Importance of Optional Subject –
Optional Paper is very very important part of Mains Exam stage as it carries 500 Marks out of 1750 Marks(excluding Interview Marks) and sometime questions based on the Optional Subject are also asked in the Interview.
Optional can either take you to top or bring you to bottom. One should choose that optional as a subject which you are passionate about and comfortable with.
Sometimes it happens that majority of students score very close to each other in GS Papers and optional plays a deciding role in this case. hence optional is very important.
UPSC provides a list of Optional Subjects from which you can choose any one optional on the basis of which two exams of 250 marks would conducted at the mains stage.
Strategy to prepare for the Optional Subject:
if you have around one year of preparation that is if you are starting your preparation in the month of June/July than prepare your optional subject along with your General Studies Subject as well as current affairs. Devote around 3-4 hours daily on the optional subject and similar amount of time on general studies paper. Devote about 2 hours on newspaper. Hence your optional subject should be finish around the month of the Oct/Nov . Than prepare for General studies. Before prelims you should revise your optional atleast once as will prove as an edge over others who are still struggling even to complete the syllabus.
If you are starting your preparation in the month of October/November month than again prepare your optional subject along with your General Studies Subject as well as current affairs. Devote around 3-4 hours daily on the optional subject and similar amount of time on general studies paper. Devote about 2 hours on newspaper. complete it by the end of February/March than focus only on Prelims. If you are starting preparation from Jan/Feb and would be appearing in exam withing 5-6 months than devote less for optional i.e. complete whatever you could do till the month of March than prepare exclusively for prelims. After Prelims you have to devote much time on the Optional subject.
Answer Writing for Optional Subject
You can do answer writing practice on daily basis or on weekly basis. Firstly complete the topic/chapter and than see previous year questions asked on that topic by the UPSC.
Evaluation of answers– You can self evaluate or peer evaluation could be done. You can also join the test series.