Strategy to Write Essay in CSE Mains | Complete Guide
NOTE | This Article contains detailed strategy to write essay in CSE Mains. Since Essay often plays a decisive role in your selection in Personal Interview, therefore, this part of Mains preparation must be dealt with immense care.
Understanding the art of Essay Writing
Essay plays a key role while dealing with the Civil Services Mains Examination. Even if you have plethora of knowledge and a good fact base ready at your tips, writing an effective essay that suits the readability of the examiner is a tough task.
In this article, we are going to discuss the strategy to write Essay in CSE Mains so that you may not miss the target for which you have worked so hard!
Understanding the Role of Essay in CSE Examination
Broadly speaking, there are two types of essays – formal and informal. In the UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE), we are concerned with the formal essay.
- The formal essay is relatively impersonal, the author writes it as an authority and such essays tend to be less emotional.
- Formal essays can also have factual elements in it, like quoted statistics from a government report etc.
- It is never in the form of a conversation, never uses first-person references and seldom gets intimate with the audience. In short, a formal essay has a certain degree of seriousness attached to it.
Weightage of Essay in CSE Mains
- For the CSE essay paper, two essays have to be written under 3 hours in the 1000-1200 word limit. Each essay carries 125 marks for a total of 250.
- The essay paper is divided into two sections – A and B, each carrying a choice of 4 essays each, and the aspirant has to choose only one essay from each section.
- The instructions in the syllabus are clear in what is being expected from the aspirant. Aspirants are ‘expected to keep their thoughts closely to the subject and arrange their ideas accordingly. It further states that, credit will be given for effective and coherent expression’.
- The underlined keywords are important because after content, these are the exact parameters on which the essay will be evaluated.
How to Start writing an Effective Essay?
For writing an effective essay, you must practice as much as possible. For it is rightly said that “PRACTICE MAKES A MAN PERFECT”. But before actually getting to the practice part, there are few pre-requisites for this strategy to write essay in CSE Mains, just like we had discussed during our Strategy to write answers in CSE Mains. These pre-requisites includes Structuring, Planning and Processing of Information that you have, so that you can score the highest marks and that too in stipulated period of time.
Understanding the Basic Structure of an Essay
The most common and universally accepted method of structuring a essay is by breaking it up into paragraphs. In this technique, besides the introduction and the conclusion, there will be body-paragraphs. In these body-paragraphs, the aspirant will have to fit all the content that he have. There are certain things that are to be kept in mind:
- INTRODUCTION: Perhaps, the introduction is the most important part of the essay. You must have heard the phrase, “First Impression is Last Impression”.
- Therefore first impressions are very important, and a well thought out introduction will definitely make a positive impression on the examiner. You will be guided briefly as to how to write an effective introduction in this article as we move forward.
- BODY-PARAGRAPHS: These can be broadly classified as supportive, critical or narrative. Ideally, one can start any argument in an aptly phrased narrative paragraph which describe the topic in some detail and then move on to a supportive paragraph containing a few positive facts/ideas on the topic.
- Though critical paragraphs look best when they are placed last, there are no such rules, and for some topics it can be used as the opening paragraph for the topic.
- CONCLUSION: Just like the above two parts, the conclusion is where one can score additional marks if done properly. You will be guided for this part also in this article.
The “ESSAY” Approach to write effective Essay in CSE Mains
This “ESSAY” Approach is very simple to understand and it will guide you throughout your preparation even while writing answers for CSE Mains. This approach is part of the Strategy to write Essay in CSE Mains. The Approach is as follows:
Effective and Elaborative : 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. Apart from that you need to remember that “Clarity of thought and brevity of expression is what is looked for in the CSE essay.“
Simple: Simplicity is what you should be focusing while writing an essay. Also, paragraphs as a whole must convey a clear and well thought out exposition on the theme of the essay. The essay must be written in a simple yet effective language that makes it stand out among rest.
Sensible: Sensibility 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. Writing unusual stuff and those which don’t make any sense will cost you with your chance to clear this examination.
Arrange: The essay must be in an arranged form. The aspirant is supposed to plan ahead and form a structure of the essay before actually writing it down. If you don’t plan what you are writing then you would end up missing one or more points that could prove to be the deciding factor in your selection for the Personal interview.
Yield: You must understand the fact that you need to work in a concise time of span where in you have to force yourself to yield a perfect essay. Therefore, this is the most important part of the strategy that you must keep in mind and practice this as much as possible.
How to Plan an Effective Essay?
In order to write an effective essay, one needs planning. There are basically three steps to it which includes:
- Defining or understanding what the essay is going to be about in very clear terms;
- Analyzing the topic;
- Devising the outline of the essay;
We shall discuss each of this in detail now!
Understanding the Central idea of the Essay
Every essay which is asked in CSE Mains have a thesis statement. In order to understand what does a thesis statement means, consider the following example.
- In CSE 2016, the following essay was asked— ‘Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare’. Here the central idea is ‘innovation’.
- The aspirant is supposed to explore those dimensions of innovation that affect ‘economic growth and social welfare’.
- In doing so, the aspirant should not distract from the central topic of innovation but if possible add a few related ideas which may supplement the overall central idea that not only socio-economic but also other areas like technology and culture are affected by forces of innovation.
- In another essay asked in CSE— ‘Water disputes between States in federal India’ – the central idea is how the water disputes between various Indian states have played out and what are its various dimensions.
- Constitutional, legal, social and political dimensions, for ex, are a must for addressing this topic. In order to find out the various dimensions of any given topic we should perform a brainstorming exercise.
Analyzing the topic for Essay Writing
Analysis of the topic for essay is a crucial step. This analysis helps you get all the ideas at one place for quick reference. There are no hard and fast rules, but typically one can begin with the given topic and immediately start listing the things that come to mind. One can ideally devote an entire page for this exercise.
How to Analyze the Topic?
- The first requirement for analyzing a topic is focus. One should be able to focus single-mindedly on the job at hand, which in this case is jotting down as many points as possible regarding the essay topic.
- Boundaries must also be properly defined. If the topic does not absolutely require a particularly complex point or if it does not require following a difficult train of thought, it should be avoided. Keeping the essay as simple as possible without sacrificing the most valid points is what we should be looking for.
- Then we must set a time limit for this analysis. Ideally, for CSE that time limit works out to about 25 minutes per essay. Within that time limit one is supposed to come up with all the necessary points and plans for writing the essay.
- Fair understanding regarding the expectations of the CSE examiner from the essay is another important point to be made here. Every topic will have some basic ideas that the aspirants must necessarily try to explore or address. During brainstorming such a requirement can be searched for.
- In this exercise of analyzing the topic one may also take help of diagrams, flow-charts, mind-maps etc., if needed. Sometimes doing this may clear things up to a great extent or even save precious time.
- Three things that one must exclusively do while analyzing a topic are — identify causes and factors, define the various issues and make a list of associated ideas. Doing this is key to success in the entire brainstorming exercise.
How to add elements to an Essay?
There are certain basic rules that one can follow while searching for these elements and dimensions that need to be added in an Essay.
- Upholding the Constitutional Value: The first of such rules would be to follow and uphold Constitutional values at all times. This is very crucial for essay writing in CSE, that the values enshrined in our Constitution reflect in whatever idea, problem or solution we discuss in the essay. At no point should one try and support an idea that is unconstitutional.
- Always be Democratic in Approach: One must also be democratic while addressing issues. The concepts of ‘freedom and equality’ should be the guiding principles while suggesting solutions and while criticising events or issues.
- Don’t be Rigid in Approach: Generally, one must also avoid taking absolutist/non-compromising positions. In fact, the best way to handle complex problems is to find the middle ground.
- Don’t Generalize the Solution: One must also try not to make sweeping generalizations on any given issue. Instead, there should be hints of patience, justice and understanding in addressing or discussing any given topic.
- Lastly, there are two more things that an aspirant need to keep in mind while attempting the CSE essay.
- Do not question the topic itself, which is to say, in other words, do not contradict yourself. Pick a position (ideally, the middle path) and stay true to it throughout the essay.
- Never use positively, things that are universally considered or used in a negative sense, and vice-versa. For ex, one must not say that ‘terrorism’ under certain conditions is equivalent to a freedom struggle, even though quotes like ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ are quite common.
What are the Elements to be used in an essay?
- The three basic elements — social, political and economic — form the bedrock of a good CSE essay.
- To these, one may add other dimensions like Constitutional, legal, technological, technical etc.
- Another important element are the Good personal experiences or amusing stories can no doubt be used to increase the effectiveness of the essay but these should stay within the accepted framework of ethical conduct.
Political – Economic – Sociological – Technological – Legal – Environmental AnalysisUse this approach to figure out various aspects of a topic.
Outlining the essay
- Before writing the essay, it is best to outline it. By outline means to figure out what to say in the introduction/conclusion, which idea comes where, or even what quote to use for the essay etc.
- Outlining the essay in rough helps us grasp the entirety of the essay before actually writing it. It helps us get the big picture, and also see what we could be missing.
- It is said that once we can figure out the conclusion to our essay, it becomes much easier to not only begin but finish it with confidence.
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