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How to prepare Economics optional for IAS

Strategy for Economics (Optional) Paper

In this article we will talk about Economics optional. Aspirant will get a detailed discussion and useful tips in order to evaluate the study approach for this subject in civil services main examination.

Method of studying Economics


There are multiple sources of preparation in a subject like Economics.

Stage - 1

Concentrate on understanding and concepts of whatever you are reading whether it be theorems or some models. We might forget the things 2 days after we have read it, Don't worry it is normal because you are not able to understand even the half the questions which have been asked in previous years. You don't have the clue of how to write answers in the exam, don't worry. Just ensure you finish the syllabus once appropriately.

Stage - 2

This stage comes after when you finished the syllabus once and you know the broad understanding of the Economics. This time it will take less time to understand all the stuff and most of it seems familiar once we read them out. Read and re-read, revise the syllabus two-three times, ensure that we can recall without any aid. At the end of this stage, we would still not be able to even understand half the questions in the paper. Don't worry about that because we are getting to the final state where you will be able do all that.

Final Stage

The questions in Economics are not direct they will be indirect and most of the times you won't be able to guess that which theorem or which model to apply. So, the aim of this stage is to identify that which model to apply.

Get some previous years' question papers and analyse and discuss with other on what model to apply for a particular question. It is always good to have friends to discuss the same problem and you will get to know that which model suits better there. Group study will definitely help you and dont' forget to revise the syllabus again, by now you have internalized all the stuff of Economics optional.

Now you will be able to recall them and reproduce in your answers from 90-95% of the questions in previous years' Economics optional papers.

How to to preparing for diagrams


Diagrams are of utmost importance, they will help you memorize better and present your answers in incorporated form. UPSC economics is completely non-mathematical and totally diagrammatical. While reading any model/theorem, we should simultaneously practice its diagram on paper. So, you should know all the graphs and all the microeconomics things that will help you in making better graphs and diagrams.

Assumptions are very important while writing answers. Clearly state all the assumptions in your answers, so we should systematically remember all the assumptions in any theorem or model to recall and reproduce whenever required.

Answer writing approach


The benefits of using diagrams: It might not be possible to put graphs in every question but do give your best at attempting things through graphs.

Precision matter: Economics is a technical subject with a vocabulary of its own. Being an economist you cannot hence afford to use words loosely. You answer should reflect your absolute clarity over technical economic terms and facts.

Wherever it is possible to use one term that is a technical term, just go ahead and use it. Precision is equally important in graphs as well. It is not mandatory to put graph in every question so practice enough to ensure that you do not violate any principle of microeconomics while drawing the graphs.

Cut the chase and get to the point: You need not to explain what's the background or history - the examiner is not really looking for that. Be logical because economics is a close to deductive as any social science can get. Most answers in paper 1 are based on deductive logic. Make sure you get the premises right and place arguments in such a way that the conclusion fits.

If there are multiple things and you want to mention, only few of them state upfront that the ones you are stating are in your opinion to more relevant ones for the particular answer. Have a narrative approach for your answers. Paper 2 is where you have the luxury to present your own opinions. Your opinion, should hence look like they are firmly grounded in facts. By narrative it means that the answer should be a piece standing all by itself.  A precise, clinical dissection of the issue in hand and inferences drawn from the dissection aided by facts. - That is what a good answer look like!

Use data wherever possible, it is good to use data if you remember and if you don't, do not attempt the questions that require lot of data recalling. Also use examples liberally, support your arguments, use innovative examples, not the routine ones as they will have more impact and give gravity to your answers. You could quote examples from your state which will make your answer different. Never take a radical stand on any issue unless you have strong data and facts behind you.

Practice writing answers a lot and set absolutely high standards for yourself. When you have written a piece you cannot let yourself be confident if you don't think it is your absolute best. So, Re-write and re-write - that's the only key.

Recommended Books for Economics