My name is Parth Jaiswal. I come from Jaipur, Rajasthan. I completed my graduation in Computer Science discipline from IIT Delhi in 2013. Soon afterwards I started preparing for Civil services and Indian Forest Service, aiming for the attempt of year 2014.
Luckily I was able to clear both the examinations in my first attempt. I secured AIR-5 in IFoS-2014 and AIR-299 in CSE-2014. My optional subject was Mathematics. In case of Forest Service Examination, candidate is required to choose 2 Optionals, thus my second optional was Forestry with Mathematics as my first optional. I secured 250/400 (125+125) marks in IFoS Exam and 300/500 (147+153) marks in CSE in Maths.
Thus I would give much credit for my success to my correct choice of optional as well as performance in it. I am writing this to share my experience with Maths as an optional subject and would feel happy if I am able to clear some of the doubts as well as apprehensions regarding it which many UPSC aspirants possess.
Why I Chose Mathematics?
I chose Mathematics because of my inherent interest in it from childhood. I have performed well in this in my throughout education and thus was confident enough to handle it well. Another reason for choosing it was, I wanted to have my optional from my background and thus Maths proved to be appropriate choice. Having a science background, I found it much easier to study than any other subject, many of which we have to study for GS prep.
I would like to assert few points regarding it very clearly.
- This subject is vast in syllabus and takes more time to study than other optionals.
- It also requires consistent practise. But the positive part is – If you are thorough with the subject and have practised it well, you can comfortably attempt complete paper with correct answers and thus gives you a great opportunity to score well in your optional (inspite of the scaling often carried out in it) pushing you above the list.
- In this way, this optional gives a bit of security as well as certainty which again comes at a price i.e great amount of hard work. Also IFoS Exam prescribes certain optionals only and Mathematics is one of them. Not all optionals are available for this exam.
- So again it gives you the flexibility of giving IFoS Exam.
From where to study?
I attended classroom coaching of IMS, Rajinder Nagar. I restricted my preparation to the handouts provided by Venkanna Sir. Because of the voluminous syllabus, it is necessary to gauge the point where you have to stop. I found that the notes quite comprehensive and provided me a holistic coverage of the syllabus in a highly structured manner. I believe that those notes are sufficient from the theory point of view.
For practising questions which is of utmost importance, I solved all the questions given in the notes (whether solved or unsolved) multiple times in my registers. Besides that, I solved the questions of previous year papers provided by sir, again multiple times. I restricted my preparation upto this point.
But if any student faces difficulty in understanding any particular topic or finds notes insufficient for it or wants to practise more, he/she can use any reference book for any particular topic which can easily be found on internet or available in market.
But again a word of caution, try to limit your preparation to the concepts relevant to the syllabus and don’t delve into unnecessary theorems or proofs otherwise its a slippery slope to a massive ocean. We tend to skip the proofs of various theorems provided in the syllabus while studying them as they are of not much use.
Proofs of theorems are generally not asked in the exams. But still I used to go through each and every proof in a brief manner provided in the notes. The reason being it would give me a better insight of the topic and often helped in me developing solutions of questions.
No optional is complete without writing a test series and it holds true in Maths also. Test Series is as important in your preparation as your notes + books. Firstly, Test Series is the best mode of judging your preparation. You can fairly evaluate your performance with your marks and then focus on the weak topics. Secondly, its a rehearsal of Mains Exam and thus helps you greatly in time management.
Mains exam is nearly a marathon for your hand and thus you get very much trained for facing them. Test Series also provided me another pool of questions to practise. They also helped in developing the ability of answer writing which definitely can’t be developed overnight.
I attended Test Series of IMS and luckily many questions of Test Series appeared in both IFoS Exam and CSE. I would also request all the candidates to give the test series by coming to classroom if possible and stick to the timelines as it really helps in completion of syllabus.
I hope this writeup clears some of the doubts and gives clarity on maths optional to UPSC IAS aspirants. All the Best
If anyone wants to contact me, please drop me an email – email@example.com. I will be more than happy to help you.
AIR-5 in IFoS-2014,
AIR-299 in CSE-2014