Every paper of civil services exam has its own template including the general knowledge paper, This decided template provides students with few important points on the basis of which they prepare and honestly, the preparation is done easily as well. For this, we have books, newspapers and magazines. If you notice, you will see that the questions which are asked in the general knowledge paper, are available in written somewhere, whether, you have read it or not or maybe, you read it, but, you didn't give it much importance. It is very clear that the preparation of general knowledge or optional papers has to be much disciplined and the books or methods of preparation are almost same for every student.
However, can we say the same thing about essay? You should pick up and look at the unsolved papers of essay of last 20 years. You would hardly find an essay which was asked twice. Every year, you are presented with new topics. The main point to note here is that none of these essays are available in written. If they are available, it is there only in two people' mind: one, the person who suggested the topic, and second, the person who is going to write the essay.
The content of essay is generally scattered. It will not be wrong to say that the way a honey bee makes honey b. sitting on different flowers, in the same way, an essayist write an essay after studying different types of topics.
Let's see what UPSC needs in regards to this. The Commission has very clearly stated that "they will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay, to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will begiven for effective and exact expressions."
This can be considered like mathematics to an extent. You cannot memorize mathematics. However, if you know the formula, you can answer any question using it. Essay is also the same, you cannot memorize it, but, if you know how an essay is written, then, you can very easily write. It is, however, more challenging than mathematics. Whosoever knows the mathematics' formula can very easily answer using it and the answer will be more or less the same. In spite of this, can we say that people who know how to write an essay will write it in exactly the same way on the same topic? I don't need to answer this. This is actually the biggest challenge of essay writing, but, at the same time, it is its beauty too.
It is said in English- 'style is the man himself’, that means, a person's way of expression shows his personality. This is said for literature writing, but, it also applies to essay writing. The wayan author's personality is reflected in his work, in the similar way, an essayist's personality is reflected in his essay. Maybe, you don't realize it, but, the person reading it can make it out. You should consider essay's paper a way by which UPSC is conducting your interview in written. While giving an interview, you are in front of the interviewer, whereas, in an essay, your copy is in front of the examiner.
I have said that your personality is reflected in the essay you write. I know it is hard for you to believe this, but, I would like to tell you few things to make you believe me. This is important because if you don't believe me, then, you will not give due importance to this paper and when you will not give due importance to it, you will not do any justice to it either. Bydoing this, you will of course, not do any justice to yourself too. So, let's see how it reflects our personality:
- You can read, understand, memorize and answer any topic. However, there is nothing of your own in the answer. Maybe a few thoughts here and there, but, all in all it remains borrowed. Nevertheless, whatever you write in an essay is your own. It is possible that knowledge is not yours, but the usage of knowledge is completely yours. Your role, here, is like that weaver who doesn't weave the threads but uses the threads to make clothes. The same wayan essay is your creativity, you can also call it your 'fundamental work'.
- The essayist's opinion is definitely there, no matter, what the topic of the essay is. A good essay cannot be written without a clear idea of the topic. Unless you have a clear-cut opinion of your own, your thoughts will remain scattered and you won't be able to keep your essay well constructed. Clear concept is the backbone of the essay and it is also directly linked to our life. The essay's topics are chosen in a way in which these points are reflected-whether the topic is related to science and technology or economics or international relations. Hence, it shows the writer's viewpoint towards life.
- You can write any topic after memorizing. Every topic has its own language. You memorize that language and that is why that language is not yours. Your language can be evaluated only through an essay as you don't have any other help there. A good and influential language reflects the communication skills of a person and to be an efficient administrator, good communication skills are very important.
- Another aspect linked with language is style. Language is the choice of words and the structure of the sentences, whereas style is related to the composition of sentences. This is directly connected to the composition of the essay. Actually, essay is not much affected by language but by style. Style is also a part of communication skills. Sometimes style affects the essay to an extent that you do not care to ask for facts that should otherwise be asked to support the thoughts and opinions of the writer. But remember: until and unless a person has good knowledge of the language, topic, life and society, his style cannot be influential.
- There is one more thing which is no less important than the others. That is vividness. Language and style, both are continuously flowing elements like a river. They constantly change. The language and style which are convincing are the ones related to our time. If your essay's language and style are attractive, that is only because you are vividly connected to your present time and society. This is one of the biggest qualities of a person. Even the general knowledge paper checks how alert you are towards your time.
So, these are the reasons why essays are given so much importance. I hope that after reading these facts your attitude towards essay would have become a little serious.