One of the toughest tasks in CSS written part is to get through the Essay paper. CSS aspirants put around 60% of their efforts in preparing English Essay, and English Grammar & Composition papers. However, they account for only 17% of the overall weightage. Some clichés, false practices and our mindset make it a herculean task. Without delay, let us ponder on the issue and hope things will get easier after that.
It is commonly believed that if you pass the Essay paper, you will be a CSP. This extra conscious approach makes it harder to get through as English always has its “fear factor”.
Language barrier and ill practices
Feeling weak in English, we make relentless efforts to learn it. Here, I disapprove those tutors who take 3 months or so to teach how to write correct English. It means out of 240 days (8 months) to prepare for CSS written part, only 90 days (3 months) are reserved for preparing ‘Essay’, and ‘Composition’ papers with no surety to get through. Therefore, individual tuition should be discouraged in order to utilize energies evenly in right direction.
Misunderstanding the topic
Most candidates, in haste, often don’t comprehend the topic, hence, ultimately end up as a failure. Understanding topic is crucial to achieving success in Essay paper.
Essay is the first paper. It is also true that we always take time to kick off. By the time we start writing essay, it is almost 10:00am. So, do manage your time .
ROAD TO ESSAY WRITING
Sans practicing right things, you cannot ensure successful culmination. Follow the following path to get through:
- Stick to the basics; parts of speech, tenses, punctuation, sentence structure, vocabulary, paragraph writing, and all other basic components of English should be learnt. This can be done by reading a simple grammar book.
- There are few common rules of writing essay that should be learnt rigorously.
- Practicing short essays will give you command over essay writing and putting firm foundation for full length essay.
- Going through past papers, and by following current trends, shortlist some topics and collect relevant material. How much will be sufficient can be gauged by developing detailed outline of each topic.
Material can be gathered from two sources: One; books, magazines, newspapers, journals, etc. Two; from official documents like Quarterly reports of SBP, Economic Survey of Pakistan; reports of international agencies like WB, IMF, ADB, UN, USAID etc; treaties, agreements, etc. They are significant in order to strengthen your discourse skills.
- Practice essay after CSS pattern and get it evaluated. This should be done regularly especially in Dec and Jan. In this way, you will feel less pressure in actual examination.
TECHNIQUES FOR CSS ESSAY
1. Selection of Topic
This is crucial. Read question paper extensively. List the topics you can write on and brainstorm. Make rough outlines of those and then finalize one topic.
2. Uncommon Topics
There are some unusual topics in paper, which need advanced knowledge of a particular field or sometimes general understanding of many concepts. Let’s elaborate few topics from past papers to understand this:“Literature is the best criticism of life” (2010)
- What is Literature; definitions:
- Origin of Literature as a reflection of life:
- Development of Literature and shades of society in it:
- Excerpts from Medieval English poetry and Elizabethan drama to authenticate its relationship with life:
- Arabic literature; pre-Islamic & Islamic periods:
- Pakistan Movement and Urdu Literature:
- Literature and Pakistani Society:
- Global trends in modern literature & relevance to life:
- Critical Analysis:
“Beggars cannot be choosers” (2012)
2. Meaning and relevance of the Quote:
3. Economic dependency of Pakistan:
4. Economic aid and its impacts on Foreign Policy:
5. Can Pakistan achieve economic independence ever:
6. Relevance of the quote with Indo-Pak ties:
7. Suggestions to make Pakistan truly independent:
8. Conclusion:“Freedom of speech should have limitations” (2013)
2. Media in Pakistan; perfect match for the quote
3. Freedom of speech, if unbridled can be dangerous; elabo
rations and illustrations from Pakistan
4. Government policies and freedom of media in Pakistan
5. Challenges to freedom of speech in Pakistan
6. Ways and means to ensure freedom of speech with re
Outline is the skeleton of essay. It should be very comprehensive and elaborated.
A sample outline of topic “Failure of Governance in Pakistan”
2. Prerequisites of good governance:
2.1 Rule of law
2.3 Equal distribution of resources and opportuni
2.4 Service delivery
3. Evidences of failure of governance in Pakistan
3.1 Absence of rule of law
3.2 state organs and national institutions are con
tradicting and overriding each other
3.3 Rampant extremism, terrorism and security is
3.4 Insurmountable domestic and international
3.5 Nepotism, favoritism and corruption have be
come inherent features of institutions
3.6 Consistently deploring economic condition
and rising unemployment, poverty and
3.7 Rupturing social infrastructure, degrading
social institutions and widespread social
4. In-depth analysis on current state of governance:
5. Solutions to ensure good governance in Pakistan:
5.1 Strong and independent parliament
5.2 Rule of law and no institutional activism
5.3 Drastic measures to curb Terrorism
5.3 De-politicization of administration
5.4 Strict enforcement of Law and accountability
5.5 Ensuring service delivery through public private
Partnership, higher GDP allocations and by attracting
5.6 Building human resource and enhancing job base to
utilize human resource
5.7 Optimum utilization of indigenous resources to re
duce fiscal and trade deficits and economic uplift
5.8 Planned urbanization, controlled population growth
and infusing high moral
Write short sentences. Use simple vocabulary. Avoid informal writing and contractions.
Give statistics with reference. Quote properly. Analyze with reason.
General structure of introduction should be:
Topic Sentence (addressing the topic directly)
Supporting Sentences (6 – 8 sentences comprising explanations, examples, statistics, quotations etc., in support of topic sentence i.e. statement of essay)
Thesis Statement (gist of essay in 1 or 2 sentences)
A sample introduction for the same topic is as under:
Good governance in Pakistan has become an unrealized dream. (Topic Sentence)
History is evident of the fact that nations did not vanish due to poverty or hunger, but because of mal-administration and bad governance. Pakistan has been home to many serious troubles including terrorism, corruption, energy crisis, water crisis, rising poverty and uncontrolled urbanization. But if causes are traced there is only one answer and that is absence of good governance. If recent events are traced back, it will be unveiled that Pakistan must have not fallen prey to such serious problems had there been better governance system. But quite unfortunately, governance kept deteriorating and so did the system. There must be realization among the giants of administration and governance that why there is always need of judiciary to correct their ills? Why at the end of every disaster foreign aid becomes the sole resort? Why after every security failure foreign hand is blamed? The answer is same that when system of governance is absent; the vacuum is filled by those who have no role to play in it. (Supporting Sentences)
The following paragraphs should highlight main ingredients of good governance followed by the evidences on absence of good governance in Pakistan. Leading to the end. there will be analysis of current situation along with solutions to ensure good governance . (Thesis Statement)
Follow the sequence of the outline
Write paragraph for each major point in outline
Write relevant and practice to get perfection. More prepared you are, lesser are the chances of failure. Remember that aforementioned views and techniques are not absolute. Essay is all about presenting arguments in convincing way. But as CSS candidates have limited understanding of language, restricted time and different things to deal with, it is not advisable to experiment with language. Write less but write quality. Fluency, coherence, brevity and reason will make you win.
By: Sikander Zishan
The writer is a PAS officer from 37th CTP
Essay Writing for CSS and PMS - Guidelines
This article is genuinely for candidates appearing in CSS Exam. It focuses on all aspects of ‘Essay Writing’ which is one of the compulsory papers of CSS Exam. This paper is a key determiner of your overall score in CSS Exam. Most of the candidates score less in this paper. Apart from having literary and scholarly writing skills, the candidate must also learn various dimensions of producing an impressive and appealing essay. This article encompasses all the essentials of essay writing in detail.
Essay paper has ten topics for writing an essay. Candidate has to choose one out these ten topics. The candidate has to make an OUTLINE as well as write a COMPREHENSIVE ESSAY of 2500 to 3500 words on the topic.
Essential of Essay Writing
Learning the following essentials of writing essay to ensure your high scores.
- Structure of an Essay
- Expression of Ideas – Principles of a standard essay
- Making an Outline for the essay
- Grammatical Accuracy and wide-range of Vocabulary – English Proficiency
Structure of Essay
Introduction: This first paragraph should introduce your topic. It serves as a background to the topic. Remember! Your first sentence should be very attractive one. It should appeal the reader. It should be a composite line enclosing a major idea of the topic. The introductory part can be one, two or more paragraphs depending upon the topic. It should have forewords, meaning, definitions or background information to introduce the topic to reader. It should be written in a way that should compel the reader to continue reading further about the topic.
Body: It constitutes the major part of your essay comprising of many paragraphs. It starts right after introduction part. This part explores various dimensions of the topic. All the paragraphs should be written in a proper sequence. Writing the body of the essay purely depends upon the nature of the topic.
Some topics require explaining its both dimensions such supporting ideas as well as opposing ideas. Some topics are plain and simply require explaining its uni-directional aspects. Whatever the topic is, but try your level best to explore its aspects as many as possible. The more aspects you write, the more mark you receive for them.
Each paragraph should be written according to the rules. Within each paragraph, the first line is introductory line. The next lines of the same paragraph elaborate the first introductory line. Better use one paragraph to write about only one aspect of the topic. Do not put all ideas in a single paragraph. It will help you elongate your essay as well as follow the correct structure of essay.
Conclusion: The last part of your essay should conclude your essay. The last one or two paragraph summarize your whole essay in few lines highlighting the major aspects of your essay.
Expression of Ideas –Principles of Essay
As you prepare yourself for CSS exam, you should read good books of essay. Apart from giving you extensive knowledge about a specific topic, reading books help you in unconscious way to build the power of creativity for writing on any topic. Moreover, choose a random topic and write an essay on it atleast once a week. It triggers and enables your mind to acquire the ability to come up with ideas easily on any topic.
At the time of writing the essay in exam, you should first think about its aspects. Let your mind generate the aspect of topic as many as possible. These aspects will serve as an outline for writing your essay. If you think critically, you will grasp many ideas. Add quotations of renowned writers, facts and figures from authentic reports and organizations in your essay to make it look more meaningful. Write down all the supporting and opposing ideas in a convincing manner. Follow proper sequence for presenting your ideas. Avoid repetition of ideas. Avoid informal language for expressing your ideas.
Apart from the above points, here are some basic principles of writing a standard essay:
- Unity: Your entire essay should be a composite reflection of the topic. There should be uniformity in the whole essay. All the ideas and views should strictly relate to the topic. Each paragraph should have one idea explained in it. Avoid mixing up ideas in same paragraph.
- Coherence and Order: The ideas should be presented in a sequence having logical continuity.
- Avoid repetition of an idea: Repetition of same idea affects your marks adversely. Avoid it.
- Avoid unnecessary explanation: Writing irrelevant things just to elongate the essay will have a bad impact on your marks.
Making an Outline for the Essay
Making an Outline is essential, as it is part of the essay question. But even if you are not asked to make outline for the essay, better you make an outline for your essay before starting your essay. It helps you a lot in writing your essay. It provides you with range of aspects to discuss. It keeps you on tract for writing your essay. Following its sequence, you can give an attractive shape to your essay.
Grammatical Accuracy and wide-range of Vocabulary
The major factor in writing an essay, which contributes to your high score, is undoubtedly your competence and proficiency in written English. You should acquire scholarly and literary writing skills. The simple rule is that you should be able to write a sentence having grammatically correct structure. Grammatical accuracy refers to usage of words (i.e. verbs, nouns, adjectives, phrasal verbs etc) to make a correct sentence. Hence, you should study the basics of grammar in order to express your ideas in Standard English. Besides that, idiomatic usage in writing makes your essay look attractive. You should use a wide range of vocabulary. If possible, avoid the informal words or very common words; rather use formal words and appealing words.