Queries & Answers
Thank you very much for your overwhelming response as always. It is always pleasing to realize that my words were able to support you in your journey to the destination of CSS. The Q&A session started with the last write-up continues as many more queries raised by you are still to be addressed. So let’s be on target again:
Q. What should be the ideal length of the outline?
Ans. An outline is fifteen to twenty percent of the essay, in every aspect. For instance, in a 20-page essay, the outline is normally spread over three and a half to four pages. And, in the three-hour time that is allotted for the essay paper, 25-30 minutes are to be spent on writing the outline.
Q. Some people say that outline should be written after writing the essay so that no important point is missed in that. Should it be so?
Ans. I don’t agree, at all, to this stance. In my opinion, outline is the same as the map of a housing society or architectural plan of a building. Commonsense suggests that the making of the map or the architectural plan can be useful only if it is done before the development or construction work starts; devising a building plan after the building is constructed would be of no use. Outline not only helps in maintaining a sharply focussed approach while writing the essay but also ensures better time management. It should mandatorily be drafted prior to writing the main body of the essay. It is, however, advisable to reserve space while making outline to adjust one or two points at some later stage. But, even if the space is not available, no issue, drop the point that has emerged at the later stage and remain focussed on what you have already mentioned in your outline. Outline, always keep in mind, is a serious business: you can’t afford to take it lightly. This is the outline on the basis of which the examiner would judge the relevance and quality of your material, correctness and maturity of your expression, and rationality and effectiveness of your presentation. Your step one while you start essay preparation should be to learn how to write an outline. Develop hundreds of outlines and then move forward toward the main body of the essay.
Q. What is the most suitable place for giving thesis statement?
Ans. Introductory paragraph. Introductory paragraph serves two purposes: (i) it attracts the attention of the examiner, and (ii) provides him an overall scope of the essay through thesis statement. It is now up to you whether you want to give thesis statement at the very start of the introductory paragraph or at the middle or the end of it. However, personally, I would go for ending the introductory paragraph with thesis statement.
Q. What should be the ideal length of the thesis statement?
Ans. As much as it is necessary to serve the purpose. Normally, it ranges from one sentence to four sentences, depending upon your writing style. As a thumb rule, thesis statement should neither be too short to convey the message effectively, nor too long to keep the examiner properly focussed.
Q. Is it good to give thesis statement in the outline as well?
Ans. Nothing wrong with it; provided it does not disturb time management. In such case, it should be as brief as possible.
Q. Is it recommended to memorize some introductory paragraphs during the preparation phase and reproduce the relevant one in the examination?
Ans. Memorized paragraph would rarely suffice to fulfil the demands of the introductory paragraph in accordance with the topic chosen for writing the essay. Introductory paragraph is written keeping in view the demands of the topic, and unless some such topic is there in the Question Paper as is exactly the same as you had prepared, the memorized paragraph won’t serve the purpose. There is, however, nothing wrong with memorizing some good sentences regarding every topic and reproducing them by adjusting skilfully at the most suitable places. Just consider the following sentences which can be used in every essay where reference is to be made to Pakistan:
“Pakistan is not the way it was supposed to be. Immediately after the inception, the ship of the newly-born state drifted away from its course, and today it sails far away from the point, it should have been. Why did it happen? Who is responsible for the distraction? Many more questions like this have been unanswered for decades and have perhaps lost their importance. Today, the more pertinent is the question how we will be able to get back in the right direction. Yet again, the more unfortunate is the fact, that we have again no answer.”
Q. Is it allowed to give formal definitions while writing essay?
Ans. Yes, it is. In such case, however, it is mandatory to mention the source as well. It is also recommendable to give 2-3 definitions taken from different sources. In an essay related to corruption, for instance, it would be good to use definitions of corruption as given in Prevention of Corruption Act 1947, and as provided by Amnesty International, and dictionaries like Oxford and Webster. It is also worth keeping in mind that no amendment, deletion or alteration in definition is allowed when it refers to some specific source.