I have been asked this question almost by every student who called me regarding psychology optional for the civil service examination. This is a very common dilemma .
Such students like psychology very much for different reasons. Some students have read psychology as a part of some courses in the past. For instance, several students from IIT Kanpur and Delhi have had psychology as a humanities sub-part of their engineering courses. Likewise, some having teaching and medical background have some exposure to psychology and they like to take psychology optional.
They however get confused when they come to know that psychology is not very scoring in the civil service examination. When asked about this, I give the following suggestions that you may like to read if you too are thinking of taking psychology optional.
- Do you really know the marks of every students who have written cse mains with psychology optional? There are students who score well in psychology but do not clear the mains for relatively poor performance in GS and essay. ( one of my students scored 298 marks in psychology in CSE 2019 but he didn’t clear the mains). Marks of such a student do not come in the light.
- This is true that some subjects do better than other optionals in a given year. For example, anthropology in the past two years had some good scorers. So was the case with some literature subjects. Such incidents add to the confusion. But ,while looking at the rosy side, don’t overlook the facts that several students with the same optional in the same year of examination didn’t score well. Psychology might perform averagely in the same year. In my opinion, this is not a subject but the marks awarding system of the UPSC that varies and makes differences in the performance of the different subjects. This applies to every optional subject.
- Trends keep changing. I don’t advise students to go by it. Last year , as I can recall ,3rd ranker in CSE did very well with geography optional. Surprisingly, he had scored pretty low in the same subject just a year before. Had he gone by the trend, he would not have scored well. But in the recent time , people say geography is not performing…..So is the case with psychology. Students scored as high as 318 , 311 in 2016-17 but not so good in 2019.
- Logically speaking, if trend is everything then everyone should go for the same subject. Interest is the major factor. If you have liking for the subject, the preparation will be like a cakewalk otherwise it may be too boring to sustain at.
- Moreover, the data released by UPSC revealed that psychology, despite the varying perception, is one of the most successful optional ( though not very popular) in the civil service examination. Please check it.
- And don’t ignore the time availability and affordability. Available teacher and coach etc.
The final verdict
If you think you can read any subject and sustain your motivation , you may go with the trendy optional subject. On the other hand, if you are not like that , then capitalise on your interest related subject and be a trend setter.