Essay is definitely the most subjective element of the entire process, far more subjective than the interview. Although I do not consider myself qualified enough to talk on this, I thought I should share whatever I did. I scored 80/200 in my first attempt and 125/250 in my second. Last year I had written on working women. We had a chapter on Gender psychology in my optional and my mom and every other relative is a working woman, so I had good content on the topic and I thought I wrote well. But even then, I ended up getting mediocre marks. On the other hand, I wrote a pretty ordinary piece according to my own standards and had barely finished within time but ended up getting great marks. I have no clue as to how to explain this.
1) I do not have great command over English. I can write grammatically correct plain English but with no frills. You need not be a Shakespeare to score good marks in essay!
2) There is no need to prepare separately for essay as far as the content part is considered. Your preparation for mains will suffice for essay from content point of view
3) I did not prepare on any topics in advance
4) I did not use any quotes in the entire essay. You should if you can. Try making a list of quotable quotes from stuff you come across while preparing
5) Practice at least 5 essays. Get them peer reviewed. Try finding an English teacher/prof around and take his/her inputs.
6) Coaching: coaching for essay is not really useful. I joined Ramaswamy and his inputs were useless. The only good thing was unlike other coachings which give a lot of Gyan and conduct only a couple of tests, he conducted 7/8 tests. So luckily what happened was that I was able to utilize introduction of one of the essays as it is in my mains.
7) Introduction is the MOST IMPORTANT PART. Spend atleast 15-20 minutes thinking about it.,
8) Another 15-20 minutes should be devoted to conclusion which should be equally powerful
9) In the main body, organization of thoughts is the most crucial thing. The essay should flow like a river as they say. Try covering as many aspects as possible – historical, social, economic, scientific or any other dimension that comes to your mind.
10) Length: Keep it moderate. It should be neither too long or nor too short. I do not remember how many pages I wrote but I devoted 2 hours for writing and 1 hour for brainstorming the content, organizing it and thinking of innovative introduction and a befitting conclusion. Roughly 1500-1700 words should be OK.
11) This time there might be two essays so manage time and word limit accordingly
12) Essay remains a poor cousin of other subjects when it comes to preparation. Please do not commit this mistake! Last time what happened was that I wrote only 1 essay and that too I showed to only 1 person who praised it a lot and hence I did not feel the need to write more and hence could nt improve. Write at least 5 essays.
13) Long term : start blogging
14) You can also make a list of proverbs, idioms and phrases
15) CHOOSING THE TOPIC: please do not have any preconceived notions that a particular type of topic fetch more marks. The only criteria for selection should be availability of content!!!
16) In the end, pray to god! Because even after doing all this results may/may not be commensurate the efforts made J
STRUCTURE OF THE ESSAY
1) FIRST PARA: dhamakedaar bomb. Write something very catchy which invites the reader to read what lies ahead
2) Second: define the topic. Eg. This year I wrote on “Science and Technology is the panacea for the growth and security of the Nation”. So go about explaining what is science, technology, ‘growth’ etc. I remember mentioning growth is just not GDP rise but includes social dimensions as well.
3) Third: what follows/ major issues to be covered. Tell the reader what lies ahead
4) Main body
5) Pre conclusion summary: try to recapitulate all the points that have been stated earlier.
6) Dhamakedaar Optimistic conclusion: give suggestions/constructive solutions. Don’t paint a gloomy picture.