The Art of Essay Writing: A Crucial Skill for UPSC Success

Tips-1 : Think for 25-30 minutes

Take 10 minutes to contemplate and arrange your thoughts in a structured manner before commencing the essay writing process.


Science and technology have evolved through ancient, medieval, and modern times, bringing benefits and drawbacks. Their impact is felt across different fields and countries, with governments playing key roles. This has implications for people's lives. Looking forward, there are promising prospects for science and technology, especially in defense and human welfare. However, ethical considerations must be carefully addressed.

You have 3 hours to write the essay. Don't immediately start, wait and think before start writing.

  • Recall all relevant aspects pertaining to the subject of the essay that the aspirant can remember or wishes to express, and proceed to articulate them.
  • Jot down key points briefly on the last page of the answer sheet using a pencil.
  • Is it possible to include any diagrams or tables to enhance the content?

Order of preference are important, for example 1. Science and technology in the past and its evolution, 2. Application of science and technology, benefits, and disadvantages, 3. Science and technology in different fields, country-wise analysis, government role, and implications on people's lives, 4. Future prospects of science and technology, including defense and human welfare.

The order should be -
  • Introduction
  • Background / History related
  • Main concept / theory / what the subject is about,
  • Current scenario related to it.
  • Good sides
  • Negative sides / obstacles
  • Suggested reforms
  • Conclusion

Tips-2 : What Not To Write In Essay

  • Autocracy is better than democracy. So you should never justify certainly the solution to India's problems.
  • Excessive criticism of Govt/administration.
  • Pick out negative sides without suggesting reforms in it.

Tips-3 : Provocative Essays

Occasionally the essay topics are given in such a way that you want to agree all the way.

E.g. Making India a Hindu Rashtra or based only on single faith Govt's charity in poor people should stop.

It is Easier to criticize nonworking things than fix them. Do not give filmy solutions to real-life problems. (R-2 / Gabbar.)

Tips-4 :Do Not Get Personal

  • Do not go naming individual politicians their achievements/scandals (Lalu Yadav, Mukhtar Ansari, etc.)
  • (Except in the foreign policy related essay, where you’ve to analyze from complete Jawahar Lal Nehru's Panchsheel era to Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Pakistan Bus visit & current affairs) our Foreign policy has changed with every single prime minister, so there names need to be mentioned.
  • Never write an essay talking like, Indian National Congress did this, and Bhartiya Janta Party did that. It is the characteristic of a layman, not of a future administrative officer.
  • Give a balanced answer without getting into hero-worship or mud slinging.
  • Only criticizing elected Government by the people in the essay alone was going to make you IAS officer.
  • An officer's trait is to remain anonymous, faceless, and neutral- meaning your essay should look like it has been written by a graduate.
Same Applies For -
  • Religion / culture/ language-literature (in philosophical essays)
  • States (in polity / federalism / Development)
  • Writing the essay without having any personal view/ opinion or righteous anger, and you must not become too much passionate about certain things.
  • You can never be sure about what will be the political/ideological/ religious/regional alignment of the examiner.
  • This suggestion also applies while dealing with Public Administration (optional subject).

Tips-5: Quotes

  • Do not make an error in writing who said what. For E.g., you quote Gandhi's sentence & write Swami Vivekanand said it.
  • Quote entirely as it was said, not manipulate in your own words.

Tips-6: Padding & Deviating From The Subject

  • Even in the worst scenario, aspirants are expected to write 1200 to 1500 words for a 250 marks essay.
  • Stuffing means you do not know the correct answer, so you just beat around the bushes & write the garbage stuff to fill up the pages, so do not try to use these tactics in the essay paper.
  • Do not write too numerous proverbs/quotes/ (invented) case studies/examples per page. It makes the examiner think that you are just filling up the pages of the answer sheet.
Do not pick up the subject where your idea or thought content is very low.
  • Ex. you picked up Panchsheel Principles between India and China, So you start, and After four pages, your thoughts and ideas are exhausted. Only 500 words would not get you any marks! Now you can not repeat those pages and write a new essay on a new topic; you have wasted enough time on this one.
  • But you decide to continue with this Panchsheel Principles essay and start rewriting the same content you already stated in different ways, and then you will deviate from the main topic- like Panchsheel Principles is relevant in current geopolitical scenario.
  • So we need to switch to related topics like not following Panchsheel Principles make things worse than relate to the global tension you write about the pro-cons of adhering to Panchsheel Principes.
  • You have messed up the whole thing; you totally differ from the subject. Your essay does not have any flow of thoughts, idea or proper rhythm. The seasoned examiners immediately sniff out this padding, and they do not give any marks for it; your anticipated score for this kind of garbage writing is less than 50/200 means even with a decent score in all other papers, your chances of getting an interview call are close to zero. You have jeopardized your chances of selection in IAS; you have dug your own grave.

That is why

  • Take great care in picking up the subject.
  • First 30-40 minutes for thorough thinking.
  • Stick to the subject.

  • An essay is not something that can be learned by reading one book or by reading for one month.
  • It is a continuous and long process that takes some diverse reading before you have enough content to write something decent to get more than marks.
  • Editorials of English newspapers (it is advisable that aspirants should not get swayed by either leftist or capitalist stuff perched by both sides)
  • Magazines like Frontline, yojana, and Kurukshetra. (these magazines give aspirants the useful information and statistical data to quote like how many % illiterate & so on, nevertheless again do not use exaggerated statistical data for stuffing, and most crucially don not innovate your own case studies & stat data)
  • Watch English news channels and discussions/debates on national and international issues.
  • Comprehend the old question papers and try to make an outline of each and every Essay asked so far.