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UPSC Topper Strategy for Psychology Optional by Ms. Shena Aggarwal (Rank-1)

UPSC Topper Strategy for Psychology Optional by Ms. Shena Aggarwal (Rank-1)


Psychology is widely preferred as an optional subject for civil services examination. The usual reasons for the same include- it is an easy subject, it is a safe subject, it is considered a scoring subject etc. I would advice someone to chose this subject not for these secondary reasons, but if you develop an interest in the subject and wish to know about it more. This is the most important thing because only if you enjoy studying it, then you can give your best efforts.

The subject has 2 papers- paper 1 deals with the theoretical aspects and basic principles of psychology, while paper 2 talks about applied psychology and its use in various fields. After knowing this, the first step one should take is open the syllabus and go through it thoroughly. UPSC tends to limit itself to the syllabus and so should us while preparing for the exam. Also, knowledge of the syllabus gives us an idea of what is expected of us, and how much we have to cover.


Next come the most asked about questions- What books to study, whether to join coaching or not, which coaching? My approach towards this has always been to study one book multiple times, rather than multiple books one time. The usual books followed are-

  • NCERT Psychology
  • Morgan and King- paper 1
  • Baron- paper 1
  • Ciccarelli- paper 1
  • Applied psychology by Smarak Swain- for paper 2

There is no need to study all of these books. I would suggest all to read the NCERT and any one of the other books for paper 1. Try to read NCERT books cover to cover, these would help to develop an understanding of all the basic concepts and would cover most of the topics in the syllabus. After that, one can also do certain topics from one of the other books- usually Baron or Ciccarelli. The book on Applied Psychology is a concise text by Smarak Swain, especially for the purpose of paper 2 . It basically covers all the topics.

UPSC Topper Strategy for Improving Essay Writing

UPSC Topper Strategy for Improving Essay Writing

Improving Essay Writing :

Lesson #1: An essay should be for a general person and not a subject expert
Last year I wrote on the PPP topic which was from my subject area (Economics). So while writing the essay, I put in many higher economics concepts like lemon’s problem, information asymmetry, agent – principle problem. I thought this would give my essay a killer punch. But this didn’t and couldn’t have worked as the persons checking the essay are not economists – they may have other background. So I should have written an essay without the use of any technical concepts and phrases, in simple simple language only. This is what I did this time.

Lesson #2: Points should be covered in sufficient depth
While practicing last year, I used to write in detail about whatever points I was writing. It used to take around 1900 – 2000 words. I used to send my mock essays to my friends for feedback, and a friend wrongly advised me (and I believed him) that I should cut down the length to around 1200 words. I did that in the exam but the result was that I couldn’t cover any of my points in the needed detail. If you look at my past year’s essay, you would find I began a point, wrote one sentence about it and then immediately concluded it. Now I am not saying that 1200 words essays are not good, but just that one should write as much as the proper coverage of points in the essay demands. It may be 1200 or 2000 or 2500, but coverage should be proper. This year I worked on it and covered my points in somewhat greater detail.

Lesson #3: Wide range of points should be covered
Last year, I later realized, I had covered only a narrow range of points and that too from a limited economist’s perspective. I had neglected the social, political, cultural aspects of the problem and as such my essay was not comprehensive. So this year I worked on it and tried to cover S&T issues from as wide angle as possible and as many relevant points as I could think.

UPSC Topper Strategy for Sociology Optional by Mr. Rajanvir Singh Kapur (Rank-92)

UPSC Topper Strategy for Sociology Optional by Mr. Rajanvir Singh Kapur (Rank-92)



(This contains independent topics which are not much interconnected with other areas and can be studied separately as a slot.)


1. Sociology – The Discipline:

(a) Modernity and social changes in Europe and emergence of sociology.

(b) Scope of the subject and comparison with other social sciences.

(c) Sociology and common sense.

2. Sociology as Science:

(a) Science, scientific method and critique.

(b) Major theoretical strands of research methodology.

(c) Positivism and its critique.

(d) Fact value and objectivity.

(e) Non- positivist methodologies.

3. Research Methods and Analysis:

(a) Qualitative and quantitative methods.

(b) Techniques of data collection.

(c) Variables, sampling, hypothesis, reliability and validity.


A. Introducing Indian Society:

(i) Perspectives on the study of Indian society:

(a) Indology (GS. Ghurye).

(b) Structural functionalism (M N Srinivas).

(c) Marxist sociology ( A R Desai).

UPSC Topper Strategy for History Optional by Surabhi Malik (Rank-51)

UPSC Topper Strategy for History Optional by Surabhi Malik (Rank-51)

History Optional

This is a subject where strategising becomes paramount; since the expanse of the syllabus itself appears insurmountable. Since you are preparing for exam purposes here and your primary objective is not, presumably, the ‘love of learning’ , it becomes important to begin, as I like to put it, backwards.

UPSC Topper Strategy for Economics Optional by Gaurav Agarwal (Rank-1)

UPSC Topper Strategy for Economics Optional by Gaurav Agarwal (Rank-1)

Economics :

So How to Prepare Economics Optional?

Stages of Preparation

There are multiple stages of preparation in a subject like Economics.

– Stage 1: In this stage, we just focus on understanding what we are reading. While reading, we must understand the concept fully. We will forget the thing 2 days after we have read it, don’t worry. We will not even understand half the questions which have been asked in previous years, don’t worry. We don’t even have a clue of how to write answers in the exam, don’t worry. Just ensure you understand what you are reading and finish the syllabus.

– Stage 2: This begins after the syllabus has been finished once. In the second time, we again focus on understanding what we are reading. This time we would find, it takes less time to understand all the stuff and most of it seems familiar once we read. Our retention would increase at this stage. Read, re-read, revise the syllabus 2-3 times, ensure that we can recall without any aid what was said in a given topic / theorem and can reproduce it on paper. At the end of this stage, we would still not be able to even understand half the questions in the paper.

– Stage 3: Many questions in the eco question paper are not direct i.e. they ll not ask write abt XX theorem. These questions are indirect and we won’t even know which theorem / model to apply! The aim of this stage is to identify which model to apply. This can only come if we sit down with previous years’ question papers and think and think and discuss with others on what model to apply for a particular question. by now we have internalised all the stuff, we can not only reproduce the entire model / theorem on paper but also understand when and where to apply them. We will be able to answer most (90-95%) of the questions in previous years’ question papers now.

(Download) NCERT Book For Class XI : Biology

Biology : Class 11th



Chapter 1 : The Living World
Chapter 2 : Biological Classification
Chapter 3 : Plant Kingdom
Chapter 4 : Animal Kingdom


Chapter 5 : Morphology of Flowering Plants
Chapter 6 : Anatomy of Flowering Plants
Chapter 7 : Structural Organisation in Animals


Chapter 8 : Cell : The Unit of Life
Chapter 9 : Biomolecules
Chapter 10 : Cell Cycle and Cell Division


Chapter 11 : Transport in Plants
Chapter 12 : Mineral Nutrition
Chapter 13 : Photosynthesis in Higher Plants
Chapter 14 : Respiration in Plants
Chapter 15 : Plant Growth and Development


Chapter 16 : Digestion and Absorption
Chapter 17 : Breathing and Exchange of Gases
Chapter 18 : Body Fluids and Circulation
Chapter 19 : Excretory Products and their Elimination
Chapter 20 : Locomotion and Movement
Chapter 21 : Neural Control and Coordination
Chapter 22 : Chemical Coordination and Integration

(Download) NCERT Book For Class IX : Social Science: India and the Contemporary World (Part - I)

Social Science: India and the Contemporary World (Part - I) - Class 9th

Table of Contents

Section 1: Events and Processes
i. The French Revolution
ii. Socialism in Europe and the Russia
iii. Nazism and the Rise of Hitler

Section II: livelihoods, Economics and Societies
iv. Forest society and Colonialism
v. Pastoralists in the Modern World
vi. Peasant and Farmers

Section III: Everyday Life, Culture and Politics
vii. History and Sports: The Story of Cricket
viii. Clothing: A Social History


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