(Success Story) Clearing UPSC in First Attempt with Sociology Optional - Pratyush Pandey (AIR-21)

(Success Story) Clearing UPSC in First Attempt with Sociology Optional - Pratyush Pandey (AIR-21)

24-year old Pratyush Pandey, an alumnus of IIT-Kanpur and IIM-Ahmedabad, has secured rank 21 in his very first attempt in UPSC Civil Services Examination in 2019. Despite his engineering background, Pratyush’s choice of optional has been sociology. Recently, Pratyush has discussed in detail his strategy with Sociology optional and in this article, we bring to you a simple strategy which an aspirant from any educational background may use to score excellent marks in Sociology optional in UPSC Civil Services Examination. 

How To Choose Your Optional

Pratyush admits that he struggled with choosing his optional. As an engineer and a management trainee, he struggled with choosing subjects such as Civil Engineering, Mathematics, and even Philosophy due to a vested interest. But ultimately, he went with sociology as his optional as the subject was not only interesting, but he also could easily find resources for it.

Preparation Strategy

For Sociology, one of the perks is that the content is very aligned to the General Studies syllabus. The answer writing pattern is also very similar. The only separate potion is that of the thinkers. However, there are plenty of books available in the market to help you through with it. There are also IGNOU notes available. Pratyush used notes by a previous year’s topper.

Knowing your thinkers is half the battle won for Sociology as these are the concepts that you will use and reuse throughout the paper. You just need to understand where to use them and how. The trick is to understand how to emphasize the right points to make your answer come off as more sociological than general. Pratyush mentions the key difference – a general answer is about what you think; sociology is about what thinkers think about the same thing.

How To Remember All Thinkers

Pratyush asks you to start by studying the top 6 thinkers – Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Talcott Parsons, Max Weber, Herbert Mead, and Robert Merton. Once you learn them by heart, you’ll notice everyone else is a derivation of their original thoughts or that you can almost fit any topic under the sky into one of their thoughts. Based on the demand of the question, you mix and match the same 



How To Write Answers

Pratyush developed a common structure for his answers so that he could think quicker and write faster. He would begin with a simple introduction which would be a definition related to the question. You follow this up with the concept i.e. you talk directly about the thinker’s philosophy about the topic at hand. Unless there is a mention of a thinker in the question, mention 3 or 4 of them at least. Understand the demand of the question’s keywords such as ‘Discuss’, ‘Analyze’, ‘Criticize’, etc. before answering. End with one of the few different pre-prepared conclusion.

Use Current Affairs

As far as possible, relate the examples of positive or negative aspects of the topic to current affairs. Everything you read in the news can be used as an example in Sociology. Follow a functional approach when trying to discuss any issue.

Pratyush’s Message To Aspirants

No matter what optional subject you choose, what matters I how thoroughly you follow through with your preparation. As the yearly analysis will show, no one optional has an upper hand in UPSC. It is how well you study and how well you present your answers that will make sure your score well. And that comes with revision and practice alone. Besides, optional is not the end of the road. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and conquer this journey.

Best of Luck.



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