The Essay Paper

The essay paper (200 marks) in the civil services main examination is crucial in determining the final outcome/ selection and ranking. It is decisive because there is no specialization in an essay and so no aspirant can claim expertise, unlike optional subjects. Essay paper does not have a source of definitive information as in the case of general studies or optional subjects. This constitutes a challenge. It is vital to understand that an essay is a reflection of the personality – ideas, views, analysis, assessments and inferences, values, attitude, news,aptitude, orientation and communication (written) abilities, all the attributes that are wanted by UPSC in an aspirant.

General trend is that essay paper will contain 6 topics out of which one topic to be chosen. There is no syllabus for essay. Anything under sun can be asked. But, if we analyse previous year paper, it is conspicuous to find some root topics. For example, there is at least one question on women empowerment every year. So, the topic ‘Women Empowerment’ is a root topic.

Suggested Root Topics

  1. Women Empowerment
  2. Environment, S&T, Energy Security, Sustainable Development
  3. Democracy, judiciary and related topics
  4. Education, Indian Culture
  5. Current Events

On these lines many more questions can be evolved.

The next step is question yourself regarding the topic and scribble whatever comes to your mind without any order in just words, not sentences. After this part is over write the conclusion part in detail in the rough area.


  1. Good introduction and good conclusion are must.
  2. There shall be link between paragraphs.
  3. Clarity of expression is very important. Use simple English to express your point clearly. You need not use flowery language. Simple logical presentation is sufficient.
  4. Practise is essential for getting a good score.
  5. Try to give a good introduction. It should guide the examiner to what you intend to convey in the essay. The conclusion should be good and satisfy the examiner. Always conclude on a positive note.
  6. The main focus should be on giving a good analysis of the topic.
  7. Do not divert into areas, which are irrelevant to the topic.
  8. Make sure that you have sufficient understanding and material to write, before choosing the topic.

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