Vikram Grewal Essay Strategy – UPSC 2018 Topper 51 Rank – 161 Marks

Vikram Grewal Essay Strategy – UPSC 2018 Topper 51 Rank – 161 Marks – I scored 161 Marks in Essay this year. Although I respect the fact that without these marks my rank would’ve been ‘not-so-good’, yet I view it as a considerably minor issue when compared to the amount of fun I had while writing those 2 essays. (Or in fact most of the essays I practiced in these 2 years.)

Alright. Back to where we started: Brevity and wit!

Vikram Grewal Essay Strategy

Vikram Grewal Essay Strategy – UPSC 2018 Topper 51 Rank – 161 Marks

By ‘brevity’ I refer to clear cut and crisp statements that encompass the issues you are writing about. For example, if you are writing about ‘Climate Change’ (the most famous topic since time immemorial) you convey the basic idea in brief and try to explore all other of its facets in brief too (problems, solutions, recent measures etc.)
Every paragraph should have a new idea related to the central theme.

Vikram Grewal Essay Strategy – UPSC 2018 Topper 51 Rank – 161 Marks

And by ‘wit’, I refer to the ways in which you convey your brief statement (which we just talked about). Use quotes, examples, illustrations, data, references to enhance the wit of your essay. It’ll make your essay look different and interesting. You don’t want to waste this opportunity by boring the already bored examiner.

For example, 

if you have chosen to write about ‘Climate Change’ (yet again. For the nth time. Even when you know that almost 80% of the people will be choosing that option out of the four topics.) you will have to add a lot of wit in it: nuanced perspectives (role of politico-industrial lobby, eco-feminism etc.) and fascinating references (use Harari’s ‘Homo Deus’ to show the advent Anthropocene; or Al Gore’s award winning documentary ‘The Inconvenient Truth’; or the recent UN-supported Indian film ‘Kadwi Hawa’.)

All these keywords will make the examiner nod while checking a mediocre topic. These keywords in the essay will make your essay an interesting read.

Brevity and wit will not only help you put the ‘soul’ in case of your regular ‘technical’ topics, but will also help you when you choose abstract ‘philosophical topics. All you need to do is just materialize the abstract things by using objective examples. It is like a long GS 4 Ethics Paper answer. Bring objectivity in subjective issues.
For example, if concepts of ‘justice’, ‘love’, ‘hatred’, ‘envy’ etc. come up. Use references that will make your essay readable. You can choose to quote old and  new notions of these concepts; and also refer to philosophers and religious texts that talk about them; or even write about a personal experience that relates to them.
In short, sky is the limit- but there’s a limit nevertheless. You should know when to stop and pick up a new aspect of the topic.

And I guess that’s a cue for me to stop and quickly sum up what my basic strategy was. Though explicitly there was none; well, just some things at the back of my mind…

Things I told myself for ESSAY PAPER on the D-Day (Friday, 28-09-18):

1. It’s your first paper. Get in the groove. ;)
2. Read all the topics of section A carefully. Don’t even look at Section B as yet.
3. Select the topic that I feel I’ll enjoy writing. Lock it. And forget the rest. Zero tolerance to Dilemma!
4. Take 15-Minutes to chalk out 20 points related to the topic- on the rough page.
5. Begin writing. Start with an eye-catching quote, instance, book reference that wakes up the examiner from his/her slumber.
6. Drive the essay forward by using keywords. And weave a thread in between paragraphs to stay connected to the main title.
7. Sprinkle statements that support your arguments in each paragraph.
8. Be optimistic, critical and thus ‘balanced’ in entirety. It should be visible by the time examiner reaches the conclusion part of your essay.
9. Don’t be afraid of dropping pop culture, music, movie references. Do it if it helps the explanation!
10. Repeat the above with Section B.

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