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How to score 150 + in Essays? | How To Study For UPSC CSE PDF Download

Essay is the deciding factor in UPSC Mains score. Even after spending months in GS preparation, aspirants struggle to score even 100 marks in GS papers out of 250 each. If one prepares smartly and gives adequate time for Essay preparation, it is quite possible to score 150+ marks in Essay.
How to score 150 + in Essays? | How To Study For UPSC CSE

EduRev UPSC Experts on the advice of various IAS toppers including Anudeep Durishetty (AIR 1, 2017), Muskan Jindal (AIR 87, 2019) and others have compiled the following strategy that will help you attempt the section well and will enable you to score 150+ marks in Essay Writing. Go through EduRev’s course Essay for MAINS- UPSC, PCS & Other Competitive exams and practice as many essays as you can through it.

Step 1: Choose the Topic Wisely

Before choosing the topic, read all the topics more than once and choose the topic wisely from the given choices so that you will find enough points to write about the topic. Follow the guidelines below to choose the most appropriate topic for yourself.

  • Understand if you have sufficient content or not: Topic should be chosen wisely and you should have a holistic understanding of the topic. Understand the topic you are choosing during the exam and think about whether you have sufficient content material for writing that or not.
  • Choose topics from both the sections in first 5 minutes: Think over choosing the essay topics of both the sections in the starting only. This will save you from a lot of thinking and confusion in the end.
  • After finalizing the topic, do no think of changing it: Once you choose a topic and start to write you may find difficult and tend to change the topic in between which would be foolishness and it will be too late to change the topic as you would have already utilized much time.   Read the topic twice and think about the topic for 30 minutes.
  • How to choose the right topic? Brainstorm these questions and try to come to a conclusion on choosing the right topic through them:
    - Do you understand the topic well?Do you have information on the topic?
    - Can you write 1000 words on that topic?
    - Do you have related quotes/ data/ examples anecdotes?
    - If the answer to all the above questions is yes for any topic then definitely go for that one only.
  • Conventional or Unconventional Topic: Avoid thinking that a common topic cannot do you good since most candidates would opt for it. Take an unconventional topic only if you are most comfortable with it. 

Step 2: Brainstorm about the topics for 15 mins and keep in mind the basic points.

How to score 150 + in Essays? | How To Study For UPSC CSE

Once you have chosen the topic to write don’t start to write immediately instead think about the topic for 15 minutes, Write down the random points that come to your mind at the end of the sheet, and Arrange the points that you have jotted down in sequence. Keep in mind the following points:

  • Time Management: Time management is important for writing an essay. You should not devote more than 1.5 hrs per essay.
    - 15 mins: Brainstorming and presentation
    - 75 mins: Writing Part
  • Stick to the topic: Remain stick to the topic and remind yourself after every ten minutes that you should not deviate from it.
  • Cover width rather than depth: Do not go in-depth of any topic but write the essay in a manner that is holistic, multi-dimensional, and covers most of the perspectives. 
  • Some important tips to make your Essay worthy:

How to score 150 + in Essays? | How To Study For UPSC CSE

  • Taking a stand: You should definitely take a stand but should follow a balanced approach overall while writing the essay. Both positive and negative aspects should be covered well. Try not to leave the examiner with a gloomy picture.
  • Language and grammar: Keep your language simple. Try improving your vocabulary during preparation but avoid very difficult words as well. Avoid large sentences, break your thoughts in smaller sentences. 
  • Avoid basic grammatical errors: Creative use of language is welcome but avoid basic grammatical errors. 
  • Work on presentation: Underline the quotes, the keywords in each paragraph, the subheadings with a black pen. Let the first page be in beautiful handwriting, its the first impression! 
  • Emotional Aspect: Emotional aspect plays a good role too. In case your essay is touching someone’s heart than you will definitely get more points for the same.

Step 3: Structure your ESSAY

The structure & Flow of essays is important otherwise it will look like an extended GS Answer.
Once you have recalled, collected, and noted the points then the next step is to structure it as given below:

  • Introduction
  • Background/past example
  • Main concept/theory
  • Correlate with current event
  • Advantages and disadvantages
  • Suggested Changes
  • Conclusion

Here is the strategy devised by EduRev UPSC experts which you can follow to give your essay a good structure.

3.1. Introduction of the Essay

When it comes to writing an introduction for the UPSC essay, it should be around 120-150 words and should be able to meet these three basic conditions:

  • Spark interest in the reader
  • Relevancy to the given question
  • Clear and concise

The next step is to meet these conditions and make sure that the essay is impactful. This can be accomplished in the following ways:

  • Tell a Story: You can develop such characters wherever you feel that you can use a story to bring out the core theme of the essay. However, make sure that your story is clear, concise, and relevant to the topic asked to you.
  • Narrate an Anecdote: You can start by narrating an incident or story that you have read in books or newspapers. You can even use a historical anecdote related to the question as a reference.
  • Mention an Interesting Fact or Statistic: You can state facts that would build curiosity among the audience regarding that topic that you have chosen to write for the essay.
  • Ask a Question: You can start with a series of rhetorical questions that will add flair to. These questions work as thought-provoking tools and help in engaging the audience.
  • Start the para with a Quote (or a Poem): Starting with a quote or poem is one of the most time-tested ways to start the essay. Once you are done writing a quote, the rest of the introduction should elaborate the quote, explain its significance and make sure that it is relevant to the question.
  • Give a Context to the Essay Topic: When you are considering this particular method, you need to describe the wide range of circumstances that are related to the topic you are writing for the essay. Here you can mention about the recent legislation, new government schemes, recurring current affairs topic, and so on.
  • Define the Terms of the Essay: When you are considering this aspect, you can divide the question in small parts and define the meaning of every term of the essay. This technique is mainly used for the GS papers but if you are using this for the essay, then make sure that it does not read like that of a GS paper.

3.2. Body of the Essay

One should desist from discussing only one-sided view of the topic in the main body of Essay. Discussing both sides of the topics leads to an impression that you are open to discussion. Below mentioned are some points that can help you in writing the main body of an Essay.

  • Dividing the essay & giving subtitles: Dividing the essay into different sections and giving subtitles helps the reader get an overall idea of the essay at the end without having to search for your line of thought. However, one should not write over-simplistic subheadings like pros, cons, etc.
  • Structuring a paragraph: Let each paragraph represent one argument. The best way to structure a paragraph is to write the argument in first sentence of the paragraph and then explain it or give examples in following sentences. Consider each paragraph to be a mini-essay, which will present an argument, explain it, provide example/s, and write a very short concluding remark or transitory sentence for the next paragraph. Paragraphs should not be too long as they make the essay monotonous.  
  • Both sides of view: In the body, you must write about both sides of view as illustrated below:

How to score 150 + in Essays? | How To Study For UPSC CSE

What to avoid

  • Too many examples: As the time and space in essay paper is limited, one should refrain from giving too many examples to corroborate an argument.
  • Technical Terms: Avoid using technical terms of your field or your optional subjects.
  • Shorthand expressions and symbols: Do not use shorthand expressions and symbols such as “&,” “can’t” and “don’t” in formal essays even if the time is limited.
  • Flowery Language: Do not spend time in making your language flowery and your sentences long and difficult. Write in simple, short sentences and words. 
  • Informal Manner: Maintain a certain formality and avoid writing as if you are texting or emailing a friend.
  • Controversial Statements: Your arguments should be balanced and logical. Do not write controversial statements or give controversial examples.

Quotations: If you are quoting, make sure that you write the exact quote in quotation marks. If you do not remember the quote, you can paraphrase it without using quotation marks and attribute it to the writer, but the essence of original quote should not be lost.

3.3. Conclusion of the Essay

The conclusion is the difficult part because of the short amount of time available for writing a conclusion. One should not write it in a haphazard manner.
How to score 150 + in Essays? | How To Study For UPSC CSE

  • Clear transition from body to conclusion: There should be a clear transition from body to the conclusion. One of the common ways to do so is to use phrases such as “To conclude the discussion..,” “In conclusion…,” “Consequently…” etc. Do not merely say “As discussed above…” or “As shown in the essay…” instead of stringing the arguments together.

What to avoid 

  • Conclusions stating main argument: Conclusions that state main argument of the essay for the first time do not make an effective impression.
  • Generalist Conclusion: The conclusion should not be too short and very generalist either.
  • New Arguments: Do not introduce new arguments/philosophers/examples in the conclusion.
  • Negative Note: Generally, one should avoid concluding on a negative or pessimistic note. Conclusions should be optimistic, positive, and forward-looking. Some practical suggestions given in the conclusion make the whole essay very effective.
  • Brief summary of discussion: The conclusion should contain a brief summary of the discussion done in the main body of the essay. Given the word limit for this exam, at least two paragraphs should be written to conclude the essay.
  • Conclusion: Reverse of Introduction: The conclusion can be said to be reverse-introduction. In the introduction, we start with a general discussion to lay down a specific topic for discussion. In conclusion, we summarize the discussion on a specific topic and end with a general tone.

We are sure by genuinely following the above three steps you can attempt the essays in a great manner in exam. Below is the strategy you can follow in order to prepare and practice Essay Writing for UPSC.

The document How to score 150 + in Essays? | How To Study For UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course How To Study For UPSC CSE.
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FAQs on How to score 150 + in Essays? - How To Study For UPSC CSE

1. How can I score 150 marks in UPSC essays?
Ans. Scoring 150 marks in UPSC essays requires a strategic approach. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this score: - Understand the essay topic: Read the topic carefully and analyze its various dimensions. Develop a clear understanding of what the essay demands. - Plan your essay: Spend some time brainstorming and organizing your thoughts before you start writing. Create an outline to structure your essay and ensure a logical flow of ideas. - Focus on content: Your essay should reflect a deep understanding of the topic. Include relevant facts, examples, and arguments to support your points. Use credible sources to strengthen your content. - Develop a coherent structure: Divide your essay into clear paragraphs with distinct subheadings. Each paragraph should focus on one main idea and smoothly transition to the next. - Express your thoughts effectively: Use simple and concise language to convey your ideas. Avoid unnecessary jargon or complex sentences. Maintain a balanced tone throughout the essay. - Pay attention to grammar and vocabulary: Proofread your essay for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Use a varied vocabulary to enhance the quality of your writing. - Practice time management: Allocate enough time for each section of your essay. Divide your time wisely between planning, writing, and revising. By following these guidelines and practicing regularly, you can improve your essay writing skills and aim for a score of 150 marks in UPSC exams.
2. What are the key components of a high-scoring UPSC essay?
Ans. A high-scoring UPSC essay demonstrates certain key components. These include: - Clear and concise introduction: Start your essay with a strong and engaging introduction that clearly outlines the topic and introduces your stand or viewpoint. - Well-structured body paragraphs: The body of your essay should be divided into multiple paragraphs, each addressing a specific aspect of the topic. Each paragraph should have a clear topic sentence and relevant supporting arguments or examples. - Logical flow of ideas: Ensure a smooth transition between paragraphs and ideas. Connect your thoughts coherently to maintain a logical flow throughout the essay. - Balanced arguments: Present a balanced view by discussing both sides of the argument. Acknowledge counterarguments and provide counterpoints to strengthen your own stance. - Relevant examples and evidence: Support your arguments with relevant examples, case studies, statistics, or expert opinions. This adds credibility to your essay and shows depth of understanding. - Effective conclusion: Summarize your main points in a concise manner in the conclusion. Avoid introducing new ideas but instead reinforce your stand on the topic and leave a lasting impression on the reader. By incorporating these key components into your essay, you can increase your chances of scoring well in UPSC exams.
3. Is it necessary to have prior knowledge of the essay topics for scoring well in UPSC exams?
Ans. While having prior knowledge of the essay topics can be advantageous, it is not a prerequisite for scoring well in UPSC exams. The essay topics provided in the exam are generally broad and can be approached from different angles. If you find yourself unfamiliar with the topic, don't panic. Here are a few steps to handle such situations: 1. Analyze the topic: Read the topic carefully and identify its key components. Break it down into sub-topics or themes that you can explore. 2. Conduct quick research: Use the limited time you have to gather some basic information about the topic. Look for relevant facts, examples, or arguments that you can use to support your essay. 3. Rely on general knowledge: Draw upon your general knowledge, current affairs, and understanding of societal issues to contribute to the essay. Use logical reasoning and critical thinking to present a coherent argument. 4. Focus on structure and presentation: Even if your content is limited, you can still score well by ensuring a well-structured essay with a logical flow of ideas. Pay attention to the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Use appropriate headings or subheadings to organize your thoughts. Remember, the UPSC essay evaluates your analytical and writing skills, along with your ability to present a well-rounded argument. So, while prior knowledge can be helpful, it is not the sole determinant of your essay score.
4. Can I use quotes in my UPSC essay?
Ans. Yes, you can use quotes in your UPSC essay to support your arguments or illustrate a point. However, it is important to use quotes judiciously and ensure their relevance to the topic. Here are some guidelines for using quotes in your essay: 1. Choose quotes wisely: Select quotes that are impactful, concise, and relevant to your essay's theme. Ensure that they add value to your argument and enhance the overall quality of your essay. 2. Attribute the quote correctly: Always mention the author's name or the source of the quote. This not only gives credit to the original author but also adds credibility to your essay. 3. Provide context: Before or after using a quote, provide some context to help the reader understand its relevance. Explain how the quote supports your argument or contributes to the overall discussion. 4. Don't overuse quotes: While quotes can be valuable, it is important not to rely too heavily on them. Your essay should primarily reflect your own analysis and understanding of the topic. Remember, using quotes effectively can strengthen your essay, but be mindful of their appropriateness and ensure they blend seamlessly with your own writing.
5. How can I improve my essay writing skills for UPSC exams?
Ans. Improving your essay writing skills for UPSC exams requires consistent effort and practice. Here are some suggestions to enhance your skills: 1. Read extensively: Read newspapers, magazines, and quality books on a wide range of topics. This helps improve your vocabulary, comprehension, and understanding of different perspectives. 2. Analyze sample essays: Study sample essays from previous UPSC exams or reputable sources. Analyze their structure, language, and arguments to understand how to effectively present your thoughts. 3. Practice writing: Regularly practice writing essays on diverse topics within a time limit. This helps you develop speed, coherence, and clarity in your writing. Seek feedback from mentors or peers to identify areas for improvement. 4. Enhance your grammar and vocabulary: Pay attention to grammar rules, sentence structure, and usage of appropriate vocabulary. Learn new words and idiomatic expressions to enrich your writing. 5. Seek guidance: Join a coaching institute or online forums that provide guidance specifically for UPSC essay preparation. Participate in mock essay tests and seek feedback to identify your strengths and weaknesses. 6. Develop critical thinking: Cultivate the ability to think critically and analyze various dimensions of a topic. Practice presenting balanced arguments, considering different viewpoints, and supporting your claims with evidence. Remember, consistent practice, an in-depth understanding of topics, and effective time management are key to improving your essay writing skills for UPSC exams.
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