Sociology is one of the most sought after optional in UPSC preparation. Many would say that the reason is that it has consistently been a top scoring optional with a track record of reserving the top ranks in the examination results.
However there are many more dimensions to the aura of success associated with the sociology optional examination.
First of all is that sociology is an optional which does not require any prior education background or need for graduation in the discipline. It is the study of society, society is something that we have been studying unconsciously since the time we started interacting with its multiple elements.
However, with our study of sociology, we are able to understand general concepts like caste, religion and family right from the story of their genesis, to their evolution and reasons for their relevance and hence sustenance in the society.
Second, because of the general nature of the specific concepts of society, the sociology optional helps us in multiple places in our essay preparation, the Indian Society section and partly the colonial structure of modern Indian history of GS Paper 1 as well as the Ethics paper or GS paper 4.
It also helps in the overall development of personality which in turn is reflected in our interview preparation. It develops a multidimensional view in a sociology optional aspirant which not only helps displays a certain level of maturity in front of the board members but certainly helps him/her in fulfilling his\her duty as an civil servant should they clear the examination.
Sociology is an optional that both benefits from your current affairs preparation as well as enhances it by providing a sociological point of view for ever issue. Thus it teaches you that what it is cannot be compromised for what it ought to be. Thus although child labor is a great evil, it is prevalent in the society because the poverty in Indian society needs it to get an extra helping hand to feed the family. Such sociological thinking can help in the diagnosis of the root cause of the problem and only with the diagnosis of the root cause can the real evil be eradicated. Such statements can thus add a realistic perspective to your answers and showcase your problem solving abilities to the examiner.
Thirdly, since sociology is our every day observations interpreted systematically in a research methodology, it is possible to play it well even if UPSC decides to throw a googly at you. By intermixing our observation of society with certain standard sociological thinkers for paper 1 and 2 and current affairs examples from our general studies preparation, we can prepare a suitable answer that will fetch reasonable marks even if we are unprepared in that area. Hence sociology optional is probably the only optional that guarantees that you can attempt 100% questions if you have a conceptual clarity and answer writing practice.
The fourth merit of sociology optional is that it takes your time only during the initial preparation phase when you are trying to develop conceptual clarity and a sound sociological base. Once the aspirant has develop a sound sociological foundation in their mind, revisions are far less time consuming as compared to other optional subjects. In fact, you can complete your whole syllabus in just five days before the actual examination once you develop a sound sociological mindset. That is why Pranay Sir keeps emphasizing on developing conceptual clarity in sociology optional in the class rather than merely mugging up the notes he dictates.
Another added advantage is that you will never get bored in a sociology class. It is a very interesting subject, again because it touches are everyday lives. And once you stop cramming and start understanding the sociology optional, you are bound to fall in love with it. Of course, something that is read with interest and curiosity is bound to stay with us longer and reproduced better in the examination answer sheet.
Also since sociology optional is one of the most popular optional, material with respect to this UPSC optional is readily available in the market as well as there are multiple sources to download it from the internet. There are many lectures available on youtube too to aid in your UPSC preparation.
You can also download Pranay Sir’s class notes and IAS Gurukul printed material for the internet to get a general understanding of the subject before you zero down on your final optional subject.
Also many toppers have discussed their sociology strategy in depth which you can find on the IAS Gurukul home page. This will especially help those students who do not have anyone to guide them in the preparation. Students of IAS Gurukul can of course also ask for personal mentorship from Pranay Sir whenever they want.
There are also excellent test series and answer writing program available both online and offline for the sociology optional. A serious aspirant should definitely enroll in at least one sociology optional test series to test their answer writing.
Sociology is an optional that to an extent is dependent on your writing skills as well and not just the knowledge you possess. It is hence very important that you learn to reproduce the knowledge in your mind on the mains answer sheet in a suitable format and within the time frame of the minutes you should mentally allot to answer each question. If you know a certain topic very well, say a question about karl Marx, you should not spent so much time answering the particular question that all your other answers are compromised. Likewise, if you are not confident of a certain question, you should not spent so much time pondering over it that you lose marks in areas that you know well. Only regular answer writing practice and test series will help you imbibe a right answer writing technique and hence is an essential pillar on which the foundation of your sociology optional should be based.
To sum it up, sociology is an optional that has withstood the test of time and changes in the UPSC exam pattern and the input of optimum effort in it gives the maximum output to enhance your mains marks.