ESSAY Paper Strategy For UPSC Mains Exam | Quora | UPSC Topper

This year’s essay paper has all philosophical topics in Section A and all general studies related topics in Section B. The same pattern was followed in 2018 paper. Which means that UPSC wants you to write necessarily on one philosophical topic and one general studies topic.

Philosophical topics were given earlier also but now UPSC is giving one section as completely philosophical topics and one section as completely general studies related topics. Accordingly, a candidate should write 2–3 mock essays on general studies and 2–3 mock essays on philosophical topics.

For Philosophical essays, your interpretation of the quote would matter the most. Generally, the statements are open ended and you should interpret them in broadest possible manner. Try to cover different dimensions- political, social, economic, cultural, environment etc – in the essay. You can use the acronym SPECLIEH – Social, Political, Economic, Cultural, Legal, International, Environment, Humanist. Give a lot of examples and use quotes liberally. In such essays, your flow of thoughts, interlinking of the paragraphs become more important than your knowledge.

For general studies related topics : Knowledge of the subject assumes greater importance here. Use your knowledge of the General Studies Paper 1 to 4 liberally. Choose a topic which have good knowledge about rather than going for a “popular topic”.

ESSAY Paper Strategy For UPSC Mains Exam | Quora | UPSC Topper

In general studies, one of the commonly asked topic is

“Technology X : Bane or Boon”

In 2019 : Artificial Intelligence : jobless growth or better job opportunities.

In 2017 : Social Media is an inherently selfish medium

In 2015 : Technology cannot replace manpower

So it is better to write some essays related to Science and Technology related topics.

General Tips for all essay topics:-

  • Interlink your paragraphs : hint of what is going to come in next paragraph should be their in previous paragraph.
  • Use quotes but don’t put irrelevant quotations
  • Choose a topic which you are most comfortable with
  • If you are writing with blue pen, it is better to underline with black pen to give more aesthetic appearance.
  • Note down your ideas first in the rough space. Make a sketch of the essay in the rough space. You can take 20–25 minutes for this. Start writing your essay only once you have made an outline.
  • If you start with an anecdote, give a reference to that anecdote in the concluding paragraph. This gives a sense of closure.
  • Be innovative in the sub-headings if you are giving any.
  • Do not get over-technical in the essay. It should be generalist in nature.
  • If you write government schemes anywhere in the essay, then briefly explain in few words about the scheme. For example – Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao is to improve sex ratio and promote girl education. Do not write many schemes in one single paragraph. It becomes yojana article.
  • End on an optimistic note. Mention what we as a society can do along with what government can do.
  • The statement being given to you is an independent statement. You can interpret it in any way and choose to agree or disagree with it. But whatever stand you take, it should be supported by facts and logic. For example – on essay “Customary Morality cannot be a guide to modern life” – many aspirants agreed with it and supported it by judgement in Sabarimala case, Section 377 case. I took another stand, mentioning that there are many good things in customary morality such as community support, respecting women, focusing on collective interests, value education etc. which can be used today. Both approaches may be considered right depending on the way you justify your stand.
  • Be creative. Avoid standard templates on essay writing which coaching institutes tend to give.

Source – Quora ( UPSC Topper Atul Bansal )