Anthropology: booklist, notes and tips to improve marks – Varnit Negi (Rank 13, CSE-2018)

Hello everyone!

My intention in this article is to help aspirants with Anthropology optional to improve their marks. This article has four parts: First, booklist and sources. Second, link to my notes. Third, importance of notes making in Anthropology. Finally, tips on how to improve marks beyond 300.

My Marks in Anthropology are mentioned below :

CSE 2016 – 233 (Paper 1 – 108, Paper 2 – 125)

CSE 2017- 288 (Paper 1 – 135, Paper 2 – 153)

CSE 2018 – 331 (Paper 1 – 171, Paper 2 – 160)

My Anthropology booklist and sources are mentioned below :

Disclaimer : I have not read any book cover to cover. I have read only parts relevant to syllabus. I have also referred to toppers’ notes, their test answer copies and strategies to understand how to improve my marks and add value to my answers. I MADE MY OWN NOTES AFTER READING THESE SOURCES. My objective was never to cover books and materials but to cover the syllabus and prepare at  least two page notes on all topics.


Social-Cultural Anthropology

  1. Vaid Sir’s class notes and material
  2. An Introduction to Social Cultural Anthropology – N. S. Vaid
  3. D. N Mazumdar (only parts of syllabus)
  4. Introduction Social Cultural Anthropology – U. S. Mishra and Nadeem Hasnain (only parts of syllabus)
  5. Ember and Ember (only 4 pages on Culture and Language)
  6. Munirathnam notes and Telgu medium book (only facts, statistics and examples)
  7. Vidya Mitra videos

Physical Anthropology and Applied Anthropology

  1. Vaid Sir’s class notes and material
  2. Physical Anthropology – P. Nath (only parts relevant to syllabus)
  3. Outline of Physical Anthropology – B. M. Das
  4. Internet – youtube, google searches etc.
  5. Vidya mitra youtube videos


  1. Vaid sir’s notes
  2. Vidya mitra youtube videos
  3. Internet
  4. An outline of Indian Prehistory – D. K. Bhattacharya (only syllabus  relevant chapters)


  1. Vaid Sir’s class notes.
  2. Anthropological Thought -Makan Jha (Only few chapters)
  3. Upadhyay and Upadhyay. (only some chapters)
  4. Vidya mitra youtube videos – for postmodernism, functionalism, structuralism and structural functionalism.
  5. Anthropology Theories link

Paper 2

Indian Anthropology

  1. Vaid Sir’s books and notes
  2. Applied sociology book (just for reference)
  3. Indian Anthropology – Nadeem Hasnain

Tribal India

  1. Vaid Sir’s notes and materials.
  2. Tribal India – Nadeem Hasnain
  3. Xaxa Committee Report – Must read everything.
  4. Mai Bhi Bharat – RSTV youtube videos.
  5. Current Affairs, Vaid sir’s posts on whatsapp group, newspaper articles, web searches, Xaxa committee report etc. for case studies.

I found the following blogs and videos helpful:

During my preparation I tried to cover entire syllabus and made notes of most of the topics. Click on the button below to access my notes shared on google drive.


  1. Legibility is questionable as it was made for my own use. Also, due to space limitations on pages I had to add content on top, bottom and side margins.
  2. Use it for reference. Don’t not rely solely on it.

Importance of note making: Every topper from Anthropology had advised me to make a two page note of every keyword mentioned in Anthropology optional. Having benefited from it, I will extend the same advice to all future aspirants. There are many benefits of self-made notes –

  1. Internalization of topics and concepts.
  2. Self notes easy to revise and recall.
  3. It develops subconscious understanding.
  4. Reading US mishra and Nadeem Hasnain (book) helped me understand expectations of Professor from us in our answers – Scope of Economic Anthropology, Political Anthropology, how to use Thinkers (importance of using thinkers)
  5. Strain – You will have to think before writing each line. When you think you learn, you internalize. When you internalize, you remember easily. Thus, it reduces the burden of rote learning.
  6. Lastly, when you read to make notes, you develop skills of interlinking topics which helps to bring more dimensions to answers and improve marks as well.

Now the question arises, how to make notes?

  1. In my opinion one should prefer ‘Question Answer format’ wherever possible for improving recall and reproduction in exam. For rest prepare two page notes of every keyword. This will help in holistic coverage of Anthropology syllabus.
  2. It should include – Introduction, body, dimensions, conclusion and relevance. Inculcate thinkers, examples, data and case studies to improve marks.
  3. Most importantly, previous year question bank will help to understand the types of questions that can be asked and also help in finding limits within which a particular topic has to be prepared.

Tips to enhance marks:

  1. Attempt questions that have a scope of diagram.
  2. Current relevance for every topic: Age of  Menarche, Status and Role, Heat, cold, altitude  and nutrition stresses, changes in institution of Marriage, Family, kinship, Religion etc.
  3. Apply what you read – Don’t read topics in isolation. For example – Theories can be used to answer other parts as well. In questions related to changes in institutions of Family, Marriage etc – one can use Functional and structural approach to make answer more anthropological.
  4. Read the question carefully, understand the demands of the question and answer to the point. Please avoid beating around the bush as it irritates the evaluator.
  5. Maximize points that you write – BUT ONLY RELEVANT ONES.
  6. How to choose which questions one should attempt to improve overall score – Questions which usually others will not attempt, PROVIDED you have a GOOD enough answer for it – since no relative grading possible in it. I had attempted questions on language and culture, little republics etc. Devendra ( Rank 97, CSE 2016, 179 marks in Paper 2) attempted question on village settlement patterns. Questions with the scope for diagrams. In Paper 1, I preferred Physical Anthropology and Anthropological Theories related questions. In Paper 2, I preferred Tribal related questions.
  7. Prepare entire syllabus. Have command on most of the topics. This will allow you choices on the exam day.
  8. Value addition : Thinkers, data, good examples, good case studies add value to answers. Use multiple case studies and examples in the same answer.

For example: In CSE 2018, there were two questions, one on ‘Ways of acquiring mates in tribal societies’ and another on ‘Youth Dormitories’. My answers to both are mentioned below –

Ways of acquiring mates – Introduced with the fact that Hoebel in 1949 gave the classification of 8 ways of acquiring mates in tribal societies. Followed by 8 ways and examples of each. Lastly, I concluded by saying that a 9th way i.e. Widow apprenticeship, is also emerging amongst Naga Tribals.

Youth Dormitories: I introduced it with the fact that Malinowski was the first to discover it(Bukumtula) in Trobriand Islanders, and S. C. Roy was the first to report Dumkuriya in India. Followed by many other examples from Indian tribes. It was followed by multiple Features and Functions. Decline of YD as an institution was explained by Mills study amongst Nagas. Recent changes was explained by Gonds study regarding their attempt to revive it as part of tribal identity. Lastly I concluded with the possible role of YD in modern education system: Modern education makes tribal misfit in their own society while YD teach them life lessons and make them responsible members of their own society.

9. Tribal related answers should be written sympathetically. Explain arguments and situations with good and apt case studies. Always mention Xaxa Committee recommendations and give your own suggestions as well.

10. Case studies should be new and interesting as far as possible. For example – Laxmi Kutti, tribal women was honoured with Padma award for her knowledge of tribal medicine. Use such examples and cases to add freshness to your answer.

I hope you all will find this article helpful.

All the best everyone!

P. S. Here are links to my other posts on

  1. Importance of Answer Writing Practice

6 thoughts on “Anthropology: booklist, notes and tips to improve marks – Varnit Negi (Rank 13, CSE-2018)”

  1. Very helpful suggestions
    Thanks for sharing notes and input for improving marks.

  2. Sir,
    Firstly thanks a lot for sharing notes.
    Also can u please tell me how to collect case studies. I tried a lot but couldn’t the quality content that u mentioned in your notes. Please guide us, that would be of great help.

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