How to Prepare for Political Science Optional in UPSC? What is its success rate?

Political Science and International Relations is one of the most widely chosen optional subjects by the aspirants in the UPSC exam. Of course, the subject comes in very handy and extremely useful for the future IAS officers which are surely going to be a part of their regular jobs.

This subject is also known as one of the four pillars of the UPSC exams in addition to the other three such as History, Public Administration, and Economics.

Here are a few known advantages of choosing this field for your UPSC mains optional:

Benefits of Political Science and International Relations as an Optional Subject for UPSC Mains

  • The first and foremost advantage certainly comes as a future IAS officer. You definitely need a stronghold over this topic and need to know a lot about the political and international climate.
  • While preparing for the Political Science and International Relations subject as your options for the mains, you would actually save a lot of your time, as there is a huge overlap of portions in the General Studies paper of prelims with this subject. 
  • The best part about taking this subject for your optional is that it is a very non-technical subject that revolves much around theory. So, even if you never had an educational background in this field, you still can understand it very well. However, it is important that you be interested in the same, to score really well in your exam.
  • You can easily keep yourself updated with the happenings on this topic by simply reading a newspaper on a regular basis, such as The Hindu, etc.
  • The subject is easily comprehensible and therefore, just the clarity of concepts is required to clear this paper with good marks.
  • Also, another good thing about this subject is that most of the topics are repeated such as Marxism, Marxist Notions, etc. and many other topics such as Mill, Justice, democracy, etc. are interrelated. Thus it really becomes very easy to comprehend and even recall during the exams and write really meaningful answers with various concepts in mind.
  • There is much more common in topics like current affairs and the Political Science and International Relations subject. Thus making it easy for you to prepare for the topic in a much wider sense, especially during your final interview round.

The Success Rate of Political Science and International Relations Optional Subject

Let us look at the following trend in the Political Science and IR topic from the UPSC prelims section over the past decade to give you a fair idea of its success rate.

Year of UPSC No. of questions from Political Science & IR optional 
2011 12
2012 20
2013 16
2014 14
2015 13
2016 7
2017 22
2018 13
2019 13
2020 15
Trends on UPSC PSIR optional

From the above table, you can clearly see that the questions asked on the subject of Political Science and International Relations revolve anywhere between 13-20.

It has quite a fair amount of questions. 

And thus, it proves that if you prepare well enough for your prelims, you clearly are prepared enough for the Polity subject in your mains as well.

Thus you would be saving a lot of your time studying this subject. 

Also, talking about its success rate for this subject as your optional, around 1246 aspirants had taken Political Science and International Relations as their optional subject, out of which a whopping 117 aspirants were recommended, taking its success rate close to 9.4% in 2017.

It is pretty much evident from the data from the UPSC annual reports, that many candidates take this topic as their optional.

Thus, whether you wish to take this up as your optional subject for the UPSC is completely your choice and it is very much important that you choose the subject out of interest, and not just sheer pressure, as this is how you would actually be able to score really good marks and clear the paper with flying colors.

How to prepare for the Political Science and International Relations Optional Subject in UPSC Mains?

How to prepare for PSIR optional UPSC

Before starting with your preparations, it is very much important to note that Political Science and IR is a predominantly theoretical paper that requires a lot of conceptual understanding and good writing skills.

Here are a few good pointers to help you prepare well for this paper if you choose it as your optional subject for mains in your UPSC exams.

  • Make a good strategy by going through the entire syllabus beforehand and making sure you know what it is that you are about to prepare for. There are two papers on this subject namely, Paper-I Political Theory and Indian Politics, and Paper-II Comparative and International Politics.
  • It is really important to focus both on the Static and Dynamic parts of the subject equally well and prepare yourself for a more conceptual understanding of the topic.
  • Try to take notes every time you come across some important news or concepts to help you while revising the same.
  • Reading newspapers and their editorial sections are really going to help you prepare very well for this subject apart from the other current affairs study material and the reference books on this topic as well.
  • Try to quote thinkers in this field to make an impression in your answers making them more appealing and comprehensive.
  • Focus on accuracy in your answers for this segment.
  • Try to make your own opinions on various topics in a very analytical and radical way and try to present them perfectly in your answers as well.
  • Make sure you add various recent developments and the theoretical concepts that you read in this field. Connecting these events gives the examiners a good view of your opinions and your in-depth understanding of the topic to a greater extent.

Thus, if you really wish to take the Political Science and International Relations optional for your UPSC mains, you should really try to consider taking up the coaching by Pragnya IAS Academy as it is the best IAS academy in Hyderabad and will help you with the best of the training on the subject from the experts themselves.