Preparing For UPSC With Law Optional Subject - A Definitive Guide (Part - 2)


13 July 2020 10:58 AM GMT

  • Preparing For UPSC With Law Optional Subject - A Definitive Guide (Part - 2)

    After I wrote a piece comparing UPSC and judicial service examination, to answer general queries of candidates that I received through email, I decided to write a two-series article, hopefully answering all queries, which the larger student community preparing for civil services with law optional may have.

    Since the time I wrote part - 1 of this two series article, coronavirus have swept and peaked across Europe. In the next month or so, it is expected to peak in our country. A frightening thought indeed, all of this has led to the postponement of all the major exams across our country, be it UPSC or Judicial service or State public services.

    Candidates appearing for these examinations are toiling hard and continue to burn the midnight oil. These Recruitment process postponements have given a breather for unprepared candidates to go back to the study table.

    In the previous article we discussed, briefly, the chance of success in UPSC with Law optional subject (purely statistical analysis) and brief analysis of syllabus, along with book list recommendation. In this article I will be discussing more peripheral questions such as, where and how to start with the preparation or what kind of resources one may refer apart from books, which are available online.

    1. Previous year Papers

    Previous year papers are a gold mine for preparing for any exam. It helps candidates to identify two important aspects of any exam. Firstly, Depth of study required in a particular topic of syllabus and Secondly, Structure of Question Paper.

    Identifying depth of syllabus

    Understanding the depth of a topic helps us define the outer limit of a particular topic which needs to be studied, as law is endless, even one topic may have areas and perspectives which are limitless. Most of them are not required at all for this exam. Look at previous paper and identify the dimensions covered in question related to a single topic.

    Law optional Previous year paper topic wise arranged is the best way to start for the above purpose. You may also refer videos of twenty-thirty minutes Each (3-4 topics in each video), where I have explained the syllabus and related nuances in detail on YouTube (De Facto Law, Channel Name). Hopefully it would be of some help. I have also checked few copies identifying errors and suggesting an improvement in them.

    Structure of Paper

    Understanding Structure of Paper, helps you priorities what question to attempt first, thereby increasing your efficiency. Out of 8 questions, you have an option of solving any five including some compulsory questions.

    You will also have to plan, for which question what amount of time should be given, Proper planning is important as you have to write around 28 questions in three hours with marks allotted to them varying between 10,15 or 20 respectively. Time should be allocated proportionally to their marks allotted. There is no point spending a lot of time on answers, answering which, no matter how brilliantly, will fetch you less marks.

    2. Resources (online and offline)

    Always make books a major offline resource as it is very comprehensive, exhaustive and authoritative. Having said that, there are good online websites where you can get useful articles. These online resources are very scattered and unless you have the ability to identify good articles aptly suited for law optional syllabus it will be useless. For that you need to know each topic of syllabus by heart.

    1. Live Law articles
    2. Pdf of UN Articles (they are not easily searchable, you will to go through individual websites)
    3. Shodh Ganga (Phd Research Paper summary of relevant topic often have very good crisp and precise content aptly suited for law optional in UPSC))
    4. E Gyan Kosh (All IGNOU material of Law courses are useful)
    5. Articles from Newspapers such as The print, the wire, The Hindu, BBC, New York Times etc.

    To make things easier, I send relevant pdf and newspaper/magazine articles which are relevant in the newsletter, that I send weekly on email and on telegram channels (Both can be found on our website).

    Online resources are varied so try not to drain yourself in the endless void. Be very specific as time is the essence in cracking this exam.

    3. Writing Practice

    Once you are done with previous year paper and identified depth of study required and learnt the relevant material, time comes to put it in writing. No matter how knowledgeable you are, in UPSC you are judged based on what you write in exam.

    Remembering or understanding a concept and putting it up brilliantly, succinctly organizing your thoughts, are two different game. Such mark fetching answer Writing requires practice and a lot of practice.

    Solving previous year paper would be a good starting point for writing practice of law optional. Better still if you solve year wise paper each day in a definite time (3 hour) to give you a feel of exam. Whether you were able to attempt all questions in allotted time or not. If not, work on writing practice and get the time right.

    4. Coaching or no Coaching

    This question has no definite answer. Joining any standard coaching is a costly affair (approx. 45-50 thousand). One should carefully analyse their level of preparations before reaching such decision.

    One way to determine is to see previous year law optional toppers copy and compare your answer with that and do a self-assessment. It will give you a fair idea, where do you stand.

    One can always join a decent test series to do more writing practice, once he/she have exhausted writing all previous year paper. A writing practice course may be cost saver if you can study and learn syllabus yourself.

    A serious candidate who is a law graduate can frankly speaking prepare on their own, if they have studied seriously in the law college. But the question remains how many of you have studied seriously, eh ? au fait !

    About the Author

    Aditya Tiwari, He has been teaching UPSC aspirants in Delhi since 2013. He runs the website , Which is dedicated to law optional upsc students. He holds a bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from MNNIT, Allahabad and an LLB from Delhi University. Can be reached at

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