UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam Essay – Types, Writing Styles and Characteristics

The UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam Essay Paper is one of the most essential papers in the UPSC Exam. Candidates will have to write two essays, each with a word count of 1000 – 1200 or as per the latest requirement.

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.

The correct choice of topic and the appropriate method of writing are essential. Candidates are often advised to choose factual topics where they can pack in a lot of information. Try to avoid controversial topics.

Essay Types

  • Narrative Essay – The writer narrates an incident or event.
  • Descriptive Essay – The author describes any event, process or condition.
  • Informative Essay – The purpose of the writer is to provide information, including negative and positive sides to a topic.
  • Persuasive Essay- The author tries to convince the reader about the topic.

Note: In the mains essay paper, a combination of all these types and styles are generally required. The writers should aim to define the type of essay used in the final draft.

Essay Writing Styles

  • Structured: In a structured style essay, the author builds a framework on which he will write the essay.
  • Spontaneous: A spontaneous essay is where the author is able to think on their feet and write spontaneously on any given topic.

For the UPSC Civil Services Exams, it is recommended to use the structured style. It is important for candidates to collect their thoughts and organize points which they will be covering in the final essay beforehand. As a writer or a well-prepared candidate, aspirants have to figure out which style suits them more. This can be done by practicing essays in mock tests.

Essay Structure

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

Method of Writing

  1. Start brainstorming.
  2. Write down all the ideas and data have gathered about the issue.
  3. Do not classify or systematize main points at the beginning.
  4. Start by putting them on paper randomly as they flow in.
  5. Later, arrange the ideas logically and sequentially.
  6. After creating the sequence, start writing, and giving due care to the introduction, the body and finally, the conclusion.
  7. Ensure there is enough time for revision.

Good Characteristics of Civil Services Mains Exam Essay

  • Clear and concise
  • Coherent throughout
  • They are written in a primary yet excellent/accurate language
  • Contains relevant quotes, examples and statistics
  • They are written in the right hand
  • Relevant to current status of India
  • Multi-dimensional
  • Neutral and balanced
  • Offer possible solutions to problems

Other Essential Points

  • Never get personal in the essay.
  • Don’t have extreme views on any topic.
  • Don’t just present problems, give possible reforms/solutions.
  • Don’t criticize anyone/anything excessively with a single point of view.
  • Never choose a provocative topic. The 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.


In the end, remember that good writing does not happen by accident. We recommend candidates to practice writing essays surrounding the UPSC Civil Services Exam.

Areas covered in this article

  • Tricks to write a good essay for the UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam
  • Different types and styles of essays
  • Characteristics of a good essay

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