ESSAY STRATEGY BY ESSAY TOPPER: Chandra Mohan Garg, Rank 25, Essay Marks 149, CSE 2015

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Chandra Mohan Garg, Rank 25

Essay Marks 149

CSE 2015

Essay is the most taken for granted area in civil services preparation. We spend months preparing for GS-1, 2, 3, 4 but hardly any of us give any dedicated time for preparation of essay. It is important to understand that one essay paper is equivalent to almost 1.5 G.S papers in terms or scoring.

In 2014 I went without any preparation and ended up scoring 121 marks. In order to improve my rank I needed to focus on essay as there was a good scope of 30 plus marks. I made a strategy and worked on it, this helped me in scoring 149 in this attempt.

Before I begin, let me do away with few misunderstandings

  1. You need to be a champ in English ( your grammar, spelling mistakes, poor vocabulary cannot stop you from scoring high)
  2. Essay does not need preparation. Your GS knowledge can provide fodder but Essay unlike GS answers need lot more.
  3. You cannot improve so easily in essay. I increased 28 marks in Essay despite the fact that this year essay has been less scoring compared to last year.

Now let me discuss how to approach an essay:

  1. Choice of topic

Choice of topic should be clearly based on your holistic understanding of the subject matter. So choose a topic with which you are most comfortable. At times we think that the topic is so common that most of the people will choose it, so let me choose some unconventional topic. This is a totally wrong thinking, many people end up scoring poor marks due to this. So fight with your best weapons on. 

  1. Interpretation of the essay topic

Do not be in a hurry to write an essay. Many people see the broader title and start writing the essay without even understanding the theme of the topic.

Eg- With greater power comes greater responsibility [2014 ].Now the moment people see power they somehow relate it to politics and bureaucracy and start building their essay around it, writing all theories, quotes and examples they know related to it. Here the theme of this topic is philosophical which talks of power present in any institutional system (family, religion, community, politics, administration etc), throughout society power is banked from people to a leader so that he can use that power for a common good. So with greater power comes greater responsibility. In this context we need to critically analyse the theme of the essay.

  1. Brainstorming

After selection of the topic we need to brainstorm to get fodder material that we can write in the essay. There are various things and various ways to brainstorm.

Key words:- break the topic and look for key words to tinker upon. Example – With greater power comes greater responsibility we know power and responsibility are key words. Now you can brainstorm around key words

Past-Present-Future: – Another way to think upon to get points related to the topic.

SPECLIH:-Think from Social, Political, Economic, Cultural, Legal, International, Humanistic perspective. You can make your own acronym and add more dimensions to think from

Now what to brainstorm: You can look for quotes, examples, events, illustrations, case studies, Government initiatives, and facts and figures etc. So anything that can make the essay more informative and interesting.

  1. Structuring the essay

Information is one thing but how to put that information in a structured and systematic way is very important. So need to focus on few things while structuring your essay

Outline: Create an outline of essay i.e. how will your essay proceed. I feel PAST-PRESENT- FUTURE is a good technique, you can have other ways to decide the flow of the essay as well. E.g.- “Dreams that should not let India sleep”, here I discussed Nehru’s speech of tryst with destiny to explain what those dreams were, Then came on present why that dream is faltering and then talked of future that what are these dreams and how can we fulfil it.

Breakup: Break up your essay properly

ias essay strategy

Once you have brainstormed the points, created an outline and structured your essay,  now you are ready to write the content.

  1. Content

Language & Presentation: Write in simple language. No need of flowery expressions. Keep short sentences and small paragraphs

Explanation of points: Explain through examples or illustrations whatever you are trying to explain. Mention government Initiatives, policies & plans wherever possible. International examples or case study wherever possible.

Focus of essay: Throughout the essay the theme should be reflected and flow should be maintained from beginning to end. Each paragraph should link to the other .Also do not focus only on covering lot of dimensions in the essay. In this race we lose the flow of essay. More than knowledge essay should reflect your vision and ideas.

Introduction: Your Introduction should clearly lay down what the essay will entail, giving a brief idea to the reader. You can always use a story, quote, fact/Information or abstract way to create a context and then build your introduction over it.

Example:- “Is sting operation an Invasion in Privacy”[2014]. Here you could begin your Intro with the Tehelka story of Gujarat riots that hit the news and then raise questions was it good or bad and discuss that in the body.

Body: This part is all about analysis. Here three things are Important. 1.) If the topic is debatable you need to discuss both sides. If not then it will be straight-forward. 2.) In any case you will have certain line of arguments to put your case. 3.) Explain each of them through some examples.

Example: “Is sting operation an Invasion in Privacy”. This is debatable topic. So you will have both sides. Yes it in an invasion, No it is not an invasion. To discuss both sides you will have some arguments. Now when you put your arguments substantiate with the example and illustrations.

Conclusion: In conclusion focus on three things 1.) Summarise the topic 2.) Put your concluding stand 3.) Tell a way ahead. Try to end your essay on some positive/visionary note.

  1. What preparations you can do for the essay

Read: You need to read some good essays and learn how beautifully people put up their arguments. These essay don’t have diversity but depth. So reading some good essays can tell you how to begin an essay, write arguments, and conclude. Most Important is how to create a structure of essay.

Prepare: I don’t think coaching helps here. It has to be you.

  • In your daily newspaper reading if you find some good lines or examples then keep noting them. Especially editorials.
  • Take up some common/general topics like women, education, healthcare, internet, science (look at last 20 years essay) and prepare some fodder on it. Like quotes, imp case studies, examples, factual info, government initiatives etc.
  • Have a repository of good opening and closing lines. You will find this through reading newspapers, good essays of others etc.

Write and evaluate: One should write at least 5-6 essays. When you write try to apply the points I explained above in this article. And most importantly get your essays evaluated by some teachers, selected candidates or sincere friends. This will help in making improvements.

  1. Time division

There is no hard and fast rule, it is totally your discretion but am telling it as this will be asked. So am sharing what I used to do.

  1. Topic Selection : 5 minutes
  2. Brain storming/creating outline/structure of essay : 15 minutes
  3. Essay Writing : 1hr to 1hr 5 minutes
  4. Revising Essay: 5 minutes
  1. Queries?

I have tried to explain to the best of my capabilities. If you still have doubts I have created a page on FB named CSE Preparation, you can post your queries there. Here is the link

  1. What I wrote in 2015?

I don’t remember exactly what all I wrote in the essay, but yes I can share a brief where I can tell on what lines I tried to write my essay.

I wrote essays – 1. Education without values makes us a clever Devil and 2. Dreams that should not let India Sleep (writing topic in brief)

Sharing Essay-1 brief layout :

essay chandra mohan garg ias

essay chandra mohan garg ias



  • Dibyojyoti Chatterjee

    Thank you sir for your wonderful guidance. This will really help

  • Pradeep

    Extraordinary and lucid….l love this…nd sure I will try sincerely!!!

    • cm


  • Kumar

    nice strategy, to the point and simple. Thank you…………

  • Sanchi

    can we use pointers in essay ???

    • cm

      no hard and fast rule is there . Your choice. But I avoid

  • bhargava

    Thanks a lot Garg for your valuable contribution to Juniors !!

  • DreamIAS

    Thank you Sir for this very informative note about Essay..I!! It would definitely going to help us.

  • Dear Sir,
    Thank you so much for the guidance, and sharing your strategy.
    Just one doubt, can we include questions in the write up? Like, asking two to three questions in the entire essay to make it interesting. Kindly clear the doubt.

    Thank you.

    • cm

      Yes you can raise questions and then discuss them. Like Is sting operation a incursion on privacy? Or it is a necessary evil for a bigger cause? Let us try to discuss each of these aspects

  • janardhan

    Thank you for giving such a top-notch tips….

  • phoenix

    Very Informative n solid explanation.. Thank you Sir

  • aNiE


  • peta

    thankyou mr garg..the past present future tip is will give a direction to the essay paper.will keep it in mind.

  • John Victor

    what more can we expect from you sir,Thank a lot for your desire to help the upcoming aspirants,for sure it will help us to think a while before writing an essay.ALL THE BEST FOR YOU SIR and THANKS INSIGHTS !!!!!!!!!!

  • saatakarni

    you are going to the perfect I.A.S
    because you understanded what aspirants wants.

    • cm

      thanks 🙂

  • Subhash

    Thank you very much

  • Khayam

    Thank you 🙂

  • upj

    Very well articulated article on essay strategy.

    Thanks a lot Chandra Mohan sir.My query is as follow-

    I find writing essay on abstract topics little bit difficult compared to topics involving topical issues.
    So please guide how to build such an essay.You have demonstrated write up on such topic in above post.If you can give some more specific points it will benefit a lot.[ especially developing body part in such essays i find difficult].

    thank you sir.

  • Naveen Shekhar

    Nice write-up,Sir!
    Congratulations and lotsa thanks

  • KAutilYA

    Nice one sir…thank you so much for this milestone efforts…?

    Wish u all d best for future…????

  • Durgarao..

    Thanks for the detailed strategy and suggestions Chandra Mohan jee

  • MJ

    Thank you dear Sir …..!!!
    Sir, what type of examples we can use in essay ??? Like national only… or international level too ??
    Will it be okay to use both

  • Vali

    Thank u brother

  • rajashree

    Thank you sur

  • rajashree

    Thank you sir

  • TDP abhimani

    thanks for this write up sir………..nicely articulated by you…………..extraordinary……149 is brilliant score sir………..All the Best for your future sir………..

  • Charm

    Thank you …

  • Baddy

    Did you include headings in essay?

  • rohit

    sir can you tell us some good books that can help in essay…books of famous authors!!!!


    Thanks. Best of luck to ur career.

  • Abyss

    Can you suggest some good references from where perhaps one can read well written essay? any book or particular writer or even multiple that may help in thought creation and even structuring.
    though your strategy here obviously helps a lot esp for starters like me so a big thank you for that!

    • Khayam

      you can read this essay book … its damn good

      • Abyss

        thanks alot for the help 🙂

        • Khayam

          can u plz review mine todays essay

          • Abyss

            sure give me 15 mins or so

  • hubaib hassan


  • Mukesh Kumar

    very good, well planned way to write essay………..thanks a lot sir for providing such a valuable strategy………….congrats and best wishes for ur new journey…

  • N.KD

    that is what we need……thank you insights and Garg sir:)

  • Unformidable

    Sir,can we include headings.
    For example :Can we give heading Economic or some other catchy phrase for economic dimensions the way they do in The Hindu?
    and further explain the economics dimensions in the following paragraph ?

    • cm

      yes you can. but do not create lot of headings also.

  • Hemanth Kumar


  • Sarvendra

    Sir could you plz review my essay so that I can improve further. ..

    Ignorance is bliss
    One day as a matter of routine I picked up phone to call one of my best friend working as a CAG auditor in Chennai, we talked on several issues, one of the issue was our “career” that what to do further in our career. My friend expressed his desire to do L.L.B. as he positively asserted that one who knows laws in this country is the person who suffers the least. His words hit me hard as I was a Sub-inspector in a law enforcement agency posted in Delhi, it was beneficial for my career to do L.L.B. In my office several of my colleagues have done L.L.B. form Delhi University.
    The very next day when it was almost 6 o’ clock in the evening, my office was about to close and people were leaving one followed by another, I also cleaned my desk and went towards cabin of my immediate senior with whom I used to travel in the evening. As I came from Patiala house court and closely watched the working of judges and lawyers that day I asked my senior remembering the words of my friend that I should do L.L.B. and doing graduation in law make you aware all of the provisions of law and there is least chance that you will suffer. (I wanted to know his opinion and guidance as he has done L.L.B. from Delhi University) He replied while driving car, “But knowing law also make you weak.” His words again shocked me I wanted him to clarify further. He said “if you don’t know any provision of law you may simply bypass it and you will not have a feeling of regret or sin but if know the law that you will feel fear to bypass it, being a law enforcement officer your conscience will also not allow you to surpass the law, this is the way knowing law makes you weak.” In short I must say he was willing to say “Ignorance is Bliss”
    But how can ignorance be bliss? As a human society we have been evolved from many centuries. Today what we are just because of continuous strife towards excellence by our forefathers. Had they not tried to know new things, we would have been living in traditional societies today. Fever and other diseases like small pox, chicken pox etc. which have been win over by medical science today would have been continued as epidemics. In today’s internet enabled world we are been informed by all necessary information right at the finger tip by our smart phones. As a result we have been successful in saving mankind from natural disasters, epidemics. Science and technology inventions contributed in making life easier. As a result humans have evolved from savage life style to present day life style. Even the tribes living today in forest continued to be survived in harsh environment of forest is just because of their traditional knowledge. Not only humans but also animals have been well aware of knowledge about their prey. How to prey, where to prey, how to camouflage, how to survive drought, hostile environment. All this is happen just because of their knowledge not because of ignorance.
    But these science and technology inventions made human life stressful also. Now days, nobody has a time to spent with nature. People also planned their vacations and they are knitted by their hectic schedules. Life has become so busy and stressful. When we steal some moment from this hectic schedule and observe a “little child.” He has no appointments, no hurries, no worries, he do not know anything what I have to do today, tomorrow or yesterday, he has no commitment, no assignments, he possess only one thing that is “happiness.” We can say that for a little child “Ignorance is Bliss.”
    If we talk about human nature, people in today’s world are not happy because of what they have in fact they are sad because what their neighbor have but they have not. This weakness of human nature making humans venerable to tension, stress, unhappiness. Sole reason of such kind of human nature is “Knowledge.” Knowledge of commodities, utilitarianism, feeling of completion. What if they do not know about such things, if they are living in far reach areas in forest, in mountains, if they are completely cut-off from outside world, simply they will not know any such commodities like air-conditioner, Refrigerator, and television etc. they will be happy in what they possess. For such people we can also say that “Ignorance is Bliss.”
    For a person in his 50’s who is suffering from critical illness and he do not have facility to get it diagnose, he will remain happy with his rest of life by remaining ignorant to the fatal disease which he is suffering from and one day he will succumb to his disease say in late 60’s . But what if he has facility to diagnose the disease in his 50’s and he continued to live fighting the disease with bitter dose of medicines and continuous mental trauma. Though he may be able to survive till his 70’s but ultimately he will succumb to his disease. In this case what is beneficial to him, his Ignorance or knowledge? I think his ignorance.
    But ignorance is bliss for the little child only up to that time till he has caring parents, similarly it is bliss to a complacent person till he is averse to pleasure achieved by such commodities. For a person suffering from critical illness it is his view towards life that decides what is beneficial to him, Ignorance or Knowledge. But at larger extent we see we have been successful to evolve because of our Knowledge not because of our Ignorance. Humans are known for their Brain, Brain is for knowledge not for Ignorance. In our day to day life, it is our Knowledge which makes our life easy not our ignorance. So it is difficult to me to believe that “Ignorance is Bliss.”