(Getting Started) Psychology Optional Strategy by UPSC Topper Ravi Jain (AIR-9)

(Getting Started) Psychology Optional Strategy by UPSC Topper Ravi Jain (AIR-9)

AIR-9 Ravi Jain, UPSC 2019

Ravi Jain is a Jharkhand native and a serving Assistant Commissioner of State Tax who qualified for UPSC Civil Services in 2019 with the incredible all India rank of 9. He is an engineer with a B. Tech degree in Instrumentation & Control from Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology. Post-graduation he had worked with a private firm for 3 years. He had previously cleared Bihar Public Service Commission and Staff Selection Commission exams. 

Things To Consider Before Taking Up Psychology Optional

Before taking up Psychology as your optional, these are the aspects Ravi advises you to consider –



Interesting subject

Very lengthy syllabus

Utilitarian in approach

Integrated reading material is hard to come by

Provides some background for Essay and Ethics paper

Traditionally low scoring

Sources And Strategy

Start with the basic NCERT books and Ravi highly recommends watching the Crash Course Psychology Series on Youtube . He then recommends moving on to the books by Robert Barron, Morgan and King, and Saundra K. Ciccarelli for Paper-I. Making notes as per the topics mentioned in the syllabus is very important as it helps you consolidate all information at the same place and helps in quick revision later. Keep in mind these are the notes you will be revising in the 5 days between your GS and Optional paper. You need them to be short and crisp and all-encompassing.

For paper-II, Smarak Swain can be used as the primary source. Using flowcharts and diagrams can improve your scores. Think and keep a stock of a few you can use. Do not try to think it up during the exam itself. Ravi had enrolled in Pathak Sir’s coaching. He recommends accessing the coaching notes from his classes either online in PDF form or photocopies from the markets in Delhi.

Must-read books for psychology optional

Answer Writing Tips

Keep the following in mind when writing your Psychology optional answers –

  • Use your own words and keep the language simplistic and fluid.
  • Divide answer into subsections as per the demand of the question.
  • Briefly introduce the concepts mentioned in the form of keywords in the question.
  • When defining any term, use the standard definition widely accepted, along with the name of the significant psychologist.
  • Simple self-explanatory examples will help you earn brownie points with the examiner.
  • Quoting research work by relevant psychologists lend an extra edge to your answers.
  • Explore different dimensions such as interlinking of concepts and comparisons.
  • Do not restrict yourself by the paper you are writing. Interlinking terms and concepts across papers present to the examiner a degree of expertise that fetch you higher scores.
  • Incorporate flowcharts and diagrams wherever possible to break away from the monotony of words as well as express yourself better.
  • Writing in points than paragraphs usually give the illusion of cleaner answers with more facts.
  • Ensure your conclusion leaves the reader wanting more and hopeful for the future.

Message To Aspirants

UPSC has a lot of information and areas to be covered so utilize your time judiciously. Choose the optional that is the best fit for you instead of trying to find quick solutions. 

Take a break now and then, seek out friends and family, keep your spirits up. It’s a long journey up ahead.  

Best of Luck.

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