UPSC Mathematics Optional for IAS and IFoS

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Preparation Strategy for Mathematics (Optional) by Padmanabh Baruah AIR-194 (CSE/IAS-2015)

IAS 2015 Successful Student AIR 194I am Padmanabh Baruah. I graduated in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Guwahati in 2013. I started working in an MNC after my graduation and worked there for about 5 months. After that I went home and stayed for 6 months. It was during this period that I started thinking about what career option I should undertake. After much thinking and deliberation, I came to the conclusion that I would try to get into the Indian Civil Services and it was from here that my journey for Civil Services start.

I came to Delhi in July, 2014 to start my preparation. As I had decided on this career option just before a month or two, I had to start everything from scratch as I had never before prepared for this examination. I took admission into a coaching institute for my GS preparation. I had not decided on my optional as yet. I consulted some seniors regarding which optional I should take and a variety of suggestions came up – geography, psychology, political science etc. But I was not very sure about these subjects as I had never studied them till that time. Then I thought to myself that why not Mathematics. I had been very fond of this subject during my schooling and even in college. But the response I got from those who I consulted was not very positive – everyone kept on saying that it is a very difficult optional subject. Some of the disadvantages they mentioned were – there is no common portion with GS, the syllabus is very vast as compared to humanities, there is no proper guidance etc. Despite this, I had a gut feeling that I should take Mathematics because this is what I had been studying from a long time and if I get some good guidance, I would be able to overcome the difficulties.

It was at this stage that I came to know about IMS mostly through the internet. I enquired in IMS and took up a classroom program in September 2014. Today, when I look back, it seems that it was a very good decision that I took at that time. I cleared the Civil Services Examination 2015 in the first attempt with an AIR 194 only because of my decent marks in Mathematics. My score in GS was quite average, it was only Mathematics which gave me a good rank.

My coaching in IMS helped me tremendously because till I had started the coaching, I had absolutely no idea about what to study and how to go about the subject. The benefit of the coaching was that the entire syllabus was covered in a concise way. I did not have to go around searching for books or common questions or any other sort of material. Everything was provided in the material from the coaching centre and my duty was to finish the material and revise them again and again. I depended only on the material provided and did not consult any other book. I kept up with the pace of the classes and thus could finish the syllabus chapter by chapter accordingly as Venkanna sir proceeded.

Once the prelims was over, I started the Test Series with IMS. The test series is very crucial when you are revising and doing the final preparation for the mains. This is because Mathematics is about practicing the same thing again and again – this came with the test series. I gave about 16 tests and in all the tests, I revised the entire syllabus repeatedly.

Therefore, when the Mains Examination came, I did not feel much nervousness as I had already sat for similar tests so many times.

Finally, I would like to say that if you are from a background where you had to deal with mathematics in some way or the other, or you were good at this subject in school or college, you should seriously considering choosing this subject as your optional because if you work hard and are regular with Mathematics, it will pay off handsomely. Mathematics, like any other subject for UPSC CSE can be prepared on your own too; but if you are short in time and would like to finish the subject at the earliest, you can consider taking up a coaching class. This is because, as I mentioned earlier, it gives you all the material and guidance at one place and you do not need to run around searching for the correct book.
I hope some of the things that I said would be of help to those who want to take mathematics.

Padmanabh Baruah
AIR-194 in CSE/IAS-2015


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