How to prepare sociology optional without coaching

How to prepare sociology optional without coaching: The right strategy

Sociology is a highly reliable and time tested optional for UPSC mains examination. One of the reasons behind this is its high score-ability. To get a high score in sociology, one needs to formulate the right strategy. Right strategy often requires right guidance. Often students who take coaching are able to find experienced mentors at the institute to guide them through the UPSC puzzle. However, there are a sizeable number of aspirants who are unable to undertake coaching for various personal, professional or financial reasons.

However, it is important to note that coaching for sociology is the stepping stone to the ultimate goal. It is however, not the goal itself. There is no need to get disheartened if you cannot get access to coaching. You can still formulate a personalized strategy to guide you through the mains examination.

Following are few points to help you formulate a non-coaching strategy for sociology optional:

Memorize the syllabus:

Knowing the syllabus of the sociology optional is the first and one of the most important parts of an aspirant’s sociology strategy. This especially important for aspirants who are not availing coaching. Since they have to collect whole of their preparation material on their own, it is important that they learn the entire syllabus by heart. This will help them not miss topics in between while collecting study material from various sources.

It will also help them make them their own notes from the newspaper and various magazines.

Previous year question papers:

Previous year question papers help in providing an answer to the question of how to prepare sociology optional without coaching. This again helps you understand the demands of the UPSC mains sociology exam.

It also helps understand the areas from which more questions come ever year and hence the parts of syllabus on which more stress needs to be placed.

Download study notes:

You can download online IAS Gurukul classroom notes for free from IAS Gurukul website. They are also available in physical copies from the market. These are comprehensive notes prepared by Pranay Sir which cover the entire syllabus.

Apart from this IAS Gurukul sociology optional booklets are also available online on the website. Current affairs for sociology by Pranay Aggarwal is especially useful for Paper 2. It also helps the aspirant understand how to use current affairs to enrich their answers in sociology.

Essential Sociology by Nitin Sangwan:

Essential Sociology by Nitin Sangwan is a blessing for those who are looking for answers to the question of how to prepare sociology optional without coaching. This is probably the only book which has the entire syllabus of sociology optional in one place. It has been written while keeping specifically UPSC in mind by a successful ex-aspirant.

Reading this book will help you re-confirm that you have covered the entire syllabus.

Standard recommended books of sociology optional:

You should go for the standard books only after you have gone through the IAS Gurukul class notes. This is because, firstly, after reading the class notes, you will be able to comprehend these books better. Secondly, these books have not been written for UPSC aspirants. They have been written for sociology students who are pursuing it as a profession. Hence, they have to be read only selectively.

Your syllabus, previous year question papers and IAS Gurukul class notes reading will help you differentiate between what is relevant to the UPSC exam in these standard books and what is not.

Here is a list of standard books for sociology optional:

Paper 1
1. Sociology Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos and Holborn
2. Sociological theory by George Ritzer.
3. Essential Sociology by Nitin Sangwan.

Paper 2
1. Principles of Sociology by C.N. Shankar Rao
2. Sociology of Indian Society by C.N. Shankar Rao
3. Societal Problems by Ram Ahuja
4. Current Affairs for Sociology by Pranay Aggarwal

Make your own notes:

Making your own notes is the key to the dilemma of how to prepare sociology optional without coaching.

Writing the information you have collected from various sources into your notes will not only help you memorize them faster, but also save you from the headache of putting them together again and again.

It will also help you revise faster and more efficiently a few days before the mains examination.

Regular answer writing practice:

Regular answer writing practice should be an important part of any aspirant’s sociology strategy, whether they opt for coaching or not. Sociology is a writing intensive optional. Thus, it is not only important to know what to write, but also how to write it.

Regular answer writing will also help an aspirant develop their own unique style of answer writing. Once a standard framework of answer writing becomes ingrained in their minds, they will be automatically able to replicate it in the answer sheets. This will help them save a few extra minutes aspirants take in trying to decide the framework of their answers sitting in the examinational hall.

Evaluate your answers:

If an aspirant is able to join any mock test series, it is good. However, do not worry if you cannot do so. You can get your answers evaluated by other senior aspirants and friends or any other experienced mentor.

If you do not know anybody in your circle who is preparing for civil services, there is no need to lose heart. You can download topper’s answer sheets available online and self evaluate your answers, comparing your answer style with them. You can then make further improvements from the points you are able to gather from these comparisons. You can use these points while writing your next answer.

Here are the answer sheets of few IAS Gurukul sociology toppers:

Name of Students Download Answer Sheets
Neha Bhosle Rank - 15, 2019
Neha Bandhu Rank - 121, 2019
Srushti Deshmukh Rank - 5, 2018
Sanya Chhabra Rank - 84, 2018
Gaurav Kumar Rank - 34, 2017
Sudhir Kumar Rank - 42, 2017

Watch online videos and read topper’s blogs:

You can also watch online strategy videos of toppers and read sociology topper’s blogs to help you with your sociology strategy.

Similarly there are separate online videos and content available on various sociological thinkers and themes. In case you have doubts after reading the written material, you can watch these online videos to gain more clarity on specific areas of the syllabus.

Update your notes with your newspaper readings:

Updating your notes while reading the newspaper is very important. You can also read certain reputed magazines like Economic and Political Weekly selectively to gather new sociological case studies to further enrich your answers. This is especially important for Paper 2 which is slightly dynamic compared to Paper 1.

While coaching may act as the wind beneath the wings of the aspirants, ultimately one has to fly on their own to conquer the UPSC skies. Finally, it is the hard work and perseverance of the aspirant that bears the final result.

Hence, with these valuable tips, non –coaching aspirants can easily compete shoulder to shoulder with ones who can avail coaching. Thus we hope you will be able to get started with your strategy and preparation rather than pondering further on how to prepare sociology optional without coaching.

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