In the previous lessons, you generated a lot of good keywords and developed insights into the core of UPSC Essays. The next step is to learn how to arrange these points into a structure and using them in sentences to produce an impactful Introduction to the answer-essays.
Why are introductions critical to UPSC Essays ?
Introductions are the first impression you will make on the examiner. First impressions are not only the last impression but inform how we form judgments about the source of the object.
This is true for your answer-essays as well. If the examiner judges you as a high performer while reading your introduction, he is likely to rate your answers as higher than average in the end.
If on the other hand, you are judged as performing below par in the introduction and the rest of your essay is good, you may end up scoring lower than you deserve.
The power of first impressions is demonstrated by the picture of the same man in two very different outfits. Which one produces the impression of trust and credibility?
The introduction is the initial portion of your answer-essay consisting of the first few sentences which the examiner will read before judging your answers.
The Introduction sets expectations for the rest of the essay. Often, these expectations are maintained over time so your introduction is the opportunity to convince the examiner that your answers are superior – an expectation which the examiner will carry throughout the time your answer sheets are being judged.
But the introduction is much more than the First impression on the examiner.
What not to do while writing Introductions for UPSC essays ?
- Do not mention the conclusions of your essay in the introduction itself.
It is a fatal mistake to declare your conclusion at the beginning of your essay-answer. It shows a lack of foresight and does not make the reader want to read further. Moreover, you may realize while writing that you do not completely agree with your initial thoughts about the topic. It will be impossible to change the entire essay at a later stage since this is a timed paper-and-pen test.
- Do not take a final stand about the topic in the beginning of the Essay
It follows from the point above that your opinion about the topic should be reserved for later in the Essay. Don’t simply agree with the Essay topic or disagree with it in the introduction. Take the reader through all the arguments and examples which lead to your conclusion. Declaring a one-sided opinion at the beginning of the essay will force you into a corner later.
Here is your free video tutorial:
What should a good introduction be like?
An impressive introduction,
- Gets to the heart of the issue in the Question. This means that you should avoid being indirect and introduce the core issue of the question in clear language in the introduction itself. Tell the examiner that you have understood the core of the issue and will use the main body of your UPSC essays to analyze the issue logically.
- Engages the reader without being ambiguous. This means that the introduction should arouse the interest of the examiner, but this does not mean creating suspense or mystery. Remember that the UPSC essay-answers should be logical, clear, and concise.
- Summarizes the main approach of the Essay answer: Your main approach while writing can be analytical or expressive. In the UPSC exam, your essays should always be analytical. The approach also means giving the examiner a sense of the structure of your answer.
- Tells the examiner what to expect if they read further: Your introduction should give glimpses into main arguments. Tell the examiner that you have examined the pros cons of UPSC Essays and have arrived at a mature understanding of the issues involved.
- Defines the main terms and states your fundamental assumptions. You have seen that an Essay topic can be broken up into Thing 1 and Thing 2. This is not an over-simplification. It is a powerful method to build unshakeable arguments because once the main terms are identified, you can define them. If your arguments are deduced from the definitions of the main terms, your essay will remain logically consistent. This is the reason that you define Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the opening lines of your essay in the introduction.
How to form impactful introductions using the ESSELGO technique?
As part of the ESSELGO technique, there is a method for producing very effective and impactful introductions called the 4Q2 method which you will learn about in this chapter.
Having brainstormed 12-15 keywords about Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the previous chapter, we will now use these to produce an impactful Introduction for UPSC essays.
4Q2 is an extension of the 4Q exercises from previous chapters. (As with Fork-you or 4Q, this technique also contains 4 questions and is therefore called ‘4Q2’, pronounced amusingly as ‘fork-you too’!)
STEP 1: Ask the 4 following 4 questions about the Essay topic
1. What is thing 1?
2. What is Thing 2?
3. What is the relationship between Thing 1 and Thing 2 mentioned in the topic?
4. Why is the relationship important?
STEP 2: Use the following steps to use 4Q2 for generating an introduction for your essay-answer.
- Imagine that a 15- year old is asking you these four questions. Try to answer in simple language which a 15-year old would be able to understand.
- Answer every question in one or two sentences or 10-30 words.
- Try to use the keywords which you produced for Thing 1 and Thing 2 while brainstorming.
- The Four Answers combined make up your introduction.
Solved example of 4Q2 on Previous year UPSC essays
Consider one of the previous UPSC essay which you are familiar with-
“Can capitalism bring inclusive growth”
Following the 4Q2 method, I answered the 4 questions in one or two lines and made sure to use the keywords from the Structured Brainstorming session.
Here is a visual snapshot of structured brainstorming using the 12 QC on the given essay topic. The images represent the images which came to my mind when I asked the 12 questions.
Keeping these words in front of me, I tried to answer the 4Q2 questions and produced the following sentences.
|Topic: ‘Can capitalism bring inclusive growth’||Possible answers|
|1. What do you understand by ‘Capitalism’?||Capitalism is an economic system which allows for private ownership and profit-making.|
|2. What do you understand by ‘Inclusive growth’?||Inclusive growth is multi-dimensional growth which includes different sections of society, all genders, and the environment.|
|3. What is the relationship between Capitalism and Inclusive Growth, as mentioned in the Question topic?||At first, it seems like the relationship between Capitalism and Inclusive growth is an incompatible one and they do not usually co-exist. However, it is a rich interplay of many factors which make this relationship complex.|
|4. Why is the relationship between Capitalism and Inclusive Growth important?||A harmonious relationship between Capitalism and Inclusive growth is of vital importance to the future of human society and the Environment.|
Finally, I combined all the 4 answers in sequence to obtain the following introduction:
Notice the effect of using the 4Q2 method-
- I simply reused the keywords from the brainstorming sessions and did not need to produce any new ideas.
- I defined the main terms clearly and stated my assumptions about what they mean. This will be invaluable while forming arguments in the body of UPSC Essays.
- The introduction is packed with a lot of meaning. It directly defines the two main terms in the Essay topic and goes to the core of the issue which is- Can Capitalism and inclusive growth co-exist?
- It mentions the relationship and speaks of the importance of the wider context.
- The introduction consists of about 80 words which is a good proportion to allocate for introduction for a 1000-word Essay.
- I did not need to use a fancy hook or quote in the introduction.
- This means that you don’t really need a lot of specialized knowledge to write a good essay.
The advantage of this method is that you do not need to generate many new ideas for a question topic because most of the clues are already there in the 12-15 keywords which you have produced during structured brainstorming.
Notably, the 4Q2 is widely applicable to all the papers of the Mains exam including Ethics, Essay, and General Studies. Regardless of where it is applied, the 4Q2 method will yield effective and powerful introductions to all your UPSC essays.
Generate an introduction in 200 words or less for the following topic using the 4Q2 method:
' Life is a long journey between human being and being humane' - (UPSC Mains 2021)
- Don’t worry if entire sentences do not come fully formed in your mind.
- Patiently push yourself to think harder on the questions listed in 4Q2.
- Remember that you have deconstructed and brainstormed on this topic before.
- USE the keywords which YOU generated for this UPSC essay topic in previous assignments.
- Don’t worry about being right or wrong. Just take your time and write the best introduction possible.
- Have confidence in your self. Attempt it. Know that you can do this!
Post your introductions in the comments below.
Tc and don’t forget to have fun while you learn!
Ravi Kapoor, IRS