Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Perspective on How to Write a Good Essay- from the CSE-2016 toppers

A Perspective on How to Write a Good Essay

Authored by Swetha Medapati, Vinay Chowdary Chirumamilla, Chennuri Rupesh



Essay Score in CSE-2016

Swetha Medapati  IRS(IT)

167 (All India Highest reported so far)

Chennuri Rupesh  IPS


Vinay Chowdary Chirumamilla   IRTS



Note from the Authors:

As many of them agree, there is no specific or single strategy to approach this exam and this write-up is based on our analysis of past topics, inputs from few selected candidates.

1.       One can also find many well written articles online on this topic. Hence we feel that any new article on the same should have some value addition. So we tried to make it lively, useful and explanatory by adding few examples.

2.       Every aspirant has a unique style of writing. So we request the aspirants not to change your writing style in a drastic manner which can dilute your originality.

So, the crux of this write-up is to give New Ideas and Thoughts, hence the title "A Perspective on How to Write a Good Essay". Incorporate the aspects which you find useful from this.

"Build on your strengths and work on your weaknesses"


Importance of Essay paper in Civil Services Examination

The marks one can fetch in an essay paper are equivalent to 1.5 times that of a single General Studies paper. While each and every single paper is important, essay is the paper which can fetch you maximum marks even with a decent preparation. Despite the above fact, not much attention is given to this very important paper.

 All you need to do is

·         Practice few essays before going to the exam

·         Evolve your thought process and

·         Start thinking how to put your content to good use!!


What makes an Essay standout?

The most important aspect is originality and some good quality content in an essay. Always stick to the core of the essay, never dwell too deep into a particular theme, but touch as many dimensions as possible by interpreting the essay in a broad manner.

"Simply put go horizontal and not vertical".


Specific Points to be noted:

  • No to Coaching for essay, but practice as many as possible.

Avoid taking coaching for essay, because most of the coaching centers teach you to write essay in a format and yes it's clearly visible to the examiner.

From examiner's point of view, when they sit for evaluation they can take out a bunch of scripts following a single pattern in their essay which mayn't create a very good impression.

  • ·Structure and Presentation

Then present the essay such that there is a lucid flow in it. The examiner reading it has to go through it effortlessly enjoying it. Always structure the essay in the rough sheets before you start writing one. If possible try to underline those words which reflect crux of your essay.

  • ·   Multi dimensionality and Perspectives

Multidimensionality reflects your subject knowledge and your ability to interpret the essay as broad as possible.

Present as many dimensions of the topic as possible- social, political, economic, environmental, gender, international, ethical, cultural etc but it is important to stick to the core theme of the essay.

Perspectives i.e., your view point on a particular topic adds uniqueness, originality and helps in widest of interpretations in essay. We have quoted few of them under the head essay-optional linkage.

  • Examples and Govt. Schemes

Give only relevant examples, facts and data wherever possible.

  • Time Management

While practicing at home, aspirants appearing for the first time tend to preselect a topic and then write the essay in 1.5 hours. This has to be avoided because in the exam hall we generally take around 15 minutes just to identify which essay you would like to write!

Writing an Effective Essay

  1. Preparation strategy and Practice
  2. What to and What not to do in the exam hall (i.e., how to finally write one)

A.     Preparation Strategy:

Content for your essay:

SourcesGeneral Studies, Newspapers and Books you might read, Optional subject and Internet.

·         To write an essay well, you should know content enough to write at least 1000 words. So the 1st thing to be done is developing content. Your GS preparation helps to an extent.

·         The next important thing to do is gather facts, data and examples for various topics. Precisely that should be the short notes for essay, which we can keep revising.

·         You can make list of topics, which are very broad like women empowerment, sustainable development, terrorism, global order and so on.

·         And for each topic do a brainstorming session and write down all the schemes, facts and whatever examples we could think of (use internet effectively). It should precisely one A4 sheet for a topic.

·         Brainstorming this way will help you to do the same even for a new topic in the exam easily.

·         Always try to interconnect. Same facts and data can be used for various topics.

·         Practice writing few essays - two at a time. That will help a lot in learning to interconnect and time management in the exam hall.


Optional – Essay linkage – Adds an unique dimension to your essay: 

While subject knowledge from general studies will help to chalk out many dimensions for your essay, your optional subject might help in providing a broader interpretation of essay by adding unique and original perspectives.

We shall discuss few examples below to explain the same.

Example 1 →   "Voting is the right upon which all other rights depend – Thomas Paine"

               To give an introduction to this essay, one can start with explaining the keywords in the sentence or give a historic fact etc.

However, we would like to give a social perspective to it by interpreting the essay in a different way

 Narrative Style Introduction

A small story describing the inner feelings and observations of people in a society when they go through the polling process on the day of polling and how various rights are realized by them in this process – could make a very good introduction!

"People from all sections, rich-poor, stand in the same line (helps in reinforcing social rights).The Inner feelings of a woman who just entered the polling booth who was hitherto restricted mostly to her home – She feels honored when she was called by her first name by the booth officer, she feels empowered when she casts her vote and realizes her political and social rights, she feels satisfied when she leaves the booth as she was part of a democratic process….  Because Voting is a right on which every other right depends"  

Such perspectives are unique, impressive and mostly importantly – original to you. If you would like to add such dimensions, you need to be more proactive while reading the news papers and your optional subject and try to interlink them.


Example 2"If development is not engendered, it is endangered"

This essay is about equitable role of women for sustainable development. 

We can add an environmental dimension to it as Women, Environment and Sustainable development are closely related.

This stems from the concept of Eco-Feminism in sociology which explains the interconnectedness between women-ecology-development and how both women and environment are subjects to forces of oppression and how to overcome it.

So without referring to the concept directly, you can use this idea in your essay.

 You can even write about tribal women whose livelihood is closely linked with nature à Developmental displacement and associated problems (cultural, livelihood, identity) faced by tribal women can also be quoted appropriately.

Limitations of using optional content in essay

While your optional may help in adding a unique flavor to your essay, there are some issues with this approach.

a.       There is a strong tendency to deviate from the theme of essay.

b.      Chance of introducing technical aspects and terminology.

So, to sum-up, if you would like to use your optional content it should be application oriented, simple and relevant.

B.     In the Exam Hall

Choice of topics

The first and foremost thing here is selection of the topic. Spend 10 minutes on doing this as it's crucial. Because going back and changing the topic will waste time and you will get tensed.

  • So while selecting the topic, don't think about things like is it an unusual topic, will everyone else also select the same? Doesn't matter as long as you write your essay well. You have to stand out there in the way you present your topic.
  • The things to be considered while selecting the topic is how far you can remember good examples or facts on it and what all dimensions you see. If you see more than 4-5 you can start brainstorming and you will get the rest.


So now think every way to include as many dimensions as possible, and interconnect them such that a lucid flow is established in your writing.

  • Quotes or anecdotes are not mandatory but if you can remember any relevant one feel free to use it – they add value. You can start your essay with an example, a fact, quote, describing an event etc.
  • If you don't remember anything start the essay by explaining the keywords in the question.


Sample Essay

"Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare" - CSE Mains 2016


Explain what Innovation is and why it is the need of the hour in India.

è We are an economy growing at 7% or so and we need growth rates in the range of 9% - 10% for the next 2-3 decades, such growth needs resources which are scarce. Hence we need a sustainable model of growth using limited resources and reusing them, for that to happen we need innovation. 


Then think about RELEVANT dimensions to show where innovation contributes to BOTH economic growth and social welfare (stick to the core)

  • Transport sector - electric or hybrid vehicles, bio-fuel generation etc. IIT Madras innovation hub has come up with an electric scooter S340 by ather energy which is in the production stage now.

Alternative fuel technologies provide new employment opportunities – Hence economic growth and social welfare.

  • Waste management
  • Communications - low cost phones, internet connectivity (high speed and affordable)
  • Satellite technology - VSAT, EDUSAT etc which provide services to remote locations – contributing to human development at remote inaccessible places, thus growth and social welfare.
  • Affordable Housing for All - Usage of better materials for construction of roads, buildings, contributes to economic growth (infrastructure development) and social welfare(Affordable housing). 

Innovation in India and Future prospects

a.       A few examples of how innovation is being done in India - GE's low cost ECG machine, Philips ultrasound recording machine all have been innovated in India.

b.      Renault never manufactured a car out of Europe, but Kwid was innovated in India and is being exported to the world. Even Hyundai exports 60% of its production from India. India is gradually turning into a hub for innovation. All this contributes to economic growth and provides for employment in organized sector.

c.       There is huge potential and need for growth of innovation in India (demographic dividend, startup movement – Entrepreneurship among youth and deprived sections), as of now there is a $ 75bn r business for startups, in the next decade it can grow to $ 500bn. 


Now that we have said enough about how innovation is contributing to economic growth and social welfare, give the last 2-3 pages of your essay for what's being done and what has to be done to encourage innovation and what kind of innovation India needs.

  • Write about conducive conditions being created to encourage innovation, bankruptcy law, start up movement, fund of funds created, 500 tinkering labs are being created in schools and startup hubs are being promoted.
  • India needs disruptive innovation, and a lot of frugal engineering. We need innovations which are applicable to Indian conditions, affordable and real life applications. Innovations to increase production and productivity of farmers, to solve sewage problems, to convert arsenide and fluoride contaminated water to drinking water, to build flyovers in 30 days. (innovate for the problems Indians face). All these will contribute to both growth and social welfare.
  • Finding such solutions will be useful for the rest of Asia and Africa.
  • A few examples of such startups - culture ally a single girl who taught English to 9 million Indians in the past year etc


Some alternate ways to interpret the above Essay

Alternatively, for such a topic which one might tag to manufacturing, effective use of resources and economy, we can also explore some other dimensions.

a. Innovation in social sphere and how it contributes to growth and welfare

Stand up India scheme – for developing entrepreneurship among Women, ST and ST. Such innovation in business environment directly contributes to inclusive growth and promotes social welfare.

b. Innovation in Political and Economic sphere and how it contributes to growth and welfare

Explain how historically nations have moved from feudalism to capitalism, then to socialism and how it contributed to growth and social welfare. You can also talk about terms like welfare capitalism.

To conclude, we tried to the best of our ability to make sure that this article will be useful to the aspirants.

Work sincerely, be confident and stay focused; we wish the aspirants All the Best!

1 comment:

  1. In eassay answer sheet how many pages will be there and on average for each eassy how many single side pages we have to fill using different dimensions to get a decent score.