UPSC Courses


We provide you with the detailed guide book on how to write powerful Essays in UPSC Mains Examination.

Novelist Stephen King put it beautifully when he said, “I write to find out what I think.”

Writing is a window to your thought process. What you write on paper will tell the reader how you think , how you argue and the way you substantiate your viewpoint. This is why for most competitive examinations and academic entrance tests, essay is mandatory.

In the Civil Services Exam too, we have a paper worth 250 marks, equivalent to a General Studies paper. Essay is the most taken-for-granted area in civil services preparation. We spend months preparing for GS-1, 2, 3, 4 but hardly any of us give any dedicated time for preparation of essay. It is important to understand that one essay paper is equivalent to almost 1.5 G.S. papers in terms or scoring. In order to improve your rank,you need to focus on essay as there was a good scope of 140 plus marks.

Aspire IAS is one stop solution to all your UPSC related needs and hence our essay writing programmewill help you score 140+ in essay exam.

What UPSC says about the essay paper?

“Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep their essay close to the subject given, to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.”

Essay distinguishes itself from GS in the sense that in GS, marks will be awarded purely for content. But in essay, examiners will pay special attention to not just the content, but also the language, coherence and the way you organize your write-up. So you must take adequate care to arrange your ideas properly and not commit any fundamental spelling or grammatical errors

How to approach an essay

Choice of topic

Choice of topic should be clearly based on your holistic understanding of the subject matter. So choose a topic with which you are most comfortable. At times we think that the topic is so common that most of the people will choose it, so let me choose some unconventional topic. This is a totally wrong thinking, many people end up scoring poor marks due to this. So fight with your best weapons on.

Interpretation of the essay topic

Do not be in a hurry to write an essay. Many people see the broader title and start writing the essay without even understanding the theme of the topic.

E.g. - With greater power comes greater responsibility [2014].

Now the moment people see power they somehow relate it to politics and bureaucracy and start building their essay around it, writing all theories, quotes and examples they know related to it. Here the theme of this topic is philosophical which talks of power present in any institutional system (family, religion, community, politics, administration etc.), throughout society power is banked from people to a leader so that he can use that power for a common good. So with greater power comes greater responsibility. In this context we need to critically analyze the theme of the essay.

After selection of the topic we need to get fodder material that we can write in the essay. There are various things and various ways to brainstorm.

Keywords: - break the topic and look for key words to tinker upon.

Past-Present-Future: – Another way to think upon to get points related to the topic. Think from Social, Political, Economic, Cultural, Legal, International, Humanistic perspective. You can make your own acronym and add more dimensions to think from

Structuring the essay

Information is one thing but how to put that information in a structured and systematic way is very important. So need to focus on few things while structuring your essay.

Outline: Create an outline of essay i.e. how will your essay proceed. I feel PAST-PRESENT- FUTURE is a good technique, you can have other ways to decide the flow of the essay as well.

Breakup: Break up your essay properly

Once you have brainstormed the points, created an outline and structured your essay, now you are ready to write the content.


Language & Presentation: Write in simple language. No need of flowery expressions. Keep short sentences and small paragraphs. There is no need to memorize complex words for writing a good essay. But an occasional use of a powerful word, or a good phrase definitely gives your write-up an edge.

Explanation of points: Explain through examples or illustrations whatever you are trying to explain. Mention government Initiatives, policies & plans wherever possible. International examples or case study wherever possible.

Focus of essay: Throughout the essay the theme should be reflected and flow should be maintained from beginning to end. Each paragraph should link to the other. Also do not focus only on covering a lot of dimensions in the essay. In this race we lose the flow of essay.

Introduction: Your Introduction should clearly lay down what the essay will entail, giving a brief idea to the reader. You can always use a story, quote, fact/information or abstract way to create a context and then build your introduction over it.

Body: This part is all about analysis. Here three things are Important.

  1. If the topic is debatable you need to discuss both sides. If not then it will be straight-forward.
  2. In any case you will have certain line of arguments to put your case.
  3. Explain each of them through some examples.

Conclusion: In conclusion focus on three things.

  • 1. Topic sentence : Fresh rephrasing of statements
  • 2. Supporting sentences
    • Summarize or wrap up the main points in the body of the essay
    • Explain how ideas fit together
  • 3. Closing sentence
    • Final words
    • Connects back to the introduction
    • Provides a sense of closure

How to transition smoothly from one para to the next

This can be done in three ways.

1.) Through a link sentence at the end of a para: Here, at the end of a para, you write a sentence that signals to the examiner what’s coming next.

2.) Through a question: Instead of a link sentence, you can also add a question at the end of a para so that examiner’s attention is helplessly carried to the next.

3.) Signaling the shift at the start of next paragraph:Here you can simply add a word or two at the beginning of a para that signals a shift in your subtopic.

These steps will ensure that the transition between paragraphs is not abrupt.

What to read for the essay writing

Read: You need to read some good essays and learn how beautifully people put up their arguments. These essay don’t have diversity but depth. So reading some good essays can tell you how to begin an essay, write arguments, and conclude. Most important is how to create a structure of essay.

  • In your daily newspaper reading if you find some good lines or examples then keep noting them, especially from editorials.
  • Take up some common/general topics like women, education, healthcare, internet, science (look at last 20 years essay) and prepare some fodder on it. Like quotes, important case studies, examples, factual info, government initiatives etc.
  • Have a repository of good opening and closing lines. You will find this through reading newspapers, good essays of others etc.

Write and evaluate: One should write at least 5-6 essays. When you write try to apply the above points. And most importantly get your essays evaluated by some teachers, selected candidates or sincere friends. This will help in making improvements.

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