How to study sociology for UPSC

How to study sociology for UPSC: a comprehensive guide

Selecting sociology as an optional for UPSC, is a job half well done. The rest of the half depends on finding the answer to the question of how to study sociology for UPSC.

Here are a few golden rules we have compiled together from our IAS Gurukul sociology topper’s strategies:

Understand the syllabus:

While sociology upsc is vast discipline in itself, the same is not true for sociology as an optional for UPSC. Hence, understanding the syllabus is very important to differentiate between the two.

Having complete understanding of the syllabus will also help you in adding on to your notes by knowing what is relevant to the examination and what is not.

Develop conceptual clarity:

Spending time in developing conceptual clarity in the initial phase of the preparation will help you in the long run. It is very important to develop clarity of thought with respect to various sociological thinkers and themes in UPSC. Only then you will be able to interlink various parts of the sociology upsc syllabus. This way you will be able to judiciously use them in both Paper 1 and Paper 2.

Study sociology as a whole:

Keeping aside the highest marks in sociology optional, the general trend for fairly common marks in UPSC is 260 to 285 plus. These sociology optional recommended candidates may be less highlighted compared to highest scorers, but they are definitely in great numbers.

Low marks in sociology optional:

The sociology optional is divided into Paper 1 and Paper 2. However, sociology as an optional for UPSC should be treated as a whole while both studying it and writing answers for it. Thus you can quote the sociological thinkers of Paper 1 in paper 2 as well as use examples from paper 2 to explain the concepts of thinkers of paper 1. Thus having the ability to form inter linkages between the syllabus will be of immense help to a student of sociology optional for UPSC.

Make a list of sociological terms:

One of the sociology toppers of IAS Gurukul provided us a unique insight into her sociology strategy. Our topper kept a list of sociological terms handy and kept adding on to the list throughout her preparation days. This lists included terms like ‘feminization of poverty ‘and ‘informalization of labor’.

She often used to revise the list separately and then write her answers. This way she was able to add many sociological terms in her answers. This enriched her answers as well as provided a sociological angle to even the most general studies looking questions that you get in the paper. This is especially true for paper 2 where students sometimes find it difficult to understand how to write a sociological answer and not a general studies answer to specific questions. These specific questions often look like something that can be asked very easily in the general studies paper.

Limit your resources:

Since sociology is a highly popular optional, there is a lot of preparatory material available for it both online and offline. Hence, it is very easy for an aspirant to get into the habit of buying more and more material regularly. This can prove counterproductive.

All the sociology toppers at IAS Gurukul we spoke to stressed on the importance of limiting one’s resources for the examination. These resources should then be revised multiple times.

Start with the class notes and then move towards standard books:

If sociology is not your graduation subject, it is better to attend the classes first. Also class notes should be studied religiously. This will help the aspirant develop a foundation for sociology optional subject.

Only then you should go for selective reading of standard books like Ritzer and Haralambos. This is because only after studying the complete class notes will you are able to get a basic understanding of how to study sociology for UPSC.

Update your notes with current affairs:

It is important to update your notes regularly with your current affairs preparation. Often sociological case studies or names of lesser known sociologists can be found in the newspapers. These, along with relevant current affairs examples, should be added on to your class notes. You can further make notes from selective reading of reputed magazines like Economic and Political Weekly.

Regular answer writing practice:

Regular answer writing practice is one of the most important answers to the question of how to study sociology for UPSC.Sociology is a writing intensive optional. Hence answer writing practice for this optional cannot be compromised with.

Also after writing the answers, you also need to get them evaluated. Pranay Sir personally evaluates all the answers given to him as well provides his feedback to the students. These suggestions he provides in his feedback should be added in your next answer.

Write mock test series:

Writing mock test series helps an aspirant in assessing their strong and weak areas in the syllabus. It also helps in developing the skill of time management which is very important for this exam.

It also helps in strengthening your answer writing practice. It gives an aspirant the confidence to sit in the real exam as the mock tests are conducted in a simulated environment.

Analyze topper’s answer sheets:

Topper’s answer sheets helps an aspirant develop an understanding of how to score well in the sociology optional. It also helps in comparing your own answers with the topper’s answers. It hence gives aspirant valuable insights on how to improve their own answers.

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

Name of Students Download Answer Sheets
Neha Bhosle Rank - 15, 2019
Paper-I
Paper-II
Neha Bandhu Rank - 121, 2019
Paper-I
Paper-II
Srushti Deshmukh Rank - 5, 2018
Paper-I
Paper-II
Sanya Chhabra Rank - 84, 2018
Paper-I
Paper-II
Gaurav Kumar Rank - 34, 2017
Paper-I
Paper-II
Sudhir Kumar Rank - 42, 2017
Paper-I
Paper-II
You can also have read topper’s blog and watch their strategy videos online. This will help you further improve your personal strategy towards the sociology optional.

Following are a few videos of our IAS Gurukul sociology toppers on their examination cracking strategy.

AIR 10 Sanjita Mohapatra

AIR 19 Sreshtha Anupam

AIR 21 Pratyush Pandey

These steps, if followed with sincerity, will remove all doubts from an aspirant’s mind on how to study sociology for UPSC. Further, they will fast track your preparation in the right direction. This will ensure that you get the desired service of your choice in the least amount of time possible.

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