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Strategy for Physics Optional Subject in UPSC Mains

Physics optional is a subject which is reasonably popular amongst IAS aspirants. Statistics suggest that 13% of the candidates who selected physics as optional subject got recommended for interview round. It is the branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy. The subject matter of physics includes mechanics, heat, light and other radiation, sound, electricity, magnetism, and the structure of atoms.

Physics optional

  • Who should opt for Physics as an optional subject?

Remember you should opt for the subject when you love the subject. UPSC is like that only Without strong  interest it gets complicated believe me. For students with physics background should go for it.

  • What are the perks of having physics as optional?

Being a science subject, there is no scope for interpretation you know what you know and        you don’t what you don’t it is as simple as that. If you know the answer and can write it satisfactorily, you will get good marks. Remember nothing is subjective here.

You can score through numerical problems if you practice well enough, it will come with time.

      You can score well by drawing more diagrams.

Physics optional can be your scoring point subject if you have a solid base.



  • What are the things to be kept in mind while preparing for the exams?


One thing that must be borne in mind is that UPSC doesn’t test candidates’ proficiency in physics as they are not a recruiting for professor or a scientist. UPSC wants to test how good an administrator one can become from the way he writes the answers. So while being good in Physics is important, it is also equally important to perform during those 3 hours for each paper in terms of quality, speed and choice of questions. Also while only arriving at numerical results may not fetch good marks as in Physics writing relevant theory for each question asked is also a necessity.

Paper 2 of Physics optional is more based on theory. At the same time one must also learn not to write unnecessary things to showcase their knowledge as this may irritate the examiner. Usually examiners are experienced professors of Physics and they look for quality in answer as they know what is important and what is not and not. For every topic one studies in Physics, one must also memorize basic definitions and while answering, use these definitions either in words or in an equation format.

If a particular phenomenon is talked about explain the theory in words rather than to rely on a mathematical expression.


  • What else?


Making hand written notes, when you have to revise a lot in a very limited time you should make your own notes.

Diagrams that you draw make sure they are neat and clean. Learn not to irritate the examiner.

Solve all the last year paper in as proper way as you can, initially it will take time but will prepare for how to write the exam.


  • What are the books one should refer for UPSC 2018?

   A Dictionary of Physics – Goldstein

         Nuclear Physics -S.B Patel

         Quantum Physics- Resnick & Eisberg

         Concept of Mordern Physics – Arthut Bevser

         Quantum Mechanics -Ghatak & Loknathan/Chatwal & Anand/Satya Prakash

         Atomic Physics – J. B. Rajan

         Atomic & Molecular Spectra -Rajkumar

         Solid State Physics -Kittel

         Electronics -Allon Mottershed