Civil Services Essay Exam (Mains) – Tips for Writing the Best Essay

The Civil Services Essay Mains Exam is one of the essential exams in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Mains Examination. For this part, candidates have to write two essays, each with a word count of 1000 – 1200 words or as per the latest requirement of the UPSC. The candidates can select one out of four options. Each essay comprises of 125 marks with a total of 250 marks.

Candidates need to prepare well for this exam, and they should start practising for this exam after analyzing the pattern from the previous year papers.

Note- It is recommended that you follow specific steps while writing the essay paper.

  1. Read the topics thoroughly in order to be able to choose one out of four topics. Selecting a topic for UPSC plays a very critical role in determining your chances of scoring good marks in the result, make sure you know most about that topic out of the given topics.
  2. Do not pick a sensitive or controversial topic.
  3. Never select a topic which you are too passionate or feel strongly about as it can lead to a very personal and opinionated essay.
  4. Think and take some time in justifying your chosen topic.
  5. After finalizing your topic, you should think about the key areas and points you want to cover in the essay, and you shouldn’t start writing it right away. It is essential to remember and collect your thoughts on the topic.  Start writing your points with pencil, as this is essential because only then you can re-write your critical points in the correct sequence while writing your final essay.

Note- Once you have decided upon the key points, you can start framing the final essay. While writing, you need to focus on a good structure.

Recommended Structure of the UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam Essay Paper

  • Start with a strong introduction.
  • Historical facts.
  • Describe the main issue/problem.
  • Plot the current scenario/current news related to the topic.
  • Positive and negative aspects of the topic.
  • Obstacles while solving the problem.
  • Reforms/way forward.

Get some extra marks by including the following pointers

  • Relevant or motivational quote/saying by any famous personality
  • Relevant government schemes and policies.
  • Any data and stats based information should be correct.

Essential points to consider while writing the essay

  • Never get personal in your essay.
  • Don’t have extreme views on any topic.
  • Don’t just present problems. Give possible reforms/solutions also.
  • Don’t criticize anyone/anything excessively with a single point of view.
  • Never choose a provocative topic for your essay; your essay shouldn’t be the centre around it. Present a balanced picture. You don’t HAVE to agree to the issue.
  • Avoid writing perfect solutions.
  • Understand the fact that you are a future officer.

Other points to keep in mind while preparing to write the essay

  • What does the UPSC say about the essay paper?
  • What resources do you have to prepare?
  • How do you improve language and expression?
  • A better understanding of subheadings and rough drafts.
  • What words or mistakes should you avoid?
  • How do you write a compelling and grammatically correct introduction?
  • Developing the content strategy of the essay.
  • Substantiating your arguments and points.
  • How do you conclude an essay with a call to action?


One of the essential papers in the UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam is the Essay Paper. Candidates are required to write two essays, each having 1000 to 1200 words. To qualify for this part, candidates should score 125 out of the 250 total marks.

To be able to get favorable scores, candidates can follow the recommended structure for the UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam Essay paper.

Areas covered in this article

  • Tips to write a good essay for the UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam

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