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Essay Writing For Competitive Exams 2013

IAS Mains Important Essay Topics

India’s poor ranking in Environmental Performance Index 2018 & Impact

Jan 25, 2018

India has the world’s largest population without access to modern energy services. Over 800 million people rely on traditional biomass for cooking. As per the most recent data available, 75% of the rural population depend on solid fuels for cooking and heating in India. This is surely a cause of concern.

Cleaning of River Ganga: Programmes & Achievements

Dec 27, 2017

Rapidly increasing population, rising standards of living and exponential growth of industrialization and urbanization has exposed water resources, in general, and rivers, in particular, to various forms of degradation. The mighty Ganga is no exception.

IAS Exam Essay 2017:Relevance of Non-Alignment Movement (NAM)

Nov 8, 2017

The countries of the Non-Aligned Movement represent nearly two-thirds of the United Nations' members and contain 55% of the world population. But the relevance of NAM is diluting as the world is becoming multipolar and geoeconomic interests are overpowering the geostrategic interests. Here, we are providing an outline of the relevance of NAM in today's multipolar world as asked recently in the IAS Exam Essay paper 2017.

IAS Exam: India against Terrorism

Nov 19, 2016

Terrorism has become a global issue which causing hindrance for the existence of humanity on earth. The IAS aspirants must have the knowledge of India’s stand against the menace of terrorism. Here, we have provided India’s approach to deal with the problem of terrorism within its territory and outside of its territory.

IAS Exam: Environmental Concern is changing the course of International Politics

Nov 15, 2016

Ecological Footprint and the Carrying Capacity became the buzzwords in the International Politics since 1992. The International Politics is moving towards the consensus to achieve the Environmental goals spelt out in the UNFCC in 1992. Let us analyse, how the Environmental Concerns is shaping the world Politics.

IAS Main Exam : Energy Security in India

Nov 4, 2016

Energy security is the prerequisite for any nation to become a super power. In India we don’t have the Energy security but in near future we will be having energy surplus nation. See here the real analysis for the Energy Security Initiative taken by GOI

Current Affairs Analysis : Geospatial Information Regulation Bill

Aug 29, 2016

Current Affairs is the key for the IAS Preparation and it is well established after the IAS Prelims Exam. But as we said earlier also, Its the Current Affairs background and Analysis which help in the IAS Main Exam and it is the imperative for the IAS Prepration. In recent years, the nature of questions asked in UPSC IAS Mains as well as Prelims Exam has changed significantly. Please read this important current affairs analysis of the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill

IAS Exam : Agriculture Marketing in India

Jun 23, 2016

Agriculture is the main stay of the Indian Economy and their are various Government Schemes which are trying to minimise the burden of the Indian Farmers. Agriculture is also a very important topic for the IAS Exam. This article is all about the Agriculture Marketing in India and the APMC ACT.

UPSC IAS Exam : Drought in India

Jun 21, 2016

Indian Economy is very much depends on the interaction of Monsoon and Drought. Each year Monsoon and its predictions are done and strategies are suggested to mitigate the drought in India. Here are the comprehensive approach to understand the drought in India

UPSC IAS Exam: Cooperative federalism in India

May 6, 2016

IAS Preparation always requires a good understanding of UPSC Syllabus as a whole which comprises of Indian Polity, Indian Economy, Geography as a whole and Geography of India as a whole and the other Topics of Socio- Economic importance. Cooperative Federalism is one such important Topic for the Civil Services

UPSC IAS Exam: Animal Husbandry in India

May 6, 2016

A Civil Services aspirant should try his/her best to prepare every burning topics of National and International importance for the UPSC IAS Exam. There is huge possibility of asking questions from such topics in Civil Services IAS Prelims as well as in IAS Mains Exams. So, in a regular interval, we are trying to provide such study materials which are more informative and very much helpful for the Preparation of Essay and General Studies Papers of UPSC IAS Mains Exam.

UPSC IAS EXAM : Nuclear Security Summit

Apr 20, 2016

IAS Exam always ask the question on the issue of National and International Importance. Nuclear Security Summit was one such issue which will change and affect the interaction of Nuclear for Peaceful purpose among the countries.

IAS Exam:Religious Liberty and Women Rights

Apr 19, 2016

IAS Exam preparation serves as a turning point in the candidates life irrespective of his or her selection inthe Civil Services. IAS Preparation changes the life of the candidates his perspective and the outlook towards life. Rights,Lberty and Duties are the intertwined concepts and requires deeper understanding of their inter-relationship of all the three.

IAS Exam:Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan

Apr 18, 2016

Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan will be a flagship program of the Government of India to propagate the information regarding the vaious goverment schemes for the farmers in the villages.

IAS Exam : Fourth Industrial Revolution: Impact and Implication

Apr 18, 2016

Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it is, how to respond, has three things about the ongoing transformation and advancement mark it out as a new phase rather than a prolongation of the current revolution Scope, Velocity and Systems impact.

The key words in the title are practical and exam. Last week I ran a “competition” to write an essay on aid and poverty. The essays I received were spectacularly good and I do suggest you check them out in the comments section. My one worry though was were they really practical essays in an exam. My essay, which you will find below, is I think much simpler than almost all the essays I received – and perhaps a more practical model for exams.

I should add that these are mostly band score 8.0 writing tips and are written especially for candidates who are aiming high. The moral is:

the road to band score 8.0 often means doing the simple things well

1. Read – write – read – write – read – write – read – write – read – write – read

What does this mean? It means that you should go back and read the paragraph you have just written before you start the next one. You may think that this is a waste of time. If so, you’d be wrong.

  1. It’s important to link your paragraphs together – what more practical way to do that than just read what you have written?
  2. It helps you with words for the next paragraph – it is good to repeat some words as this improves your coherence. Look at my sample essay to see how I repeat/reflect language. In one paragraph I talk about the short term, this makes it easy to move onto the long term in the next paragraph.
  3. You may also want to check out my series of lessons on the process of writing IELTS essays – where you will find a much more detailed explanation of this,

2. Don’t be smart, be clear – select your best idea

One of my very first posts/articles on this site was headed “IELTS is not a test of intelligence”. While the post itself now looks a little old, the advice is still good. You are being tested on the quality of your English, not on the quality of your ideas.

This advice is particularly important for candidates who come from an academic background where they are used to being graded on quality and quantity of ideas. IELTS is different: it is quite possible to write a band 9.0 essay and not include some key “academic” ideas, let alone all the ideas.

The practical advice here is to select your best idea and write about that. That means not writing everything you know – leave some ideas out. Don’t worry if it is not your best explanation, worry about whether it is your clearest explanation.

3. Write about what you know – relax about ideas

This is a similar idea. IELTS is an international exam (that’s the “I” in IELTS) and the questions are written to be answered by anyone around the world. Some people stress about finding ideas. They shouldn’t. The ideas you need are generally simple (eg”I disagree”, “This is not a good idea”).

The practical solution is to think about what YOU know and what YOUR experience is. If you look at the question, this is what it tells you to do. If you come from Bonn, write about Bonn; if you come from Ulan Bator, write about Ulan Bator!

4. Examples are easier to write than explanations

In an exam you are under pressure. You want to make things as easy for yourself as possible. One practical idea to achieve this is to focus as much on examples as explanations when you write. Why?

It’s simply harder if you only think “because”. Some of the ideas may be very complex and, under pressure, it can be difficult to explain these with reasons. What may happen is that your sentences become too long and the ideas confused.

The practical bit is to concentrate as much on examples. This is a good idea as examples tend to be easier to write as you are simply describing situations. You should also note that the instructions tell you to use examples! All you need to do is make sure that your examples are relevant to the main idea.

5. Don’t write too much – the examiner is paid by the minute

There is no upper word limit I know of, but it really isn’t a good idea to write 350 words or more. Here’s why:

  1. Examiners will only spend so much time looking at any essay. Write too much and they will read what you wrote “less carefully”. It is easier to read/grade a 300 word essay than a 400 word essay!
  2. The more you write, the more likely you are to make language mistakes.
  3. The more you write, the more likely you are to go off topic. The examiner won’t read/grade anything that doesn’t directly relate to the question.
  4.  If you write less, you give yourself more time to choose the best words – and that’s what you are being graded on.
  5. If you write less, you give yourself more time to go back and check what you have written.

6. Writer – know yourself

One of the most famous philosophical thoughts is “know yourself”. How does this apply to exam writing? Did Plato really have IELTS in mind when he wrote his dialogues? Well, no, but…

The idea is that you should check for your mistakes when you write. The practical part here is that you shouldn’t check for mistakes generally – that’s too hard and probably a waste of time in the exam. What isn’t a waste of time though is to look for mistakes you know you can correct – the ones you normally make!

The really practical thing is to have your own checklist in your head before you start writing.

7. See the whole essay in your head before you start writing

It’s very important that your essay is a whole – that all the bits fit together. If you don’t do that, you may lose significant marks for both coherence and task response.

This means planning of course. Planning bothers some people and bores others. There are different ways to do this, but at the very least have a map of your essay in your head.

8. Focus on the backbone of your essay

This is a related point. All the essay matters of course, but perhaps some bits matter more than others. I’d suggest the practical thing to do is concentrate on the backbone of your essay, the bits that help you write better and the examiner to understand better. The backbone is:

  1. The introduction: this should identify the question and outline your position. Don’t rush it as it is the first thing the examiner will read. First impressions count.
  2. The first/topic sentences of each paragraph: these should be clear and to the point. They should identify exactly what that paragraph is about and show how it relates to the rest of the essay. The practical tip is to keep the detail/clever ideas for the body of the paragraph. Start off general and then build towards the specific.
  3. The conclusion: this is the easiest part of the essay normally. Most often, all you need to do is go back to the introduction and rephrase it

Get these bits right and the rest of the essay tends to take care of itself.

9. Don’t just practice whole essays

The best way to learn to write essays is to write essays? True or false? My answer is a bit of both.

Yes, you do need to practise writing complete essays, but it may be a mistake to do only that. The different part of essays require slightly different skills. To write an introduction, you need to be able to paraphrase the question. To write a body paragraph, you need to be able to explain ideas. To write a conclusion, you need to be able summarise.

The practical suggestion is to practise writing introductions, body paragraphs and conclusions separately. Focus on skills.

 10. Focus on the question and refocus on the question

I have left this one to last as it is for me the most important idea. Essays go wrong for different reasons. Some of these you may not be able to avoid: the quality of your English may not be good enough yet. The one mistake you can always avoid is that you didn’t answer the question. Too many essays go wrong because candidates didn’t read and think about the question properly.

The practical suggestion: before you write each paragraph, refer back to the question to remind yourself about what you are meant to write about.

It is very easy to get carried away in exams. You may start off on topic, then you have a “good idea” as you write. So you write about that. Sadly, that “good idea” may not fully relate to the question. Big problem.

My sample essay on poverty and aid

This essay which you can download below is intended to be an example of the ideas in this post.

  • It is fairly simple in structure.
  • It focuses clearly on the question
  • I left many of my best ideas out. I concentrated on what I could explain clearly.
  • It comes in at only just over 300 words.

Download the essay

Poverty and aid essay (28802)

 More writing advice

This is where I catalogue all my writing materials. If you are looking for more specific advice, this is the place to start.

My other essay writing tips

The ideas here are similar and you will find more general guidance on dos and don’ts in IELTS essays.

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