Civil Service Exam preps: Role of subjects under Humanities for success | Competitive Exams - Hindustan Times
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Civil Service Exams Preps: How will Humanities help you succeed in the civil service exams?

ByGaurav Sarma, New Delhi
Dec 27, 2023 05:32 PM IST

A section of toppers of the civil service exams feels that a bachelor’s degree in humanities always has an advantage because of the range of subjects offered.

It is common knowledge that there is no fixed undergraduate course for appearing in the civil service examination conducted by the UPSC. The minimum qualification required is a Bachelor’s degree, be it Humanities, Science or Commerce, Engineering, Agriculture, Medicine, to name a few. However a section of civil service exam toppers feel that a bachelor’s degree in humanities always has an advantage primarily because of the range of subjects offered by the course.

Civil Service Exams Preparation: According to a section of experts, a bachelor’s degree in humanities always has an advantage primarily because of the range of subjects offered by the course. (Representational image)
Civil Service Exams Preparation: According to a section of experts, a bachelor’s degree in humanities always has an advantage primarily because of the range of subjects offered by the course. (Representational image)

According to experts, very often candidates from UG courses other than humanities, such as engineering and medicine, who fare well in the civil service examinations select subjects such as history, sociology, psychology, and political science as their optionals rather than selecting subjects from their parent disciplines.

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Mukul Chandra Gogoi, Former Commissioner of, the Government of Assam spoke to Hindustan Times and said, “Although the civil service exams are open to graduates from any discipline, Arts, Science, Commerce or Engineering, Graduates with Humanities background certainly have an advantage over their counterparts from other streams, especially, in the context of the General Studies paper”.

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Gogoi further stated that “Candidates coming from Arts background, however, should put special effort while preparing for the civil service exams into the CSAT paper meant to test the analytical, decision making, logical abilities and general aptitude of the candidates”.

This article seeks to project the kind of advantages that a bachelor’s degree in humanities is likely to have, as told by a section of experts from the field.

Choice of subjects

The rich choice of subjects available in the BA course stands to benefit the aspirants of the civil service exams immensely. For instance, subjects like history, geography, political science, sociology, psychology, public administration et al., play a crucial role in that they cover a major part of the General studies. Students who pass the BA exam with at least three of these subjects have an edge over graduates from other streams. Not that students from other streams do not have any advantage; but, generally speaking, the success rate of aspirants with an Arts background is much more,” points out Gogoi.

Interlinking of subjects

While it is true that the subjects already mentioned stand to benefit aspirants by covering nearly 80% of the UPSC general studies papers, yet another very interesting factor is that all these subjects are interlinked to each other. There is, therefore, a commonality of areas that help aspirants take a linear approach to the preparation. As a result, the preparation for the general studies paper becomes a relatively easy affair.

Gunajit Kashyap, District Development Commissioner of Nowgong said, “It is seen that Arts graduates, generally speaking, have a much greater advantage over graduates from other streams as the subjects they offer for their undergraduate course cover a large area of the General Studies paper.”

“Subjects, especially, history, geography, political science, sociology, psychology, etc. cover a sizable part of the paper. However, it all depends on what use they put this advantage to,” added Kashyap.

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Privilege of Optional subjects

Apart from the advantage of the General Studies paper aspirants for civil service exams from humanities background also have the additional benefit of the optional paper, highlights Kashyap.

Any of the subjects like History, Geography, Political Science, Sociology, Psychology, or Economics can be chosen as optional for the main exam. “While there are as many as 26 subjects to choose from for the optional paper the clear advantage of the papers from the undergraduate Arts course is that they figure in the General Studies paper too. Aspirants from other undergraduate courses do not enjoy the same privilege,” Gunajit Kashyap.

Availability of more time for preparation

The process of preparing for civil service exams is both arduous and time-consuming. Suman Sarmah, an APSC candidate, who cleared his mains examination this year said, “The job becomes comparatively much simpler if the subjects crucial for the success at the civil service exams are studied for a greater length of time with serious focus and attention.”

He added, “It is here that aspirants with an Arts background stand to gain as they get a whole three years or in certain cases even four - depending on the university from which the candidate clears the undergraduate exam – indirectly to prepare for the civil service exams as well because of the commonality of the subjects being offered.

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