UPSC Mathematics Optional for IAS and IFoS

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How to Prepare Mathematics (Optional) for IAS / IFoS Exam

How to Prepare Mathematics (Optional) for IAS / IFoS Exam 1

IAS/IFoS Mathematics Preparation Strategy

The Civil Services Examination, the creme de la creme of all examinations, is also known as the toughest and the longest examination of India. Therefore, I consider it quite important to share my view points for the bright future of the aspiring candidates.

Though the CSE is a hard nut to crack but one could sail through this ‘hurdle race’ via strategic planning, consistent efforts,diligence, a patient and calm approach and most importantly with the belief in one’s own potential. The right selection of the optional is the pre requisite of a good rank in CSE.

One must choose the optional keeping the following points in mind:

  • A subject of your interest.
  • Scoring pattern of that subject in past few years
  • The availability of study material and Expert guidance

Ideally, the students should choose their subject of graduation or post graduation as their first optional but then one must check their subject for its viability in the Civil Services Examination. However, second optional should be chosen keeping in consideration the aforementioned 4 point namely Criterion of interest, scoring pattern, availability of study material and expert guidance.

As per the above mentioned criteria of choosing optional, Mathematics is one of the safest and most scoring optional in the Civil services examination. This is the only subject which allows the students a scope to score as high as 400+ marks. The popular trends show that out of every 20 students, at least one student has Mathematics as one of his or her optional subject. Data shows that before the year 2000, The maximum number of students in the Civil services examination were the students who had taken Mathematics as their optional. However, with the change in the CSE pattern, students have started facing difficulty with Mathematics as an optional due to the lack of availability of quality guidance and the confusion created by the labyrinth of false propagandist and mercantile, inefficient and inexperienced teachers.

However since the last few years, the popularity of the subject has increased as expert guidance keeping in view the need of the CSE is available now.


The students who have studied B.Sc Mathematics/ B. Tech. can take Mathematics as one of the optionals in this examination. In fact, Mathematics is one such optional which gives you the advantage of a much higher score than what one could manage with other subjects and thus, the chances of getting the best ranks are much better. However, there is a certain phobia about choosing Mathematics as an optional amongst the students. Let us examine this problem through an observational analysis of the situation.

We can broadly categorize the science students, especially the ones from the Mathematics background who are aspiring for the CSE, into two categories. The first category is of those students who opt for Mathematics as one of their optionals in this prestigious examination. The second category is obviously those students who do not opt for it. Talking about the former category, it is a group of self motivated, diligent students who already have a penchant for this subject. This category usually consists of those students who seem to eat, sleep and drink Mathematics. They are highly passionate about this subject and extremely devoted to it. However, It is the latter category of students who encourage me to delve into their mindset and explore the reasons for their decision. What I have discovered about the same is a disappointing fact of these students being beguiled and demotivated by the ‘opinion givers’ of the society. Even the illogical CSE theories created by the mercantile propagandists affects the psychology of these students by enticing them to select inconsequential and irrelevant optionals. Either they are discouraged enough to take the plunge with a safe subject which ultimately results in their sad failure despite rigorous hard work, or else they achieve the results only after investing insurmountable energies and irreversible time on a wrong decision.

I have a message for these students- ‘Unleash your potential’ ; Go for something that channels your expertise in its best direction rather than going for something that has not been your area of excellence and interest. Choose the ‘stepping stone’ not the ‘stumbling block’. Overcome your irrational fears and anxieties and make a prudent decision.

Mathematics is the most advantageous and the highest scoring optional. You have been solving Mathematics questions since elementary school. Think about it; After spending more than 15 years in the field of Mathematics, if you are being manipulated to change your path for an irrelevant option with just 6 months or one year of preparation, you are actually leaving your area of proficiency and are indirectly trying to take up the challenge of competing with the masters of their respective fields.

As IAS and IFoS exams are joined together, so there is an opportunity for the Mathematics optional students to write the IFoS exam along with the IAS exam simultaneously.


The role of the coaching institute can never be underestimated in the preparation of CSE. Expert guidance is a very crucial aspect for these preparations. The mentor facilitates the process of preparation and enables the student to savour the success in a strategized manner. One can score 80%+ in Mathematics with the help of professionally well equipped and qualitatively upgraded teaching inputs based on most meticulously and scientifically designed comprehensive guidance programme which allows conceptual clarification of all topics. Moreover, coaching institutes may prepare a system of rigorous written tests and feedback mechanisms. This is mandatory to ensure the updating of the student’s conceptual and analytical knowledge reservoir as per the requirements of the latest emerging trends of the civil services examination.

An academy with its experience and professional efficiency can prove to be a catalyst to ensure absolute proficiency and perfection in the subject.

© Copyright IMS (Institute of Mathematical Science), New Delhi


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