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I have to write an essay in about 1200 words. The general theme is related to ethics, character, attitude, philosophy etc. Following are some topics from previous year exams.

  • Customary morality cannot be a guide to modern life. (2018)
  • We may brave human laws but we cannot resist natural laws. (2017)
  • Need brings greed, if greed increases it spoils breed. (2016)
  • Character of an institution is reflected in his leader.(2015)

And so on...

What could be good strategies to approach such essays?

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With a prompt as wide open as this, I'd suggest picking a topic on which you are well-informed, and where you feel some sense of interest and passion. For a newer-style essay, a personal connection can be a big advantage, but not in an older-style essay where you are expected to be strictly objective and impersonal.

There are several different possible structures for the essay itself. You can make a point, and then build evidence for your view. You can examine both sides of an argument, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. You can do a neutral examination of a topic, without taking sides. However, from the examples, it seems most likely that they want you to pick a claim, and then defend it.

A good way to do this is to show the best argument for the side you favor, then the best argument for the side you don't favor, and then the reasons why the arguments for your side are better. If you are writing this outside of an exam setting, you will want to take the time to do research and to be able to cite supporting information or data.

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