How To Write An Essay In UPSC Mains

how to write an essay in upsc mains

An essay is a short or sometimes a long piece of writing that throws light on any specific topic related to any subject. Any short form of prose writing that discusses some matters, or issues, expresses a point of view or wants us to believe a certain fact on any subject.

This article will help you to understand how to write an essay in UPSC mains so that you can score good marks on this paper.

Essays can be broadly classified into two types- Formal essays and Informal essays. UPSC CSE Mains essay writing demands the formal one. The formal essay is quite authoritative in nature and tends to be less emotional. These are written with the help of facts and figures along with data, like statistics from a government report or any data from a major research paper that supports a writer’s perspective on a given topic. Conversational form, the use of first-person references, and getting emotional with the audience are not allowed in a formal structure.

The points made need to be neutral supported by logical facts and not someone’s biased personal opinions. A certain degree of straightforwardness should be there while writing a formal exam, especially for an exam like UPSC CSE.

UPSC CSE Mains Essay Writing Exam Pattern

  1. The paper comes under the UPSC CSE Mains stage in which two essays have to be written within 3 hours within a 1000-1200 word limit.
  2. Each carries 125 marks for a total of 250 marks.
  3. The paper is divided into two sections, each carrying a choice of 4 essays. The aspirant has to choose only one from each section.
  4. UPSC CSE Syllabus instructs clearly that aspirants are ‘expected to keep their thoughts closely to the subject and arrange their ideas accordingly. It further states that a credit will be given for effective essay and coherent expression’.

Also Read: How To Complete UPSC Mains Paper In 3 Hours? – A Clear-Cut Guide

Structure For UPSC Essays

How to structure an essay for the UPSC exam is the first and foremost thing that should be learned while talking about how to write an essay in UPSC Mains.

The traditional way of UPSC CSE Mains essay writing is to break it into paragraphs with pointers in simple language. This technique is still working in structuring an informative and well-written essay for UPSC Mains. A body paragraph is so important besides the introduction and conclusion part. The body paragraph contains important facts, figures, data, and information along with several relevant quotes. Here are some points regarding the structuring of an entire essay in the form of an Introduction, Body-paragraphs, and the conclusion that will help you for sure in writing a well-balanced answer.

  1. Body paragraphs are perhaps the most important part of the essay that can be supportive, critical, or narrative. However, it is advised to have a mature thought process in all forms and to not take any side or get emotional in writing a certain opinion.
  2. Essays, along with facts and language skill also demands your opinion that should be written in a well-balanced way. The narrative part should be written by starting with an argument along with different facts. Further, a supportive paragraph is necessary to contain positive facts/ideas. Talking of a critical paragraph, it is advised to place it in the last part with the exact expression. However, it depends on your will. You can also open with a critical part.
  3. The introduction part is the most important of all. Your introduction creates a first impression on the examiner. Just like a movie or a story your essay should also have a good starting and a conclusion.
  4. The conclusion part is also important as it can bring you some additional marks if done properly. Your conclusive statement reveals a lot about you as balancing everything after a lot of critical evaluation and facts is a form of art.

3 Steps To Write A Structured Essay For Civil Service Mains Exam

How to write an essay in UPSC Mains? How many steps are involved in formating an essay? are the main concerns of a lot of aspirants.

Just like the UPSC CSE your essay writing also needs planning. There are broadly three steps to writing a structured essay defining what it is going to talk about i.e. the central idea, brainstorming, and making a blueprint of it. Mains essay writing demands a well-structured format from your side as it is one of the most prestigious examinations in India.

The Central Idea Is The Key

“Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare”

This is basically a thesis statement of an essay question of UPSC CSE Mains 2016. In this statement, the central idea is ‘innovation’. Here, the aspirant is supposed to bring out a dimension of the innovation that directly or indirectly affects ‘ Economic growth and social welfare. Aspirants are supposed to write that statement of facts only which supports the central idea or those statements that supplement the overall idea.

Brainstorming For A Better Idea

Brainstorming is one of the most powerful tools in the examination phase. Brainstorming leads to developing new ideas quickly or listing those ideas that align with your knowledge of the given topic. There is no specific rule or technique for brainstorming, instead, you can jot down points on a paper that are necessary for your Mains essay writing.

Making A Blueprint

Making a blueprint or outlining your essay means deciding what to write in the introduction, body, and conclusion parts. What and which idea to represent and in which section. Which quotes or saying is relevant to the given thesis. Before, the actual writing it is very important to see its entirety. It helps us to see the big picture. The blueprint also helps you in finding the right conclusion and after knowing the conclusion it becomes very easy to start your essay.

Essential Elements For UPSC Essays

The Super 3

  1. Social element
  2. Political element
  3. Economical element

These three points should be considered while writing an essay. These three elements give a proper shape to an essay or any piece of the thesis. Writing a formal one always demands dimensions and these three dimensions will always support your arguments concerning various areas of society. It enhances the effectiveness and creates a proper report-like structure along with your narratives to form well-balanced and good writing in your Mains essay writing.

make your upsc preparation faster with examarly

The Supportive 3

  1. Constitutional
  2. Legal
  3. Technological

These three additional dimensions also enhance the quality of your piece. You can use various technological perspectives, constitutional facts, remedies, laws, and legal terms to support the thesis in your Mains essay writing.

Personal Comments And Opinions

Your opinions matter a lot. UPSC CSE Mains essay writing demands a subjective approach to writing. It is very important to express your personal opinion on the issue or the given statement. However, it should be kept in mind that your personal opinions should not be biased in nature. Biasness, emotions, and personal attachments have no place in formal writing. Neutral and well-balanced writing is always appreciated by the UPSC.

How To Write A Structured Essay For UPSC CSE Mains

Remember the mnemonic provided here that will help you to keep the important pointers in mind on how to write an essay in UPSC Mains.

Stick to the TIPCR formulae always and if you write with this structure, of course by filling in a good amount of content also, you are definitely going to score well in this paper.

T- Time Limit

Time management is very important for UPSC CSE MAINS essay writing. You get 3 hours to write two essays in the exam which means you have 1 hour and 30 minutes for each essay. It’s a fact that any aspirant needs 45 minutes to 1 hour to write one essay. Another 10 minutes is required for the revision of one essay. Before, all this you need at least 20-30 minutes to brainstorm, jot down some points, and make an outline. Dividing the time and sticking to it is the only key to unlocking the treasure of good marks.

I- Introduction

A good start of the introduction always arises the interest in the examiner. The examiner’s judgment and how he/she is going to take your whole piece depends on your starting. If you start well, you end well. A good introduction can be a brief explanation of the given topic and you can make it effective by adding some quotes, a critical narrative, or your own narrative.

P- Paragraphs And Pointers

Paragraphs and pointers provide a smooth flow to your essay which not only looks like a structured essay but also feels like a more informative but less hectic to read a piece of writing. Paragraphs in small chunks or pointers like short paragraphs provide an establishment that leads towards a conclusion. Examiners are habitual of reading something in an ordered way, especially in Mains essay writing section.

C- Conclusion

Finishing on a good or smooth note is as important as starting on a good note. A smooth and positive conclusion with a clear explanation will help you in scoring good marks. There should be a ‘Cyclic-return’ approach in your essay. The introduction should end with a question or discussion and in the conclusion, you can again come to that question to conclude it with a positive statement or anecdote. A good conclusive statement is very important for UPSC CSE Mains essay writing.

R- Revision

To revise or read your whole piece in the entirety is as important as writing it. Keep a check on grammatical mistakes, and some missing points, or make sure your answer looks clean and tidy. These things can be done only when you revise your answer. Add/omit some words as per your demands but should not be overdone.

What Would Be A Good Score On The UPSC CSE Essay Paper?

The essay paper counts for up to 250 marks. A score above 50% could be considered good. 125 is the perfect example.

A range of scores from around 110-125 is considered average.

For an exceptional essay, you might score a perfect mark in the range of 150-160.

Important note: The UPSC may award low marks on inadequately written essays. In order to prevent any potential accidents, pay close attention to the correct way to do things. All of this is to say, be mindful and spend a lot of time practicing the proper way.

Books That Assist In Essay Writing For UPSC Civil Services Exam

You may seek help from books that will assist you with Essay Writing for UPSC Civil Services Exam. 

  1. Essays for Civil Services and Other Competitive Examinations by Pulkit Khare.
  2. Essay Paper For Civil Services Main Examination by Pavneet Singh and Sonali Bansal
  3. Selected Contemporary Essays by Saumitra Mohan (MHE)
  4. My Experiment With Truth by M.K. Gandhi
  5. J.L. Nehru Getting India Back on Track by Ratan Tata
  6. English Newspapers to expand the vocabulary


Practice is the key to success. Focus on reading, the art of argumentation, and correct sequence to achieve good scores in essays. Remember there is no such thing as a perfect essay, just arrange the ideas in an orderly fashion and keep writing. The tips mentioned above is revolving around how to write an essay in UPSC Mains will improve your writing skills and helps in building a better essay structure.

make your upsc preparation faster with examarly

Previous Article
how to read the hindu for upsc

9 Effortless Tips: How To Read “The Hindu” Newspaper For Current Affairs For UPSC 2022

Next Article
what is test series in upsc

What Is Test Series In UPSC? And 7 Reasons Why It's Important For You