One of the toughest decisions that aspirants probably have to make in their UPSC
journey is to choose the right optional. UPSC is an examination which is predictably
unpredictable. UPSC every year decides the kind of the questions and the weightage of
every section that will come in the question paper. Hence, very little is left for aspirants
to decide on their own.
Hence when UPSC lets you decide something on your own, the decision should be taken with all seriousness. Also, as we know, it is the optional marks which often make or break the mains examination of an aspirant. Often the general studies marks of a recommended and not recommended aspirant may lie in more or less the same range. It is thus the optional marks which qualify one of them for the personality test and pushes another back into next year’s UPSC exam cycle.
The reasons why sociology is a popular choice for civil services exams, or more popularly known IAS are:
The highest marks achieved in sociology so far are 329 in 2018. However, sociology optional toppers over the years have been able to score 310 plus in the examination. With the right strategy and hard work, 285 plus is an easily achievable target in sociology for IAS.
Sociology for IAS is considered one of the safest optional. Not only is it relatively easy to score a very high score in sociology for IAS, but it also difficult to get a low score. You can expect a 240 plus even if you think you have performed poorly. One year an optional might outperform other optional subjects, but it may also crash the very next year. However, sociology for IAS has never had a very bad year.
It is relatively easy to complete the entire question paper for sociology for IAS. Infact,
most of the aspirants should target 100% paper completion from the very start. This is
because sociology is the study of society. Society is something we unconsciously study
all the time since it is all around us.
Thus even if you have not studied for a particular question, you can write your basic observations in a sociological manner and add a few standard thinkers in between. Thus, you can manage to write a reasonable answer to get a few extra marks this way. These few extra marks can add up to take you a long way.
The limited syllabus of sociology for IAS helps the aspirants in completing the entire optional in three or four months. If you prepare your sociology optional by getting a basic clarity of concepts and then revise it a few times, you can complete the entire syllabus later in just five days before the mains. The limited syllabus also helps the aspirants get more time for their general studies preparation.
Sociology for IAS has syllabus overlap with GS Paper 1 and to an extent GS Paper 2 of the mains examination. It also helps immensely in GS Paper 4 or the ethics paper. Sociology for IAS also helps in providing excellent introductory and conclusion for writing the essay answers.
Your sociological understanding of issues can not only help you in the mains
examination, but also in the interview or personality test. Studying sociology for IAS
helps an aspirant develop a multi dimensional and balanced approach to various issues.
These are the qualities that UPSC specifically mentions in its notification as what they
are looking for in aspirants.
Sociology for IAS also helps aspirants develop their own opinions and view points on various social issues by providing them a complete picture of the situation.
Hence, Sociology for IAS is a choice that will help you not only in the mains examination or the personality test but also throughout your career as a civil servant, should you manage to win the UPSC marathon with aid of your sociology optional.