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Strategy for Philosophy Optional Subject in UPSC 2018

UPSC is considered to be one of the toughest exams in India. Out of the total of 2000 marks for written exams, 500 marks are allotted for optional subject. This proves to be make or break for the aspirants in UPSC examination.  Philosophy optional is one of the optional subjects in UPSC Mains.

Some of the optional subjects in UPSC mains exam are :

Philosophy , Political science , History , Mathematics , Chemistry , civil engineering , Botany ,Economics, Management , Indian history , Geography , Statistics ,Zoology ,etc.

As aspirants from different backgrounds including engineers, doctors ,charter accountants, lawyers, etc. compete for securing top ranks. Hence every single mark is important. Here the optional subject is the one choosen by the aspirant where his real interest lies in. This opens a pathway to secure the maximum marks in this domain.

Perks of choosing Philosophy optional:

Philosophy optional features as many toppers’ optional subject regularly. It can be opted by candidates from virtually any academic background. The main advantage lies that it has the shortest syllabus in the mains exam and hence can be completed in 2 months with proper planning and strategy.

  1. Time saved can be used for preparation of general studies.
  2. Current affairs do not play any part in this subject and hence theory can be prepared in advance.
  3. Many topics covered under this subject are helpful for the essay paper. Such topics are democracy, humanism, secularism, corruption, religion, justice, women empowerment, etc.
  4. The success ratio of philosophy in English medium is very high.

Cons of choosing Philosophy optional:

  1. If the student is generally not good in writing , it can be difficult to secure high marks.
  2. One needs to have a genuine interest in the subject to get good marks as it is quite boring and theoretical.
  3. Now a days UPSC had been asking tougher questions to probably lessen the advantage of a shorter syllabus.

Paper classification :

Paper I: There are two sections here: Indian and Western philosophy.

Indian philosophy has different schools of philosophy such as Samkhya, Yoga, Vedanta, etc. One has to study about Indian thinkers like Buddha, Shankaracharya , Ramanuja , Mahavira Jain, etc.

Western philosophy has three classifications:

  1.  Ancient thinkers: Aristotle, Plato
  2. Modern thinkers: Kant, Hegel, Descartes, Spinoza, etc.
  3. Contemporary thinkers: Moore, Wittgenstein, etc. Concepts like logical atomism, logical positivism, existentialism, etc.

Questions in this paper are direct and often predictable. So scoring good marks become quite easier.

Paper II: Paper II is more general. One should try to find out the philosophy behind issues. For instance, one should know the difference between political science, sociology and socio-politico philosophy.

Two sections of paper II: ‘socio-politico philosophy’ and ‘philosophy of religion’.

Importance of Medium of Instruction :

Generally medium of instruction in coaching should be of same medium in which aspirant will be writing his exam. If the language or medium is different e.g. English medium student sitting in Hindi medium class, then they can’t develop an art of answer writing or they start feeling lack of appropriate words and technical terms while writing answer.

Strategy to be used :

One should get conceptual clarity on the ideals and prepare himself for a lot of writing practice. Improving reading habits is must if one is not in the habit of reading.

When you are preparing for this subject, check for the availability of books and other study material. If you have some previous educational background, then it is definitely a plus point.

At the initial phase try memorizing or at least go through the syllabus once. It helps to put the study material in right perspective. It also helps in knowing which topics have not been covered yet. A decent score demands completion of syllabus.

Most questions can be easily understood and written if philosophical concepts are clear. Thus, get your concepts cleared with the help of reference books and teachers.

For theory subjects like philosophy, one need to understand what various terms mean and master the jargon of the subject. Once you understand the concepts and the jargon, you can start writing your own notes and analysis. Do give tests and get it evaluated from the teacher for scope of improvement.

Practice with previous years’ question papers to understand the pattern of questions. This is the best exercise that one can adopt to score good marks in UPSC exam.