I have seen many people afraid of many things, yet the fear that CSS essay paper evokes in the hearts of the innocent aspirants is gigantic in size and horrible in nature. Students feel that passing essay paper is as tough as surmounting the K2 and that too without being requisitely equipped. And, they are justified in their perception.
The essay paper is mostly used by the designers of the CSS exam to minimize the number of horses running toward the finish line. Many aspirants see passing the essay paper as an insurmountable task. The reality, however, is altogether different than that what is actually perceived.
Getting through the essay paper, supposedly, is difficult; however, it’s not because passing it requires exceptional capabilities and potential, but because CSS aspirants aren’t requisitely equipped with the techniques and skills required to achieve the goal. It’s just like a man trying to open a lock without the right key. What will happen? He will fail! And, even a small lock would defeat all his power and strength. But, if he has the right key, he can open, in a jiffy, even the biggest and the safest lock.
So, what are the techniques and how they can be learnt?
Here is the answer:
1. Topic Selection
Selection of right topic for writing your essay is of enormous importance. At least 30 percent candidates fail this crucial paper merely because they select the wrong topic. So, you should give at least 5-10 minutes to the topic-selection process. Instead of trying to choose one topic out of the given eight or nine options, it is better you encircle three or four of them in the first stage. Then, choose the final one after thoroughly analyzing these shortlisted topics. During topic selection, never ever get allured merely by the availability of material on a particular topic. If a topic involves even 1% ambiguity, availability of even 100% material regarding it should be given no consideration at all. To be on the safe side, always avoid picking literary or ambiguous topics.
2. Keeping Relevance
Another significant cause of failure in essay paper is deviating from what has been asked in the question statement. While writing essay, candidates generally do not understand the exact requirements of the topic. Once they read the statement, they start making outline on the basis of material they had in their memory. They seldom bother to realize that a single question can be put in different ways, requiring answers totally different from each another. For instance, the outline for these apparently same topics would be entirely different from one another:
- Democracy and Pakistan
- Democracy is ill suited for Pakistan
- Future of democracy in Pakistan
- Democracy in an undemocratic Pakistan
It is, therefore, highly advised that you first understand the exact requirements of the topic and then write down the answer in a way that convinces the examiner, at every step, that you have has understood the topic completely and every single word of the essay is exactly what the topic demands.
3. Maintaining Coherence
Maintaining balance as well as coherence is another requirement of an impressive essay. Every essay, as I have comprehended on the basis of my experience, comprises the following four parts:
- Introduction and definitions
- Analysis of facts
- Causes and impacts
- Recommendations and conclusion
Maintenance of balance requires focus on all the four aspects but that too keeping in view requirements of the question statement. Some essays require more focus on the second part i.e. analysis of facts, while some need a special emphasis on the third one i.e. causes and impacts.
Writing an effective and scoring essay, actually, is akin to capturing a photograph. And, you know the quality that distinguishes a good photograph from a bad one is the prominence that the photographer gives to different objects appearing in it.
4. Writing Outline
Outline of the essay is something very special and it deserves special attention too. Writing an effective as well as impressive outline requires exhaustive practice of necessary techniques. Being essay’s introduction to examiner, the outline leaves an indelible impression on his mind; hence, it plays an important role in the success or failure of a candidate.
From a positive view, outline provides a candidate with the very first, and perhaps the most result-oriented, opportunity of convincing the examiner with his skills. If a candidate does not avail himself of this golden opportunity, chances of doing it again at the later stage of the essay are all but rarely available.
An outline, generally, covers 15-20 percent of the total space of the essay. It should be chalked out within 25-30 minutes, in a language which is not only formal and grammatically correct but is also in agreement with the tone of the topic. All the points and sub-points should be logically arranged and those should be capable of making the examiner completely understand the direction of the essay. An outline, unlike the trailer of a movie, should not be a collection of cut pieces, rather all of its parts must be connected in a rational and logical manner. An outline is good only if it arouses the interest of the examiner.
5. Managing Time
Time management might not be as important in any paper as it is in CSS essay paper. Poor time management results in loss of coherence, spelling and grammar mistakes, and illegible handwriting.
Time management skills can be learnt only through regular practice. During the whole preparation phase, in my opinion, a candidate should take at least fifty essay practice tests. During these tests, more importantly, semblance of examination environment should be tried to be created as much as possible. A practice test taken while sitting in bed or in front of TV can be helpful in everything but not in passing CSS essay paper. Time management is up to the mark only if it manages to save at least twenty minutes for self checking the paper.