How to approach Essay paper in Civil Services

In this write-up, I would like to tell beginners how to approach essay paper for CSE (Main).

Paper Pattern:

Essay paper is for 250 marks. since 2014, candidates are asked to write two essays to be chosen from 8 topics divided into two sections consisting of 4 essays each.

Range of marks that are being awarded for Essay: 60-150 out of 250.


You need to work so hard to get past 100 mark in any of the GS papers. but getting 120+ in the essay is much easier. All most all the selected candidates get more than 120 marks in the essay. Essay paper is easy to prepare and with regular practice, one can get 140 marks in the essay. This improves one’s probability of clearing mains and getting into the merit list.

Essay is a write-up with constructive ideas, logic, examples and constructive criticisms. Essay reflects candidate’s pattern of ideas and inner biases if any. Essay writing is an art. Some people have the aptitude for essay and they will get good marks without much practice, others can master essay writing by practice.

The difference between GS answer and Essay:

I have written the first essay in my life in CSE(main) and scored 41 out of 250 in that attempt. The reason I attribute for this low marks is the lack of distinction in GS answer and essay. I wrote the essay that year as if I was writing a GS long answer, it was also short in length. Kindly you don’t commit this mistake.

What is the difference in GS answer and Essay. I’ll explain this with an example. Take the essay “Is water a new oil?”

In GS answer, we think on the lines of points which support or oppose the given statement. Like,

  1. ongoing water disputes among various states in India.
  2. water scarcity across the world.
  3. water pollution, etc..

But in the essay, you need to start from the basics, how the water is formed, availability of water on the earth, what is the reason behind scarcity, the comparison between water scarcity and crude oil, the importance of water, remedial measures, climate change etc..

Anything relevant to the given topic can be incorporated in the essay logically. Those with imagination, creativity can rock in essay paper.

Some don’t’s in essay paper:

  1. Don’t go against the Constitution.
  2. Don’t run behind extraordinary vocabulary.
  3. Don’t support patriarchy and other regressive ideas.
  4. Don’t devote more than 90 or 100 minutes for the first essay.
  5. Don’t change your stand on the topic in between.


  1. Have progressive ideas
  2. Support constitutional spirit.
  3. Quote beautiful anecdotes, philosophies in the essay.
  4. The introduction should be designed in such a way that attracts the attention of the examiner.
  5. Better to write in small paragraphs.

Choosing of the essay topic in the exam:

Choose essay according to your own strength. Some people try to select essays which will be written by less number of candidates, they say this improves the score. True, but to take that mileage, chosen essay must be presented properly. Marks won’t be awarded just for choosing an essay which is written by few candidates.

Length of the essay:

For 125 marks essay should be limited to 5 to 6 pages (10 to 12 sides).

Using quotes/starting with a quote:

Quotes can be used in any essay. Some people start the essay with a quote, but keep in mind that quoted quote must address the core of the essay. Quote should make your stand clear to the examiner. Don’t start the essay by quote for the sake of writing a quote, that backfires.

This is my first post on this channel. Hope I addressed many of the issues confronted by beginners in essay writing. I welcome questions and constructive suggestions from the readers.

Note: I can give feedback on the essay for 10 people on FCFS basis. Interested people can send their essay copies. (This note will be deleted as soon as we receive 10 essay copies)

Thank you.

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