Essay and Letter Writing for SSC CGLE& Bank PO Exams
SSC CGLE: Online Descriptive Writing is in Tier III. Only candidates who clear Tier II can appear for Tier III.
A pattern for SSC CGLE: Two questions for 100 marks – one essay (50 marks) and one letter (50 marks); Duration – 60 minutes.
Bank PO Exams: Descriptive Writing is part of the Main Exam. Immediately after the Main Exam, candidates must appear for Online Descriptive Exam on the same day.
The pattern for IBPS PO: Two questions for 25 marks – one essay (15 marks) and one letter (10 marks). Duration – 30 minutes.
The pattern for SBI PO: Two questions for 50 marks – one essay (30 marks) and one letter (20 marks). Duration – 30 minutes.
Reports and correspondence play a major role in all work, especially in administrative functions. Good writing skills can lead to eﬀective interaction and provide a much-needed boost to the conﬁdence of both the individual and the organization, while bad writing skills can lead to misinformation by way of wrong or ambiguous messages.
Provided herewith are the essential inputs for these two speciﬁc tasks – essay writing and letter writing.
An essay is an organized collection of your thoughts on a particular topic. While the length or forms of essays may vary, it is possible to distinguish types, chief among which are
narrative – presenting a course of events from an observer's perspective; descriptive – presenting a clear picture of a person, location, object; event, or debate; comparative – presenting the signiﬁcant relations or diﬀerences between two or more things, and argumentative – presenting an assertion and providing reasons for it.
Depending on the type and purpose of essays, their ﬂow of ideas may diﬀer, but the overall, basic structure would be a sequence of (a) introduction, (b) main body, and (c) conclusion.
The introduction leads the reader to the topic and indicates what the essay will deal with. It usually consists of a paragraph which will contain a couple of key sentences.
The main body deals with the major ideas that deliver what has been indicated in the intro. Each main idea is presented in a separate paragraph and developed with supporting detail in the form of deﬁnitions, explanations, and examples where appropriate or necessary.
the conclusion brings the reader back to the purpose of the essay and draws all the points together, making a ﬁnal comment on the result of the discussion. This ﬁnal comment may point towards some consequence in the future or may make a general observation.
In short, an essay will show a progression from a general level (in the introduction) to the speciﬁ c (the statement and body) and then to conﬁrmation (conclusion).
Remember that apart from the ideas, the basic elements of communication, namely, clarity of thought and eﬀective expression, are equally relevant.
An evaluator of an essay would normally look for:
Content: Information (namely the facts and factual circumstances used in support of explanations, reasons, and viewpoints) relevant and adequate to support the viewpoints presented.
Ideas and their development: Eﬀective use of information to present viewpoints and explain them – with reasoning and example.
Perspective: Viewpoints should be presented in an objective manner, assessing pros and cons, and all signiﬁ cant aspects of the issue.
Structure & Organization: The logical ﬂow of ideas in interbody-conclusion form, paying attention to paragraph structure and paragraph-ﬂow.
Control over language: Eﬀective vocabulary and sentence structure.
A step-by-step method, with a checklist, would ensure eﬃcient use of time spent on an essay:
C – Collect ideas – What is the topic and what are its keywords? What is it about? What information does one have? How does one gather further information? What ideas or views does one have (or what views does one develop) on the basis of this information?
O – Organise them – Put ideas into groups. What would be the purpose or theme of the essay? What would be the appropriate ideas to start with? What are the further ideas that one could continue with, and what would these ideas lead to? What ideas would be the right ones to conclude with? I am sure that careful thought and eﬀ active notes would help you organize the content.
D – Develop them – Explanation. What pieces of information, what sort of explanation, and/or what examples, would support the ideas, the theme, and the purpose?
E – Express them – Write the essay. Stay with sentence structure, vocabulary, and idiom that you are familiar with. Individual sentences should not include more than one idea. This way, you have better control over basic language aspects, like grammatical construction and punctuation.
R – Review – Satisfy yourself that there are logical ﬂow and coherence and that the language is error free. Remember: In an essay intended to explain – you should have explanations that are clear and concise.
In an essay intended to express an opinion – you should sequence the ideas and viewpoints, with supporting information and examples, in a manner that reﬂects your opinion.
Here are some opening and connecting words and phrases:
Introduction of a viewpoint: It is my opinion that..., My own view is..., As I see it..., I believe..., and so on.
Structuring or classifying: To begin with..., First of all..., For one thing..., and so on.
Adding: Further..., Moreover..., Likewise..., In addition..., Besides..., Equally..., Another point to be..., Apart from this..., and so on.
Giving examples: For example..., For instance..., A good example of this..., An appropriate illustration of this..., and so on.
Generalising: On the whole..., In general..., Broadly speaking..., In most cases..., To a large extent..., and so on. Giving details, making things clear: In fact..., This is clear from..., This can be seen from..., Considering this in greater detail..., and so on.
Analysing a point: What this means is..., In other words..., Translated into real terms..., and so on. Concluding: In conclusion..., To sum up..., In short..., and so on.
If you're new to essay writing, here are some suggestions for initial preparation:
Start by reading some well-written articles in newspapers and magazines. Look at the way they've been constructed, especially now that you have an idea of what goes into a good essay.
Next, try rewriting. Once in a while, take an article that you've understood well, read it again, put it away, and try rewriting the content in your own words.
This would help you get familiar with writing as an activity. Since you are reproducing ideas that you've read, you can concentrate on the necessary aspects of written English. This will help you gain conﬁdence in your ability to write.
Then, get started on your own essays, using the methods that you've gone through in this discussion. For the ﬁrst few, do not worry about the time you take. Gain practice and conﬁdence in being able to write eﬀective essays up to 400 words in length.
Thereafter, progress to writing essays in limited time. Try writing essays in 20 and 30 minutes. You should aim for about 250 words in 20 minutes and about 400 words in 30 minutes. Let us now focus on letter writing. Formal letters. These are letters written in the course of work, whether that be in academics, business, politics or administration.
They are written for speciﬁ c purposes, such as
(i) seeking information or assistance,
(ii) oﬀering information or assistance,
(iii) seeking or passing on instructions, and
(iv) seeking or making suggestions. Such a letter begins with the sender's name and address.
This is followed by the receiver's name and address, and then the date. The body of the letter begins with a suitable salutation, followed by a line denoting the subject.
The ﬁrst paragraph should oﬀ er a brief introduction and an indication of the purpose of the letter. In the paragraphs that follow, details are provided – one paragraph for each set of details.
In the last paragraph, the purpose is summed up, and response or conﬁrmation is sought. The letter is closed with a suitable statement of regard.
The following sample would make things clear.
Dr Sunil Kumar,
Resident Medical Oﬃcer,
Pin Code 000 000.
The General Manager (Sales),
LMNO Pharma Limited,
79, Shastri Road,
Pin Code 999 999
Sub: Request for a direct supply of Y Tablets As the RMO at ABCD Hospital, I have the responsibility of ensuring that life-saving drugs are always available in the hospital stores, for administration to patients in the Intensive Care and Critical Care Units. I am writing to you to seek your help in the matter of supply of Y Tablets.
Our hospital has a reputation for very eﬀ active care of patients with advanced stages of XX disease. We have found your product, Y tablet, to be the most eﬀ active medication for such patients. Till recently, we had always been able to procure the adequate stock of these tablets from your local distributors. For the past month, however, we have not been able to replenish our stocks.
Your local distributors have no stocks and have not been able to procure stocks for us from other distributors or from your company. They informed us that there is likely to be a delay in receipt of supplies.
I am therefore writing directly to you in the hope that you will be able to help us. We have a very small stock of these medicines with us – enough only for the treatment of two more patients.
This is a very critical situation since, we cannot turn further patients away, yet we will not be able to treat them eﬀectively. Could you, as a special case, arrange for at least one batch of these tablets to be produced for us, and see that they are sent to us on a war footing? I am attaching a copy of the approval letter for this purchase, issued by the Secretary to the Ministry of Health.
Your immediate action will be greatly appreciated, not only by us but also by the needy patients who would be put to extreme diﬃculty if we are not able to provide them with these medicines. I would appreciate an urgent reply conﬁrming that you will be in a position to comply with our request and informing me of the date by which you will be able to make the dispatch.
Thanking you, Yours Faithfully, (Dr. Sunil Kumar) RMO, ABCD Hospital As can be seen from the sample, the language is polite and formal, yet the words used are appropriate to the urgency of the situation. ~ ~ ~ Informal Letters.
These are letters written in the course of social interaction, between family members, relatives, and friends. They are written with personal relationship and interaction in mind and are almost conversational in nature and tone. The letter starts with place and date and a suitable salutation. It ends with a suitable statement of aﬀection or regard.
There is no formal structure to be followed for the content in between (the body of the letter). The ﬂ ow would depend entirely on the purpose of the letter and the nature of the content.
The following sample would make things clear.
My Dear Sudharsan,
You must be really surprised to receive a letter from me after all these weeks of silence. Well, I really have no excuses for the silence and hope you'll forgive me for that.
I trust this letter ﬁnds you and the family in the best of health and spirits. We are all in good cheer at this end. Guess what! I've been nominated as the person in my company who made the most valuable contributions at work during the last year.
In recognition, I get a certiﬁ cate, a plaque for my drawing room, AND a fully paid one-week holiday in Europe, for four adults and four children. You remember, when we were in school, it used to be our dream to visit the Alps and the castles on the Rhine! So, when I knew of this award, I knew immediately that our two families should make this trip.
We can plan it for any time this year, at our convenience! So, what do you say! I hope you'll say “let's do it!” Talk to your family about it, and get back to me, and we'll work out the details together. I'm looking forward to your response, and I'm NOT giving you the option of saying 'no'. Love from all of us to all of you.
Take care. Yours aﬀectionately, Anil As you can see from the sample, the language is informal and conversational and the words are suited to the emotions being expressed.
Since much of our communication happens over the phone, these days, we may not be paying as much importance to letter writing as we used to, and, as a result, we may not be comfortable with letter writing.
However, it is a skill we must have, since formal letters are still very relevant at work, and informal letters are a good way of re-establishing old contacts.
Practice, and practical use is the best way of regaining conﬁdence with letter writing.