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optionals

select optional

why it is important

SELECTING THE OPTIONAL FOR CIVIL SERVICE –

selecting of the IAS Mains Optional has always been a tricky decision for Civil Services aspirants. As of now, the number of optional subjects to be selected is one, but aspirants are always divided on what represents the right choice. Among the many things that influence decision making are whether to go for so called scoring subjects or stick to what interests them or they should go for their academically familiar subjects.

Though the weigtage of the optional paper is only 28% marks out of 1750 marks in the written part of civil service exam, it still packs more punch than its share in the exam.

How many marks are good enough to get an interview call?

Analysis of mark-list of last 5 years of mains written part of UPSC Civil Services Exams, shows a shift of around 80 to 100 marks in cut-off across categories reserved to general and all this is 10% variation over the period.

 

How important is the selection of Optional in IAS Mains?

If you are so strong in all your GS papers with consistent newspaper reading and note making habits, the decision of IAS Mains optional might not play a big difference in your results. But unfortunately very few aspirants fall into the “strong GS” category of students and it’s not easy to get into the club without serious long term preparation.

For all others,  call them “average GS” category, the decision of IAS Mains optional is very crucial. You need to select an optional subject in which you are comfortable to score high in UPSC mains. The level of comfort depends on many factors like the – familiarity of the subject, availability of books and other study materials, availability of faculty, the scope of peer discussion, recent trends of marks, the level of difficulty as per the syllabus and previous question papers etc. If the subject you took for graduation is available in the list of subjects given, in most cases the same option will turn out as a comfortable option. All others (who don’t have an option for optional subject:-)), look for an optional subject which you can finish in a time bound manner without encroaching the time for GS preparation.

Overlap for the IAS Mains optional subject with General Studies: Is this the right strategy?

Selecting an optional having common areas with General Studies is a good strategy, as the time required to study an optional subject not mentioned as per GS syllabus can be saved.

Do not disregard interest factor - your interest in a particular subject should be factored in.

Some subjects are lengthy – keep in mind tat certain subjects are lengthy & hence time available can be important.

 

Do not take an optional just based on advice from coaching institute gurus - Trust good mentors, but by this age, you are grown up enough to realise the commercial interests behind promoting each optional subject – be it History, Geography, Sociology, Pub Ad, Psychology or anything like that.

High scoring subjects  is a myth - Please understand that each and every optional subject is scoring. Due to the scaling effects, some optional might not turn high-scoring in some years, but there is no universal trend or theory.

Optimisation of Optional and GS Marks

  1. Don’t take an overlapping optional if you are weak in it, there is every chance that it can turn counterproductive.
  2. Don’t take an optional subject which requires extensive preparation, if the time left before you is limited (say less than 4 months)
  3. A scoring overlapping optional subject, though which might require substantial preparation due to the vast nature of the syllabus can be adopted, if you have – background/ previous exposure in the subject, or if there is adequate time left. If you are running short of time, select an optional paper which requires less time for a decent level of preparation.
  4. If  1-2 years is available before mains exam, a hardworking candidate might be able to finish standard textbooks of almost any optional subject. But compromising GS marks for Optional preparation can also turn suicidal, and hence not advised as per the latest pattern of exam.

Popularity of IAS Mains Optional Subjects

In IAS exam preparation, certain optional subjects are very popular. Though the number of candidates selecting each optional for IAS mains can vary year to year, the below table gives an average estimation for the coming years based on past year trends of optional subjects (As per latest syllabus).

Optional Subject Probable Number of Candidates  selecting
 each optional Subject in IAS Mains
History Around 3000
Geography Around 3000
Public Administration Around 3000
Sociology Around 3000
Philosophy + Psychology + Political Science + Economics <2000
All other science/art subjects
(in total)
<1000
All literature subjects
(in total)
<1000
Total Around 15,000

PS: The above chart is just indicative in nature as the trend varies every year.

The never ending questions and queries like best optional for IAS, scoring optional, highest success ratio etc queues up every year, but these questions are relative. If you examine the background of toppers in the exam, you will be amazed to see wide representation from almost all optional papers listed by UPSC, and that itself tells half of the story. Please keep in mind that all optional subjects are high scoring if you have knowledge in the subject and if you can answer the questions in an analytical frame of mind in line with the latest requirements of UPSC.

Conclusion

The decision of selecting the optional is a personal choice of each aspirant according to his/her strengths and weakness. We get many queries from aspirants to select the right optional for them, but normally we don’t give personal advice regarding optional subject selection. Though we try to reply most emails we get, it’s practically impossible for us to know each aspirant personally. We know these queries are quite normal at the early stage of the preparation and we can understand the anxiety of every aspirant. But only you know your strength, weakness, taste and availability of study materials. We can give broad guidelines, but let the decision be yours. Let this selection of optional subject be part of the decision-making process you will be starting soon in your career. The guidelines and statistics listed above might help you clear a few of your doubts. Do your own analysis at what might suit you.

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IAS COACHING IN KOLKATA

best ias coaching centre in kolkata

TOP UPSC CIVIL SERVICE COACHING CENTRE

IAS VISION

coaching

Students find it difficult, when it comes to deciding which study center is the best for IAS coaching in Kolkata? it is fairly undeniable that one single institute normally does not possess and offers the best of classes, study materials or test series.

Few essential things are discussed below and should be kept in mind when one starts planning preparation for civil service exam. What is at stake is a most productive part of your life?

  1. Right study material selection for preliminary, mains and interview along with standard texts.
  2. Planning for time bound completion and doubt clearing of syllabus.
  3. Finally, analysing yourself independently by enrolling for a good test series.
  4. Have a look at past year trends and understanding the usefulness of debate oriented discussions.
  5. Understanding the connect between newspapers and exam and understanding forward and backward linkages.
  6. Students planning for a single attempt & plan for repeat attempt only an afterthought.
Priorities may vary for aspirants searching for the right ias coaching in kolkata, but they should essentially deliver on the following counts:
  • Enrolling in an institution which does all your homework like delivering relevant study materials, reducing overall load of syllabus and  helping comprehend the basics of static & dynamic sections of syllabus.
  • Debate oriented interactive classes.
  • creating better comprehension of events happening around.
  • Finally understanding the idea of going through standard texts in a time bound manner.
  1. Why centres for IAS coaching in Kolkata  fail to deliver on the above issues?
  • Hired teachers -Most institutions do not have their own teachers and hire them for a fixed period i.e. few hours a week.
  • Lengthy study materials – At times institutes fail to complete syllabus, either due to lack of proper teachers or because of paucity of time and resort to providing lengthy text study material which is highly unmanageable but absolves institution of its liability.
  • Background preparation not done – students take admission in coaching classes without adequate prior preparation & teaching in Indian colleges is very little debate, dissection and presentation. Civil service needs a more analytical approach and students and aspirants take time to understand changed requirements and circumstances, for others is too late in the day.
  • Course period too short and no after course support – mostly coaching centers design programme’s in a manner that suits a graduate of Indian university but the sad reality is, most Indian colleges have few classes, no writing practice on a large and rigorous scale. Same is true of schools, eventually leaving aspirants at the mercy of their own efforts. Too much to do in too little time.

 How Ias coaching in kolkata is  different at IAS VISION?

  1. Regular classes round the year (full time teachers).
  2. Regular flow of information to students from various websites i.e. PIBthe frontlineTime.
  3. Doubt clearing facility.
  4. Assignments & surprise tests.
  5. 2 year support.
  6. Full time teachers (7 days a week support).
  7. Up to date study materials.
  1. Why most institutes providing ias coaching in kolkata fail to support students adequately?
  • Classes too thick & fast - In regular weekday classes without intervening holidays , it is impossible to seek clarifications during the term of the course, which runs between 8 to 12 months.
  • Inadequate time – in weekend classes it is impossible to devote enough time, leading to backlogs and always keep in mind, civil service is about forward and backward linkages.
  • Most institutes do not run internal test series – with classes what is needed are internal assignments, chapter based tests & subject and class related tests to assist in comprehending subject matter at hand.
  • one size fits all solution - same mode of teaching for all i.e. beginners and advanced

 How Ias coaching in kolkata at IAS VISION resolves the above issues?

  •  Students can slow down or speed up classes depending on their ability to keep pace & comprehend.
  •  weekend class students can increase classes by attending special classes on govt. holidays and also on weekdays whenever possible.
  •  unending test series programme keeps you on tenterhooks throughout

 Besides the above we at IAS VISION make sure that the following potential pitfalls are not encountered by our students.

  1. Independent evaluation – Enroll for a test series programme from institution other than where one takes classroom coaching. It boosts confidence and full proofs students against inadvertent overlooks across relevant subject areas.
  2. Avoiding pitfall of turning out to be one-dimensional – every institute has different strategy and approach towards preparation, some prefer exhaustive approach while others prefer selective intensive approach. UPSC has an uncanny ability to pack surprises in civil service exam every year & putting all eggs in basket can turn out to be high risk approach.
  3. Plugging the loopholes – At some point during preparation it is always adviced to read through the standard texts but the question is when? Some think standard texts can be read before one starts coaching classes, others think it is better done after coaching classes are over so that you do not lose interest and also by this tine one would be able to differentiate between important and less important areas.

     4. Institutions and coaching centres providing ias coaching in kolkata always take a risk free approach leading to lengthy study materials and defeating the efforts and disturbing the focus.

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