Tips to Prepare for Botany Optional in the UPSC Mains Exam

“Botany, the eldest daughter of medicine.” – Johann Hermann Baas

Botany is one of the optional subjects that the UPSC offers candidates in the mains exam. Not many candidates opt for it as it is a specialized subject. However, there have been a few toppers who had taken this optional subject (Gopala Sundera Raj, AIR 5/2011). This article talks about Botany as an optional for the IAS mains exam and gives a few tips to prepare for this optional.

Who should take Botany optional?

Candidates who have taken Botany or Biology as their graduation major and are in touch with this subject can take this optional. Candidates who have lost touch but still like the subject or enjoy reading about it can select this subject.

Also, aspirants with a background in biotechnology can also opt for this optional subject.

Advantages of Botany optional:

  • Being a science subject, it can be scoring.
  • Nothing is left to interpretation and the examiner’s personal views do not play any part in marking.
  • The portions are pretty much static.
  • Candidates need only to have their foundation clear and have conceptual clarity to write good answers.
  • You can score through diagrams in this subject.
  • The questions in this subject are direct and fundamental.

Botany Preparation for UPSC

Strategy for preparing Botany optional in the IAS mains:

Paper I Strategy:

  • Focus on diagrams more in this paper.
  • Give Indian examples also of species.
  • Microbiology section is most important for the 200 words short notes.
  • The key areas in Phanerogams are:
  1. Gymnosperms: focus on fossil types
  2. Angiosperms: prepare floral diagrams and formulas.
  3. Embryology: don’t ignore diagrams in this topic.

Paper II Strategy:

  • Under cell biology, molecular aspect should be given importance.
  • Genetics, evolution and molecular biology are important areas with high scoring potential.
  • Candidates should write answers giving prominence to applications in agriculture and human welfare.
  • In Physiology and Biochemistry sections, biochemical physiology is very important. In topics like flowering, seed germination and fruit ripening, aspirants need to cover hormones and developmental physiology.

Botany Optional Books

  • Cell Biology- De Robertis & Ambrose and Easy or Powar
  • Botany for Degree Students; Pteridophyta (Vascular Cryptogams) – P.C. Vashishta
  • Cryptograms – B.R. Vasista
  • Ecology, Microbiology, Animal Behaviour, Pollution and Toxicology For B. Sc. Part III, Paper III- Dr. Veer Bala Rastogi
  • Genetics – Strickberger
  • Embryology Of Angiosperms- S P Bhatnagar
  • Economic botany in the tropics- S. L. Kochhar
  • Microbiology- Powar
  • Genetics – Dr. Veer Bala Rastogi
  • Physiology and Biochemistry – Salisbury and Ross or Fritz and Noggle
  • Plant Anatomy – Esau
  • Taxonomy – R Nair; Datta
  • Plant Anatomy – B.P. Pandey

Visit BYJU’S Website for strategy and articles on free IAS prep and all the latest on UPSC IAS exam.

Also, See:

Check out the UPSC syllabus for Botany Optional here
IAS Topper with Botany Optional: Dibya Jyoti Parida
Agriculture or Botany Optional for UPSC Mains Exam


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