Psychology Optional UPSC Mains: Syllabus, Success Rate, and Books

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Psychology Optional UPSC: Psychology is a popular optional choice among candidates appearing for the UPSC Exam. According to students, the subject is easy to grasp and score in. For Psychology optional, students are required to study scientific concepts relating to human psychology, functions of the brain, and its psychological and physical effects on the human body.

UPSC Psychology Optional requires both an objective and a subjective understanding of the subject. With a grasp of the fundamental concepts, students can score good marks on the paper in UPSC Mains. We have shared the detailed preparation strategy for Psychology Optional UPSC Mains here.

Psychology Optional UPSC

Psychology is one of the Optional Subjects for UPSC offered in the Mains exam. The Psychology Optional is among one the popular choices of candidates appearing for the UPSC Exam. The UPSC Psychology Optional paper consists of two papers, which is of 250 marks each. Paper 1 of Psychology Optional UPSC includes topics like Methods of Psychology, Development of Human Behaviour, Issues and Perspectives in Modern Contemporary Psychology, etc.

The Psychology Optional Paper 2 is more of a practical knowledge-based paper, consisting of topics like Community Psychology, Psychological well-being and Mental Disorders, and Psychology and Economic development, to name a few.

Books for UPSC Psychology Optional

To prepare for the Psychology optional, candidates need to be aware of the entire UPSC Psychology Optional Syllabus. This will help them mark out the most important topics and focus on them from the exam point of view. Here are some Psychology optional Books for UPSC that every aspiring candidate who chooses this optional must refer to:

  • Psychology by Robert A Baron;
  • Tests, Measurements and Research Methods in Behavioural Sciences by A K Singh;
  • Understanding Psychology by Robert S. Feldman;
  • Psychology by Saundra Ciccarelli;
  • Psychology – Classes XI & XII NCERT textbooks;
  • Applied Psychology by Smarak Swain.

How to Study Psychology Optional for UPSC Mains?

Psychology optional is not an easy paper, but it is a better paper than many other optional papers. To prepare for this subject, you should gain a thorough understanding of Psychological concepts. Here are some tips to study psychology optional for UPSC Exam:

  • Be Familiar with the Syllabus – This is the most underrated preparation tip. By being familiar with the syllabus, you can segregate the topics into difficult or easy categories to prepare accordingly.
  • Focus on the Fundamentals – Gain a solid understanding of the fundamentals to improve your chances of scoring high marks in the UPSC psychology optional paper. Start with the basic NCERT Books.
  • Follow the previous year’s question papers – Refer to at least the last 10-year UPSC question papers to get an idea of the types of questions asked in the paper.
  • Target-Based Study – Set targets of covering a certain section of the psychology optional syllabus each day or week. The target-based study can help you cover concepts more efficiently.
  • Audio-visual study – Do not rely entirely on UPSC Books for preparing the Psychology optional UPSC Mains. Watch videos, and listen to audiobooks to stay interested in the subject.

Is Psychology a Good Optional for UPSC?

Psychology optional is considered a good optional by UPSC aspirants because it is easy to score marks in this subject. This subject is preferred more by those who like studying theoretical information.

To truly understand whether psychology is a good optional for you or not, you should measure the pros and cons of the subject. We have shared the UPSC Psychology optional pros and cons below:

Psychology Optional UPSC: Pros

  • Since Psychology is a popular choice as an optional, UPSC study material for the paper is readily available.
  • This subject is considered good to score in because the candidate has to write the answers subjectively, drawing them from real-life situations or personal experiences.
  • UPSC Psychology optional subject is open to everyone. Even if candidates have never studied Psychology during their graduation, they can still take it up for their Mains exam.
  • Psychology is an immersive subject that helps one understand how the human mind works and hence, is considered interesting.
  • People find it easier to study theory by taking up a subjective paper such as Psychology optional.

Psychology Optional UPSC: Cons

  • People who prefer practical subjects instead of theoretical ones may find it difficult to study Psychology optional UPSC Mains.
  • The syllabus for this optional paper is vast, so covering the important topics may take time.
  • Psychology optional may be difficult to follow because of the nomenclature involved in the paper, especially for candidates with restricted academic backgrounds.

Psychology Optional UPSC Success Rate

Psychology optional success rate is higher than many other subjects. When we compare the number of students who appeared for the exam to the number of candidates who cleared the exam, we get a success rate of 10.9% for the UPSC Psychology optional. This rate is higher than other objective papers.

Many aspirants choose Psychology because its syllabus is easier to cover. Also, the fact that it is a subjective paper allows candidates to answer the questions with a personal touch.

How Many Appear for Psychology Optional UPSC?

Each year, hundreds of students appear for the Psychology optional at UPSC. Many UPSC toppers opted for Psychology as their optional subject in the exam, including the 2012 topper Shena Aggarwal. In 2010, 1139 candidates appeared for this optional, whereas, in 2016, 1061 candidates appeared for the Psychology optional.

Psychology UPSC Optional: Preparation Tips

To score good marks in the psychology optional, you will require a good preparation strategy. Psychology is a theory-based subject that you should study with a subjective approach. You can always relate your personal experiences to your answers.

Moreover, with a grasp of the concepts, it becomes easier to score marks in the UPSC Psychology optional. Here is a Psychology optional UPSC preparation strategy that you should try:

  • Pomodoro Technique – Pomodoro technique is an effective method to prepare for any exam. According to this psychological technique, you will have to sit for 25 minutes straight to focus on your tasks and take a short break of 5-10 minutes after every 25 minutes.
  • Diagrams and Flowcharts – Creating diagrams and flowcharts will help you memorize concepts and revisit them easily. Paste them on a wall above your study desk and revise them daily. Make Mnemonics to decode complex concepts.
  • Audio-Visual Methods – Audio-visual methods, such as videos, audiobooks, etc., can help spice up your study sessions and make learning fun. You can also use audio-visual mediums to revise your concepts during your free time.
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