The selection of an optional subject for UPSC Mains is indeed an important decision for any UPSC aspirant. A total of 500 marks are dependent on the optional subject papers. Hence, the decision must be made with extreme caution. While subjects like Sociology, Public Administration, Geography, History, etc are extremely popular among the students, literature optional for UPSC aren’t that popular. However, there have been toppers with literature optional in the past. (Nandini KR, AIR 01, UPSC CSE 2016 - Kannada Literature)
The list of literature optional for UPSC is as under:
Lesser Competition: There is extremely less number of aspirants for literature optional, hence the competition is far less than any other subject.
Stress reliever: If you have an extreme love for the literature of the choice of your language, then you’ll find that preparing for this option is akin to therapy.
Quality of Answers: With this optional, there is no limit to beautiful answers that can be framed. If you are a reader and writer from the beginning, then you’re sure to shine in this paper.
Updation in Syllabus: Literature optional is one of those subjects whose syllabus is static and doesn’t change much. So, you will not need to keep a tab on current affairs and recent developments.
Few experts and evaluators: Since the experts and evaluators of literature optional are very few, you can get an idea about how to practice answer writing from previous toppers’.
Essay writing and interview: Reading literature will allow you to garner fresh ideas that can be used for writing brilliant essays. It will also help in framing answers for interviews.
Subjective Nature: Since the answers are subjective with no correct and incorrect answer, the writing as well as evaluating becomes a bit abstract. Hence, if your view is not matching with the evaluator, you will end up scoring less.
Lack of resources: While resource material for some optional like English literature available, for other literature subjects, it is a bit difficult to find adequate resources. Even there is a dearth of educators and experts making it extremely difficult for aspirants to source study materials.
Syllabus overlap with GS papers: While the literature optional may help you with essay paper, there is virtually no overlap with the General Studies paper. Hence, all the time that you’ll spend in ready literature will be exclusive to the optional subject only.
Here’re some of the best tips that you should follow to prepare the literature optional in UPSC:
Read the syllabus thoroughly: You should read the syllabus exceptionally well so that you’re able to stick to your syllabus and not digress from it a lot.
Previous Year Questions: Glance through the previous year papers to know what exactly is asked in the paper so that you can prepare it accordingly.
Reading the texts: So, every literature optional syllabus will list down certain works that you need to read. Try to read it in the context in which it is written. Analyze the behavior, belief system, moral values that characters in the story possess to get an idea of the societal framework during that time!
Socio-political understanding: Develop a deep understanding of the socio-political setup of the period in which the particular is set in!
Supplement your knowledge with scholarly articles: There are many platforms like academia, Google Scholar, Jstor, etc, wherein you can find scholarly articles that could prove to be useful.
Answer-writing practice: There's no shortcut to answer-writing practice especially for the literature optional where you will be scored on the basis of originality and acuity in your answers! Hence, practice as much answer-writing as you can!
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