How to prepare optional IAS exam: You all know that while giving the IAS exam, you also have to prepare for the optional subject. IAS coaching in Dehradun, But confusion always comes in front of you and that is to choose which one is right for us from 25 optional subjects. We have provided detailed information about which optional subject is suitable and how to prepare for it in this article. Now leave the worry of optional subject preparation and read this article and accept the things given here. In the Civil Services Examination (CSE), candidates are only allowed to choose one optional subject. The marks earned in the optional subject are considered in calculating the merit.
All the remaining papers are either common for all or only qualifying in nature.
The optional subject test is the key to success in UPSC CSE. In the GS Mains exam, you cannot make much difference.
But in the alternate, you can also gain 20-50 marks if the alternate is good and efforts are made in the right direction.
What is the importance of an optional subject?
The task of getting the right optional subject in UPSC CSE is very important. This is because the scope of scoring higher marks is more optional as compared to General Studies (GS) mains exam or any other category. Although the weightage of the GS Mains exam is 1000 marks, on an average over two-three years, the marks of a GS Mains topper range between 475-525 out of 1000, which is only 50% of the total marks in the GS Mains. However, in the case of toppers of optional subjects, the score is between 350-370 out of 500 which is more than 70%, so even though the optional subject exam’s weightage is less than GS Mains, the optional exam is comparable to GS Mains exam Chances of getting high marks are very good.
What about the ability of various optional subjects?
- The ability of the optional subject in itself makes a huge difference in the total marks of the subjects.
- For example, two students appearing for the same optional subject having the same level of preparation are more likely to score marks in the same range.
- However, if they have two different optional subjects then the difference in their marks is likely to be even greater in case of the same level of preparation.
- The wrong choice of the optional subject plays a major role in being unable to clear the UPSC CSE Mains Exam.
- For two serious aspirants, the difference in their GS Mains exam will not be more than 10-15 marks, while in the case of optional subjects, this difference generally goes up to 40-60 marks.
How does moderation in alternatives give it an edge?
- UPSC, unlike state PSC exams, does not believe in scaling optional subjects, but only in moderation.
- Scaling means equalizing the marks of two (or more) different optional subjects. This is done by making an estimate about the similarity of the level of the students.
- For example, assuming that the student who scores top in the Mathematics elective is at the same level as the student who scores highest in Anthropology, etc.
- UPSC does not accept this basis as correct but adopts the method of moderation.
- If an examiner has given some extra marks to a student in a particular subject, the head examiner will reduce the marks based on his/her understanding.
What should be the criteria in optional?
- There are certain criteria for choosing the right option, however, there are high chances that even the most suitable option does not fulfill all the criteria.
- It should be a top priority to consider how easy it is to score in a given optional subject.
- It would be wrong to consider that all optional subjects in UPSC are equally scored.
- For example, about a decade ago, psychology was an ‘optional’ subject for students. Out of the total of 700 selections, around 300-350 had psychology as an optional subject.
- In 2005-06, Public Administration was the optional subject and in the 1990s, Anthropology was the most opted subject by the students.
- students’ abilities
- Capabilities of students No one can be equally good in all subjects and it is important to identify what is the most suitable option for you and work accordingly.
- For example, if you have exceptionally good writing skills then you should choose a subject where subject matter matters like Political Science, Sociology, Literature, Public Administration, etc.
- However, if writing skills are not your forte but you can do well with flowcharts, maps, and diagrams, then the right choice is going for an option where the diagrammatic representation of the answers and maps are in the form of an engineering subject like geography or physics. Works well in.
Identify your interest
Subjects that you really love to study will make the journey at UPSC much easier. You will not get tired of studying it easily, there are very less chances of getting monotony. Your interest in a subject is one of the criteria that should be given priority, however, it should be considered after the above two criteria.
Overlapping with GS
If an optional subject is helpful in general studies or even in an essay or interview, it automatically increases the preference for the particular subject, other things to consider in this regard is to see how much the subject is helping you ( What is the weightage of the subject material in all other exams.. GS, Interview, Essay, etc) and how many marks your time it is saving.
Less mobility, better subject. In some optional subjects, the questions remain the same but the answers change every year.
For example, Political Science Paper-II
That is, in International Relations, almost every aspect of the subject is very dynamic and has to be updated regularly. Even in sociology and public administration, though not as much as in political science, aspects of mobility are quite dynamic. However, in subjects like History, Geography, any subject of Literature, Philosophy, or Psychology the answer should not change every year.
What about competing alternative selections?
Competition should not be a criterion as UPSC CSE optional subject is not an inter-subject competition, the competition is among all students of all optional subjects, there is no reservation for subjects other than this; There is no norm that a certain percentage of students will be selected from each subject, so competition to choose a particular option should not be considered as a viable parameter.
Which subjects give more marks?
- One good thing about choosing English as the medium to take the UPSC CSE exam is that the scoring does not vary much from one subject to another.
- Based on the general trend, the subjects that have the potential to help you score around 330 marks (with your utmost dedication) in the optional subject exam are Mathematics, Anthropology, Sociology, literature, Public Administration, and Geography.
- Right after them comes History, Law, Management, Commerce, and Accountancy.
How to know the scalability of a subject?
A good yardstick to judge the scalability of a particular subject is to avoid including the rare scores obtained in that subject in your analysis – either the highest or the lowest.
You should look for subjects where more than 300 marks were obtained by students in more than 10 cases (cumulatively not on yearly basis) Also, avoid referring to optional subjects and marks before 2013 because at that time UPSC Mains exam syllabus was changed, include the following year’s results in your analysis, and don’t forget to calculate the average marks of the students (who scored more than 300 marks) as it will give you a general idea of that subject Will give achievable marks. Provided you are a serious, dedicated candidate with very good writing skills.
What should be the right strategy?
- The strategy should ultimately be made by you. One of the right ways would be to go through the entire GS syllabus in one go and then choose the right option for you.
- You can study either in parallel (multiple exams; GS, essay, optional, simultaneously) or by pipelining (one by one).
- Either approach is fine, provided you have thoroughly studied your optional syllabus before appearing for UPSC Prelims.
- You should not only cover your optional subject syllabus but also practice answer writing in that subject.
How beneficial is it to choose a literature subject?
- Any literature subject in the optional subject in English medium is highly scoreable.
- This is because the evaluation of the copies is done only by the subject experts and it is believed that in all the regional literature, the idea of helping the candidates prevails.
- Regional literature is quite subjective in nature, especially in Paper 2.
- Even if you don’t know the exact answer, you can make some guesses and think accordingly which pays well.
- One issue in choosing regional literature topics is getting guidance from subject matter experts.
- Choosing this topic really helps if you manage to get access to that guidance.
Importance of NCERT for optional subjects?
- Reading NCERT first will help you in two ways: It will clear your basic concepts. Sometimes in higher-level books for UPSC, all the valid material is given but the basic concepts.
- Clearing your base by studying NCERT really works.
- The biggest challenge in UPSC Mains is to write answers in around 200-250 words which are easy to write in around 600 words.
- The old NCERT books are so accurate that one can easily understand by reading those books how to write a good answer with less word limit.
- However, if you have not studied NCERT and are satisfied with your preparation, then there is no need to go back to NCERT studies.
What type of answers does the examiner expect?
- If the question is objective in nature or can be properly presented in the form of a map, flowchart, or diagram.
- If you are asked to compare two states in terms of sex ratio, literacy, etc., then in such a situation, a table will definitely help you to write your answer in a better way than a single paragraph.
- However, when there is an analytical question that asks you to discuss the answer in detail, giving flowcharts and tables will make the answer seem shallow and superficial. There will be no depth in it.
- Whether it is a GS Mains paper or an optional subject paper, it should be decided according to the nature of the question (subjective or objective), if it is appropriate to represent the answer with flowcharts, diagrams, and maps.
What are the popular optional subjects?
- Among the optional subjects chosen by the candidates, Geography was the most preferred subject, followed by Political Science and International Relations and Sociology.
- In recent times, Hindi literature has been a popular optional subject among students writing mains and clearing CSE.
Below is a list of these popular topics:
Important Tips for Optional Subject:
So far we have presented detailed information about the optional subject in front of you. Now giving some important tips for you that you can use for your studies.
1. It is better to follow a good magazine from your respective subject. Study subject-specific magazines and good articles from authentic sources and newspapers like The Hindu and Indian Express.
2. Try to quote recent reports, indices, and surveys or recommendations of any eminent committee in your answers.
3. Quoting good sources makes the answer authentic and increases your chances of scoring high.
4. UPSC gives weightage to authentic answers.
5. While studying current affairs, note down the unique results/conclusions of recent research, books, articles, indices, reports, and reports.
6. Using these unique facts in essays, optional subject exams or GS Mains exams will be really helpful.
7. You should not be selective while studying the syllabus of the optional subject exam. About 90% of the subject has to be covered in the syllabus.
8. You may leave only one or two topics without studying properly but still keep the idea the same.
9. Those who have studied selectively have a very high risk of exposure to this exam.
10. The preparation for the optional subject is complete only when you have practiced all the previous year’s questions because there are high chances of repetition of questions in the optional exam.
Information about the optional subject has been given in front of you through some tips, you must read it and include it in your strategy. Friends, after reading here, you must have understood that in this article, we have given detailed information about the optional subject for you.