Sociology Optional Books

How to score 300+ marks in sociology optional in UPSC exam?

Over the years, sociology has emerged as one of the most popular optional subjects in the UPSC civil services exam. One of the important reasons why many candidates, including many successful ones, choose sociology as their optional is its scoring potential.

In fact, every year, several successful candidates score more than 300 marks in the sociology optional papers out of 500 (The 2 optional papers are for 250 marks each; totalling 500 marks). These marks not only help them to crack the IAS exam; but also, to secure a decent rank and thereby get selected for a preferred service.

While scoring 300 plus marks in sociology UPSC papers is definitely possible; it is not easy. In this detailed interview; we bring forth the views of reputed sociology optional faculty Pranay Aggarwal Sir; who has groomed hundreds of successful UPSC candidates in his career; on scoring 300+ marks in the sociology optional papers.

Question: Is it realistically possible for a UPSC aspirant to hope to secure 300 plus marks in sociology optional?

Answer: The short answer to your question is ‘yes’. It is very much possible. Having said that; I would also point out that it is not easy. Simply, it is difficult to secure 300 plus marks in any optional subject in the UPSC exam. While several top scorers in sociology every year score in the range of 290 to 320, the average score in sociology UPSC papers hovers at around 250 to 270 marks.

Many selected candidates with sociology optional score 300+ every year; but it is not a cakewalk. It requires the right strategy and the right mindset at the time of preparation and the right approach to answer writing in the examination hall; in order to secure such a high score in the sociology papers.

Question: What are the qualities required in an aspirant for him to be able to score 300 plus in sociology UPSC papers?

Answer : First and foremost, the student needs to be hard working and committed to the UPSC exam preparation. Other important personality traits required are perseverance, determination and the ability to retain and process large amounts of knowledge and information.

Another helpful ingredient is what we call the ‘sociological imagination’. In simple terms, it means the ability to link person-specific issues to societal causes and issues. For example; one may casually interpret homosexuality as a person-specific, freak, or abnormal sexual behaviour. But using one’s sociological imagination will reveal that homophobic attitudes are an outcome of a hetero-normative social order (a society which considers heterosexuality as normal & moral and condemns any alternative sexuality as deviant & immoral). While most candidates won’t have this perspective at the start; most develop this mindset as they get more familiar with this fascinating subject.

Question: Is good English vocabulary necessary to score well in sociology UPSC papers?

Answer: No, a good English vocab is not a necessary pre-requisite to score well in sociology. Good that you asked. It is indeed a popular misconception among many aspirants that you need exceptional English language skills and a fancy vocabulary to score well in sociology optional. The fact of the matter is that you require only ordinary English language fluency to score well in sociology optional.

Question: Is it necessary for a candidate to use sociological jargons and quote sociological thinkers while writing answers?

Answer: Yes, it is highly advisable for a serious candidate to use ample sociological jargons and scholarly references in their answers. This in fact is one of the key ways in which a sociology student can distinguishes answers from that of a non-sociology optional student. Quoting scholars and using appropriate subject-specific terminology makes one’s answers more sociological. Bluntly; it makes one’s answers more marks-fetching if some scholars’ views are mentioned instead of one’s own views.

Question: Sir, can you give some important tips for candidates to score 300 plus marks in the sociology UPSC papers? What should they keep in mind while preparing the optional?

Answer: Broadly, candidates are advised to bear in mind the following while preparing sociology optional for UPSC civil services exam:

1.Ensure conceptual clarity – Avoid rote learning. Make sure you understand all theories and concepts clearly.

2.Relate subject matter of sociology to the world around you – The subject is very relatable. Whatever you study in sociology; be it family or religion or crime; you see it in the society around you. Relate the two. This will help in better retention of sociological theories and concepts.

3.Multiple revisions – It is necessary for a serious UPSC aspirant to undertake multiple revisions in order to ensure fuller retention of content and its quick recall.

4. Adequate answer writing practice – It is highly advisable that candidates do sufficient answer writing practice and sociology mock tests before the actual exam.

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