Q. What is the success rate in UPSC with an optional subject of political science?

The success rate of Political science optional remains uncontested. As per UPSC 69th ANNUAL REPORT 2018-19 ON OPTIONALS following details are mentioned:


Number of students who appeared with PSIR optional: 1246

Success Rate: 9.4 %

1) 2013 – 651 candidates- Success rate 6.1 %

2) 2014 -907 candidates – Success rate 6.3 %

3) 2015- 989 candidates- Success rate 6.9 %

4) 2016- 1218 candidates- Success rate 8.8%

5) 2017 – 1246 candidates – Success rate 9.4%

PSIR success rate has been on an increase with every passing year as per facts by UPSC itself.


Q. What are the pros and cons of PSIR as an optional for UPSC?

Though concepts of PSIR remain contested, the success rate of PSIR cannot be contested as an optional. Its success rate has been on an increase with every passing year as per facts by UPSC itself.

Pros of PSIR as an optional:

1) Success rate of subject.

2) Once understood with clarity and revised, the subject can provide a good score without uncertainty.

3) It is important for every stage of examination ie prelims, mains and interview.

4) It will provide students to understand contemporary issues in a better way as many debates will have genesis in PSIR associated concepts and themes.

Cons of PSIR as an optional:

1) It seems to students that syllabus is vast. If preparation is strategized and concepts are interlinked, then students can reap maximum outcome in short period of time.

2) Since International relations and national issues are contemporary, students always have to stay updated.

3) Since there are many thinkers and viewpoints, students find it difficult to consolidate.


Q. How PSIR is important as an optional for all stages of the UPSC Civil Services examination?

Political Science and International Relations as an optional has huge overlap with the nature of UPSC Civil Services Exam. It can help a student across all stages of the examination


2017 – Questions on rights

2018- Question of Rule of Law

2019- Question on Liberty

When students disqualify on margins, every mark matters for preliminary. Students with PSIR will have a better understanding of Polity questions and this will provide them a better edge.

Mains: Essay

Essay: The topics given below are directly related to PSIR. Other than this across other themes PSIR will help students to address the essay themes with knowledge and conceptual clarity gained in the subject.


  • There can be no social justice without economic prosperity but economic prosperity without social justice is meaningless
  • Patriarchy is the least noticed yet the most significant structure of social inequality
  • Technology as the silent factor in international relations


  • South Asian societies are woven not around the state, but around their plural cultures and plural identities.


  • A good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge
  • Management of Indian border disputes – a complex task


  • Has NAM lost its relevance in a multipolar world?
  • We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws.


  • Co- operative federalism: Myth or reality
  • Water disputes in Federal India
  • If development is not engendered, it is endangered.


  • Can capitalism bring inclusive growth?


  • With greater power comes greater responsibility.


  • Be the change you want to see in others- Gandhiji.
  • Is the Colonial mentality hindering India’s Success?

Mains: GS


Questions on secularism, regionalism, casteism, women issues have been part of PSIR concepts.


Polity, Social Justice, Rights, International Relations are also part of PSIR. This can help students to score and lead with edge in Paper II.


Internal Security issues can be linked to border issues, ethnic conflicts ,terrorism in PSIR also.


Direct questions on Philosophers has been part of Ethics. Having a key understanding of these philosophers will help students to write more nuanced answers


International issues is a core component of every interview irrespective of background of student or optional. National and social issues also need sound understanding of politics and neutral views on issues. PSIR as an optional can help a student to formulate views which are more just and appropriate for welfare of masses.


Q. How much time does political science take to complete in one go as a UPSC optional?

It is well said that “The results of quality work last longer than the shock of high prices”. So completion should be timely and qualitatively long lasting. It is crucial for students to understand the concepts clearly while studying them. For qualitative completion, students should not merely read the optional but understand, analyse topics , interlink topics and view topics in the framework of exam. Being a faculty for UPSC PSIR optional, would recommend that FOUR months would be good time for students to understand basic concepts and make notes alongside of the reference books they would want to refer. However, this time has to be very productively utilized by students for their optional preparation.


Q. What are the common mistakes made by students?

  • Read notes, reference books without referring to PYQ– which is biggest mistake. Eg western political thought evolution not studied, justice and its comparison from Greek and modern times not studied.
  • Lack of Essence in Conceptual understanding -beating around the bush then when they write answers eg Platos scheme of communism and education but these are mechanisms what is the ultimate objective, mills views on women is bcz of love for democracy and liberty.
  • Many leave answer writing to time gap in prelims and mains– one more blunder- they don’t know mistakes, they don’t improve, never understand examination situation and end up failing with low scores below their actual potential. How to manage time becomes a serious concern.
  • Those who join don’t write. Merely joining will never serve effective purpose. Wastage of all resources.
  • Those who write are not patient. You must wait for atleast four to five tests to change or build upon your answer writing skills and understand your pattern. Intro, structure, demand of question, value addition, conclusion.
  •  Those who score low after consequent attempts have reasons- Referring one notes without referring to UPSC as a bible PYQ, have not made synopsis, have not practiced to refine enough to build a competitive edge, have not applied rightly egs, current linkages are missing, have not consolidated anything.


Q. When is the best time to start writing PSIR answers for UPSC Civil Services Examination?

It is well said that “If we wait until we are ready, we will be waiting for the rest of our lives”. So waiting to write the perfect answers will keep you only waiting to cross the road and not cross it. Thus, don’t wait for the best time to come. Once you have studied Part A of Paper I, you will be able to understand the subject and understand demand of the Paper I of PSIR. So, you can start writing answers on routine basis before preliminary.