272 Marks in UPSC Sociology: The Trajectory & Answer Copy | Catherine Saranya | Sociology Topper

Catherine Saranya (IAS, 2020) – Sociology Strategy

This strategy is different. Because she shared it before her final selection.

Notes:
1. This session was conducted on Telegram – snippets are inserted at the end of this article. Please ignore the typos. To maintain the originality we have copy-pasted the texts.
2. Since Catherine was in the examination process, we had not disclosed her identity when this session was conducted.

Click here for Catherine’s Sociology Answer Copy

First and foremost, I would like to assert that Sociology is one of the best optional not just for clearing mains, but for answering interview questions and even in our very own life.

This is my third attempt and first mains. The other two attempt I had given during my post graduation days without much seriousness

I want to be very honest of my Sociology preparation. I decided to take Sociology optional only in January 2020. The lockdown was a blessing in disguise for me to start. For those of you out there, who still think I am unable to cover the syllabus… now is the time. Its never too late. I did the entire Sociology preparation on my own, no coaching institutes. So based on the errors and experiments that I have made, I had formulated this strategy. I will not say this is fool proof (each one of us can have our unique strategies)

I would talk about my preparation in 5 stages

Stage 1: Jan 2020- March 2020.

Firstly, I made a handwritten copy of the syllabus. I read it daily until I knew it by heart. I familiarized myself with the Sociological concepts through online resources, basic textbooks . This was also the time that I thought I was not capable to clear mains, though I was confident of clearing prelims

PS: My preparation in this stage was unstructured

April ,2020 –intense preparation for prelims so Sociology took a back seat. Then came the lock down and subsequent postponement of Prelims 2020.

Stage 2 : May 2020

Lockdown helped me shift gears from Prelims to Sociology. I came across DNA sir’s month long writing program. The best part of the programme was, it was entirely dedicated to Sociological Thinkers in paper 1. I was initially skeptical about my answer writing abilities. Because in my three months of preparations, I manipulated myself into believing that I can write answer only if I am able to finish the entire syllabus. Here, I would like to burst the myth that several other upsc aspirants have…… Trust me, there is nothing called finishing syllabus in UPSC, its exhaustive! Take your pen and paper and start right now

The month long answer writing programme helped get conceptual understanding over Sociological theories. I was able to accomplish this task, through reading NCERT, IGNOU, reading material posted in the group. It is said that, if you complete Unit IV of paper 1 then, half the sea is crossed. It gave me the confidence for answer writing. I no longer feared it

Other learning: Apart from the my answer evaluation, I used to read the good answer copies of my peers. Made note of good structuring and presentation, etc

Stage 3: June- July,2020

On popular request, DNA sir extended to answer writing programme to 75 day module. The schedule was fixed in a manner such that similar topics of paper 1 and 2 were tested together. This practice becomes very handy. Because , we learn the theories in paper 1 but when we are unable to apply them in paper 2, then we face difficulties in answering generic questions from paper 2. The trick here is to learn the theories in paper 1 and apply it in the Indian context. The schedule of the answer writing programme, helped me consolidate notes, as and whenever a topic was completed.

Other significant learning during this stage was to incorporate facts, diagrams, current affairs in my answer writing

Break for prelims August- September, 2020

Stage 4: Post Prelims Result

With the confidence gained through DNA’s sir answer writing programmed I deep dived in Sociology preparation. I made few commitments to myself from the very beginning

One, consolidate all my notes. Make it concise for the sake revision

Second, dedicate 50-60% of time for optional in the Month of October and November

Third, improve my speed of thinking and writing

Fourth, attempt 25 tests for Sociology optional before my actual mains

Stage 5: Last 2 week before Mains

Revise! Revise !

Stages of answer writing

  1. Brainstorming with the keywords given in the questions
  2. Attempt an answer with that limited knowledge
  3. Read the necessary content for the question ( start with basic sources like IGNOU)
  4. Write the answer again
  5. Read the answer. Self evaluate your answer
  6. See if you can give value addition to your answer eg: facts, current affairs, thinkers, sociological key words
  7. Practice atleast 2 answers every ( don’t worry about the time, work on the quality)
  8. Gradually fix timings for writing answers

Questions and Answers Session


I have done paper 1 properly, but not so thorough and confident with paper 2. Can I now start focusing on prelims and do paper 2 after pre if I qualify? I mean, is paper 2 doable after pre if one has got the basic understanding??

I understand that you have completed paper 1. So your dilemma is in paper 2. I would advise you take a decision based on your confidence in prelims. If you think prelims revision is doable in one month ( September) then go ahead with paper 2 preparations. If not, use the next two weeks for studying paper 2 concepts which have an overlap with paper 1.


Sir any particular tip on improvising answers, particularly for paper 2 as it’s a dynamic subject?

First and foremost in paper 2, it is important to understand the demand of the question. The expectation is not GS ish answer. It’s important to have sociological dimensions in your answers. This could be done by

1. Interlinking theories of paper 1
2. Include current affairs ( do not over do)
3. Reading Indian sociological theories ( I recommend selective reading of IGNOU study material)


Despite covering the syllabus once broadly, I’m facing difficulty to retain most of the information. How to tackle this problem? Pls give some practical insights on this

Good to hear that you have read the syllabus. The secret mantra to retain information is to REVISE. set aside a day or half day in a week only for revision. Make concise notes (not mere reproduction of textbooks). Revision becomes difficult if you make elaborate notes.


Any suggestions on how to remember the thinkers..not the major ones..but the ones which give a brownie points in the answers

Whenever you read about thinkers, make a mind map of the topics for which the thinkers theory could be used.
Compile the names of thinkers and revisit them thrice a week.


In topics that are more current driven.. Like women, development etc. Especially in paper2. How much do we need to balance between quoting data/facts and referring theories?
As I tend to write more fact based answers for such topics. How do we differentiate from GS in approaching such answers.?


In generic questions in paper 2 you have to have a careful balance between a GS answer and sociology answer. Adding Sociological key words, thinkers can make a difference.

Also you can add feminist perspective in answers related to women’s development


How to link current affairs to sociology answers and thinkers.

If you have subscribed to step up series, there are explanations for these. Otherwise, you can read the answers of your peers and toppers answer copy.


Hey Mentors, I had written 4 full length tests during with my coaching in march. And after that I started 75 days program but the main problem is that I am not able to fetch some good points that will improve the marks. Mostly the questions which is mainly current oriented I am taking too much of time to think making it a blunder in the end. And second query can I now left the optional preparation and move to prelims as I am in nervous 90s now and want to increase the score for assured prelims.

This is a decision that you will have to take based on your preparation level for prelims


Is it always necessary to write conclusion and way forwards in sociology answers? I understand we do in GS answers, but I have been suggested by my teacher that conclusions and way forwards are not necessary in socio ans.

The answer gets a completeness if you write a conclusion. I have always written conclusion for both 10 marker and 20 marker. But writing conclusion is a must for 20 markers


How to prepare important current affairs topics for sociology?

There are several telegram channels which curate current affairs content for Sociology. Whenever you read a newspaper article relate with syllabus topic or term.


I felt hectic to follow program . Even though I completed syllabus once before. Whenever I tried to write I want to be perfect. Then unable to write. I have written lot of answers halfway.

Perfection comes through practice. Push yourself to write an answer in the first place. Because in the actual exam, you will be required to write answers for questions which you may not have sufficient knowledge on. If you feel your answers lack good content..gain more knowledge and rewrite the same answer. Check for yourself if you have improved. All the best!


major lack in paper 2 is lack of confidence despite covering syllabus. Due to which I am increasing my sources for paper 2 but this makes it hard to retain/manage with time. How to manage paper 2 as no source seems sufficient?

Paper 2 is a challenge for a sociology optional student, but not an insurmountable one. I would recommend you to apply theories of paper 1 in paper 2
Eg: social movement in paper 1 should be associated with dalit movement, environment movement etc. Also, do not expand your resources unless you have sufficient time for revision. It helps if you revise similar topics together. Eg: politics and society in paper 2 and 2


Sir, Do tell me the approach to answer the questions of paper 2 especially the last few general studies type topics!

You can read the earlier answers for this question

Apart from that bring sociological dimensions to your answers.
Eg functional analysis- function, dysfunction, conflict perspective etc.
PS : Have some thinkers in hand for environment sociology


1.Is it necessary to stress more on mentioning thinkers in various small topics in paper 2 since most topics are related to current affairs
2.How to effectively write 10 mark answers since it has low word limit


. 1. You can read the earlier answers. 2. Structure your answers before you start writing. Sometimes we elaborate too much but miss out on key points. Have mental map of what you want to write especially for a 10 marker


How do you not let your ideological predisposition come in your way of writing a good answer?

Be very clear when you are starting to write an answer. Broaden your thinking Rationality is very important, the question should never provoke you.


Sir,
Can you tell your revision method. what was your approach to ensure that you recall relevant points within given time while writing answers?


Apart from the bulkynotes that I initially made. I made it concise for the sake of revision before mains.then I reduced it to 5-6 pages so that I can revise it just before exams


How to manage writing within timeframe i.e. 7 min for 10 marks and 12 min for 20 marks qns?

First work on the quality of your answer. Then gradually write answers with fixed time. Infact i started of with writing 1 answer for 30 min. I gradually improved. Trust me with practice I was able to complete both my papers with 5 min to spare


For paper 2, what should be our main reference source like we have Haralambos in Paper 1?

There is no single source for paper2. You can read BK Nagla for thinkers. Also IGNOU notes really help


How i will interlink both the papers and also with current affairs, how mug up all the current affairs in answers. Please give some suggestions on it.

How i will interlink both the papers and also with current affairs, how mug up all the current affairs in answers. Please give some suggestions on it.


Sociology Topper’s Answer Copy

Link 1 | Link 2 | Link 3 | Link 4 | Link 5

Snippets of the actual strategy shared by Catherine Saranya

upsc sociology topper | upsc sociology topper strategy | ias sociology | upsc sociology highest marks
upsc sociology topper | upsc sociology topper strategy | ias sociology | upsc sociology highest marks
upsc sociology topper | upsc sociology topper strategy | ias sociology | upsc sociology highest marks

Thank you Catherine for sharing your valuable inputs! Wishing you an impactful career as an IAS officer!





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