Essay Writing for UPSC - Weekly Essay Writing Programme

by Vajiram & Ravi

Essay Writing for UPSC: Writing an essay for the UPSC Mains Exam requires a structured and well-organised approach. The UPSC essay paper is not just limited to assessing a candidate's creative writing skills, but rather, the focus is on evaluating a candidate's ability to think critically, express their ideas clearly, and present a balanced perspective on various issues. This article discusses the do’s and don'ts that need to be remembered while writing your Essay for the UPSC Mains Exam.

Check: UPSC CSE Mains 2023 Essay Question Paper

Essay Writing for UPSC

The UPSC Mains Examination comprises a total of nine papers, inclusive of an essay paper. The Essay Paper is categorised into sections A and B, each containing four topics. These topics hold a value of 125 marks each, thereby totalling 250 marks (125×2). Candidates are required to choose one topic from each section and compose an essay spanning 1,000 to 1,200 words within the allocated three-hour duration. UPSC provides the following guidelines in its Notification on the Essay Paper:

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

Essay Writing for UPSC - What is Expected?

When preparing for the UPSC Mains Essay Paper, there are a few basic points that you should remember. The paper tests the diversity of your content and not its creativity.

When writing your Essay Paper for the UPSC Mains Exam, your focus should be on the following points-

  • Diversity of the content: Incorporating diverse content in the essay paper not only enriches the content but also showcases your depth of knowledge, analytical skills, and ability to present a comprehensive perspective on complex topics.
  • Focus on the topic: Centre your essay around the core theme of the chosen topic. By maintaining a clear focus on the topic and consistently reinforcing its relevance, your essay becomes a well-structured and compelling piece that effectively communicates your ideas to the examiner.
  • Clarity, Depth, and Language: Language plays a crucial role in conveying your ideas effectively. Use precise and simple language to articulate your points and maintain a formal and coherent tone throughout the essay. Focusing on clarity of thought ensures that your ideas are easily understood by the examiner, and providing an in-depth analysis supported by relevant examples, data, and arguments, helps showcase your ability to engage with the topic critically.
  • Providing Evidence: While stating a Quote, there should be evidence to support your thought. This helps you to avoid the superficial treatment of the subject and delve into its complexities, showcasing your ability to engage with the topic critically.

How to Write Essay for UPSC Mains?

Writing an essay for the UPSC Mains Exam requires a structured and well-organised approach.

Choose the Right Topic

Read the given UPSC essay topics carefully and choose the one that resonates with your strengths and interests. Pick a topic that allows you to showcase your knowledge and understanding effectively.

Brainstorm Ideas

Spend some time brainstorming ideas related to the chosen topic. Jot down key points, arguments, examples, and relevant data that you could use to support your essay.

Create a Structure

A well-structured essay has a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Your introduction should introduce the topic and provide a brief overview of your stance. Each body paragraph should focus on a specific point, argument, or example. The conclusion should summarise your main points and reiterate your thesis.

Format for UPSC Essay Writing

The UPSC essay format requires a thoughtful approach to convey your ideas effectively. There are three stages or steps in any essay - Introduction, Body paragraphs, and Conclusion.

Introduction Paragraph of an Essay

Craft a strong introduction paragraph that outlines your main argument or perspective. This paragraph should be concise and provide a roadmap for your essay. You can begin your essay with a quote, and the last line of the introduction paragraph should end with reinforcing the main topic.

For example: Topic: The Health of the Nation is more important than the Wealth of Nation

Start your essay with a quote-

“Public Health depends upon winning over Hearts and Minds. It's not enough to just have a good policy; you have to convince people to actually follow it.”

In a country's journey forward, we often talk about how having a lot of money is crucial. But there's another side to this story, which says that the good health of the people in a country is even more vital. If there is something that COVID-19 has taught us, it is how no economy with ample amounts of money can guarantee the health of its nation and how the health of its citizens eventually affects the wealth of the country. This idea highlights how the health of the nation is more important than the wealth of the nation.

Writing in Paragraphs

Writing in paragraphs is important in an essay because it enhances readability and organisation. Each paragraph should focus on a specific idea, argument, or point, making it easier for readers to follow the logical flow of your thoughts. Paragraphs create visual breaks, helping to structure your essay into manageable sections. The following points have to be kept in mind while framing your Essay Paragraphs:

Address Counter-arguments:

Acknowledge potential counter-arguments and address them in your essay. This shows that you have considered multiple perspectives and strengthened your argument.

Use Examples:

Incorporate real-life examples, case studies, and anecdotes to illustrate your points. Examples make your essay more relatable and persuasive.

Gather Evidence:

Collect relevant current affairs facts, statistics, historical examples, and real-life incidents to support your arguments. Ensure that your evidence is accurate and well-researched.

Logical Flow:

Maintain a logical flow between paragraphs and ideas. Each paragraph should transition smoothly to the next, creating a coherent narrative.

Use of simple Language:

Write in a clear, concise, and coherent manner. Avoid using overly complex language that might obscure your message. Focus on communicating your ideas effectively.

Avoid Repetition:

Be mindful of repeating the same points or ideas. Each paragraph should contribute something new to the discussion.

Conclusion of the Essay

The conclusion serves the purpose of providing a seamless ending to the essay. It's worth noting that a strong ending holds the same level of significance as a compelling beginning. Both aspects contribute to achieving higher scores.

To effectively conclude an essay, you can utilise various elements, including facts, statistics, reasons, examples, quotes, opinions, experiences, and sensory details. The essay's conclusion can take on several forms: it might involve briefly reiterating the main points, suggesting potential future steps or actions, or injecting an engaging personal comment or relevant anecdote.

An alternative approach to concluding an essay involves revisiting the topic introduced in the introduction. This is known as a 'cyclic return,' and it's a straightforward method employed in many essays to bring the discussion full circle.

Ultimately, a conclusion should carry a positive perspective, seeking out the silver lining amidst challenges. It should also strive for clarity and brevity, ensuring the ideas are expressed concisely.

Proofread and Revise the Essay

Once you've finished writing, take some time to proofread and revise your essay. Check for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and clarity of expression.

Vajiram & Ravi Weekly Essay Writing Programme

Examining the essays from UPSC previous year question papers allows one to grasp the concepts, aspects, and remedies essential for addressing those issues. Gaining a basic comprehension of intricate societal challenges holds the key to crafting a strong essay for the UPSC Mains Exam.

In order to help the aspirants regularly practise Essay Writing, Vajiram & Ravi have come up with a weekly essay writing Programme- Pensive Essay Writing Programme. It provides two essay topics every Saturday for you to practise. You can submit your Essays on

Vajiram & Ravi Essay Module

We have also introduced an Essay Module to help the aspirants clarify and organise ideas and information to analyse primary sources and employ critical judgement, among other things. This will improve knowledge and aid in the learning process. It will strengthen your writing abilities to write lucidly, coherently, and persuasively, as well as the ability to structure an argument.

The Essay Module Offers the Following Features:

  • The module provides 12-13 lectures, each dedicated to a specific theme. 
  • Well-curated and concise Handouts covering essential themes for every lecture will also be provided to comprehensively meet the content requirements of the Essay Paper.
  • In addition, 4 full length Essay Tests, with Personalized and Objective Evaluation, followed by a Test Discussion will be offered- all based on current UPSC CSE trends. Module is available in both online and offline mode.