Effective Tips on How to Study Sociology Optional for UPSC

sociology optional for upsc

Sociology has emerged as a popular optional subject for the UPSC exam in recent years. As social sciences, it deals with the study of human behavior and social relationships, and how they shape and is shaped by society.

The subject is not only relevant for the UPSC exam, but also for understanding the complex social issues that affect our lives on a daily basis. With its interdisciplinary nature, it provides a unique perspective to analyze social problems and propose effective solutions.

In this blog, we will explore the benefits of choosing sociology as an optional subject for the UPSC exam and the strategies that can be employed to crack this subject.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced aspirant, this blog will help you understand the nuances of this subject and guide you toward success in the UPSC exam.

Many candidates choose Sociology as optional for UPSC because it is a relatively easy subject and the entire Sociology syllabus is limited in scope.

However, there are some important factors to consider when choosing this optional paper. Here we will look at how this subject compares with other optional papers and how much you can expect to score in this paper.

Why is Sociology a Good Optional for UPSC?

One of the most popular and best optional subjects for UPSC is Sociology.

The syllabus is relatively short (about 13 units in both papers) and it’s conceptually sound.

In addition, the subject has a lot of relevance in our day-to-day social, political, and economic lives.

It’s also relatively easy to prepare for, which makes it even more desirable as an optional subject for UPSC.

The success ratio for UPSC optional subjects fluctuates from year to year. Typically, around 100 to 300 students are selected for the exam each year.

This means that even candidates who score high in the optional subject don’t always reach the interview board. It’s important to understand the success rate of UPSC optional subjects before choosing them.

The most effective way to prepare for the optional part of the UPSC exam is to take as many mock tests as possible.

Check out the linked article to figure out How many Mock Tests before UPSC Prelims should you take?

It’s essential to practice as much as possible, but only after a thorough revision of your optional material. Otherwise, you may forget important information while answering questions.

In comparison to other optional papers, it has a good amount of material available in the market.

Also, EdTech platforms and toppers’ blogs make it easy to understand the syllabus and follow the guided path. Though different institutes offer courses for this optional subject, joining any one of them should be an aspirant’s call based on his/her own understanding of the subject.

Relatable Article: How To Select Optional Subject For UPSC Exam?

Should You Choose Sociology as an Optional Subject for UPSC?

The subject is popular among students who are interested in the world around them and precisely have a basic understanding of Indian society. Students who are interested in this subject are likely to get good marks and can complete the optional syllabus in four months or less.

Moreover, candidates from any academic background can easily learn sociology. Also, the subject is interesting and appealing to the vast majority of people.

The reason why Sociology is a popular choice for the UPSC Exam as an optional subject is because the syllabus for this subject is very similar to the prelims syllabus. The question paper for this optional carries 500 marks.

Moreover, it is not a long subject, so it can help students improve their answer-writing skills. Any aspirant with good writing practice can score more than 300 on the paper.

The first point to consider while choosing any optional subject is your interest in that particular subject. Before diving into the books and materials one should always take a look at the syllabus, previous year’s papers, and NCERT books on that particular subject.

Also Read:

Does Academic Background Matter in Sociology?

When it comes to optional subjects, Sociology is one of the most popular choices among UPSC CSE aspirants. The syllabus is safe and students can expect to get good marks. Students from any background can easily finish the subject in four months.

Those with an arts, science, or commerce background should opt for this subject. Candidates from other streams can also take it, but it is not necessary.

Students with Sociology backgrounds will have a head start over the competition as they are familiar with the fundamentals of Sociology. It will give them an edge in preparation and a chance to score well in the examination.

It is a non-technical subject and is highly popular in the UPSC CSE Mains examination. There is no academic base required to take it and candidates from any stream can take it. This optional paper deals with issues such as gender roles, population, urbanization, poverty, pressure groups, and politics.

Sociological theories are most appealing to students because they enlighten one on the concepts we witness around us in our daily life like social classes, social movements, forms of family, religious practices, and the study of caste systems among others.

The majority of students with science, commerce, or engineering backgrounds prefer arts subjects in UPSC CSE for their short syllabus and high scores.

Sociology in comparison to other optional subjects

The optional paper in CSE mains plays a very important role in :

  1. Qualifying Mains examination
  2. Rank improvement

Sub-total of mains marks is 1750. Out of this 1750, 500 marks are allotted to optional papers.

Before 2013, students had to opt for two different optional papers but now the scheme of the examination has changed and students need to select only one subject and write two papers on the same subject. This pattern change requires the students to go a little in-depth into the subject they choose.

Although Sociology is a comparatively new subject for students, it’s already an important subject to study. Its syllabus includes topics such as social structure and social inequality, as well as the role of the family and community in society.

It also focuses on the history of various social reformers and great leaders, and the role of education. Students who want to pursue this subject should carefully mind-map the syllabus and find out which topic they are interested in.

Another advantage of choosing this subject as optional is that the syllabus overlaps with General Studies. This will save you time on the general studies paper.

It is also a very useful subject for the interview, as many questions are related to societal issues and problems.

Therefore, it is important to think about the potential scope before taking this optional paper.

Check out the linked article to figure out Why is Self Assessment for UPSC CSE Necessary?

How Much Can You Score in Sociology Optional for UPSC?

Aspiring civil servants are required to deal with a wide variety of people. They should be able to tailor solutions to each individual’s circumstances. The sociology study helps students realize that there is no “one size fits all” solution.

This understanding of diversified Indian society leads to a more realistic approach and ultimately a better service. To improve one’s chances of a high score in the Sociology Optional paper, one should prepare themselves with relevant material.

Sociology is an excellent optional subject for UPSC CSE. The highest score in the Civil service examination in this subject is 329 out of 500, and many students score as high as 285+.

With the right preparation strategy and guidance, a student can score as high as 300 marks in this subject. Moreover, it is one of the safest optional subjects, with base marks of 240 or more.

To improve your chances of scoring well in this optional subject, it’s best to go through previous years’ question papers. This will help you understand the exam pattern of the UPSC CSE.

Although you shouldn’t copy-paste the last year’s questions, it is recommended to go through them regularly. It’s also a good idea to refer to NCERT books on sociology. They are excellent sources of basic information about how society and its history are working on the basis of sociological theories.

Tips to Master Sociology Optional for UPSC

The Sociology Optional syllabus is not difficult to understand and master if one is disciplined and follows a systematic study plan. A good study plan is key to scoring good marks and gaining confidence in the examination.

The syllabus for the Sociology optional is divided into two parts: paper 1 and paper 2.

For paper 1, one should focus on the basic knowledge and terminology of the subject. For paper 2, one should focus on the application of sociological theories.

In other words, you must relate the topics to current events.

History, Geography, Economics, Science and Technology, Polity, Ethics, Essay, current affairs, and above all of them one should hold graduation level knowledge in the UPSC listed subjects. If one has to remember everything, it will take years to just complete one vision of the syllabus.

Other subjects cannot be molded in our favor but the choice of optional subject is still in our hands. Hence, one should try and choose a subject that is easy to understand, have high ROI value, and has a syllabus overlapping with the general studies papers.

Sociology can be a really good option as the majority of the syllabus is a repetition of what is confined in the GS papers.

To prepare for the UPSC CSE exam, make sure that you read the syllabus in detail along with NCERT books. One can also use the previous year’s questions as a litmus test.

Related Reading: Removal of optional subjects in UPSC

Does Sociology optional help in the Essay Paper?

The choice of optional subjects in the UPSC CSE is based on the student’s interests and background. Students who opt for Sociology will gain more knowledge and comfort in answering questions in the Essay Paper.

Moreover, the syllabus of this subject is short and predictable, making it a good option for students with a background in science, commerce, and the humanities. The students attempting Sociology will also need to know, how to use the jargon in their answers, so they should be familiar with the terms used.

In addition to the general syllabus, Sociology optional is becoming increasingly popular with Civil services aspirants. The subjects are shifting from traditional topics to more contemporary and conceptual themes.

The additional knowledge gained from Sociology will not only help candidates write good essays, but will also add value to the four-General Studies Papers.

Also Read: 9 Tips: Last Month’s Strategy For UPSC Prelims

Sociology Optional for UPSC: Strategy for Preparation

  1. Another way to improve your marks in Sociology is to practice answering exam-like questions. It’s a good idea to study past question papers to familiarize yourself with the subjects.
  2. You should also read recommended books and go through the syllabus. In addition, you should prepare for the exam by taking tests regularly.
  3. Understand the syllabus and exam pattern thoroughly.
  4. Build a strong foundation in basic concepts and theories of Sociology.
  5. Read recommended textbooks and reference books to gain in-depth knowledge and insights into the subject.
  6. Create a comprehensive study plan and follow it consistently, including regular revisions and practice tests.
  7. Analyze and understand current events and issues from a sociological perspective.
  8. Develop critical thinking and analytical skills to write comprehensive and coherent answers.
  9. Practice writing answers in a structured and concise manner, with proper use of examples, statistics, and case studies.
  10. Use diagrams and flowcharts to illustrate complex concepts and theories.
  11. Attend mock test series, online test series, and previous year’s question papers to improve speed, accuracy, and time management.
  12. Focus on understanding the interrelationship between different topics and their relevance to Indian society.
  13. A good way to prepare for this optional paper is to read the relevant NCERT books and the IGNOU publications. Also, try to read articles on various social issues to build an idea of the fundamentals of Sociology.
  14. EPW magazine, for instance, has a compilation of society-related articles. Case studies will also play an important role in paper-2. They will make your answers more authentic and readable. The previous year’s question paper will give a rough idea to strategize your path.
  15. Seek guidance from expert faculty, mentors, and peers to clarify doubts and gain insights.
  16. Finally, maintain a positive attitude, be patient, and stay motivated throughout the preparation journey.

You Might Also Like: How To Prepare For UPSC Prelims And Mains Together Like An Absolute Pro!

Books for Preparation of Sociology Optional for UPSC

Here is a list of recommended books for gaining a clear understanding of the fundamentals of Sociology for the UPSC exam:

  1. Sociology: Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos and Holborn: This book is considered a comprehensive guide to the basics of sociology and provides a detailed analysis of the key concepts and theories of the subject.
  2. Indian Society and Culture: Continuity and Change by Nadeem Hasnain: This book provides a sociological perspective on Indian society and culture, and covers topics such as the caste system, social stratification, gender, and globalization.
  3. Modernization of Indian Tradition by Yogendra Singh: This book provides a detailed analysis of the process of modernization in Indian society and culture, and its impact on various aspects of social life.
  4. Society in India: Concepts, Theories, and Recent Trends by Ram Ahuja: This book provides a comprehensive overview of Indian society, its structure, and its transformation over time.
  5. Social Change in Modern India by M.N. Srinivas: This book explores the various dimensions of social change in India and its impact on different social groups and institutions.
  6. An Introduction to Sociology by Anthony Giddens: This book is a widely acclaimed introduction to sociology and covers the basic concepts and theories of the subject in an accessible and engaging way.
  7. Sociology of Indian Society by C.N. Shankar Rao: This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the sociological dimensions of Indian society, culture, and politics.
  8. Social Problems in India by Ram Ahuja: This book provides a critical analysis of the social problems faced by Indian society and offers insights into their causes and possible solutions.
  9. Social Stratification and Change in India: A Sociological Perspective by Yogendra Singh: This book explores the various dimensions of social change in India and its impact on different social groups and institutions.
  10. Globalization and Its Impact on Indian Economy, Society, and Culture by L.N. Chandra Sekhar Rao: This book provides a critical analysis of the impact of globalization on Indian society, culture, and economy, and offers insights into the challenges and opportunities it presents.


In conclusion, Sociology is an excellent optional subject for the UPSC exam due to its relevance and significance in understanding complex social issues and human behaviour. The interdisciplinary nature of Sociology makes it an interesting subject for aspirants, as it provides unique insights into various aspects of social life.

With the right preparation and guidance, aspirants can score well in this subject and secure a good rank in the UPSC exam. The key is to start with the basics, build a strong foundation, and keep practising through mock test series and practice tests along with regular revision.

With dedication and hard work, anyone can crack the UPSC exam and make a positive impact on society.

So, if you are interested in Sociology, go ahead and choose it as an optional subject for the UPSC exam, and embark on a journey of learning, growth, and success.

You Might Also Like: Can An Average Student Crack UPSC – Success Story & Tips

FAQs on Sociology optional for UPSC

What is the significance of choosing Sociology as an optional subject for the UPSC exam?

Sociology is a popular subject for the UPSC exam because it provides a unique perspective to analyze social issues and problems. With its interdisciplinary nature, sociology enables aspirants to understand the nuances of social dynamics and human behaviour, which is essential for cracking the UPSC exam.

Sociology is also an interesting and relevant subject for those who want to pursue a career in the field of social work, research, or academia.

What is the syllabus of Sociology for the UPSC exam?

The syllabus of Sociology for the UPSC exam covers a wide range of topics, including the basics of sociology, social structure, social change, stratification, gender and society, religion, and politics.

The syllabus also covers topics like marriage and family, social movements, and globalization. Aspirants who choose Sociology as an optional subject should be well-versed in the concepts and theories of sociology and must also have a good understanding of current social issues.

How can I prepare for Sociology for the UPSC exam?

To prepare for Sociology for the UPSC exam, aspirants should start by building a strong foundation of the basics of sociology. They can do this by reading standard textbooks, taking notes, and practising past year question papers.

Aspirants should also keep themselves updated with current social issues and trends by reading newspapers, magazines, and journals. It is recommended to join a coaching institute or an online course to get guidance and expert support for preparation.

How much time is required to prepare for Sociology for the UPSC exam?

The time required to prepare for Sociology for the UPSC exam varies from aspirant to aspirant. Generally, it takes around 6-8 months to cover the entire syllabus of Sociology.

Aspirants should make a study schedule and stick to it, and ensure that they revise and practice regularly. Regular practice is important to score well on the exam.

Is it necessary to have a background in Sociology to choose it as an optional subject for the UPSC exam?

No, it is not necessary to have a background in Sociology to choose it as an optional subject for the UPSC exam. However, aspirants should have a keen interest in the subject and should be willing to put in the effort to learn and understand the concepts and theories of Sociology.

Related Posts