UPSC Mains Exams

Sociology: The Best Optional for UPSC Mains Exams

The UPSC exam is conducted in three phases. These phases are Preliminary examination, Mains examination and Personality Test. Optional is the part of second phase of UPSC i.e. the UPSC Mains Examination. In the Mains phase of the IAS exam, an aspirant need to write two subjective papers based on Optional subject. In this article we will understand the benefits of choosing Sociology as optional subject for Mains exams.

You can read also: Preparing for the UPSC Sociology Optional Current Affairs

Why You have to choose the optional Subject?

The optional subject comprises of 500 marks which can make a huge difference in the overall result of the aspirant. Choosing the correct optional subject is very crucial for UPSC aspirants. The right Optional subject will ensure your name in the final list. Besides, a wrong selection based on incorrect information will ensure your name remains out of the UPSC’s final list. Thus, to study well and secure good marks in Mains exam and to get a good rank, the UPSC aspirants should carefully analyse and choose their Optional Subject.

What is the Exam Pattern of Optional?

  • UPSC provides a list of 48 optional subjects.Among the 48 subjects one subject have to be selected as Optional.
  • The aspirants have to appear for two optional papers (Paper 1 and Paper 2) of same subject.
  • Each paper is of 250 marks, making a total of 500 marks.
  • Duration for each Optional mains paper is 3 hours.

You can read also: IAS optional Sociology- Reading Books Versus Watching video Tutorials

What factors you have to consider while choosing an optional Subject?

  1. Scope of the Optional Syllabus: –It is essential to understand the scope of Optional syllabusto get clear idea about the length and coverage of topics. The aspirants should analyse the syllabus of the optional subject, to be chosen, in details. Consider the length of the Optional subjects and the General studies subjects to be covered. This will give a clear idea about scope of syllabus and aspirants can plan accordingly.
  2. Level of Competition: –A few applicants feel a decent UPSC Optional subject is the one that has a high achievement ratio as far as various aspirants are appearing. Nonetheless, it is just incompletely evident. More than all the other things, your answer copy will be assessed based only on your answer’s understandability. Thus, pick a subject that you’re OK with.
  3. Availability of material for your Optional: –In UPSC mains examination, Optional subject comprises of 500 marks. To cover such a high marking subject, the aspirants need a good amount resources for every topic. Besides the aspirants also needs to value – add content in the material. The aspirants should take into the consideration that how easily good study material is available for an optional subject on internet and offline mode.
  4. Familiarity with the Optional subject: -For scoring good marks in Optional it is crucial to understand the concepts. If the students are familiar with the concepts, it will help them to score good marks.Choosing an optional which is completely out of familiarity will left the aspirants frustrated. The aspirants should consider their subjects of graduation and then decide the Optional subject.
  5. Check the Overlapping Syllabus: –An aspirant should consider the same topics that are to be covered from the Optional Syllabus and the General studies syllabus. The aspirants should choose the subject which have more overlapping topics. This will reduce the time to read the same topic and enhance the writing capability of the aspirant.

What is Sociology?

Sociology is the study of human social relationships and institutions. Sociology’s subject matter is diverse, ranging from crime to religion, from the family to the state, from the divisions of race and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture, and from social stability to radical change in whole societies. Sociology is an exciting and illuminating field of study that analyses and explains important matters in our personal lives, our communities, and the world.

  1. At the personal level, sociology investigates the social causes and consequences of such things as romantic love, racial and gender identity, family conflict, deviant behaviour, aging, and religious faith.
  2. At the societal level, sociology examines and explains matters like crime and law, poverty and wealth, prejudice and discrimination, schools and education, business firms, urban community, and social movements.

At the global level, sociology studies such phenomena as population growth and migration, war and peace, and economic development.

What is the Significance of studying Sociology?

  1. Sociology offers a distinctive and enlightening way of seeing and understanding the social world in which we live and which shapes our lives.
  2. Sociology will let you to look beyond normal, taken-for-granted views of reality, to provide deeper, more illuminating and challenging understandings of social life.
  3. You will be able to study social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behaviour.
  4. This subject will enable you to think critically about human social life, and how to ask important research questions.
  5. Sociology will inculcate a habit to help others understand the way the social world works and how it might be changed for the better.
  6. Most generally, you will understand how to think, evaluate, and communicate clearly, creatively, and effectively. These are all abilities are of tremendous value in a wide variety of situations in life of civil servant.
  7. It develops a particular analytical perspective, awareness and analysis of the human social relationships, cultures, and institutions that profoundly shape both our lives and human history.

Why Sociology is the best Optional for UPSC Mains?

From past few years Sociology has remained one of the best optional subjects in UPSC mains examinations. Here we have enlisted the reasons which makes the subject of Sociology best optional.

1. Sociology is interesting to study!

The subject matter of sociology Optional ranges from the intimate family to the hostile mob; from organized crime to religious cults; from the divisions of race, gender and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture; and from the sociology of work to the sociology of sports. This makes the subject interesting to study and easy to understand.

2. Sociology is a scoring subject!

The most important aspect of Optional subject is that the aspirantsshould score good marks with it.The performance of students with the Sociology optional is consistently well. Every year the number of students opting for Sociology as a optional is increasing. Moreover, the aspirants with sociology optional are consistently getting top ranks in UPSC.

3. Sociology can be opted by aspirants with any stream!

Sociology is one such optional which can be chosen by aspirants of different streams. Considering the background of the aspirant plays an important role in scoring good marks in optional subject. It will help the aspirants to analyze the concepts in more holistic way.

4. Sociology Study material is widely available!

It is crucial to check the availability of the study material before selecting any optional subject. For a subject like sociology, ample study sources are available. Also, proper coaching will enable you to understand and learn the right portion of the syllabus of the UPSC optional paper.

5. Sociology syllabus can be covered in less time!

The syllabus of sociology option is pretty concise and be covered in short time frame. If you are left with lesser time, it is reasonable to opt for sociology. It will reduce your burden and will save your time as it can be learned from practical experiences as well.

6. Sociology topics overlaps with GS papers!

Sociology syllabus overlaps with almost the entire general studies syllabus. The sociology topics overlaps with General Studies papers and current affairs. Besides, these topics can also be sued in writing the essay and ethics papers.  In case you choose any other optional subject, you would have to read a considerable amount of Sociology related topics especially in current affairs.

7. Sociology is beneficial in UPSC Interview!

The requirement of this subject is just the experiences gained from society. Along with a good research and proper guidance from experienced mentors aspirants can score good marks in sociology. Sociology as an optional subject is also beneficial with the UPSC Personality Test. 

What is the best Strategy to prepare for Sociology Optional?

  1. Analyze the Syllabus: – The first step towards clearing the IAS exam is understanding the syllabus. Get the Syllabus of Sociology optional and make sure you read it once daily. This will help the early birds on focusing the syllabus points while reading Newspapers and reference books. Thus, the time spent on the topics which are not related to the syllabus will be saved.
  2. Analyze Previous Year Questions: – Once the syllabus is understood, the next step is to analyze the patterns and sources of questions asked in the previous questions asked in Sociology Optional.The aspirants should study the previous year questions for both, Paper 1 and Paper 2.
  3. Limit the Sources: –The aspirants should make a list of books and sources they have to refer forPaper 1 and Paper 2.They should strictly limit the sources. Instead of reading multiple sources the aspirants should read same source multiple times.
  4. Prepare concise Notes: –To raise the efficiency of their preparation, the early birds should consider making their notes.This will be beneficial in retaining the important points of any topic that has been read from different sources. Besides, it will also help in establishing the interconnection of Current Affairs with different points in the syllabus. But the aspirants should also take care that the notes should be precise and in a format that is easy to revise.
  5. Value addition: –The IAS exam demands the aspirants to be up to the mark in terms of current data which may be the latest Report, Indices, Study, or any government Initiative. To increase the weightage of your answers, especially in UPSC Mains Optional Writing, the aspirants should take extra efforts in value addition in every sub-topic of the syllabus. This can be simply done by adding any latest national or international report or any case study in the topic.
  6. Focus on multiple revisions: –The aspirants should focus on dedicating a fixed time every day for revision of the topics studied in a day. The focus should be on revising each source material 3 times before the Mains exam. This will help to recollect the vast information about different topics and improve their learning capabilities and build confidence.
  7. Practice Optional Mock Tests: –The most important part of Optional preparation is Solving the Mock Tests. The aspirants should start solving the Optional Test Series only after completion and revision of the optional material. The reason behind this is that without revision the aspirants will not be able to recall the information while solving the questions. It will only add to the ambiguity in the preparation and lower their morale.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs) on Sociology Optional:

1. Why to choose 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.

2. What is the success ratio of Sociology in UPSC?
The Sociology Success Ratio candidates getting selected are around 85 to 240. There are numerous candidates who score high in their optional but due to not performing well in their GS papers, they are not able to clear Mains.

3. Why Sociology is a safer optional?

Sociology is considered as a safer optional as it doesn’t require any particular knowledge or academic background for its preparation as an optional. It has been proved many times that candidates without any prior knowledge of Sociology have scored well in their optional paper.

4. Which NCERTs 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.

5. Who should take Sociology?

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.

6. Will Sociology help in General Studies also?
Sociology 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.

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