- IAS Expert Advice
Strategies to Adopt During the Examination
Clearing the Civil Services Preliminary Examination is not only about mugging up a lot of information; rather, it tests your patience, perseverance and optimism in the exam hall against all odds. The ability to stay cool under lot of pressure is a trait required of a civil servant and UPSC looks for this trait in the candidates through the prelims examination. A common pattern is also observed that once an aspirant clears prelims, s/he most probably goes on to repeat the feat each and every year. So how do these students clear the prelims examination despite such immense pressure? Are there strategies adopting which a new UPSC aspirant can achieve this feat? Let's find out...
1. Time Management: The most important aspect (and we cannot emphasize on this point enough) is the management of time in the exam hall.
- Your mind should race against time to find some common link between the stated statements in the question and the knowledge you possess from the basic reference books. In this context, practicing as many questions as possible helps a lot.
2. Elimination Technique: If you find any statement from among the options as redundant or false, you can directly eliminate that option from your answer and this increases the probability of you marking a correct answer.
- In a scenario where the candidate is able to eliminate two options, the question should definitely be attempted. In such a case we would suggest you mark any one of the remaining answer as the probability of you marking the correct answer is almost 50%.
3. Extreme Statements: Another strategy commonly applied by students is to find extreme statements in the options.
- For example, "Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana failed to address the financial needs of rural India". Here the statement directly contradicts the salient feature of Jan Dhan Yojana which is financial inclusion. Hence the statement is false and can be marked wrong.
- This also implies that there is a possibility of you finding the right answer even though you may not know anything about the question through elimination of extreme statements.
- Therefore, the advice would be to not skip a question just based on a quick reading, but following it up by reading the options. This strategy is bound to fetch you some extra marks in prelims.
4. Note the Question Terminologies: Also while reading the question paper, cautiously note the question terminologieslike 'Not', 'Incorrect', 'Only' etc.
- For example, in a question which states "Which of the above statements are incorrect?', many candidates have been found to mark the correct statement as they fail to notice the question terminology. These blunders need to be avoided to ensure success in prelims.
5. Exam Hall Ego: Another common mistake candidates make during exam hall is wastage of time while facing a question based solely on their ego.
- Let's say Student A has dedicated hours of his time in reading polity but is not able to solve a basic question of Polity in Prelims. This not only reduces the confidence in aspirant A but also builds in guilt.
- Based solely on his ego, he wastes his precious time trying to solve the polity question, only to realize later that he could have fetched marks in other unattempted questions. This clarity of thought is normally found lacking in new aspirants and needs to be kept in mind.
- The objective of the candidate in prelims is not to top the examination but to clear the exam. This means you should fetch marks, no matter from which subject.
6. Marking of OMR Sheets in the Last Minute: Another mistake commonly observed is the marking of OMR sheets in the last few minutes by students.
- After the prelims examination, lot of students could be heard complaining that their invigilator did not provide them with enough time to mark their OMR sheet. This logic is both irrational and foolish and should to be avoided.
7. CSAT Paper: While solving the qualifying paper of prelims, i.e., the CSAT paper, students should focus on their strengths.
- It has been observed that many students are afraid of aptitude and reasoning in the CSAT paper. Revising some basic concepts of Class 10 would be a great help in scoring decent marks in aptitude section.
- The students can also rely on passages and comprehensions to ensure they sail through the minimum cut off. Solving few CSAT papers would go a long way in building up that confidence.
8. Strategise, Prepare, Revise and Practise: During the preparation phase of prelims, it all comes down to limiting the sources of reference books, revising the selected books religiously and preparing one's own notes for each subject.
- These notes will help in quick revision and come in handy even during the mains preparation.
- The last three months before UPSC prelims is of utmost importance and needs a detailed strategy which should be based on solving the previous ten year UPSC prelims question papers and understanding the trend of the exam. This should help you in devising a specific strategy, according to your needs focussing specifically on your weak areas.
- Once a study plan is fixed, sticking to the time table at all costs should reflect the strength of your resolve and be a testament of your will.
- No prelims preparation is complete without solving multiple choice question papers of different reputable coaching institutes. These tests help in self assessment and build up clarity and confidence on the subject among the aspirants over time.
- During preparation, students need to keep in mind that there is no dearth of books or study material in the market. Chasing a particular book or study material during the last stages of prelims is a mistake in itself. The students need to understand the paucity of time and should stay away from such books and coaching institutes that claim guaranteed success in UPSC prelims in the last minute.
- Finally, there can be no substitute to faith and confidence in oneself during the preparation phase. The mantra- "Self-trust is the first step towards success" rings true in this regard.
Civil Services has been a popular career choice of youth due to their exalted role in society, assured career progression, versatility and challenging responsibilities .Every year some six lakhs candidates compete for 800 to 1200 seats . Therefore competition is intense (1 seat against 500 aspirants) and only the best can survive. Looking at the level of competition involved in this exam, one can sail through this ‘hurdle race’ with flying colours only by proper planning, sustained hard-work over a long period, perseverance and patience. Proper planning is must for getting good rank in this exam. And the first step in proper planning is the right selection of optional subjects.
HOW TO CHOOSE ARIGHT OPTIONAL?
In my opinion, optional subject should be chosen on the basis of following five point criteria :
- Interest in that subject,
- Scoring pattern of the subject in the last two –three years,
- Less prone to likes and dislikes of examiner /objectivity,
- Availability of study material and
- Expert guidance.
First advice to choose optional is that one must have keen interest/strong liking for the subject. It generates a level of confidence in one‘s abilities and it helps displace more than 80 percent of peers. Remember any competition is survival of the fittest. It is an elimination of eighty percent of peers. Therefore, it should preferably be the subject studied during graduation/post graduation. There is no hard and fast rule in this regard, but my advice to aspirants in the last twenty years has been that choosing “parent subject” as their optional proves beneficial until and unless there are some very genuine points against that subject. For M.Sc background candidates irrespective of their success in this exam, it is the best subject and must be opted. Otherwise they are at loss. BSc background candidates, depending on their continued interest may or may not opt, but MSc candidates do not have much choice because: Firstly, they are most prepared in the subject and secondly, this is the subject of their first love and they will be at a great loss if they do not opt for it as it will be their alternate and glowing career choice. On the basis of interest, it has been the first preference of many bright engineering graduates and every year in my classes, I have more than 70 percent candidates coming from various engineering disciplines(more than half of them are IIT grads). A large number of engineering graduates appear with Physics,Chemistry and Mathematics as their optional, therefore large numbers are selected and thus creating a wrong perception of the subject being taken only by IITians/Engineers. These optional subjectsare most suited to M.Sc/B.Sc background candidates followed by engineering graduates .
Second criteria is the Scoring pattern of the subject (Although I consider every optional is equally scoring,then what do I mean by this statement? This means every subject in CSE is not evergreen, UPSC follows some pattern .Some subjects are on an upward trajectory for some period . This pattern is followed in case of popular subjects,which almost all are humanities subjects. But here Science optionals Physics/ Mathematics/Chemistry /Life Sciences/ Enggoptional etc stand tall and have advantage , as they are not very common optionals , only a handful opt for them . Therefore all science optional are evergreen subjects .Every year some 15 to 20 percent of candidates qualify for personality test with any Science optional and thus Physics/Mathematics or Chemistry for that matter is as good an optional as anything else .
Next criteria are availability of study material and expert guidance.
Syllabi of Science optionals are static in nature i.e. syllabus is fixed and plenty of books are available. List of books are well known and can be easily ascertained by google search.
One more advantage of science optional is their objective orientation. That is to say evaluation is independent of frame of reference.Whether paper is evaluated by a X examiner or Y examiner , if the answer is correct , marks are to be awarded.
IS COACHING ESSENTIAL?
It can be very well prepared by self-study.
Competitions are passed by an intrinsic level of candidates. Neither books nor teachers can create a topper. If one possesses those innate skills/traits a good guide or coach can hone them up. A good teacher can make your path less hurdle some, but cannot provide the drive. If one has a passion, energy and drive to succeed, then only one can succeed. Infact, in every successive batch, I have been repeating that competitions are always cleared by students ' own abilities. I only get credit for their success because I am still able to attract the best students of the country. Not everyone clears from my classes too. Out of a batch of 50 students, only 20 percent will pass, that I know from day one. Then why do people think coaching is essential? Answer is in between. For example, I have been teaching over a long period and have evaluated answer sheets of more than 5000 excellent candidates, so by my sheer experience I know what UPSC desires in a candidate.What kind of answer is expected?So, if someone joins or interacts with a person like me, a lot of time and energy can be saved. Syllabus of any optional is equivalent to a four-year degree course, which in our case turns out to be higher than that of an honors level and little less than that of Masters level. Only an experienced hand can do justice to such a vast syllabus in a short duration of 4 to 5 months.Good Coaching just provides a direction. It tells more of what not to be studied than what to study. If one is ready to work hard and practice, everything can be surmounted. More harm can be done by choosing a wrong coach. I consider self study to be a better option than going to many businessmen masquerading as coaches.
HOW TO SELECT GOOD COACH / COACHING?
These days there is a plethora of coaches offering all kinds of guidance with big promotions and fake results in the media. First of all, I consider, coaching is not essential at all.But if one wants to go for a coaching institute to save time and energy , institute or coach should be selected very carefully by talking to a cross section of selected candidates or from the feedback of known people , instead of blindly aping others and going by advertisements .
RELATIVE PERFORMANCE OF SCIENCE OPTIONALS IN CSE in LAST THREE YEARS
The relative performance of different Science optionals in the last three Civil Services Examinations as per latest 69th Annual UPSC Report is given below to help you decide about the optionals. Remember ten percent plus success rate is regarded as excellent in CSE. Most popular among Science optionals, Mathematics has a success rate of 7.1 and 5.9 percent respectively in CSE 2016 and ‘2017. Most popular humanities optional have success rates between 5 to 10 percent.Therefore, popularity of the optional does not mean high success rate. In terms of number of selections, definitely popular optional will have an edge.If a subject has 4000 candidates appearing, even the success rate of 4 percent will also be equal to 320 selections. But matter of fact is that forevery selection there is a rejection of 96. However limitation of this analysis is due to a time lag of 2 years in obtaining authentic data . I have written this article in March 2020 when UPSC has just released its 69thReport, providing data of Civil Services Examination 2017. Another limitation of analysis is that UPSC provides only the number of candidates finally selected, not the data of candidates passing Mains. If we take a factor of 2.5 for success in personality test, then the success rate of optional will be 2.5 times the numberof candidates finally recommended.
For Physics optional,which I know for sure, every year out of approximately 140 to 150 candidates appearing in Mains, about 30 to 35 candidates get a call for a Personality test.Therefore, I regard it as a best subject with consistent success rate and an evergreen optional. But if we analyse carefully from the table, most of the science/engineering optional have a double-digit success rate, and in true sense four out of one selection. Though they may require a little more time to master the desired level of excellence, effort is best rewarded. Science optionals by their very nature are objective, so even after normalization, are more scoring. If one is in the top ten percent of the class,300 plus marks are assured, which can easily catapult to one’s dream career.
Number of Candidates
( Source : UPSC Annual reports 67 ,68 and 69 )
From the above table, can we conclude more popular is the subject less is the success rate, more are the number of selections.
I have presented all the facts before you to decide upon the optional. This is going to be the first important decision,which can propel your career to great heights. Best of luck!
Mr. D P VAJPAYEE is a B.Tech from IIT, Bombay , M.Phil from JNU, New Delhi and L.LB. He is Director of Delhi Institute for Administrative Services ( DIAS ) , Pusa Road , New Delhi , country ‘s leading Institute for Science optionals . He teaches Physics optional, portions of Mathematics and GS and is one of the most popular and trusted teachers for Civil Services Examination in India.
What you score in Mains and Interview counts. But your fate in becoming an IAS or IPS and even the cadre allocation will also depend on how you perform in foundation course at LBSNAA.
- The days when the aspirants just had to wait for the UPSC final result to know whether or not have they got their desired service or cadre, may soon be over as the Centre is in the process of analyzing if the performance of the qualified candidates in the Foundation Course at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) can also be evaluated before the allocation of the service and cadre. If the proposal comes through, selected candidates will be allotted service or cadre based on their performances in the Foundation Course as against the present method of allotment based on marks scored in the UPSC examination.
- If the proposal that has been sent by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to various ministries for their feedback gets a go ahead, the aspirants will have to be prepared to accomplish an even longer path to be at their desired position in Civil Services. But this shouldn’t disappoint the aspirants as it will help in better judgments of the candidates and will help in getting the right people for the right service. Also, it will assist the trainees to make a better choice by matching their ambition with their aptitude.
- The candidates will have to put in considerate efforts even after successfully qualifying the exam to achieve the cadre or service they wish to move ahead with in their Civil Services career. The determination and the zeal to compete will have to be taken forward till the end of the Foundation Course.
- So, what is the Foundation Course? What it demands? What does it incorporate? This is something which fosters curiosity amongst the aspirants. Also, many a times the life and learning at the Academy are motivating factors for the aspirants.
What is the Foundation Course?
- The Foundation Course at the LBSNAA, Mussoorie is a 15 weeks course intended for the candidates selected in the All India Services (AIS) and Central Services (Group A). All India Services include Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS); Central Services Group A includes services like Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Revenue Service, Indian Customs & Central Excise Service, Indian Postal Service, Indian Trade Service, etc.
- The course is compulsory for IAS, IFS, IFoS and IPS. It is optional for other services of Group A. Previously, all the Group A services officers and AIS officers who clear the exam were mandated to attend the course at LBSNAA. However, since the campus has only a limited capacity and the batches exceeded the capacity, the training is conducted in multiple campuses across India.
What it Constitutes?
- The Foundation Course equips new entrants with requisite skills, knowledge and attitude to handle responsibility as public servants. It aims to promote all round development of the personality of an Officer Trainee (candidate who qualify the exam) intellectual, moral, physical and aesthetic. As the objective of the Course suggests, it strikes a balance between the development of academics and personality in its duration.
- The Academic Curriculum covers Public Administration and Social Management, Management, Law, Economic, History and Indian culture, Political Concepts and Constitution of India, Hindi and Regional language and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
- Strong emphasis is placed on extra-curricular and outdoor activities which are supported by various facilities provided to the trainees in the campus. Trainees can choose to participate in activities of various clubs and societies in the academy such as Adventure Sports, Computer Society, Film Society, Fine Arts Association, Management Circle, Nature Lovers' Club, Society for Social Service etc.
A Day in the Life of a Trainee at LBSNAA
- A typical day for an Officer Trainee (OT) at the Academy starts at 6 am with morning exercise drill at the Polo Ground for 60 minutes or a 6-10 km jog. Next in the line of the OTs are the classroom sessions, which commences at 9 am.
- There are 5-6 academic sessions of 55 minutes on all working days and evening hours from 5 pm- 7:30 pm are dedicated for sports and riding. Most cultural performances and programmes are also scheduled in the evening before dinner at 8 pm. Usually, the post-dinner time is used by the OTs to interact with each other and to review the day’s learning and prepare for the sessions for the next day. Notified holidays and weekends are usually used for extra-curricular activities of the clubs and societies or other sports/ adventure activities. The course demands 14-16 hours of activity per day.
- Additionally and interestingly, as a part of the training curriculum, OTs are sent on treks to the greater Himalayas with an expectation that it will help them learn to cope up with conditions of adversity, bad weather, insufficient accommodation and limited access to food items. Visit and stay in backward villages to understand and appreciate the realities of rural life also forms a part of the training.
- The Government is still in the process to take a final call on whether or not to mark the performance of the candidates in the Foundation Course before allotting the cadre and service. With aspirants, civil servants and ex-bureaucrats giving a mixed feedback to the proposal and the awaited feedback from the other ministries, coming to any conclusion will be ill-judged. What will also be anticipated by the stakeholders of the proposal is that on what basis the qualified candidates will be sent to LBSNAA as previously they were sent on the basis of their allocated service.
- Sooner or later, UPSC may come up with any change in the examination process with or without giving weightage to the Foundation Course which is unpredictable, but what needs to be constant is the dedication and vision to achieve the position where one desires to be in. n
- Recently Civil Services Exam has been revolutionized by the advent of Information and Communication Technology.It has modernized the preparation and how aspirants approached the Civil Services Exam. Today, information can be accessed by all with the click of a mouse or swiping on a tablet. The age-old preparation dependent on handwritten notes and collecting piles of newspapers has been replaced by various modern technologies. Internet, Social Media, Apps, Tablets, Smartphones have brought a dramatic change to the exercise of IAS Preparation.
- Of course, books, self-made notes and teachers can never be replaced but what we mean here is the online alternative and study hacks. Thanks to modern Technology!As the internet penetration gained grounds, it brought up more inclusiveness and accessibility to the rural and interiors region of the country. Thus, bringing up a better orientation and preparation.
- We intend to share here some tips regarding the use of modern-day technology to help UPSC exam preparation. These tools will help you in preparing for the exams so that your future is actually in your hands in the form of education-friendly devices. These tools can not only help you crack competitive exams but also help you successfully complete your course effortlessly.
Learning Through Videos
- A picture is worth a thousand words!It has been proved that students can learn and retain the information far much better when it is presented in video or picture form. The World Wide Web is full of educational videos that can be streamed via popular sites like YouTube and Vimeo – a professional video platform which offers ad-free videos for the student fraternity.
- It is now being seen as an interface between educators and students. It is through these sites that aspirants can dig into the details of a particular subject or any optional.The video allows us to assimilate the nuances behind a concept that is explained through graphs and charts. Thus, leaving an indelible imprint on your mind. Also, these instructional videos can help us deviate from the conventional style of classroom learning. It does not require our physical presence in the classroom. These are in fact accessible at any place and at any time.
Listen to Audio
- Nowadays, there are plenty of audio options that are available in the form of podcasts, online lectures and eBooks.These audio clips can be listened to your time and convenience. They are not only knowledgeful and informative but at the same excitingly different than the normal mode of study. One can also multitask whereby listening to the audio and in the meantime completing the chores. This multitasking is beneficial in preparing for the exams.
Apps Help You Keep Track of Your Progress
- In helping you to prepare for the exam meticulously there are many apps available which not only provide you with knowledgeful resources but also keeps tracks of your progress.Many apps after the course is over allows you to take test so that you can be informed of your strength and weakness. Through these tests we can realizeour progression before we take the actual main exam. The papers are categorized in terms of their difficulty and even give us rankings. By which we can know how our peers are doing comparatively to us.
- Burning a midnight oil is necessary for clearing the exams. However, if one uses the time efficiently and wisely, it not only makes the preparation seems easier but also healthier. Convenience is the buzzword. Studying smartly will make you different and an achiever. It is not necessary that a strict set of time is kept apart for studies, rather by using this modern technology we can start studying anytime and anywhere. These tools will help you in making your preparation simpler. So, take the most of these learning technologies to crack the exam.
– Singh Sir; Mentor, Civil Services Exam
The nature of this examination is to identify and select potential administrators, who have learnt, developed and inculcated ability to lead. Thus the choice of an optional subject shall be purely and solely on the basis of one’s own interest, not on the trends.
- For a sake of argument, if an optional subject is trending then almost more than fifty percent of the candidates appearing in that subject shall score sufficiently high, say 55% to 60%.
- However there are only few who manage to score in the bracket of 55% to 60% and more in every
- optional subject and thereby guaranteeing their success in this examination. It means that these few must have made some extra effort to develop the required analytical problem-solving approach. However, the majority of the rest continued to be tutored robots, reading stereotype material and writing answers with flying language but low in content and analysis.
- The pattern of the Civil Services Mains examination has been designed to test the ability of the candidate to apply the acquired knowledge obtained through study of various subjects as indicated in the syllabus to solve problems and issues. This may be appreciated from the fact that it is a test for intake of future administrators and policy makers/executors for the country. It is not a test for intake of researchers and academicians who have obtained a high degree of specialization in a particular subject.
- A trend analysis of the nature of questions asked in the Civil Services Main Examinations over the last decade indicates a well-thought and gradual paradigm shift from straight forward questions to such questions which require interpretation of the acquired knowledge and a reasoned, well-thought application of mind.
- Thus the tilt is towards finding those who have developed ability of problem-solving rather than those who have faith in memorizing set answers and trying to push the set answer down the throat of examiner, irrespective of the demand of question being asked in the examination. So the hidden dictum written on the wall is loud and clear that the system is up with continuous evolving techniques to select independent rational minds rather than well-tutored robots.
What should be the basis for selection of optional subject?
- The design of the Civil Services Mains Examination with four paper of General Studies, one paper of essay and two papers of the same optional subject is largely rooted in the subjectivity with possibility of existence of different interpretations at the same time. Thus the subjective world comprise of many different shades of grey, rather than the objective world which can exist in black and white.
- The choice of the optional subject shall be a well-thought and reasoned decision, largely based on the following considerations:-
- Humanities subject such as Geography, Political Science & International Relations, Public Administration etc prepares the mind for a subjective interpretation of the complex real world. Thus the selection of humanities subject gives a natural edge to a prospective candidate to do well in General Studies and Essay paper as it enables the candidate to gradually evolve analytical and writing ability, an indispensable requirement for getting success in this examination.
- The First Paper of each humanities subject invariably deals with the core principles and theoretical construction of that subject. This requires reading of authentic text books written by leading Indian and Western authors in that subject. Further, reading of NCERT books of Class XI and XII in that subject (if available) marks as a starting point only, not an end in itself. Generally it has been seen that those who pick up a humanity subject for the first time in their academic life only to prepare for this examination, tend to do better than those who have done graduation, post-graduation and further specialization in that subject. The reason for this dichotomous situation is quite obvious as the design of the civil services mains examination is to identify potential administrators not potential researchers and academicians.
- The Second Paper of each humanities subject invariably deals with application of concepts and theoretical constructions learnt in the first paper in day to day issues which affect the life of people in Indian set-up. Thus the nature of the second paper is highly generalistic, giving an impression that it is as good as a general studies paper. This in itself is a big catch as the urging tendency to write a general answer without application of the concepts learnt in the first paper leads to an award of a poor score, which in turn diminishes the chance of getting through this examination with the flying colors.
- Both papers of any humanities subject offers a huge potential for obtaining maximum score as it thrusts an open challenge before the candidate to demonstrate his/her analytical skill of problem-solving by integrating and weaving together basic concepts and theoretical constructions learnt in the first paper with the current trends evident in news at national and international level and government policies.
- However, most of the candidates look at this opportunity from a prism of confusion and over reliance on the stereotyped tutoring and study material and seldom make an effort to develop the right analytical skill of a problem-solver. So this is a challenge, if accepted with zeal and enthusiasm, the success will definitely embrace. Thus the aim shall be to become an analytical problem solver rather than a well-tutored mechanical robot.
Correlation between choice of optional subject and general studies
- The syllabus of the general studies in itself is as huge as an ocean. Thus the requirement is to swim on the surface of the ocean and to avoid deep-diving, which may take you back to the starting point.
- The key approach for general studies is to identify and read authentic text books more than twenty times rather than reading hundred different materials for one time. The first approach draws an analogy with swimming on the surface and covering the whole horizontal expanse of the ocean. Hence it enhances your precision, thereby increasing number of questions which can be attempted in prelims with greater degree of accuracy and lesser degree of errors. The second approach is as good as deep diving where efforts have been made and output is in haywire with uttermost degree of confusion coupled with vicious circle of failure and deep frustration.
- In this backdrop, the question arises that the selection of optional subject shall subtract from the syllabus of general studies or it should stand as an addition to the syllabus of general studies. In the case of latter, degree of effort is likely to increase without the optional subject giving any gainful contribution to the general studies. So in this context humanities subject emerges as a good choice for the optional subject which minimizes the burden of general studies and assist in developing writing-skill, a quintessential requirement for getting success in this examination.
How a Beginner should zero-in for an optional subject?
- It is advisable for any beginner to take a glance of the last five year question paper of the second paper of the optional subject, being generalistic in nature, it gives a broad sense of the subject.
- Thereafter, the candidate shall make an assessment for the choice of the optional subjects based on his/her level of comfort and interest vis-à-vis the nature of questions asked in the second paper. In case, a beginner is yet indecisive to assess his/her own level of comfort and interest, then he/she shall continue to study different subjects for general studies for some more time, the assessment potential will gradually develop and will show the way. Thus till that time a candidate shall learn to have patience and perseverance.
Last Piece of Advice
- In this examination with cut-throat competition, every marks count, so a candidate shall not put himself/herself in a disadvantageous position by making wrong selection of the optional subject.
- There may be a possibility that a particular paper may be trending high in terms of result and thus it may create an indispensable pull of attraction, which may be difficult or near impossible to resist.
- This is the moment where the skill of analytical mind has to be used, wherein the decision shall be based on the candidate’s level of comfort with that optional subject. To end this discussion, the decision shall be based on one’s sheer interest and liking, not on impulse and trends as one who loves his/her game will have the ability to innovate and create and that is what is required in this examination. n
“The country doesn’t deserve anything less than success from us. Let us aim for success”.
–Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Dear students we all are striving for success in some way or another and UPSC is one of that platform through which we strive for success and Sociology is one of the optional through which you can enhance your chances to become successful.
- Sociology is extension of our common sense knowledge of social life.
- As student in some way or another is connected with this society so he/she is having some basic understanding of society. But despite this some basic questions come in our mind regarding such as:
Advantages of Sociology
How effective is Sociology as an Optional in UPSC?
- Sociology is very effective optional. It not only helps you to get good marks in optional paper but is also helpful in Essay and better writing skills.
What is the success ratio of Sociology in UPSC?
- Success Ratio varies as around 85 to 240 candidates are getting selected. However, one can neglect this ratio as there are many candidates who are getting high marks in this optional despite failing in mains due to poor performance in general studies papers.
Will Sociology help in General Studies also?
- Yes definitely, being a generalized topic, it helps in all the four papers of the General Studies. Various sections in which it helps in General Studies has been mentioned below in this Approach paper.
Why Sociology is a safer optional?
- No special knowledge or academic background is required for the preparation of Sociology as an optional subject. Numerous evidence shows that candidates without any particular skill in Sociology have obtained high scores.
Who should take Sociology?
- Any student can take Sociology as an optional as it deals with society and we all are staying in this society itself. Apart from humanities background, students from technical background can also opt for Sociology as students from this background has an edge in applied aspects of Sociology. Rest of the students who are coming from other streams can also chose Sociology as an optional as it is much generalized in nature and no specialization is required for it.
Which books can be referred for Sociology?
- Being one of the popular optional subject abundant study materials are available. But beginning should always be done with NCERT 11th & 12th.
- You will never get too much low marks in this subject. Even if you have not completed the syllabus, you can easily write answers from a generalized perspective and it will help you fetch marks unlike other subjects where there are high chances of you getting zero as well in an answer.
- Further, Sociology helps you have a generalized theory on each issue. Therefore, you will be getting more marks in essays and use sociology scholars as well to fetch marks.
- Improve your interview skills and speaking at certain levels.
- Questions on theories are quite repetitive in nature. So, you need not worry about getting surprises in papers.
- You don’t need a previous background of the subject.
- Syllabus is not very lengthy.
- Resources and materials are easily available.
Importance of Sociology
General Studies - Paper I
- Political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.
- Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
- Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
- Effects of globalization on Indian society
- Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
General Studies - Paper II
- Pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
- Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
- Education, Human Resources.
- Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
- Role of civil services in a democracy.
General Studies - Paper III
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
- Land reforms in India.
- Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
- Linkages between development and spread of extremism. – Naxalism.
General Studies - Paper IV
- Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
- It helps with the essay paper since generally at least one essay is asked on social issues.
- We all live in society and by analyzing it we try to make our opinion. Being a Sociology student always give you an edge in maintaining balance in your answers in front of the Interview board members.n