The essay paper (200 marks) in the civil services main examination is crucial in determining the final outcome/ selection and ranking. It is decisive because there is no specialization in an essay and so no aspirant can claim expertise, unlike optional subjects. Essay paper does not have a source of definitive information as in the case of general studies or optional subjects. This constitutes a challenge. It is vital to understand that an essay is a reflection of the personality – ideas, views, analysis, assessments and inferences, values, attitude, news,aptitude, orientation and communication (written) abilities, all the attributes that are wanted by UPSC in an aspirant.
General trend is that essay paper will contain 6 topics out of which one topic to be chosen. There is no syllabus for essay. Anything under sun can be asked. But, if we analyse previous year paper, it is conspicuous to find some root topics. For example, there is at least one question on women empowerment every year. So, the topic ‘Women Empowerment’ is a root topic.
Suggested Root Topics
The duration of the essay paper is 3 hours and the word limit is not mentioned. It is generally said that 1500-2000 words should make a good essay. This can comfortably be written even with a moderate pace in 2 to 2 ½ hours. So the first 30- 45 minutes can be spent for the groundwork preparation. First is the selection of the proper essay topic. Out of the 6 topics, one topic would generally be related to philosophical issue, unless one is confident it is better to opt it out. Like wise one can eliminate topics with which one is not comfortable. Some topics, most of the aspirants cannot maintain a balance throughout the essay so better opt them also out. Finally select the topic that you think can do justice. The answer booklet of the main examination consists of 24 single pages. The last 3-4 pages can be used for rough work.
If you are sure that you can complete the main booklet, then ask for one additional at the beginning of the exam and use it for rough work. In these pages prepare outline for the essay by asking questions yourselves. It is also called as brainstorming. Suppose take a topic for example: “Terrorism and global peace (CSE-2005)”
The questions can be:
On these lines many more questions can be evolved.
The next step is question yourself regarding the topic and scribble whatever comes to your mind without any order in just words, not sentences. After this part is over write the conclusion part in detail in the rough area.