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Aishwarya Dongre, AIR 196

(First Attempt)

Optional Score: 327/500



I have had a five year long relation with Political Science due to my choice of subjects in my Junior College (Humanities) and also having completed a double major, Bachelor of Arts Graduation degree in Economics and Political Science, from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai in 2015. Hence the choice of my optional subject has emanated from this relation.

That said and done, it is of utmost significance that you choose your optional subject with care – considering factors like your sustained interest, availability of resources, adequate time frames, curiosity satisfaction and knowledge enhancing course structures.

At the outset one must note that there is NO ‘STRATEGY’ for any of the papers and hence do not blindly follow anything. Try different permutations and combinations to carve out your own personalised strategy. That will work wonders for you as it well-crafted by you to suit your preparation status, and well who can be a better judge of you than your own efforts and thinking?!


At the outset..

  1. Ponder over why you are choosing this optional subject.
  2. Go through the syllabus extensively and ensure that the course generates some interest.
  3. Visit the past years question papers to get a hang of the type of questions that are thrown at you.
  4. Come to terms with the fact that this is a heavily current affairs based subject.

Resources used

  1. Shubhra Ranjan Mam’s Class Notes
  2. The HINDU Newspaper
  3. Laxmikanth: Indian Polity
  4. P Gauba: Introduction to political theory
  5. Subrat Mukherjee and Sushila Ramaswamy: Western Political Thought-from Plato to Marx
  6. Andrew Heywood:
  7. Political Ideologies: An Introduction
  8. Global Politics
  9. Rajiv Sikri: Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy
  10. Insights on India Forum: particularly Lok Sabha,  Rajya Sabha and All India Radio  Discussions – Summaries


Study Approach

  • Use your syllabus as a skeleton to read, create notes.
  • Read the newspaper as a specialist

Eg: The World Bank’s ‘World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law’ is a remarkable document. Remarkable, because it is hard to believe that the World Bank authored this document. When the report cites Michel Foucault — that incandescent French thinker, who showed us how supposedly free and rational institutions of modernity are indissolubly linked with power and social control — it is time to pay attention. (July 6th, 2017 – Hindu Newspapers’ Editorial)

  • Create mindmaps for every topic so revision becomes easier
  • Use connectors between topics


Aristotle’s views on Plato

Globalisation and its relation with – 

Transnational actors (part of key concepts in international relations), NAM’s relevance

  • Use contemporary examples to understand a topic and consequently jot it down

Eg: Understanding “Malabar exercises” as part of Asia Pivot doctrine.

  • State, analyse, connect
  • Remember notable scholars, articles, commissions, theories
  • After you complete every topic, go through the questions asked in the past year regarding that topic. For that purpose do own a past years question booklet that has topic wise questions from the previous years, so that revision becomes easier.


aishwarya dongre marks card

Answer Writing

  1. Introduce with the knowledge of why you think the question is asked. Eg: 2016’s optional paper had a number of questions related to China. Understand the need of the question which ranged from the then heated topics on UNSC, China’s growing interaction with Pakistan which inturn was hindering SAARC (regional cooperation) etc.
  2. Mention scholars
  3. PREFERABLY use paragraphs, but yet experiment with various writing techniques like that of using points, paragraphs and see which is your comfort area and which fetches you more marks (but try this in mock tests). Let one point/idea flow into another
  4. Use of current affairs
  5. Address all aspects of a question number in one go
  6. Have adequate presentation by underlining only key terms, boxing up the headings.
  7. Contemplate over an issue in your mind while you write
  8. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE on your own and through various mock tests!


To Those giving Mains 2017

Since you are amidst rigorous preparation for the exam, just take time out to ensure you aren’t reading a lot of new resources and sticking to the ones you have always relied on. Revise your notes time and again. Also Practice a number of tests as it shall give you an adequate hang to write such an exhaustive exam. Lastly, do ensure you have some important issues jotted down that you feel have gained adequate importance in the past year or two so you do not skip them.


I hope this detailed post is beneficial to most of you who have opted for the same. You have one of the most dynamic optional- so do make it work wonders for you.




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