ECONOMICS OPTIONAL Strategy by Abhijeet Sinha, Rank 19 UPSC CSE 2017

  • IASbaba
  • June 20, 2018
  • 5
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Hello everyone,

I am Abhijeet Sinha and I have secured 19th Rank in the Civil Service Examination 2017, with Economics as my optional.  I graduated in Electrical Engineering (2016), but due to the interest developed in reading the Economics section of newspaper, I chose Economics as my optional :).  Over the 2 attempts, I have gained quite substantial experience in the optional, both the good as well as the bad ones. I hope dear aspirants would find something helpful out of it

Last year (1st attempt – 2016) I had one of the lowest scores in Economics Optional, 89+129 = 218. And it became the single reason why I did not find my name in the final rank list. It may have been in part, because Economics as a subject was almost completely new to me. But, much more importantly, it was more down to my own structural fallacies. I had hardly written down a word before the exam, did not solve past years papers…… and had many more strategical flaws.

Based on this, I modified my strategy to focus on the following in my 2017 attempt ( 2nd attempt)

  1. Solving past 5–10 years papers is the most important of all tasks, since questions are generally repeated. Since, standard answers to question are missing, one can take the help of solved Past years papers by my senior Tejasvi Rana, who is like an elder sister to me
  2. Practising drawing the diagrams. While, it is easy to appreciate and understand the Income effect and Substitution effect in a Labour Supply curve, believe me, while actually drawing, one realises it isn’t as easy as it seems. The more you practise, the easier it will become
  3. Focussing on every word of the syllabus ( for GS as well). For instance, Q 6a of this years Paper 2 simply asked to write on Poverty Schemes and their performance. The question was almost exactly like the phrase written in the syllabus. Had one prepared notes on it, he/she could have done this question very easily
  4. Making OWN notes.Last time, I just used to read from the notes of Gaurav Sir. But, now I can say that making your own notes helps to understand better, revise better and helps in writing practise. But, yeah, take the notes of Gaurav sir, Tejasvi, my own etc as a guidance
  5. For Paper 1, I tried to cover the main topics from Indian authors as well, especially key terms and definitions. For eg q 5a ( 2017) asking on Differential Tax Incidence has been elaborated in Bhatia’s book.
  6. Revising  This is more needed for Eco Paper 2, where there is a need to memorise things. As an example, I was able to revise between 4–5 times between prelims and mains, each revision being of a shorter duration than the previous one.
  7. For Answer Writing
    1. Putting a lot of data and names of Economists in my Eco Paper 2 answer
    2. Making my answers more concise and succinct, and not being verbose. See Tejasvi’s answers to appreciate this point.
    3. I tried to interlink Eco 1 and Eco 2. For eg, on the question on Gravity model of trade in Paper 1 , I quoted actual examples of India and UAE ( how UAE is small, but we have a trade of 60 billion $)
    4. Trivial changes like Using pencil and scale to draw 🙂
  8. Taking help from my peers, seniors and the group econsiasprep@googlegroups.comwhenever required.


Other Points worth noting

  • For UPSC purpose, it is not important to go into the Mathematical details, what . Rarely has a question been asked from it. Instead focus on the Diagrams very well
  • Utilise the first 5-15 minutes to identify which questions to attempt. It is better to invest time in the beginning, than to regret later, when 1 realises that he/she is short of points
  • Stay away from negativities. People might demotivate you that Economics is not an easy optional. Maintain the confidence and resilience during moments like those. Remember that every year, there are scores of people who come in the rank list with Economics as an optional, in spite of very few people choosing economics in the 1st place



Paper 1

  1. Micro 
    1. Primarily from Ahuja. As Tejasvi said last time, a thumb rule to find out what is important and what is not is to see past years papers. If a question is being asked from a chapter, then it is important
    2. Abhimanyu’s notes as a summary – https://reluctanteconomistblog.wordpress.com/
  2. Macro and Money Banking
    1. Mainly Froyen
    2. Ahuja to find out any new definitons / terms
  3. International
    1. Salvatore
  4. Growth and Devleopment
    1. Thirlwall mainly
    2. Jhingan for new terms / definitions
  5. Public Finance
    1. Musgrave mainly
    2. Bhatia for new terms / definitions

Paper 2

  • Instead of going cover to cover, I went topic by topic,browsing every word / phrase of syllabus, and making my own notes from various sources such as
    • Gaurav Sir’s notes – Khelo India
    • Tejasvi’s notes
    • Riju Mam notes – Riju Bafna
    • Mishra and Puri
    • Uma Kapila
  • Althoug, I’ve already done the hardwork and compiled the notes out of these into 1 single source :). They can be accessed here –



All of these did help me to improve my score from 218 to 288 this time ( 140 + 148). Although, its not an excellent score, but it was good enough to give me a good rank. And I hope and wish, it helps you as well 🙂

For more queries and sharing of materials especially related to Economics, you could follow my blog abhijeetsinhaupsc.wordpress.com

For my General Studies Strategy (watch the video) -> CLICK HERE


Thank You

Abhijeet Sinha

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