Civil Services Essay Exam : 10 Rules to Follow For Writing An Impressive Essay

The Essay Paper is one of the essential papers in the UPSC CSE Mains exam. In this, you will have to write two essays, each with a word count of 1000 – 1200 or as per the latest requirement of UPSC. Candidate 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 analysing the pattern from the previous year papers.

10 Rules to Follow During the Civil Services Essay Exam

  1. Read the topics thoroughly: This is the most crucial step so; you should 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. What not to pick:
    • A sensitive or controversial topic
    • Never select a topic which you are too passionate or feel strongly about- it can lead to a very personal and opinionated essay.
  2. Think and take some time: 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.
  3. Structure your essay: 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.
    • The essential structure of a good essay is as follows:
      1. Start with a strong introduction
      2. Historical facts
      3. Describe the main issue/problem
      4. Plot the current scenario/current news related to the topic
      5. Positive and negative aspects of the topic
      6. Obstacles while solving the problem
      7. Reforms/way forward
  4. You can include some extra points as well, such as:
    • Relevant or motivational quote/saying by any famous personality
    • Relevant government schemes and policies.
    • Any data and stats based information should be correct.
  5. Never get personal in your essay.
  6. Never choose a provocative topic for your essay: You have to make sure that your essay shouldn’t be centred around it. Present a balanced picture. You don’t HAVE to agree to the issue.
  7. Don’t criticize anyone/anything excessively with a single point of view.
  8. Always read the topic thoroughly before writing the final draft of your essay.
  9. Develop your content strategy for an Essay in advance.
  10. Don’t just present problems, give possible reforms/solutions as well.


With these foundational pieces of advice, you’ll be able to thoughtfully and effectively draft essay for the UPSC Civil Services Essay Examination.

Areas covered in this article

  • Ten rules to follow while writing an essay

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