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Sociology Optional Strategy

Sociology is one the most scoring optionals in the UPSC / IAS exam. However to score well in sociology, it is important that the student follows the correct strategy. UPSC aspirants can realistically hope to score very good marks (in the range of 300 and above marks out of 500 total marks allotted to the Optional) in the Sociology optional by adopting the right strategy.

Importance of adopting the right Sociology optional strategy

The right Sociology optional strategy will ensure that:


a) The optional syllabus is completed within a reasonable time frame of max 3 to 4 words

b) The IAS aspirant scores marks in the range to 300 to 330 in Sociology papers.

c) The answers of the UPSC candidates in the optional papers are as per the expectations of UPSC.

d) That the UPSC aspirant benefits not only in the optional papers but also in various General Studies papers as well as the Essay paper.


Sociology Optional Strategy: The Most Appropriate Approach

A serious candidate in the UPSC exam is advice to follow the below mentioned strategy:

a) Devote around 4 hours to optional preparation on a daily basis for about three and a half months.


b) Focus on developing conceptual clarity. Do not blindly memorize or engage in rote learning. In case of any doubts, clarify them with Pranay Aggarwal Sir.


c) Rely on authentic sources only. Authentic sources include standard books like:

a. IAS Gurukul’s class lecture notes (handwritten)

b. Essential Sociology by Nitin Sangwan: mandatory reading

c. Sociology Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos and Holborn

d. Principles of Sociology by C.N. Shankar Rao

e. Sociology of Indian Society by C.N. Shankar Rao

f. IAS Gurukul Paper 1 and Paper 2 study material (printed notes)


d) Notes making – ensure that your notes are comprehensive i.e. that they cover each and every topic in the sociology optional syllabus. After developing comprehensive notes for every topic, students are also advised to develop concise notes for quick revision after the prelims.


e) Link sociology with current affairs: Incorporate knowledge of current affairs in your sociology notes and answers in the form of examples to make your answers unique, topical and more marks fetching.


f) Regular answer writing – Sociology optional requires extensive answer writing practice. The more answer writing you can do, the better. Make it your target to write a minimum of two to three sociological answers every week. For an even better hold over the subject, UPSC aspirants should write sociology answers on a daily basis for 3 months.


g) Multiple revisions – IAS aspirants with Sociology optional are advised to revise their own handwritten notes at least 3 times before appearing for the actual UPSC exam.

Sociology Optional Strategy: What Sociology Optional Toppers Say

Several sociology optional toppers in CSE 2019 have shared their strategy with us. Some of the common elements in the strategy of most of the toppers is that:


a) They include names of various sociologists and mention various sociological theories in their answers.

b) Most toppers that we spoke to do not read from too many sources. They confine their sources to a limited number.

c) They got adequate answer writing practice before appearing for the actual UPSC exam.

d) They completed the whole paper for 250 marks and did not leave any portions of the paper unattempted.

To hear Sociology Toppers reveal their sociology optional strategy, click here. click here


AIR 19 Sreshtha Anupam

AIR 21 Pratyush Pandey

AIR 39 Ruchi Bindal



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