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  • How to Choose Optional Subject for WBCS Main Exam


    It is always difficult to choose optional subject. But it is one of the most important decisions to takewhich may ultimately affect your chances to pass this exam in various groups. Don’t go by what your friends say. take an informed decision after doing SWOT analysis and background study and trend analysis. One subject may be suitable to one person, another is same for other person.So How to Choose Optional Subject for WBCS Main Exam.Continue Reading How to Choose Optional Subject for WBCS Main Exam.

    All subjects are scoring as long as you have grip on that subject. But which subjects are called “scoring”? Those which gives us high score with less amount of effort.

    So, what is the criteria to choose an optional subject?

    Following are the important steps you should follow before you finalize a subject as your Optional.

    First go through the list of all the Optional Subjects. Read the names of the subjects again and again for 15 minutes. Now go back to your school and college days. Think about your favorite subjects then. Think hard in which subject you excelled, in which subject you showed more interest, in which subject you got good marks. Now come to the present. See which areas of news you are more interested in. Think which topics of GS you like more. Some people like history, some like polity/sociology and keep reading those books as if they are doing masters in those topics. Think of short-listing them as your Optional subject. Some people also have a hobby of reading literature of their mother language.

    Now see the list of PSCWB Optional Subjects again.Ranking of Optionals WBCS 2012

    Based on above criteria, make a list of 4-5 subjects that you think you have interest in.

    Now go through the syllabus of each Optional Subject. Read all topics carefully. Underline/highlight the topics — that you think you know something about or have some interest — in the syllabus of each shortlisted Optional subject.

    Now go through the Previous Year Question papers (3-4 years) of the shortlisted Subjects. Read all the questions. Again gauge yourself the level of interest you have or residual knowledge you possess to answer each question. It’s just to know yourself how comfortable you are with a subject, don’t worry if you don’t know answer to any question.

    Finally, the availability of materials and guidance in the form of coaching matters a lot. For some subjects it is difficult to get standard books, for some coaching may not be available. Non technical subjects can be prepared by doing self study provided you regularly practice writing.
    By now you will have a clear picture about choosing between 2-3 subjects. For example, if you are an engineering student and exceptionally good at your engineering subjects, at the same time if you have extensively read literature of your native language, may be since childhood, you will be in dilemma to choose between these two subjects.

    Usually literature subjects have performed well in all years. You might end up choosing the literature of your native language as your Optional subject. It’s a good decision.

    For some people who have worked in a big organization, Psychology appeals a lot and in fact it has been the most popular optional with working aspirants or with those who have quit their jobs.

    Medical students may opt for Medical Science, Zoology or Anthropology as these subjects are related to their field.

    In the end what matters is how much you love the subject. If you love every topic in it, then it is the ‘One’ you should go along with. Not with the ‘most successful’ or ‘the most popular’ ones.

    Please keep in mind, you have to pass the exam, you dont need to be a PUNDIT in that subject.

    10 factors to help you in deciding which subjects are best suited to you for Civil Services Examination from the list of few subjects which surround your mind.

    1. Study material availability:

    It should be the first criteria when you opt for any particular subject. You should understand the examination standards and examiners’ expectation which clearly indicate that anything of average quality will not work here. Basic books do not suffice the purpose and as these are printed with some gap, these fail to update you on current and evolving issues. Many a time even standard set of books do not fully cover the syllabus. So, you need relevant, up­to­date and crisp content which covers syllabus fully and takes care of newly added topics as well.
    If, the subject you choose has enough study material which can fulfill your requirements, shortlist the subject for further consideration.

    2. Marks yielding/high scoring subjects:

    No doubt, there are few subjects which are considered to be highly scoring by aspirants based on hearsay. Many a time, candidates fetch really high scores in subjects like Mathematics, Physics, some Engineering subject and even some language literatures such as Sanskrit, Pali etc. Don’t fall in trap of those coaching institutes which show promising scores of 300+ in the optional they are offering. It is what I call juggling as I feel every subject is scoring and candidates get good marks and succeed with almost all subjects.

    Only those who have excellent preparation and deliver scintillating performance can expect anything close to 300 and that can be achieved in any subject. You may find many candidates achieving scores in vicinity of 280-300 in subjects like Psychology, Economics, Psychology or Anthropology.

    It is another matter you have few subjects which have become very popular and attract thousands of aspirants and their marks, their successes are prominently highlighted. Still, add any optional which attracts you on the basis of scoring pattern.

    3. Interest in the subject:

    Being familiar with any subject doesn’t mean that you develop interest in it.You need to have proper understanding of the subject, till the time you don’t have interest, how can you continue preparation as you move ahead from the basics.

    4. Aptitude for the subject:

    How so ever interesting the subject is or you are familiar with that subject, till the time you don’t have aptitude, you can’t move. Skills and knowledge can be built up over time. Interest can be developed once acquaintance grows and learning progresses. History is a very interesting subject but you don’t have aptitude for remembering facts and figures, how can you attain a level which ensures success? It is said higher the aptitude; better the chances of an outstanding performance. These days History may not be that scoring, you cannot complete writing all the answers in time too. It does not help much in compulsory subjects too.

    5. Capacity to absorb information related to subject:

    This becomes important as you have to manage preparation for General Studies and one optional subject you are going to decide with this exercise. You fully understand your capabilities and despite interest and aptitude for any particular subject, if you find any subject has staggering demand, think again before opting for such subject. If any subject requires such extraordinary efforts which are beyond your capacity, better to ignore that subject and review another from the rest.

    6. The nature of the subject and time it requires for preparation:

    Each and every subject has its own requirements and special demands which you need to execute. You can’t escape as you have to reach the examination level. It is not that examination will adjust to your level. Again, how much time it will require to reach examination level and do you have sufficient time to do that. You can have best of the study material and even top rated coaching, if you feel that you will not be able to do justice with it, better take any other subject.

    You just need to give 3 months for preparation of optional subject.

    7. Overlapping a portion of General Studies/other subject’s syllabus:

    Yes, it is logical to opt for some subject part of which gets covered with your rest of preparation. History and Geography may help you a little in General Studies preparation. Philosophy, Psychology helps in interview stage. Few subjects have got syllabus overlapping. Take a look at the subjects you have short listed and see if any falls in this category. Pick it up for further review.

    8. Size of syllabus:

    On the face of it, it may seem so but look at the past years’ question papers and trends before finally deciding about any subject. Few subjects like Philosophy, Hindi Literature, Pali Literature etc are some of the optional subjects which are being promoted by coaching institutes on this parameter.

    PSCWB does not allow such discrimination based on syllabus size. Again, not every aspirant opt these optional subjects is able to succeed. Still you find any optional subject which can work to your benefit; you take your own judgment.

    9. Gap between two subjects as per examination itinerary:

    Previously for some aspirants this was a criterion to select second optional where they can get opportunity to revise during this gap. If you are stick between two subject to decide second optional judge you decision on this factor. Those who are hard pressed for time and don’t have much time left before examination can consider such combination where they can get some break. But, this alone should not be the basis for your subject choice. Because now whatever optional subject you choose, will be taken on same day as there is one optional subject only from 2014.

    10. Guidance/quality coaching availability:

    Not everyone is interested in Coaching that is why it has found space as the last reasons for consideration. It is an important factor as in last few years, the examination has become innovative and much above the level it used to have. When you are hard pressed for time and wish to achieve a competitive edge, youcan always reach out to the experts who can take you to the level this examination requires. Look out for the subjects where you have trusted coaching institutes who innovate, follow the latest trend and fulfill you examination related requirements.
    Good guidance can always be a deciding factor, if you desire or require, single out from the subjects you have picked up.

    A successful officer can guide you how to score high in those subjects in such a short span.

    5 Factors to keep in mind while short listing a few optional subjects from long list of subjects available:

    1. Educational background can back your choice:
    Make a List few optional subjects which you have studied in recent past. The knowledge base you built up can guide you while choosing optional subjects and can help you understand
    needed outlook in any particular optional subject.

    2. Familiarity with the subject:
    It is easier to understand and build your base if you have familiarity with any particular subject. You are aware about your strengths and weaknesses and can understand it well that you can go ahead with that or not and if yes, then how far.

    If any of these subjects has some familiarity, add those subjects in your wish­list. See, if you can add some subject in the list you have made.

    3. Subject’s performance in the medium of writing examination:
    It may surprise you but some optional subjects produce better result is English Medium or in Hindi. Take example of Psychology which is predominantly chosen by English Medium candidates. If you plan to take Psychology in Hindi, you may not find many who back your views. Likewise, Philosophy is picked up mainly by Hindi medium candidates and is producing good results but, in English it is yet to show good show. So, before you zero in, try to find out the optional subject’s result trends based on this parameter. It can change the whole plan for the candidates.Psychology v/s Political Science is not so easy but when you go little deep and explore, you can get some insights about the same.

    4. Number of aspirants opt that subject:
    It surely attract aspirants as more aspirants means better market for books and coaching institutes thus better chance to prepare. Above all you get a good number of aspirants who are having the same subject thus provide you an opportunity to reach out to such people and can share your thoughts. Sometimes, aspirants are misguided by reading articles, in some career & competition magazines, based on PSCWB annual reports which show very high success rate in a few optional subjects but when you see the finer details, the number of aspirants opting for that particular optional subject, you will find only a few candidates opt for that subject. Information relating to the popular optional subjects can be put to use to add some more subjects in the list you are making with some insights on which all are trendy optional available and what is the successrate in these popular optional subjects.

    5. Past results’ trend analysis:
    It impacts the choice as aspirants are so much inspired that they want to opt for the same subject which particular topper had.

    Look at WBCS 2012 results, among the most popular optional subjects, talk is about Psychology  and Anthropology making a comeback, History is on back foot, Psychology is
    gaining more strength and becoming evergreen optional subject and Sociology is one subject which has again come in eyes of the candidates because of good results. Philosophy is thriving in Bengali Medium but, is trailing with lack of results in English Medium. It can be true or can be far from realities as no statistics to back these, but, no harm in taking into consideration these tit­bits which you come across. Be sure, is it coming to you from trusted people or not.
    Click here to see Ranking of Optionals WBCS 2012

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