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How to Ace the Essay Paper : IAS RANK 292 Arushi shares how she managed 141

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How to Ace the Essay Paper : IAS RANK 292 Arushi shares how she managed 141


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  • Latoya Ibarra

    This is an interesting approach. But have a look here if you want to understand how to get a better grades.

  • Nithin Shah

    Good approach for writing the essay

  • Thanks Aarushi…. It’s like an eye opener…

  • Mech Dude

    Well write up mam.good elaboration of ground reality and practical approach.thank you and best of luck for future endeavours.

  • pinky sharma

    Arushi can you tell from where to collect some relevant quotations.

  • girish kumar

    congratss…mam…141,very descent marks for essay…!!

  • kung_fu_panda

    hi Arushi
    congrats for your success.

    In writing essay do you take one dimension and discuss its pros and cons or discuss the pros of all dimension and then cons of all dimension.?
    Did you use any flowchart or diagram in essay ?
    what are the books (non-fiction novel) which may be useful for essay ?
    did you join any test series/ classes?
    how many essays you practiced before mains?
    any essay(s) of previous toppers which was/were your reference/benchmark while practicing?
    what was your breakup of time while writing essay (how much time for thinking, writing, revising, etc) ?

  • Hi Jon Snow,
    The capitalism one i wrote without headings because it was the second essay and i had no time to put headings, i just wrote in flow but i guess your headings can be like Capitalism: A background, Capitalism a hindrance to inclusive growth or something on those lines. My headings used to be like that.
    I incorporated the second approach to a balanced essay. So, first I would take one side of the essay topic and build on it, then I would take the other side and analyse that finally giving a conclusion. I used to generally try an end with the ills of the topic so that the conclusion which consists of solutions can follow a coherent pattern. Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Jon Snow

    Thanks Aarushi for the article 🙂
    I wrote the same essays that you wrote and got 111.

    Please help me with my following doubts.
    1. Can you please mention the headings that you used in your capitalism essay, as I am trying to inculcate the habit of using headings in answers.
    2. I think there are 2 ways of writing balanced essay. First where we can take one dimension (eg: Social,eco,political) and explain both advantages and disadvantages (of capitalism) and then move onto other dimension – Second where we can write one side of the answer (say 300 words) and then write other side and then conclude based on subject of essay. Which is better and what was your approach?

    Thank you 🙂

  • Hi Aspirant16, My optional was pub ad. I was from an engineering background too! Choose your optional based on what you like and also based on how the optional has been doing in the last few years!

  • aspirant16

    Mam can you please tell me how to manage both optional and GS if i am starting the preparation from october?
    I am from engineering background and unable to decide my optional..
    Your tips will help me a lot 🙂
    What was your optional?

  • Chirag_Jogani

    Thank you ma’am… 🙂

  • rickster:D!

    Hi ! can i mail u the essay/answers ? would be convenient for me !

  • Yes i am looking forward to meeting him cause I heard now “he knows something”!

  • _Raider_

    can u review my essay if a mail it to you! (just one )

  • Neyawn

    Haha! Arushi, you will be surprised when you meet John Snow 😛

  • Thanks Sansa Stark! And good luck with getting back winterfell! 😛

  • If you are having trouble in restructuring your essay like that then i think you can use sub headings to clearly demarcate between certain kinds of ideas.

  • Alankar Singh

    Hi Arushi,
    Can you please elaborate on the connectivity part between the paragraps. As you mentioned that each para will have new point n further analysis of that, then my question is if that point is new how it would be associated with earlier one….i hope you got my question

  • Sansa Stark

    Thanks Arushi. Very well elaborated and insightful article. Very much helpful.

  • thankx arushi fr these useful tips !!

    awating ur sample essay paper to be uploaded 🙂

  • So In my case I started practising essay writing only after the prelims. I used to not put a lot of time in essay writing practise because once I figured the technique I would keep fine tuning it. I would write a mock for essay in every two weeks after pre till mains. One mock would have two essays. The topics I tried to pick were very broad like women empowerment, education, etc. Very obvious themes which I thought can be used across any type of questions. To assess my essays, I would make my friends, family etc read them and give me feedback. I also got them checked via professionals.

  • Yes Trobriand I understand what you are asking. I generally try to avoid this style of writing when writing a formal answer or essay. I somehow have never liked this style in exams. Having said that, I have read quite a few answers where people use it so I wont tell you it is wrong to use the same.
    In my case I used to write it like ” Another example substantiating this case is …” or ” Recently a challenge was observed in doing xyz” etc.

  • Happy Ias

    Thank u so much mam.
    All the best for all ur future endeavours! 🙂

  • thankx arushi !!
    one more question !!

    did you use “we”or “us” word in essay ?/

    Ex – ” now we shall analyse its problems ” or ” let us look deeper into the problem ” etc ?

    i hope u understand my query !!

    if you dint use those word how did you proceed ?

  • Thanks for the clarification. God speed..

  • Philosopher

    Thanks you very much for clarifying the doubt! And all the very best for the future 🙂

  • rajan

    Thank you Ma’am. Eagerly awaiting

  • Alankar Singh

    My pleasure..i have couple of more questions for you…could you throw more light on how you practised it(essay) on daily basis? what I mean to ask is, was it a regular exercise strictly limited to 1:30 hours and more emphasis after the prelims was over…. did you write on only previous years essays or pick any topic that you felt important? and if it is the latter then how to decide that this particular topic is relevant for essay or probably can be asked in exam…..How you used to assess your essays?

  • Hi Vasudha, In my opinion case 1 is a better approach. See the idea of using a balanced approach is not to sound indecisive. The idea is to include as many ideas in the essay as possible while making sure the essay is coherent. When we take a stand on an issue, we invariably ignore all the aspects or arguments that might arise by looking at the other aspect. Generally the UPSC essays are not the kinds where there is a well defined “right or wrong”. Hence clearly arguing for a side comes across as though you already formed an opinion, while what they are trying to gauge is how well can you analyse.

  • Hi Sandra the point that you have included in your essay seem to make it elaborate and coherent. Here the idea of Past, present and future basically implies that when you start your essay, begin with what has already happened related to the topic Eg: if the topic is on cleanliness or sanitation then you can begin with how India was known to be a clean society since times immemorial which can be seen in the focus on hygiene in the Indus Valley civilisation or the state-of-the-art drainage system built during the same time. This can be your background.
    Then you can start with the recent developments, how India is now looked upon as a country with garbage dumping and lack of sanitation. Finally your future part can include the vision you see for India in the future, the solutions to today’s problems relating to manual scavenging etc.

  • Thank you Alankar! 🙂

  • I will shortly upload some.

  • Sure!

  • I will upload them shortly.

  • Thanks! 🙂

  • I think I will type it out for your reference.

  • Hi Happy Ias, Thanks for highlighting this, I have now added a point regarding philosophical essays in the article itself. This is what I would do.
    While dealing with philosophical essays topics, please remember that you are attempting an essay in the CS Exam. Even though the topic is philosophical, the essay doesn’t have to be. The essay must still include examples from current developments apt for the topic and you must again try to analyse the topic from both dimensions. Giving philosophical theories or writing a philosophical essay with “literary” worth will still not fetch you marks. Eg: If the essay topic is “Grass is greener on the other side” then you can quote tangible examples with respect to India like the problem of Brain Drain that happens or how the societies in developing nations try to ape the West blindly. Do not instead write the whole essay about how this philosophy affects you individually or what it means to you.

  • Sure Vijay, I’ll see if I can upload a model essay here.

  • HI trobriand, I would generally try to keep my introduction in about 1 and a half page, divided broadly in 3 paragraphs. The first one used to be the opening anecdote. The second para would try to coherently start a more in depth analysis of the story in the first para and by the third para I would start looking closely at the question asked in the topic. As I have mentioned the past, present, future theme so by that logic from the fourth para onwards I would start with current developments etc in that field.
    Conclusion would be again around the same length one and a half to two pages.
    Generally the connectors between paragraphs would be new ideas or assertions I was trying to highlight. So, each para would start with that new point and deal with the analysis of that point through examples etc.

  • ..

  • vasudha tuli

    hi arushi, heartiest congrts to begin with. Please help as i am still confused about how to make the essay balanced yet decisive? Decisiveness matters right? As in despite making an objective presentation of arguments of both sides, yet taking a stand. I mean after making an statement about what we going to argue for( eg in this case certainly capitalism can bring inclusive growth but has dangers of its own, so be used cautiously). How should one structure? Case1: Heading1: How capitalism is beneficial? — egs heading 2: How not? Egs. Conclusion: Rephrase intro plus future orientation. Case2 : From begn, quote egs to support main argument under various dimensions.which should be prefered? Clearly arguing for something or implicitly via both- side approach?

  • Happy Ias

    Thanks mam for this wonderful article! Strategy looks easy and good..

    Could u please differentiate between the approaches to a philosophical essay and the other ones? How do we deal with them in a different manner?

    For ex: “Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
    How would u go about it?

    Thanks again. 🙂

  • sandra

    @aru@forumias-399fe2ba76b3bae96212db3125015af9:disqus Hello arushi thanks for the pointers….. i didnt get what exactly is past in the past-presnet-future. u mean to say the introduction should be be of past? in the capitalism essay i talked about russian socialism its pros and cons….american capitalism its pros and cons..indian mixed model till 1990s and now capitalism….how some initiatives like rsby, technology,pmjdy etc are creating inclusive growth…but how capitalism is also exploiting humans….like labour reforms for more productivity, commoditisation of everything like water etc…. concluded as capitalism alone doesnt bring IG but need some pro-active measures specific to indian context etc….. what other improvements should i make in this? Pls advice.

  • Alankar Singh

    First of all, Heartly congratulations to you Arushi…..suggestions were really informative, specially when you have plethora of information at your disposal but you do not know the structuring part and what to put in, in what order….so addressing that and helping other aspirants like us is very noble and generous effort from your and forumsias’ side….it is highly appreciable….and all the very best for your future endeavours

  • Hi vinod, if your english is not good I would suggest you write short sentences in simple english. Do not try to be artistic. Even with very simple sentences you can convey a strong punch.

  • Yes with UPSC just ensure you do not cross their word limit. Being in the world limit is fine. The length is not important as long as you cover everything and write well. Brevity is truly a sign of wit! 🙂

  • Vijay Karthik

    Mam , please give us your sample essays which u were written in some test series. That model essays can bring us more clarity .

  • rajan

    Congratulations on your success ma’am. Could you share with us an essay or two?
    Thanks in advance

  • rickster:D!

    Hi arushi ! Congratulations for your success and thanx for guiding us ! Could we submit our essay / answers to you ! and get your valuable feedback ! would be thankful for your help ! 🙂 !

  • Vijay Karthik

    Thanks mam for your ideas, suggestion, etc to produce the same result like yours.

  • gloomydespair

    Hi Arushi,
    Thanks for writing such an informative article. Can you tell how long your essays used to be.
    I am generally able to write essays in ~ 850-900 words and post that it is more of stretching and repetition. Does the word limit really matter if the content is decent enough.
    Thanks in advance.

  • Vinod Baraik

    Mam my english is not good, How can i improve my writting skills?

  • hey arushi can show some examples of how u maintained the flow/continuity between paragraphs . i mean what kind of connectors u used .?

    and secondly what shud be ideal length of intro and conclusion ?

  • FinalAttempt

    wonderful.. that means a lot to me..

    thank you 🙂

  • Thanks! 🙂

  • You’re welcome! 🙂

  • Don’t spend time on novels but yes do try to collect some good quotes by famous leaders of the world and India.

  • Great! Thanks! 🙂

  • You’re welcome! 🙂

  • I used to stick to cliches in introduction. With that what I mean is that I would try to start with a very famous quote that everyone knows or a story that anyone can recognise. What that does is makes the examiner take interest in the essay instantly because he identifies something relatable. Eg. An essay that I had written on “whether or not media trials should be a part of a fair justice system”, I started with the story of Jessica Lal murder case. The introduction vividly explained the scene (like how a woman was murdered in a club in front of far too many). After the story, I mentioned how the scene I was talking about was the famous Jessica Lal Case and then from the second para onwards I started examining in detail of how media played a huge role in getting her justice.

    An introduction like that I feel starts the essay on a coherent note.

  • Mostly what I have noticed is that essay topics can be critically analysed i.e both pros and cons can be highlighted. Even in case of “education is one which liberates” you can have points for where education if not “proper” may not be a liberator. eg. cases where education is often confused with mere bookish knowledge or the talk of the challenges faced by the Indian education system etc. See the intention here is not to necessarily have both sides but if you do have both sides, the examiner will feel that you analysed the topic in depth and considered every possibility (not just the obvious) before coming to a conclusion because this is what is expected of good civil servants!

  • Indeed great source of valuable information

  • Hi Philosopher, adding numbers or data where relevant can really add punch to the essay but having said that I do feel that a very number heavy essay is not really appreciated. The only stats used should be those which highlight a point you are trying to make and not be included to just show your knowledge of stats.

  • I did not have any essay specific notes. My preparation for essay involved around writing multiple essays for varied topics and getting them checked by friends, teachers etc. That really helped me.

  • Yes thats what I had figured out. And Thanks! 🙂

  • 292

  • Great post. Really useful. Congratulations on clearing CSE.

  • Ajay Rathod

    Vision IAS site has full of toppers answer copies including this years and previous one you can have it easily downloaded

  • Thanks a lot arushi. It was really helpful

  • Ajay Rathod

    Thanks for enlightening us !! I wanted to know one thing here, Apart from GS and optional reading does we need to read off the topic books to gain the necessary fodder for essay . To have fodder points do we need to read novels or selective books.

  • Rakesh jaiswar

    thank you Arushi fr this article ,,,cleared many doubts,,,nd congratulations,,,,i bookmarked this article,,,,

  • That would be great ,

  • Classified

    Congratulation for your achievement.
    and thanks for sharing your strategy.

  • FinalAttempt

    congratulations mam ..

    can you please tell how to start a effective essay. although you have mentioned that we can start with a Quote or Story .. but Still unable to recognise as i feel effective requires much more than this and to score good .. please tell if possible.

  • i have a doubt regarding the “balanced” approach. In many essays it can be done but in some esays it is almost impossible to give counter arguments. for example “education is one which liberates”. Can such essays be presented with only the supporting arguments and not countering the statement or vice versa?

  • ShwethaB

    maam how will we access it?

  • R.S.

    Hmmm yes. So according to you test series and current affairs together with all we do in gs is sufficient for essay ( with the kind of presentation you have talked about in your article ). Thank you so much for prompt reply and wish you all the best for a new phase of life you are entering in.

  • decaprio

    What is your rank?

  • Philosopher


    First of all, congratulations for the feat!
    Could you please suggest on the following?
    1) What is the necessity of data/numbers in essay? Does it have any significance?
    2) Do Current Affairs based/relevant topics have an edge over ethics/quote/value based topics?

    Please let us know your thoughts.

  • ShwethaB

    Maam ,do you have any model essays written that u can share.

  • Nithya

    Hello mam,
    Congratulations on your selection and Thanks for helping us all.:)
    I would like to know how you started your essay preparation and also
    about any notes u had prepared specifically for essays.

  • I will do this, I will upload a few essays that I wrote for Vision test series so that you can check them out. 🙂

  • Thanks Mukesh! 🙂

  • Thanks!

  • Hi wisdom, I didnot read any non fiction books for essay during my prep but I did read a few speeches by great men like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela etc. You dont need to read all their speeches just search the net for specific quotes pertaining to essay topics like education, health, etc which you can use.

  • HI R.S, In my opinion you cannot prepare specifically for the essay. The content for essay comes from the G.S portion you do. Its a mixture of components from all the four GS papers and specifically current affairs. That can also be seen in the “dimension” section I have talked about for writing an essay. As you can see it covers topics across all GS papers!

  • Hi Chirag, Ill try to write an article on the ethics paper too.

  • Hi Spectre, I agree it is tricky to write on philosophical topics and a lot of my seniors had advised me against it but when I saw the question paper, I realised this was the only essay in Section A that I felt comfortable in attempting. I had practised a few philosophical topics before. I realised the key with these is that you do not write a philosophical essay to a philosophical topic. Your essay must still be very practical, with examples, good pointers to substantiate whatever you see around you.

  • Thanks! 🙂

  • Thanks Divyesh! 🙂

  • Mukesh Kumar

    nice presentation…thanks arushi mam

  • Pal

    Congrats Arushi and thank you for the article. It will be of great help.

  • aspirant2016

    yeah i totally agree that it revolves around our gs prep..(but dont know how to fetch that data worth 1k words :/ )
    and i am pretty sure u can help me with it 🙂
    thanks for considering it 🙂

  • Hello thanks for this great article and congrsts on clearing UPSC , that too in first attempt with such a great rank

    Comming to the article , i do have a request

    Can you write a whole essay (preferably one from previous papers ) , with highlighting your thought process , source if you can remember

    after say every 200-300 words

    I know its a lot to ask. But it would give more practical viewpoint and understanding

    Congrats again

  • wisdom_tooth

    mam can you tell name of books novels non fiction helpful in essay paper..

  • Thanks

  • R.S.

    Thanks Arushi for such an informative article and yes Congratulations for securing a rank 🙂 . Please give some detailed strategy on how to prepare for essay especially when one has to start from scratch. TYIA.

  • Chirag_Jogani

    Congrats !!
    Plz suggest me your strategy for Ethics Paper…

  • SPECTRE_007

    Thanks, arushi,
    Can u tell us in detail how u wrote the essay on education ?
    Its always tricky to write on philosophical topics.

  • Alf

    Thanks Mam and ForumIAS Team for their efforts.

  • Divyesh Joshi

    Congratulations Ma’am! Very well written!

  • Thank u mam

  • In a way yes, You need to have GS information to build on the essay.

  • NYC article arushi mam..thank wat I did guess DAT..ur mastery over GS wud bring u the fluency in essay I ryt madam?

  • Okay 42 is quite low. Can you explain in detail what you wrote or how you wrote it? Maybe then I can help you out.

  • sanjay12345

    I have written essays: 1.Education without values, as useful as it
    is, seems rather to make a man more clever devil. 2.Can capitalism
    bring inclusive growth?

    I have tried to touch many dimension with
    current example,like in first essay, i wrote education with value have
    created man like mahatma gandhi, and without value it has created
    terrorist like abu bakhar and in cyber space person like Ramalingam
    Raju, etc.

    I do not know what went wrong, UPSC gave ever lowest
    mark to anyone in essay, just 42. feeling totally disappointed, how to

  • sanjay123

    r ., .,

  • The Genetic Jackhammer

    In my opinion, Essay should not be taken as a material type subject .. because indirectly or directly, you are preparing for it all the time anyway .. the focus should be on framing and staying relevant ..

  • The Genetic Jackhammer

    In my opnion, Essay should not be taken as a material type subject .. because indirectly or directly, you are preparing for it all the time anyway .. the focus should be on framing and staying relevant ..

  • The Genetic Jackhammer

    In my onion, Essay should not be taken as a material type subject .. because indirectly or directly, you are preparing for it all the time anyway .. the focus should be on framing and staying relevant ..

  • You’re welcome! 🙂

  • Okay this is a good point, I’ll try to write another one on how to get the material. Basically it revolves around your prep for GS itself. I’ll see if i can give clear details.

  • The Genetic Jackhammer

    wow this really gave a me great deal of clarity .. thanks

  • aspirant

    nice article
    but it onlye deals with how to write a good essay on that d day
    but most confusion lie on the very start like how to have that much content
    since reading hindu in my opinion will not provide enough fodder
    so how to prepare
    what to read ??( since its about writing 1000-1200 quality words rich in content)
    how to memorize such vast info and facts to reproduce in the xm??
    please try answer that ..
    thanks 🙂