How to Write Essay Introduction in UPSC Exam?

If you have watched movies such as Inglorious Basterds, you must have noticed that the opening scene is glorious enough to keep you hooked to the entire story. Although, the first shot does not reveal much about the complete story or the characters, however it keeps you engaged. That scene perfectly captures the importance of a great introduction before the start of the film.

Introduction to an essay is similar to that of an opening scene of any movie. You should ensure that the start is strong, provide a brief idea about what lies ahead, and make your audience stay hooked to your essay. By providing a well-crafted introduction, you will be able to create a curiosity in the minds of your readers, and keep them engaged throughout the rest of the essay. A splendid introduction is, therefore, essential to write a splendid essay.

What you may know to Write Essay Introductions in UPSC Exam

When it comes to writing an introduction for the UPSC essay, it should be around 120-150 words and should be able to meet these three basic conditions:

  1. Spark interest in the reader
  2. Relevancy to the given question
  3. Clear and concise

Next step is to meet these conditions and make sure that the essay is impactful. This can be accomplished in the following ways:

1. Tell a Story

It is psychologically accepted that humans are more attracted towards stories. You can initiate the story by creating characters, giving them fictitious names and weaving a narrative around the question that is posed to you. For instance, if you are asked to write an essay on the healthcare reforms in India, you can create a character around someone belonging to rural India who is facing issues with the PHC, and is misguided by the private clinics and local medical stores. Creating a short around this character will bring out the problems that you face in the public health sector.

You can develop such characters wherever you feel that you can use a story to bring out the core theme of the essay. However, make sure that your story is clear, concise, and relevant to the topic asked to you.

2. Narrate an Anecdote

Start by narrating an incident or story that you have read in books or newspapers. You can even use a historical anecdote related to the question as a reference. Using an anecdote is similar to writing a story as explained earlier, but here you are using a real-life incident.

One thing that you need to keep in mind here is to choose an incident that is widely known, otherwise you will not be able to make an impact on the examiner if he does not know the same.

3. Mention an Interesting Fact or Statistic

You can state facts that would build curiosity among the audience regarding that topic that you have chosen to write for the essay.

4. Ask a Question

You can start with a series of rhetorical questions that will add flair to . These questions work as thought-provoking tools and help in engaging the audiences.

5. Start the para with a Quote (or a Poem)

Starting with a quote or poem is one of the most time-tested ways to start the essay. Once you are done writing a quote, the rest of the introduction should elaborate the quote, explain its significance and make sure that it is relevant to the question.

6. Give a Context to the Essay Topic –

When you are considering this particular method, you need to describe the wide range of circumstances that are related to the topic you are writing for the essay. Here you can mention about the recent legislation, new government schemes, recurring current affairs topic, and so on.

When you write about a topic’s context, and its background information might appear as if you are writing a news report, you might be feeding the reader with the information that they already know. So, in this aspect, you might fail to give an effective introduction to generate curiosity and interest among the audiences. Use this method only when you are unable to come up with new methods as discussed above.

7. Define the Terms of the Essay

When you are considering this aspect, you can divide the question in small parts and define the meaning of every term of the essay. This technique is mainly used for the GS papers but if you are using this for the essay, then make sure that it does not read like that of a GS paper. This is because in addition to the content, you are also given marks for the language, flow, coherence, as well as for writing effective arguments.  If you try to write an essay like a GS answer, it might sound like a bland and cliched answer which lacks human element and warmth.

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a single sentence that is used near the introduction end that gives a stand on the given topic. The rest of the essay is more about reasoning and evidence where you can persuade the reader with the logic that you are claiming. This will be the roadmap for your response and will ensure that you are clear about what you are trying to convey in the essay.

When you start practicing writing essays, you can start with the thesis statement for the essays that you are writing. But as you become better at properly structuring it,  you can eventually start writing it. You can even skip this when you are writing your final UPSC exam. So if you are able to write a fluid essay where you are able to ensure that each argument is flowing with the next effortlessly, then you can avoid writing a thesis statement.

But if you are new to writing essays and want to keep things upfront, without making them do guesswork. Once you start writing more essays, and become better at flow & structure, you will be able to focus on the subheading and coherence between the paragraphs and thus you can avoid writing the thesis statement.