Why Essay Paper is Important in IAS Exam and How to Approach It?


The syllabus for IAS Exam mentions that

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.”

The essay paper is for 250 marks. There will be two sections and you have to choose one essay from each section. You have to write each essay in about 1800 words.

Sounds simple right? No, it isn’t. But, it has the potential to make you successful.

Importance of Essay

The essay paper has the potential to be the deciding factors for your success in this exam. As mentioned in the general studies syllabus, if you can provide ‘effective and exact expression’, you can get high marks. A maximum of above 160 is possible in essay paper and is evident from the past results.

In CSE exam, where success is achieved by scoring one or 2 additional marks, scoring such high marks will definitely give you an edge. But, how to approach the paper and gain more marks?

Writing Skills

Essay paper needs writing skills. That doesn’t mean that you use flowery or poetic language which only a few understands. It can be in simple English, yet meaningful and lets you make your point clear.

As with any writing, the three main segments of an essay are the Introduction, Body and the Conclusion. The introduction is where you capture the imagination of the reader and make them want to read more. You can start by using quotes, a short story, a real-life example, anecdotes etc., to attract the reader.

After the introduction, the major part of the essay is the body. Often, after presenting a good introduction, people lose their way in the body. In CSE exam, it is a costly mistake. It is clearly mentioned in the syllabus that you have to express with effectiveness and exactness. So, you must structure the essay by having a proper flow. Here, you can discuss various dimensions to the topic – pros, cons, and impacts. You may show your leanings implicitly but it is in the conclusion that you express your stand.

The conclusion in an essay is like that dessert with which we end our dinner completely satisfied. With your conclusion, you have to make the reader fully satisfied. Many candidates hang the reader in balance without concluding the essay properly. All you need is to take a stand and be clear in expressing your stand.

Before beginning the essay, take some time to brainstorm and write the points that come to your mind on the rough paper. These 10-15 minutes is what helps you get clarity on the topic and enable you to visualise the introduction, body, and conclusion.

Subject Knowledge

Topics in the essay paper are generally related to societal issues, environmental issues, technological impacts, philosophical topics, current affairs related and abstract topics.

You do not need to prepare separately for the essay paper. Your general studies preparation will suffice. Topics on societal issues will be covered in GS paper I, topics related to governance issues are dealt in GS paper II, topics related to technological issues will be covered in GS paper III, and philosophical and ethical topics are covered in GS paper IV. But, while writing an essay, you need to connect all the four papers and put it in a single structure.

Apart from the GS papers, some additional reading is needed to diversify your viewpoints. Reading non-fiction books and some topics that are generally not covered in GS Paper will help. They will fill the missing links in your essay.

Mastering Essay

Mastering the essay paper is possible only through practice. Many websites are available from where you can get topics for essay writing. If you have not enrolled in any ias coaching centre, you can form a group with your friends and share each other’s essays, correct them and discuss them thoroughly. It enables you to gain more perspective on the topics at hand.

Be regular in practice and achieve success.

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