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UPSC Essay and Rule of Thumb

“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in the heart forever.”

Native American Proverb

UPSC Mains will start tomorrow, and it starts with essay paper. In my opinion, writing an essay is similar to storytelling, aspirants who have a lot of passion, creativity, and desire to tell a story will automatically do well.

As Maya Angelou says, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” With so much awareness about India and world, with so much analysis and opinions in your mind, you are more than ready to tell a story, the problem comes in deciding what to leave out of the paper than what to write.

Deciding which story to tell, arranging the ideas, choosing what to keep in, and telling it in the simplest possible way, and leaving the reading in awe in the end is what the essay is all about.

Here are some basic Rules of thumb

  1. Select the topics with maximum dimension and scope.
  2. Decide on the one closest to ones you prepared, practised etc.
  3. Don’t try to be a hero by selecting the least walked path.
  4. Avoid narrow and very specific topics. [Unless you have excellent content]
  5. Legibility and neatness matters, so make sure it’s your best.
  6. Underline and highlight keywords, important points.
  7. Brainstorming is the hero, so make sure you give enough time to that.
  8. Mix old examples and latest ones. [Confirmation Bias]
  9. Do not let essay 1 performance fall on essay 2 under any circumstances.
  10. Maintain authenticity and your original voice, be yourself.
  11. Try to avoid diagrams, charts, maps to the maximum extent.
  12. Try to keep it as simple as possible, Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
  13. Sleep for 7-8 Hours today, your performance will be better.
  14. Practice is the one and only thing that will help you in the exam hall, believe in your hard work.
  15. Once you start, for good or bad, write with conviction, believe in what you are arguing/writing.  
  16. Don’t get emotional, while or after writing. GS papers can nullify any negativity, if any.

If you are a serious aspirant, you have done everything humanly you should do, don’t worry about what could have been, happily consolidate, have food and sleep. Enjoy the day tomorrow, smile and be yourself, do your best.

13090 aspirants, and AIR 1 Rank

  • Gaurav Agarwal
  • Anudeep Durishetty
  • Kanishak Kataria
  • Shubham Kumar
  • Shruti Sharma
  • You!

Yeah, it sounds like a fairy tale, right? But none of the above names nor the 13000 mains aspirants knew/know who will be that AIR 1 it’s a fairy tale in the end! And it can be you, you should believe in fairy tales, you know why?

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Neil Gaiman

I believe in that underdog stories.
I wish you more than luck. I will be waiting to hear that fairy tale of yours!

See you after mains,
All the very best,

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