Strategy for Mathematics Optional from UPSC Topper Utsav Kaushal

IAS topper with Mathematics

Utsav Kaushal secured an admirable all India rank of 14 in the 2016 UPSC civil services exam. He had taken Mathematics as his optional subject. He is a B.Tech graduate in Electrical Engineering from IIT Delhi. In this article, we bring you a few tips from Utsav Kaushal to ace the mathematics optional in the UPSC mains exam.

Before candidates decide about opting for the mathematics optional, it is advised that you should go through the Mathematics optional syllabus once.

Utsav Kaushal’s tips for mathematics optional:

  • Firstly, for scoring good marks in the mathematics optional you need to put a lot of hard work. You should solve as many problems as you can. Practice alone can help you here. Don’t shy away from hard work!
  • Don’t copy solutions. It is important that you try and solve the problems on your own. Do not jump to the solution as and when you encounter a problem. You will be able to learn only when you practise problems yourself.
  • Abstract algebra is a topic that is anathema for many candidates. Most of the candidates leave this topic and many are scared of it. Skipping this topic would be a mistake since in the previous years, many questions have been asked from this section. There is no way around it since you cannot afford to skip a chunk of the questions. So, all you can do is practice problems on this topic really well. Adequate practice will definitely help you understand it better and also improve your ability to solve problems.
  • Mechanics and Fluid Dynamics is another topic that you have to do. A lot of questions are asked in the compulsory part.
  • Dynamics & Statics: This topic is relatively easy and many candidates defer studying it until they have but a few days left for the mains exam, also because they would have studied it in their XI and XII standards. Kaushal’s advice to students is that they do this section initially. Leaving it totally is unwise since you need practice in mathematics no matter how easy a topic seems.
  • There are some questions in maths which are in parts. You will be asked to prove a certain theorem in the first part and based on that, you have to solve the second part. Many candidates, on finding that they cannot solve the first part of the question, altogether leave the question. Kaushal advises candidates to answer whichever part of the question they know. It is possible to get some marks in that question and in the UPSC exam, every mark counts.
  • Coordinate Geometry: Here, questions are in a set pattern. Kaushal recommends candidates to practice from ‘Analytic Geometry’ by PN Chatterjee.
  • In calculus, the theoretical part takes a lot of time and Kaushal advises candidates to take it up only if time permits.

Utsav Kaushal recommends mathematics to all candidates who have a background in maths or engineering. He says it is a scoring optional provided the candidate works hard. His marks are proof enough of the optional being scoring. He scored 356/500 in the optional papers.

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