How To Prepare Sociology Optional For UPSC

Dear Candidate, given the Limited Time that you have and the Infinite Syllabus that you have to prepare for the Civil Services Examination, it becomes very important to manage your time wisely and utilize your energy efficiently. It becomes all the more important in light of the fierce competition that you face ahead. Here, I would like to recall a line from the book You Can Win by Shiv Khera, that,


“Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently”.

Now, I would like to brief you about our unique approach for “preparing Sociology optional” for the Civil Services Examination.

Firstly and fore mostly, you must understand that no matter how many sleepless nights you may spend preparing for this examination, ultimately, it is only those 3 hours (at the examination hall during the Mains (Written) Examination) that are going to decide your fate. So, it is very important for the candidates to prepare their subject strictly in an Exam Oriented manner. What is important here is not how much you have studied for the exam but how much you would be able to write at the time of the exam? So, what is important here is not to master the subject in all its possible details but rather, one should prepare the subject strictly in a professional manner keeping in mind the demands for ‘conceptual clarity’, ‘analytical reasoning’ and ‘correct writing expression’ as set forth by Union Public Service Commission. Only then one can hope to cover the syllabus for this exam in a time-bound manner with better chances of success. This you would realize step-by-step as you move along these notes and with vital inputs from my side during the course of your preparation.

Secondly, one must follow a Theme-Based Approach instead of Topic-Based Approach, whereby one should identify the major theme that underlies a given topic and runs through several other related sub-topics in both Paper I and Paper II. I often tell civil services aspirants to prepare the sociology optional syllabus in a wholesome manner. In other words, one should prepare both Paper I and Paper II in an integrated manner. In Paper I, which is mainly about western sociology, candidates must try to quote example from Indian context. Similarly, in Paper II, which is basically about Indian sociology, candidates must try to substantiate their answers with the help of theoretical arguments from Paper I. Thus, the strategy to score better in Civil Services Examination with Sociology optional is to Indianise Paper I and Westernise Paper II.

Thus, following a theme-based approach you would not only realize the depth of understanding that is expected from candidates at this examination but also it would keep you focused throughout your preparation. Please note that the theme-based approach would help you develop Mental Framework of the entire syllabus. Further, once you are confident that you have understood the broader dimensions of the theme then it would also resist your temptation to collect more and more study material on the same topic. Thus, saving you both time as well as energy. You will learn this art as we proceed with the syllabus.

So, when I say Read Relevantly, I simply imply that given the limitations of time and energy, one should focus only on the important themes that run through the syllabus. Otherwise, given the vastness of the syllabus it would be impossible to do justice with all the topics mentioned in the syllabus in a time span of 3-4 months. Candidates must understand that just any information on the topic mentioned in the syllabus may not be equally important from the examination point of view. Hence we have to be selective in our preparation.

To Think Logically implies that you must correlate your arguments in a logical manner. This will happen only if you have a thorough grasp of the concepts. So, Conceptual Understanding and Conceptual Interlinking both are very important. But equally important is its practical application in the contemporary scenario. So, whatever concepts or theories you study in the syllabus, you must also try to relate them with the contemporary society and changes therein.

Write Relevantly is the most critical stage of all. As I mentioned in the beginning that no matter how much you might have studied and what all sources you might have referred, ultimately it is your answer sheet that determines your destiny. Thus, your written answer must be a perfect blend of conceptual clarity, contemporary analysis and sociological language. More importantly, such an answer needs to be produced on paper within the Time-and-Word Limit.

Dear Candidate, ultimately, you get only those 3 hours to convince the examiner that how dedicated you are about Civil Services and what importance does it carry in your life. The Dialectical Approach to answer writing in sociology would make sure that your sincere efforts find a reflection in your answers. So along with working hard (Hard Work), we also need to work smartly (Smart Work). As you would proceed with the chapters you would learn more about note-making and answer-writing. Please follow the instructions sincerely.

Thank You

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