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Why to choose Sociology optional for UPSC Exam

Sociology optional

Sociology optional is a safer optional and popular optional subject in civil services examination since past many years. Many students have cleared UPSC civil services examination with sociology optional. It can fetch 315 to 350 marks in UPSC mains examination. It is helpful even at the time of UPSC civil services interview as well as post selection field work.

Sociology as optional

Now, let’s try and apply above framework in the case of Sociology –

  1. Scoring potential – Sociology is one of the consistent scoring optional. Every year 10+ students in UPSC’s top 100 ranks are from Sociology optional. Top score in it crosses 300! Shrusti Deshmukh, Amrutesh Aurangabadkar, Neha Bhosale, etc. are a few examples of UPSC toppers with Sociology optional
  2. Interest in subject – This is a subjective criterion, but still if you go through the Sociology syllabus, you will notice that it studies the social values, norms and institutions which are part of our day-to-day lives. So, many students find this optional to be interesting.
  3. Availability of resources – Multiple books (standard reference books as well as UPSC-specific books) are available. Also, in market, you can easily find multiple notes of Sociology. Numerous coaching institutes are providing coaching, test series and mentorship of Sociology – No issues in getting good guidance. Some other optionals like Management, commerce and accountancy etc. lack the availability of options in test series/mentorship etc.
  4. Time required – Sociology has a comparatively less syllabus. Moreover, it is a study of the society we live in – so if you have good observation skills, you might be aware of some concepts in Sociology even before reading. These factors make Sociology a subject which can be covered in less time. Ideally, sociology can be covered along with extensive answer writing practice in 3 months.
  5. Overlap with GS 

General Studies – Paper I

  • Political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.
  • Notable highlights of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  • Impacts of globalization on Indian culture
  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

General Studies – Paper II

  • Pressure groups and formal/informal associations, their role in the Polity.
  • Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, and Human Resources.
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  • Civil services in a democracy.

General Studies – Paper III

  • Comprehensive development and issues emerging from it.
  • Land reforms in India.
  • Changes in industrial policy, impacts of liberalization on the economy, and their outcome on industrial growth.
  • Development and spread of extremism linkage – Naxalism.

General Studies – Paper IV

  • Human Values- role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values; reformers and administrators, lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders


  • Sociology helps you write unique perspectives in essays.


  • Being a Sociology student gives you an edge in maintaining balance in your answers in front of the Interview board members. You will be well aware of various gender/caste/class/community based biases – it can help you become an objective and sensitive person.

Challenges in Sociology optional

  • Biggest challenge in Sociology optional is answer writing. It is one thing to understand sociological concept and other to write it. Many aspirants find it difficult to write asnwers in Sociology (despite having good knowlege of subject) – Solution is extensive answer writing practice
  • Answers are open to interpretation and candidates need to think before writing as to which opinion should be presented and which should be withheld.
  • It is challenging to write Sociological answers in Paper 2 – where GS like questions are asked (Eg. Write short note on green revolution)
  • To conclude, one can say that sociology optional is interesting, easy to study and easy to score optional which one can choose to clear UPSC civil services Examination.
Does it require any academic background in Sociology to choose as optional?

No special academic background is needed- sociology optional is nothing but briefly a study of society which we are part of. unlike the optional subjects related to the field of science or engineering, sociology optional can be prepared by student of any academic background easily. It doesn’t need any pre existing knowledge base or specialised qualification in the subject.

How does it fare when compared to other optionals?

Concise and small syllabus- compared to other optional subjects like geography, history political science and international relations, sociology optional has short and concise syllabus hence one can cover it in limited times with multiple revisions.

How much can we score in Sociology Optional?

Easy to score well- score of optional subject is deciding factor whether you will be in the final list of UPSC civil services results or not. Sociology optional can fetch average of 270 marks even 310-320 in many cases. Which is the most important aspect to clear civil services examination.

Does opting Sociology as optional helps me in GS Papers ?

Helps in general studies papers- some elements of sociology optional are present in GS paper 1 for example Indian society- women’s empowerment, social empowerment, communalism, socialism, urbanisation and globalisation etc. Hence you don’t need to cover it separately you can cover it while studying sociology optional,only so that in the remaining time you can prepare some other topic.

Does Sociology optional helps in Essay Paper also?

Sociology optional Helps in essay- essay paper is again most dynamic, important to score good paper which needs understanding of various Indian and global aspects. Sociology optional provides wider dimensions and diverse viewpoints. You can inter connect the points with the help of sociological studies, case studies, data etc. And it will help you to score good in essay. As well as you don’t need to prepare for essay differently.

What about Personality Test? Does Sociology offer any advantage here?

Sociology optional helps in interview of UPSC CSE- awareness about problems of society, various social issues and their impact on governance will make you give impressive answers during interview. It can also-ran help you to make good analysis and diverse viewpoints about any topic.

Read Also: Indian Judicial System: Type Of Courts In India

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