continuity to the essay.
Second thing I did was to divide my essay into various sections with headings
(in bold) for each section and then in the introduction part itself, I mentioned
that the essay is divided into following sections and these are the sections to
come. All this lends a basic structure to the essay and this basic structure,
together with the central theme, provides that needed continuity to the essay
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5 thoughts on UPSC / IAS Preparation: Improving
Essay Writing
at least in the minds of the examiners.
Miscellaneous
Other things have to be there like a strong opening, use of examples from
daily life to drive home a point, good handwriting etc.
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PRIYA say s:
June 2 3 , 2 01 4 at 1 0:3 7 am
thanks Sir for motivating us and thanks a lot for sharing your experince.
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ABHINAV PAL say s:
June 2 3 , 2 01 4 at 1 0:3 8 am
Hi gaurav thanx for this wonderful articlei am a fellow upsc
aspirantit will be really helpful if u could tell me the books
and strategy used by you for economics optional thanks in advance
Reply
MANOJ SHUKLA say s:
June 2 3 , 2 01 4 at 1 0:5 1 am
Very Informative!! It gives an idea what upsc is looking for! The
most interesting part of this article was ..then in the
introduction part itself, I mentioned that the essay is divided into following
sections and these are the sections to come. Have never thought of writing
essays in such a manner.
Reply
SANG say s:
June 2 3 , 2 01 4 at 1 1 :1 5 am
Hi Gaurav.. Thank you for this article. I am looking for
improving my writing skills to increase my marks next. This
and other articles are very helpful. I could identify some of the mistakes I did
this time. Thaks a lot!!!
Reply
ABHISHEK SHARMA say s:
June 2 3 , 2 01 4 at 1 :3 3 pm
Your blog is proving to be a life saver for us aspirants.Your
take on caochings is exactly how you feel.The mistakes of dis-
continuity in essays has been woth me also and I am working on it.I read your
article about GS also.
Could you please tell me about how important you feel the NCERT books are
for prelims as well as mains?
Reply
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