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Today we are providing UPSC Civil Services  Philosophy Paper preparation tips & strategies. Now we will teach you strategy of “How to Prepare UPSC Civil Services Philosophy Paper 2019“. This post is aimed to help you in forming your strategy for Philosophy optional for Civil Services Exam, considering its various aspects.

How to Prepare UPSC Mains Philosophy Paper 2019

UPSC Mains Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras (c. 570 – c. 495 BC). Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument and systematic presentation

To Prepare UPSC Civil Services Philosophy Paper for 2019, you need to follow below-given steps.

Step 1 : Know the Syllabus – Philosophy Paper

UPSC MAINS PHILOSOPHY SYLLABUS 2019. Get UPSC Mains Philosophy Syllabus, Paper structure & Applicable Topics covered in UPSC Mains Philosophy Syllabus. Earlier we’ve provided UPSC Mains Exam Pattern & Structure for 2018 & 2019 exams .

Read : UPSC Civil Services Philosophy Syllabus 2019

Step 2 : Select the Best Reference Books for Philosophy Paper

Civil Services Philosophy part (As part of GS or as optional) requires vast but focused reading. Apart from the IAS Books for Philosophy – Civil Services Prelims Exam, the below mentioned books can help.

Philosophy is getting very popular as an optional subject these days. Only four to five standard books are more than enough to prepare Philosophy optional in depth. If you have even a moderate interest in philosophy, try to go through some books of university level. If you can develop logic, see your understanding going in any direction and it does not bore you, it’s for you. Once you begin understanding philosophy, you have the chances that you can exploit it at any level.

Books for Philosophy Optional


Western Philosophy

  • A History of Philosophy by Frank Thilly
  • A Critical History of Western Philosophy by Y Masih

Indian Philosophy

  • An Introduction to Indian Philosophy by S Chatterjee
  • A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy by C Sharma

Social Political Philosophy

  • An Introduction to Political Theory by O P Gauba

Philosophy of Religion

  • Introduction to Religious Philosophy By Y Masih
  • Philosophy of Religion by John H. Hick

Why One Should Choose Philosophy Optional

  • Short syllabus than that of other subjects
  • The entire syllabus can be completed in just two and half months.
  • Availability of good coaching centres and study materials
  • Second paper is relatively open ended.
  • It involves topics which can be answered in the exam even with general knowledge/awareness.

Step 3 : Prepare Important Topics

The preparation for Mains must be over before you start with Preliminary preparation, as the Main exam syllabus covers nearly 75% of the requirements of the Preliminary examination.

If a student has not done graduation with Philosophy, the suggested strategy would be as follows.

(1) Surveying the syllabus of Philosophy carefully and identifying the completely unfamiliar areas.

(2)  Doing a careful survey of the past 5 years’ Main Examination Question Papers and identifying the areas of significance.

(3)  Identifying the most fruitful areas:

(4)  If we see the Main Examination paper of last few years, then it is obvious that the UPSC can ask even a short note on a topic which is otherwise quite long in coverage.

How to Study Philosophy for IAS Mains

Study approach for Philosophy

This optional is meant for Patience and Calmness. We need to make different strategies for both paper.

The syllabus of ‘Preliminary examination has three sections : Section A, B and C.

Section A is Problem of philosophy’. Here we are concerned with Indian Philosophy and Western Philosophy. So we have to read them thoroughly. The questions are generally asked on terminology and theories like ‘What is Pratitya Samutpada?’. We must have understanding of terms and theories. In Indian Philosophy there are nine schools. Six schools are orthodox (Samkhya Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika Mimansa and Vedanta) and two are heterodox (Jainism and Buddhism). One other school is Materialism. UPSC generally asks questions in Indian philosophy on some specific points like substance, attributes. In western philosophy there is no precise syllabus. Generally questions are asked from Thales to Sartre.

Section B:

deals with Logic. Here we have to read only seven topics from Irwin M. Copi. Plus we have to study Symbolic Logic by Dr. Ashok Verma. Generally 30-35 questions are asked from logic in Prelims. 20 questions are just theoretical : they do not need any explanation. 5-8 questions are on Quantification which also can be answered at first sight if you have already practised. Remaining 5-8 questions are from Deduction which need explanation : this depends upon your practice and even these are not decisive.

Section C:

deals with Ethics. It consists of Indian Ethics and Western Ethics. In Indian Ethics questions are from Charvaka to Vedanta. Dr. Divakar Pathak’s book on Indian Ethics is essential for this section. In Western Ethics, questions are from Thales’ to Advanced Ethics. Here we have to study Thilly and another book by Dr. V.P. Verma. The question in this section are generally factual so we have to collect facts and memorize them.

Answer writing

  1. For Long answers-Introduction can be either indirect through some lines or quotes or direct with general explanation followed by exact definition.
  2. Thereafter topic need to be explained in short followed by establishing links with other chapters and focusing on the question again. Here give a pause,read the question again & think again. Diagrams can be used effectively.
  3. Ending of the answers should always be visionary/positive and solution based with example if needed or with some lines.
  4. There should be mixed use of paras and points. Examples should be quoted wherever possible but refrain from using one enterprise again & again.
  5. For short answers, write the basic definition and then directly hit the core.
  6. Ending should be solution based. For merit/demerit/feature use diagram or points.
  7. Test series can be joined for practice.

Step 4 : Prepare Previous Question papers

How much time it takes to prepare?

4-5 months, if you study Philosophy 12-15 hours per week. This should be enough. Also, it depends on how much can you recall your graduation concepts.