Tips to prepare for the Sociology paper in the UPSC CSE Mains

Sociology is a popular choice for the optional subject in the UPSC Civil Services Exams (Mains). Here are a few tips on how to prepare for this subject

Updated - April 09, 2023 05:04 pm IST

Published - April 09, 2023 01:02 pm IST

Preparing well for the Sociology paper of the UPSC CSE also helps with the General Studies paper.

Preparing well for the Sociology paper of the UPSC CSE also helps with the General Studies paper. | Photo Credit: Freepik

Sociology is a popular and rewarding optional subject in the Civil Services Examination because it has a short syllabus, is easy to understand, doesn’t need much time to prepare and does not require an academic background. It also helps one in the other portions of the exam, such as the General Studies papers and the essay. Here are some tips to maximise one’s score in Sociology papers:

Syllabus coverage: Go through each topic as well as sub-topic in the syllabus. Ensure that no portion remains untouched or underprepared. Also, ensure that you have ample content for each term and not just a general understanding.

Resources: Since Sociology is a popular optional, there is a plethora of books and study material available online and offline. A candidate can often get confused about which books to read and to what extent. Refer to standard sources such as Essential Sociology, the Bachelor’s and Master’s course books from IGNOU, and Haralambos and Holborn. Restrict yourself to a few and prepare topic-wise notes.

Conceptual clarity: Focus on understanding the topic properly, instead of learning by rote. Most topics are easy to understand and relate to. This will also help you to link various portions of the syllabus together.

Connect with current affairs: Many news items relevant to Sociology papers can be found in the daily newspaper. Make a mention of these in your sociology notes and quote them wherever possible. For example, the annual Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum can be quoted while writing on patriarchy. The recent Hijab issue can be mentioned while writing an answer on secularism, or law and social change. This shows that you have not only studied the syllabus topics but can also link them to the developments around you.

Revisions: Regular and multiple revisions are essential. Prepare daily, weekly and monthly schedules. Prepare summary notes, which will help facilitate multiple revisions. Also, prepare a list of sociologists and scholars who can be quoted and revise it multiple times. Ensure that you have at least three revisions of the whole syllabus before the exam. This will help you recall the relevant content quickly in the exam hall.

Practise writing answers: How you write the answer is the real deal. What is important is not how much Sociology you know, but whether you can meet the demand of the question before you in the limited time frame. A good answer is relevant, well structured, adheres to the word limit, directly addresses the question’s core demand, and is peppered with examples. Use sociological jargon in your answers and quote relevant sociologists. The more practice one gets, the better. Practise with the previous years’ questions.

The writer teaches Sociology to UPSC aspirants at IAS Gurukul and is the Convenor of Indian Civil Services Association.

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