I have been asked by many of my friends/aspirants to share my strategy as well as materials and methods for Agriculture optional preparation (Agriculture Marks update (2016) IFoS – 311, CSE- 293 ) . A few materials and methods that I used during the course of my CSE preparation have been shared below in this post:

Knowing the subject:

Breaking down the syllabus into as tiny bits as possible and then segregating them according to different divisions will help gain a quick grasp of the optional subject as a whole.

(Click here for the syllabus breakup I made.)

Knowing the pattern- variabilities:

Download all the previous year question papers. It is enough to refer to last 15 years question paper to note down the pattern and variability that can be asked in the paper.

I have downloaded them from exam race website from 1989 (there is no harm in knowing a little extra) to 2016 and compiled them together.

(Click here for question papers from 19892016)

Understanding the pattern – a deeper look:

Mere looking into the question papers may not help as such..I have tried to make a subject wise breakup of the questions asked from 2009- 2015 to know

  1. which section in a particular topic is important,
  2. which questions get repeated every year..
  3. which questions have never been asked and
  4. which of them can be expected in the current year.

( For subject wise break up of question papers from 2009- 2015)- These are half done- further updation be done by aspirants..For paper 1  the topic wise break up is difficult but paper 2 I have tried to..

Ok all done…  UPSC is unpredictable..This is to just know a pattern and there are high degrees of variations every now and then.. Be ready for surprise parties anyway..

Books and notes:

Generally notes of ANGRAU and TNAU are quite famous for the UPSC preparation and are easy to pick up.. I studied a mix of both the notes (ANGRAU+TNAU).

1. Click below for TNAU notes

2.  Click below for ANGRAU notes

 Recommended books for reference

  • Agronomy By Yellamananda Reddy
  • Plant Breeding By B.D. Singh Genetics By B.D. Singh
  • Introduction to Soil Science – D.K Das
  • Plant Physiology By Pandey & Sinha/ V.K.Jain
  • Introduction To Horticulture – N.Kumar
  • Handbook Of Agriculture By ICAR
  • Agricultural Economics and Farm Management Agricultural Extension Education in India
  • Plant Pathology – Singh 

I have added a few books of reference that were suggested to me when I began the preparation. They might be required as an occasional reference but are NOT A MUST for the preparation..I personally referred to only a few diagrams here and there and none of them was purchased for the sake of UPSC preparation.. These books can be borrowed from a library or friends , made notes and can be given back unlike the TNAU/ANGRAU notes that will form the base of the optional preparation.

Sorting out the sources:

Before going to study it is better to go through all the subject materials that you have and NOTE DOWN THE EXACT SOURCES FOR EACH TOPIC that you find most encompassing, easy to read, remember and write along with the best understanding. This is extremely necessary as there are a number of books and materials available (at least offline) and we often falter not able to decide which one to read and which not.. It is therefore necessary that one basic material be selected for study and the others can be read out once for additional information as a “reference” material..(the codes GPBR, PATH- are subject codes of either TNAU or ANGRAU courses. Kindly go through the course list in the above mentioned website and drives to match them).

(Click here to see how I sorted out the sources – Paper 2 only available)

Answer writing:

Answer writing helps fine tune your time and space management and presentation skills.. Though I did not write answers regularly or join any test series(I had a practice of writing my M.Sc papers ) a few last moment question and answers were written to check my writing speed. I had observed during the examination that writing had helped me not only in timing but also to retain / picturised certain topics as tree diagrams and reproduce them as and when required…

(Click here to see sample answers)

P.S: Forgive me for being so straight with no sugar coated introduction and a feel-happy conclusion… But since my message inboxes were full of requests, doubts and questions (from friends in a hurry now) , I jumped into the matter with no gossips… (with best wishes for people appearing mains this year with agriculture optional and reading this post now..)