The choice of optional should be done with due care and caution. While knowledge in the subject is of crucial importance, interest in the subject is also an important consideration. The reason being that the interest in the subject should be enough to last a few years of preparation.
The aptitude and proficiency of a particular candidate in a given subject plays an important role in arriving at a decision to select an optional subject.
Since some subjects are more scoring than others, candidates opt for such subjects. But one thing should be kept in mind is one’s aptitude and interest towards subject.
Don’t choose an entirely new subject in which you will have to work very hard.
If the subject selected for preliminary is opted for, in the Mains examination also, it will be very useful and solves a lot of labour and time. The preparations done for the Preliminaries would assist the candidates in getting a good grasp over the subject; otherwise the effort put in would go waste after the Prelims.
Books for Preliminary examination are available in plenty in common for popular subjects, but in case of specialized optional like Agriculture, Engineering, Mathematics etc one has to look carefully for good books which cover all parts of the syllabus.
One should select standard, prescribed books for the preparation.
A detailed study of good textbooks and whole syllabus only give good input and a decent chance to answer maximum questions to score high.
It is better to consult various books on different aspects, as it is very rare that one single book covers the entire syllabus in its totality.
After reading/understanding the basic concepts, it is desirable to have sufficient or a good question bank on the subject concerned may assist the students a great deal.
Questions asked in the Preliminary examination for previous 10 years are available in the market. As a first step, one should sort out the questions of the optional, according to the syllabus topics. This will give an insight into the nature of questions, important areas, and twists in the questions etc. Once the basic strategy is formed, it will be easier to study the subjects according to the nature of questions asked in UPSC.
The optional subject should be studied extensively (Optional: General Studies= 75:25).
A four-month exclusive preparation for Preliminary examination is a must.
For the optional subject, the whole syllabus should be thoroughly studied and should be revised and mastered. (Remember no topic in optional should be left as optional) :One question carries 2.5 marks.
One should aim at scoring 95-110/120 (optional subject), 95-105/150 (General Studies). (Score varies per subject & per category).
Optional subjects carry more marks (total of 300) as compared to General Studies (150). The area/syllabus of the optional subject is also limited. Though there is a prescribed syllabus, there is no limit. It is vast.
As the question paper is objective in nature, it would not be advisable to confine the studies only to the multiple choice objective type questions. Practice with question banks available in the market.
One should read the entire syllabus by covering each and every aspect. This provides a candidate with loads of self-confidence and knowledge to answer the questions correctly.
This practice would perfect the art of answering the questions correctly and rapidly. This will also help the candidates to properly understand the questions asked in various forms.
A candidate doing well in the optional paper is expected to fare well in the examination.
Practice of correctly marking the answer sheets by using minimum possible time will go a long way in helping you succeed. It helps to assess one’s progress in that particular subject.
As the questions in the Preliminary examination are objective in nature, intelligent guesswork may be used to answer questions when you don’t know the precise answer. While solving the paper you may take three rounds. In the first round solve the easy questions. In the second round may be taken up statement and reason. The third round can have the tough questions where the intelligent guesswork may be applied. If you don’t even know some questions, you should answer the same code to all. Mark “A” or “B” or “C” or “D” to all blank where you don’t have any clue at all.
Importance of General Studies also cannot be undermined.