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Preparation Strategy for Anthropology Optional

Oct 19, 2021

Preparation Strategy for Anthropology Optional

“Anthropology is scoring, it is the most popular optional subject, it is interesting, and questions are directly asked from this subject” are some of the common notions of Civil Services aspirants when they decide to choose Anthropology as their Optional subject for the UPSC Mains. 

The dictionary meaning of Anthropology is “The study of human societies and cultures and their development.” However, the Civil Services aspirants have to dive deep into the subject to gain conceptual clarity and understanding from the exam point of view. 

Though the syllabus of Anthropology is relatively short, a well-structured preparation strategy and the right study material during the UPSC exam preparation are the prerequisites for acing the exam. 

This article will acquaint you with all the necessary information about Anthropology as an optional in the UPSC Mains Exam- Syllabus, Strategy, Booklist, etc.

What makes Anthropology popular as an Optional Subject?

There are several reasons as to why Anthropology is popular among aspirants and has a great prominence, such as:

  • It is scoring in nature, and its syllabus is short.
  • Most of the time, the questions asked in the exam are direct in nature.
  • It is an interesting option for candidates with a Science or Engineering background who don’t want to opt for their graduation subjects as their optionals.

Toppers with Anthropology Optional

There are many toppers who took Anthropology as their optional and cracked the exam with flying colours. Below listed are a few:

Shubham KumarAIR 13202020
Laxmi NagappanAIR 453622018
Akshat JainAIR 23352018
Ayush SinhaAIR 73502017
Anudeep DurishettyAIR 13182017
Sachin GuptaAIR 33392017

Also read: How to Choose the Right Optional Subject for the UPSC Mains?

Anthropology Syllabus for UPSC Mains

You can only master Anthropology optional if you are aware of the syllabus in its entirety. Hence it is crucial to understand the Anthropology syllabus to prepare for the subject effectively.  

The Anthropology subject consists of two papers of 250 marks each, and collectively the optional subject constitutes 500 marks in total. Click here to have a look at the syllabus of both papers.

Best Books for Anthropology Preparation

Here are the best books that will assist you in your exam preparation.

For Paper I

  • Introducing Sociology NCERT Class XI
  • Biology NCERT book For Class Xll (Chapter 5, 6, 7)
  • An Introduction to Social-Cultural Anthropology – N.K Vaid
  • An Introduction to Social Anthropology – D.N. Majumdar and T.N. Madan (for basic understating of Anthropology)
  • Anthropological Theories – Makhan Jha
  • Measuring Time (Chapter 2) of Indian Prehistory – D.K Bhattacharya
  • Biology NCERT Class XII
  • Physical Anthropology – P. Nath
  • IGNOU MA Course for Anthropology

For Paper II

  • Indian Anthropology – Nadeem Hasnain
  • Indian Society – NCERT Class XII
  • Social Change and Development in India –  NCERT Class XII
  • Tribal India – Nadeem Hasnain
  • Xaxa Committee Report
  • Tribal Culture Of India – L P Vidyarathi
  • Tribal Ministry Website
  • IGNOU MA Course For Anthropology

Also read: Importance of Note-Making in UPSC Preparation

Tips to Prepare for Anthropology

# Tip 1 Don’t focus on quickly completing the syllabus; instead, aim for conceptual understanding of the topics because that is what really matters.

# Tip 2 Make it a point to correlate topics while studying and writing answers. Moreover, try and develop interrelationships among the topics. Understand the commonality among concepts (For example, synthetic theory and race formation, though they appear to be different, but are related concepts).

# Tip 3 Focus on theories as they are essential for a good understanding of social anthropology concepts like marriage, family, kinship, political organisation, etc.

# Tip 4 Try to incorporate all the necessary case studies in your answers as they will make your answer more appealing.

# Tip 5 Note-making is an essential aspect of the preparation. It is always a wise idea to incorporate relevant diagrams and flowcharts wherever possible in your notes. 

# Tip 6 Make sure to solve previous year’s question papers to understand the exam pattern and the type of questions asked in the exam.

Answer Writing Tips for Anthropology Optional

To score good marks in Anthropology, it is imperative to write well-structured answers. Follow the pointers given below for the same:

  • Structuring: To create a good impression on the examiner, structure your answer neatly. Practice appropriate formatting of the answer with a suitable heading, subheading, and a conclusion.
  • Quote  Anthropologists: To fetch extra marks, try to quote the anthropologists and their works.
  • Focus on Presentation: Enrich your answers with all the necessary illustrations, diagrams, and tables. It will make your answer more presentable.
  • Mention Techniques: Briefly mention the particular techniques, branches of anthropology and how it is linked to other topics in the subjects, for methodology.
  • Attempt Mock Tests: Attempting mock tests is another way to practice answer writing. It helps in time management.

We hope this article will make your Anthropology preparation more simple and productive.

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Auther Details

Raminder Singh

Raminder is a Content Manager at PrepLadder. He has worked in several aspects of the education industry throughout his career and has assisted numerous candidates in cracking major competitive exams.


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