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Letter writing, Report writing and Essay Writing tips for competitive exams

Descriptive English section covers forms of communication like letter or report writing. This section is mostly present in those exams that have more than one phase like the RBI Grade exams or the SBI PO and various other bank exams. The rationale behind this section is to test the candidate’s fluency in writing letters or other forms since these are the frequent modes of communication in most banks. These organizations are judged by the quality of their writing and hence, it is important that the candidate is proficient in these skills. This article will cover the various forms generally asked and the best way to approach them.

Letter Writing tips

Letter writing can be considered easy as it follows a fixed pattern. The typical structure of a letter is:

  1. ‘From’ address – This includes the sender’s name, address and/or the telephone number.
  2. Date – The day the letter is written
  3. ‘To’ address – This consists of the receiver’s name, designation and address.
  4. Salutation – Formal salutations typically are “Dear” or “Respected”.
  5. Subject – A short sentence of the purpose of the letter
  6. Body – This includes minimum three paragraphs, first stating the reason of the letter, second a description of the problem faced and third a summary or solution to the problem.
  7. Complimentary Close – This is a term added prior to the signature of the sender. Common terms include “Yours sincerely” or “Yours faithfully”.
  8. Signature – Name of the sender and his/her signature.

 

How to Write a Good Letter

  • Follow the structure of the letter
  • Have grammatically correct sentences.
  • Keep the context of the letter in mind and write accordingly.
  • Do not write long letters. Minimise it to three brief paragraphs.
  • Refer good grammar books to get an idea of good letter writing methods.

Examples for Letter Writing

  1. Write a letter to the bank manager to share an innovative idea on file management system in banks.
  2. Write a letter to the client of your bank who got a car loan from you 2 years ago and has sold it now without paying the loan.

Some Dos and Don’ts in letter writing

Dos:

  1. Be careful about spellings
  2. Begin with a proper salutation
  • End with a correct complimentary close. Yours thankfully, for example, is grammatically wrong.

Don’ts:

  1. Do not forget the date. This is one that students frequently leave out.
  2. Do not leave a task asked. Cover the complete question.
  • Do not use contractions, especially for formal letters.

Report Writing for competitive exams

Report writing is mainly used when an incident or an experience has to be described for the readers. This type of writing is prominent in newspapers. A title must be given along with a by-line and the entire report must be broken into three paragraphs – introduction, body and conclusion.

How to Write a Good Report

  • Stick to third person narrative
  • Use past tense
  • The report must be simple and straightforward. Avoid using superfluous English and exaggerated narration.
  • Divide your ideas into multiple sentences, rather than one long sentence.
  • Competitive exams generally give topics from current burning issues. So, make sure that you are up-to-date with current affairs.
  • Try to keep the report as factually correct as possible.
  • Make sure the report answers the questions – What, When, Where, Why, Who and How. A report that answers all these questions is considered to be a complete one.
  • Keep the report brief.

Things to be followed for Report Writing

  • Read a newspaper everyday to get ideas on how to write reports.
  • Observe the writing style of good newspapers and try to imbibe them in your writing
  • Write reports on your own to get good practice.

 

Examples for Report Writing

  1. During the Kerala flood tragedy, the Learn for Knowledge group had organized various cultural activities to collect funds for victim families. As the cultural secretary of the club write a report for your newsletter about these activities and how you utilised the funds collected.
  2. Write a report on the fire accident in the marketplace which you witnessed.

Some Dos and Don’ts in report writing

Dos:

  1. Define jargon before using. This increases clarity.
  2. Keep your content relevant.
  • Proofread after completion

Don’ts:

  1. Do not use the same word repeatedly. Use synonyms instead.
  2. Do not use emotive language. Reports must only report, not influence.
  • Do not use idioms.

Essay Writing for competitive exams

An essay is a long narrative about a given topic. Competitive exams generally use essays to understand the candidate’s power of reasoning, analysis and justification.

How to Write a Good Essay

  • Understand the topic given. Wrong understanding might become a cause of reduced scores.
  • Break the essay into three paragraphs – introduction, body and conclusion.
  • Link the ending of one paragraph to the beginning of the other to maintain the flow of the essay
  • Have three major points and three minor ones to have a strong essay. The major points must be given in the beginning of each paragraph and the minor points must be used for supporting them.
  • Begin the essay with a famous quote or a saying to add emphasis.
  • Keep in mind the word limit given and adhere to it strictly.
  • Give ample examples, quotations, statistics, criticism, etc to support your ideas
  • Write the essays in a lucid style and present your ideas in a clear and concise manner.

Things to be followed for Essay Writing

  • Read articles from various good books and newspapers for practice
  • Strive to have a good vocabulary
  • Read widely and extensively to get the knack of the language
  • Write various drafts before writing essays to habituate yourself in the activity.
  • Take a few minutes to collect your thoughts before placing them on paper.

Examples for Essay Writing

  1. Ethical problems of e-commerce.
  2. Role of uneducated people in Indian economy.
  3. Over-dependence on monsoon.

Some Dos and Don’ts in essay writing

Dos:

  1. Stick to one idea while writing
  2. Be objective
  • Use words for smaller numbers

Don’ts:

  1. Do not switch tenses. It is an example of bad writing.
  2. Do not pose questions.
  • Do not use lists. Make it into paragraphs.

General Instructions

The Descriptive English part of any competitive exam might feel tedious. But it is a known fact that writing skills improve with constant practice. There are many guide books and online courses that help students in writing. Students can refer to those while practising. An effective method to reduce mistakes is to proofread the entire article after writing. Though this seems simple, students miss out on this one and subsequently lose marks.

Have a clear mind while tackling this section and keep track of the time taken. In case the topic is not known, think logically about it and make efforts to attempt it. If you do not have matter, then compensate by manner. Be strict about the word limit given and make sure you do not exceed it. One good way is to have an idea of the number of words you get in one paragraph based on your handwriting and the size of your text. Finally, do not lose hope after attending the paper and hope for the best results.

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