Mathematics as an optional – Kanishak Kataria (Rank 1)

Hi everyone,

I am Kanishak Kataria. I secured Rank 1 in UPSC CSE 2018 with Mathematics optional (361 marks / 500). I have written this post to throw some light on Maths an an optional subject and how it should be covered.

This strategy post will be split into 2 parts

  • Overview of Mathematics as an optional (in this post)
  • Specific topic wise strategy on covering the syllabus (in next post)


Please evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses before reading my strategy.

  1. If you are undecided about Mathematics:
    • Optional selection is a very important process and shouldn’t be done because some person X has done well in it.
    • If you have interest and are comfortable in a subject, then only select it as an optional.
  2. If you have already made up your mind on Mathematics:
    • Follow my strategy only if it matches your preparation level and comfort in other GS topics.
    • Try to pick up pointers which make sense and adapt those in your own strategy.

I will give you some insights into Mathematics which might be helpful in your evaluation.


  • High Reward / scoring
  • Static -> marks tend to increase with attemps
  • Reference material readily available (IMS notes)
  • Break from monotonicity from GS topics
  • Good performance over past few years (toppers getting 330+)
  • With good preparation, 50-55% marks are easily achievable


  • Very lengthy – can take upwards of 6 months to finish it
  • High risk – scoring can be 0/1 which means extreme marks are observed
  • Zero overlap with other GS topics
  • Fear of scaling / marks moderation
  • Extra effort needed for Personality Test preparation

Some mythbusters:

  1. There is heavy scaling in Mathematics: It is an uncontrollable factor. So don’t worry about it too much. If you do well, there is not much need to worry. Scaling hurts low scorers more as compared to high scorers. So aim for the higher end of the spectrum. Past 3 years toppers have scored 356, 374 and 361 in Maths despite scaling.
  2. It takes 9 months to finish syllabus: Again very subjective. On average it will take 6-7 months. Then as per your understanding, comfort level and efforts, you can take less or more time. People who do not have prior exposure to Maths are going to take 7-8 months at least.
  3. There is need for external guidance: Not at all! Good quality notes and reference books are available. If you are confident, it is fully manageable through self-study.
  4. The difficulty level is just like IITJEE: No, it has theoretical and subjective elements as well. Your JEE approach won’t work here directly. You might have to cram some concepts and deal with abstract topics like Rings, Fields etc.

Before selecting Maths as an optional:

  • Go through the syllabus and Previous Year Questions and see if you are able to make any sense and would be comfortable in studying them for 2 years atleast. 
  • If you are not familiar with the topics, then try to talk to few people who have similar background as you and opted/didn’t opt for Maths. They will be able to relate to your concerns in a better way.
  • If you are unsure, pick up one or two easier topics at the start such as ODE or LPP and study them for 2-3 weeks. If you are uncomfortable in them, Maths is not the right optional for you.
  • Remember that there are few topics such as Modern Algebra, Real Analysis, Fluid and Mechanis, Dynamics and Statics. They are a struggle in themselves (specially for those without prior exposure), so you have to labour through them and not give up as and when you encounter them.

My decision to select Mathematics:

I wasted very little time while opting Mathematics. The decision was very easy for me:

  • No optional from by graduation stream (Computer Science)
  • My aptitude and prior performance in Maths gave me confidence.
  • On a precursory look at the syllabus, I saw some topics which I had encountered during my graduation like Linear Algebra, ODE, Numerical Analysis, Calculus, Linear Programming etc.
  • I loved doing Maths problems and looked at it as a source of refreshment and break away from GS syllabus.

In my opinion, performance in Optional is THE DIFFERENCE MAKER in overall rank. General Studies gets averaged across the 4 papers. I always envisioned Maths as an X-factor in my preparation. Having seen scores of 350+ in Maths in CSE2016 when other optionals were just touching 300, I saw it as an golden opportunity. My intention right from beginning was 350+ in Maths. I formulated my whole strategy and allocated time to GS and optional based on this sole objective. One thing was clear in my mind: If I do not score 350 in Mathematics, I should give up on any hope for IAS. With this thought process, even the bulky Maths syllabus didn’t feel burdensome to me. 370+ in CSE2017 further boosted my confidence for Mains.

Having said that, I am aware that not everyone can afford to put so much emphasis on one subject. I opted for a High Risk, High Reward approach which paid off, fortunately!

I will just give an insight into how I calculated things in my mind:

  • My friend Rahul Shinde had scored Rank 95 in CSE 2017 with around 1050 marks.
  • To get into IAS in CSE 2018, I had to match his performance at least, that is, score 1050 marks.
  • I targeted 550 marks in Optional + Personality Test. It could be (400+150) or (350+200) or (375+175).
  • That left me with 500 marks across 4 GS papers + 1 Essay paper.
  • If I was able to score an average 120-130 marks in Essay, I would only need 370 marks in GS.
  • 370 in GS implies ~90-95 marks on an average in each of the 4 papers, which is quite manageable.

As you can see, I never went for glory in GS. To my surprise, I exceeded my own expectations in GS + Essay but my calculation in Maths + Optional was almost upto the mark (361 + 179 = 540).

I request all the aspirants who are reading this post to self-evaluate their expectation first before adopting my strategy. Self awareness and understanding of strengths and weaknesses is very important. It will help in bringing some level of focus in this “uncertain” examination!

Is Mathematics coaching necessary?

Classroom coaching is neither necessary nor sufficient, be it GS or any optional. You need sincerity, self-belief, hardwork and if possible, a group of 1/2 friends to discuss doubts. Earlier also people have cleared with Maths optional by relying on self study. 

Coaching only acts as a facilitator in your studies. You can’t rely on them fully. I had joined IMS coaching in order to be sincere and finish my syllabus on time. They have good quality notes and a good ecosystem for Mathematics optional students. I hoped to get in touch with few students with whom I could discuss problems and match answers. After I realised that only following classroom lectures would take nearly 9 months to finish the syllabus, I doubled up and started studying multiple topics simultaneously on my own. My target was to finish 80% of syllabus in 4 months.

If you can put in 4-5 hours daily without any break, then you can also finish Maths in less amount of time. The key lies in not giving up. Those who want to join coaching, be aware that you have to self-study at home for as much amount of time as spent in the coaching. Otherwise, you will end up wasting time and going nowhere with both optional and GS.

Sources to study:

I relied fully on IMS (Venkanna Sir) notes and test series. They are quite comprehensive and can be studied stand-alone also. In few topics you can refer to standard books, if you need. Personally, I didn’t refer to many books though. You can get these notes from ORN market or take from the coaching as well by enrolling.

Notes provide the benefit of theory and problems at one place. Additionally there is no wastage of time scanning multiple books.

If you do not have access to those notes, please refer to a booklist given by Prakash Rajpurohit Sir.

My strategy of covering the syllabus will be specific to IMS notes. You can modify it from standard book point of view.

My preparation timeline:

  • Started Maths preparation on 20th June 2017 with ODE
  • Finished all the topics (except Fluid Dynamics and Mechanics) once by 31st October 2017
  • January 2018 till February 2018: 1st round of fast track revision + covered the Fluid and Mechanics topics.
  • Post prelims till 21st July 2018: 2nd round of revision from IMS notes + self made short notes for Test series and quick revision during Mains
  • IMS Test series (2018 and 2017) for during Prelims and Mains.

Covering IMS Notes:

Don’t do the mistake of treating Maths as any other subject and only “reading” the notes. You have to use Pen and Paper and solve the problems to understand it.

In olden days, people would cover only 75-80% of the topics and strategically leave out few portions and hedge their overall risk. With UPSC reducing the number of optionals to only 1 and also mixing topics in subparts in different questions, you can’t afford to leave out any topic.
I followed the strategy which my friend Akshay Godara had shared with me.

  • In 1st iteration of the topics, solve ALL the problems till the last step, even if they are simple and follow repetitive models.
    • Chances of silly mistakes in last steps is high. Examiner might see your last step and final answer first. If that is wrong your marks might reduce drastically, even though you did 95% of the problem correctly. 
  • After solving, write down answers at the side in the notes themselves. You can use them to cross check with others.
  • 1st revision: Again go through entire notes, do 1 question atleast from each model/pattern and mark the important ones. Your older answer will act as an error check (just like checksum).
  • 2nd revision: Only do the problems marked in 1st revision. This is the time to make short handy notes for quick revision for test series and examination perspective.
  • I have shared my revision notes here. Unless there is paucity of time, do not read from my notes directly. If you make your own notes, they will serve you much better.

Attempting test series + Mains:

  • Revise from the short notes which you made after 2nd revision .
  • Don’t put too much time in revising again and again from short notes before attempting a test. If you have done one iteration, start giving the tests.
  • You will feel as if you don’t remember the formulas. But as you give more tests this problem will go away automatically.
    • Initially, I used to revise before attempting a test. But I realised that a lot of time was consumed revision and not actual problem solving and analysis of the test. You should avoid this habit. Revision without practice is waste.
  • Don’t wait for evaluation from the coaching. Get the initial tests evaluated. After getting a fair idea of how to write and evaluate, refer the solutions directly and see your mistakes. You should apply your own mind in finding your mistakes and room for improvement.
  • All tests should be given with full sincerity as if you are writing Mains. If you do not do this, test series is a waste of time and money.
  • Try to finish full paper. Don’t leave any question blank.
  • You can either give tests every weekend or give tests in a single batch by allotting 1 whole week for mathematics. I tried the former but failed, so opted for the latter. Few of my friends have succeeded with the former approach as well.
  • Full Analysis of the test is very important. After completion try to solve other problems and see why you didn’t opt for that problem. Try to fill the gaps in your study.
  • Compulsory questions: try to get them done with in 60-75 minutes. If you have left some of them initially, time should be less than 60 minuets .
  • In short don’t waste time by getting stuck on some problems. In Maths you would feel there is more time, but it flys by very quickly. 
  • Test series is just a simulation for Mains. So your actual strategy would not deviate too much from what you do in test series. While writing Mains, just treat the question paper as any other test series paper and you will not feel any extra pressure.

Before Mains, revise your weak topics from the short notes and look into some specific test series problems which you weren’t able to do. I actually benefited from this exercise. I had marked one question on generator lines in Paper 1 which came in the Mains exam the next day!

How to write Maths answers?

  • No need to be verbose, there is lack of space in some questions. You have to adjust as per the space given. Steps can be combined to save space.
  • Few steps you can do on the rough pages and then make it fair in the actual problem. But be wary of mistake while copying values from rough page to actual page. Also, if you do not have time, no point doing in rough.
  • Make sure you do write the most important steps, formulas and theorems.
  • Many results can be directly quoted. Here remembering all the formulas correctly is key.
  • Use calculator extensively in topics like Numerical Analysis. Solve the question on calci and then copy values on the answer sheet.
  • If you do not know any question, write as many steps as you can remember. It will help you fetch partial marks at least.

My performance in test series vs Mains:

I couldn’t do well in the test series as I wasn’t able to finish all the papers. But I was confident that come Mains, I will rectify my problems. I just tried to learn from the mistakes and make sure I do not repeat them later. In fact, I used to become happy when I committed mistakes while practicing at home as it gave me an opportunity to rectify it in the exam.

In Mains, I was able to attempt all 500 marks. Paper 1 was easier which I could finish 30 minutes in advance. But paper 2 was little challenging. My final score was

Paper 1: 170 / 250
Paper 2: 191 / 250
Total: 361 / 500

I might have committed few silly mistakes in Paper 1. Also, there might have been little more scaling as the paper was easy. Paper 2 marks shows that it has huge reward. If you are able to master it, it can be a difference maker.

After giving you an overview into Maths optional, I will share the recommended way of finishing syllabus and topic wise tips in the next post.

Best of luck!

120 thoughts on “Mathematics as an optional – Kanishak Kataria (Rank 1)”

  1. Sir,me Bsc(PCM) me final year me hu aur hamari University (mdsu ajmer,mlv Bhilwara) ke Bsc maths ke syllabus ke bahut saare topic jaise ODE,PDE,MECHANICS, VECTOR, REAL AND COMPLEX ANALYSIS, CALCULUS,3D, ABSTRACT ALGEBRA
    UPSC MATHEMATICS OPTIONAL me bhi hai aur muje bhi lagta hai ki me isme better kr sakta hu kyuki baaki Optional me kuch bhi nahi aata hai.To dusre Optional ko ekdum
    Beginning se padne se accha hai ki muje Maths me hi koshish krni chaiye.Me 2021 me exam dunga to kya me ims ke notes par tarah rely kr sakta hu aur kuch esi konsi baate hai jis par muje jyda dhayan dena chaiye..

    1. जिस तरह से आपने बताया है कि आपका BSc का syllabus Mathematics optional से मिलता जुलता है, आपके लिए यह बहुत बड़ा plus point बन सकता है अगर आप अच्छे से तैय्यारी करेंगे। बस आपको आत्मविश्वास रखना है। IMS के नोट्स आपके लिए फ़ायदेमंद हो सकते है। पर क्योंकि आपने BSc में Text books से पढ़ाई करी है तो आप वो भी कर सकते हैं। मैं बस यही बोलूँगा की आप जितनी जल्दी हो सके पूरा syllabus कवर कर लें और revision पे ध्यान दें। जितनी बार आप Mathematics का revision करेंगे, आपके Marks उतने ही अच्छे आएँगे।
      Best of Luck आपको 🙂

      1. Hello sir ,first of all salute to u sir .u r inspiration of many youths ,you are genius person. Sir I am doing in Physics and I want to preparation for IAS with mathematics optional .Sir Is standard books of mathematics are necessary to read ? And sir should I make my own notes or not? And how to start my journey to IAS .
        Is NCERT is necessary to read for GS paper sir ? And How can I write a Good quality essay?.
        And finally sir I am big fan of you sir ,I wishes to you for your great contribution to society as being good administrator ? Give me ur blessing sir ❤ ??

      2. Sir i am sweta in bihar sir i have lot of problem but me ko koi btane wala nhi hai mai suru se hindi medium bihar bord se padhi hu but mai mathime bhut achhi mai third year me hu ou abhi se mai upsc ke taiyari me lag gai hu lekin mai opsonal math lena chah rhi hu but hindi medium se hu to thora doubt me hu please aap muhe ku sachhi bat bta skte hai ki mai math le skati hu ki nhi

      3. Jai hind Sir m bhi bsc hi kr rhi hu mdu Rohtak se Ye puchna chahti hu ki kya m mathematics ki 12th standard tk ki bhi book follow kru ya eske liye sirf graduation ki books hi kaafi hogi nd in books m se bhi kya mujhe complete books padhni hogi i mean sara syllabus aur agr enke alawa kuch additional pdhna ho toh please mujhe guide kre

    2. प्रणाम सर
      मै अभी b.Sc फाइनल वर्ष में हूं मै हिंदी मीडियम से हूं लेकिन मैंने गणित का अध्ययन इंग्लिश मीडियम में किया है
      सर पहला प्रश्न यह है कि क्या में वैकल्पिक विषय गणित को इंग्लिश मीडियम में दे सकता हूं ?
      दूसरा प्रश्न है कृपया गणित वैकल्पिक विषय के लिए आप अपनी book list भेजे?

  2. Dear sir I hv done msc maths and now preparing for civil service I hv made my decision to choose maths as my optional want to know the book list and notes materials also some videos lecture in order to score maximum in my optional plz guide me

    1. I had followed IMS (Venkanna Sir) notes. You can purchase from coaching or buy from ORN shops (cheaper alternative). If you want to follow specific books, please refer to the posts by previous toppers. I didn’t rely much on the text books.
      I am sorry, I am not aware of video lectures to cover Mathematics. But I do not think they are needed. You can cover the syllabus on your own, if you have interest and are willing to put in extra efforts.

  3. You talked about IMS notes. Are they the same notes that IMS send through correspondence because I am in Bangalore and can’t afford to go to New Delhi

    1. You can get the notes in correspondence or else there are telegram channels where the notes have been uploaded and you can get a print out of it. Otherwise another option would be there few xerox shop in delhi who send the materials through courier so you might consider them.

      1. Hi,please let me know the telegram channels where the notes have been uploaded ,i have searched but unable to found.please share link.


        Vikash Kumar

          1. If you want full IMS notes, you need to purchase by yourself – either from coaching itself or from Delhi Xerox shops.
            My revision notes have already been uploaded and link provided in this post.

  4. Sir, I did my B.Sc in Mathematics. And I am quite fond of the subject. As you said it is a relaxation for me from the Gs papers, but sir I have difficulty in topics like mechanics and fluid mechanics. I will be appearing for 2020 CSE. So is it advisable to change the optional for stick to it. Are the mechanics paper manageable?

    1. I am not sure about other optional, but they will also be having 1 or 2 topics like Fluid! If you like Maths and are confident in it, do not leave out a potential X-Factor optional for something which you might be unsure of. Moreover, 100% syllabus coverage is not possible anyways.
      Those topics are certainly manageable but need little extra effort. Finish other topics first, then for Fluid Dynamics and Mechanics strategise smartly and cover them depending on your preparation level. At the least, make sure that you are able to do the compulsory 10 pointers. UPSC PYQs is a good question bank to practice these topics. Don’t run behind too many problems from random books.

  5. Sir Interview me maths se related kya questions puchhe jate hai?
    You mentioned it is slightly tough for personality test…so what type of difficulty we might face during interview?
    By the way thanks for your guidance…really helpful and loved it…

    1. They might ask some offtrack questions — little technical or philosophical which you have to be ready for. It is not that big a concern, just some extra effort in addition to the current affairs you are preparing.
      I will share my all Interview preparation notes for Mathematics, which might be helpful for you. Now is too early to do it!

      1. Philosophical questions in mathematics! That’s quite unusual…looking forward to your notes…please share some questions also which they asked you in interview related to mathematics…and also your own model questions about it…I’m little bit extra curious about this…I want to know all aspects of this subject before starting the preparation…hope you understand sir…
        Once again thanks for your invaluable guidance….
        Really appreciate you 🙂

        1. Interview is faaaaar away at the moment. Don’t think too much about it. I just mentioned this aspect because you will have to cover these bases for interview — not just for Maths but any other optional as well. I will share my Maths interview notes at a later stage.
          I wasn’t asked any question on Mathematics in UPSC but encountered some in my mocks like “where do you find Mathematics in nature?” etc

  6. Sir mene bsc[pcm] se kri hai bt sir mene 3rd year mai maths chord di thi toh kya muje maths as an optional lena Chahiye bt mene 1st or 2nd year mai topics pde hai sb vector, calculus, algebra etc toh muje optional lena chahiye?

    1. आपको maths लेना चाहिए या नहीं, इसका सही निर्णय आप ख़ुद ही ले सकते हैं। आप सारे topics देख लीजिए और अपनी समझ के अनुसार अंतिम निर्णय लें। आप चाहे तो 15-20 दिन maths पढ़ के देख सकती हैं। अगर आपको उस्में कोई परेशानी नहीं हुई तो आप maths ले लीजिए। वरना कोई ऐसा optional ले जिसे आपको पढ़ने में ज़रा भी बोरियत महसूस ना हो।

  7. Hello sir! Please reply me it’s very urgent because time kam hai sir or muje optional choose krna hai

  8. Sir,
    Firstly, heartiest congratulations & thank you so much for such an insighful article on Math as an optional subject. It was really a need of the hour .
    I have completed my MSc in Math & am currently lost in the confusion and fear on how to approach answer and essay writing since the last time I wrote one was in Class X board exams.
    Could you please shed some light on the same?

    1. You have to practice both – essays and answer as much as possible. See few topper copies, see how they approach them, analyse it and then start practicing from past UPSC questions or other sample questions.
      For strategy, you can refer to other topper blogs like that written by Anudeep Sir (Rank 1 in CSE 2017).

  9. Sir, I have just started the preparation in the same order of topics you told. I was confused that whether I should join coaching or not. I find many topics familiar to our B. Tech curriculum. But there are a few questions/solutions which I am not able to understand and they seem like a dead end. Also, I think that right now I am all pumped up and excited so I am able to devote ample time to maths but as the pressure from GS side increases, I might not be able to do the same. These problems make me think about my decision to join coaching.
    And also if I give 3.5 hrs/day with a rate of around 20-24 pages/day(IMS notes). Is it a good amount of time or should I devote more time to maths?

    1. Pressure from GS is definitely going to increase. Try to finish off with your optional as early as possible. If you put in few extra hours daily in the initial phase, it’s going to give you huge rewards later on. Trust me on this.
      There is definitely little trade off in this phase as your GS will suffer and it might be risky. But Maths is a high risk high reward optional. So strategise accordingly.
      You have some room for increasing time allocation for Mathematics. Anywhere close to 5-6 hours for Maths is ideal along with 3 hours for GS and 1 hour for newspaper.

  10. Sir, is it preferable make one liner note from newspaper in prelims perspective and for mains follow the compilations? Or its better to rely on self made notes for mains also. Because I did find out that while making notes (prelims+mains) pov it’s taking me huge amount of time. It would be great if you kindly give some suggestions.

    1. And sir especially with mathematics how to tackle making daily newspaper notes?

      1. It is difficult but try to do as much as you can. Keep limited time window and do not overshoot it. Do not deep dive into some topic right from the start. Make the notes on a particular topic or issue over a period of time.

    2. It will take time but try to read newspaper from Mains perspective. Prelims only approach should be activated later. Try to supplement your notes from the sources available on online forums and magazines.
      Just do whatever is more suitable for you. I never made notes regularly because of burden of Mathematics and followed few compilations (although they didn’t help much) but some of the toppers did make notes regularly.
      Also remember that compilations help only if you have read the newspapers by yourself. Do not ignore them, come what may.

  11. Hello sir
    Could you please tell me whether you attended ims classes or just did the notes by yourself?Nd if you have attended ,Is there any difference between mukherjee nagar branch and old rajendra nagar branch of IMS

    1. Yes I did join the classes but because of the slow nature I self studied all the IMS notes. Venkanna Sir teaches at the ORN branch with interactive live stream of the class in other branches.

  12. First of all salute to you sir ?U r genius person.Sir I am student of in Physics and I want to preparation of IAS with mathematics optional because i interested in it and also syllabus of it is in our .and little concerned with physics as well.Sir Is with IMS notes standard books of mathematics is necessary to read?and If is than suggest me list of books .And sir one question is that Is NCERT for GS is necessary to read ? And How can I write good quality answer and essay ? Please guide me sir .
    And at last I give best wishes for you to your service for people as Good Administrator .I am big follower of you sir ,Thanks and give me your blessing sir ❤ ❤.

    1. Thank you for the wishes!
      You have asked multiple questions in one go!
      1. NCERTs are important for building your foundational understanding.
      2. Essay and Answer Writing strategy I haven’t written at the moment. You can refer to any other topper’s strategy. Basic idea is similar across all of the strategies.
      3. IMS notes are enough for preparation but if you feel like you can complement the material using standard books. I have shared the booklist given by Prakash Rajpurohit Sir in this article. Please refer to that.

      Hope this helped!
      I wish you all the luck for your preparation. 🙂

    1. Hi, I am sorry I do not have any strategy and books for CSAT. It was something I was always comfortable in. Try to follow some other topper’s blog/video for it.

  13. Sir ,Congratulations for your great success in cse 2018.
    Sir I have done my coaching for maths optional in Vajiram Aug 2018 to Feb 2019. 2018-19 .1st batch by bhavna khurana.
    Mamne notes diye hai,and uske through padhaya hai,these notes have are not comprehensive to full preparation of that topic.
    Sir mai abhi confusion mai hu ki abhi mai ims notes follow kru ya standard books follow kru???
    Please sir guide me !

    1. I am not aware of the quality of notes by Bhavna Ma’am. If you feel they are not giving you full confidence, try to “complement” with adequate material, preferably standard books. PYQs will help you identify the gaps in your preparation.
      Do not go fishing for new material. Keep your existing notes as the base material and then add on top of it. If you feel they are completely useless and you have time say, writing Mains next year, then you can consider IMS notes. But it is a decision you should take as per your convenience.

  14. Sir,you had used calci in the MATHS optional paper in the mains exam of UPSC.
    It’s doubt for me. Calci is used or not
    in MATHS optional paper in mains exam of UPSC.
    Sir,please! Comment

  15. Sir tell us something about your PYQ strategy.
    Did you complete all PYQ. And where we could find solutions of PYQ.
    Waiting for your reply.

  16. What was your correct attempt in maths paper 1 and paper 2 in cse 2018 ??
    Where were your mistake if any ??

    1. I was able to attempt both the papers fully. As per my calculations, there wasn’t any silly mistake but seems like I made a few in paper 1 as I scored 170 (assume 0.75x scaling). Paper2 marks is as per expectations – could have written well in a few questions specially the 20 marker in Modern Algebra in Part A.

      1. Thanks.
        Please give strategy to attempt maths paper 2 specially ,from which section A or B is good to attempt 3 questions?
        Please give also for paper 1 in detail.How avoid silly mistakes ,special tips etc.
        I’m writing this year mains with maths optional.

        1. Silly mistakes can be reduced only with rigorous practice.
          For attempting the paper, you just have to think about the 5th question as it is the variable one. This decision making depends a lot on the paper itself. Do multiple tests and plan on the spot. Choose topics you are more comfortable in.
          Some easier topics like ODE, vector in Paper 1 and LPP, Numerical Analysis in Paper 2 can be prioritised if you have prepared well in them.

  17. Please give in detail maths paper solving strategy, I’m writing cse2019 mains with maths optional.

  18. Hello sir, i need to clear CSE with maths as my optional as fast as possible.
    So please share your class notes and materials of IMS with me to help in completing my optional in 3 months.
    I share my email id : [email protected] with you.
    Thanking you.

  19. Hello sir
    I am engineering graduate I was graduated in 2012 after that prepared for bank exam currently I am working in bank..syllabus I am familiar but with job is it manageable. Syllabus is vast and gs also got less time compare to others for self study.. It’s long time I have no touch to mathematics .I have interest in it but as an optional it can go negative for me I got less time please do guide me
    Thank you

    1. It is a self guided process. Once you have made a firm decision, nothing can stop you. Maths with job is challenging for sure, especially in a single attempt. Do keep the volume of maths in mind before opting it. But there is always a first timer and you could be one!

  20. Hello Sir.
    Like in IMS there goes 4 batches side by side every day.
    How many batches a student should attend so that syllabus is finished in respectable time?
    How many batches you attended in a day?
    By what time you finished your syllabus once .?

    1. Chahat Bajpai – but I do not have her contact. If there is some specific query, please ask here. I will see if I can forward it to her.

  21. Hello sir
    Sir I’m in doldrum that I am doing IMS and only focus on maths instaed of gs now so I’m infear that my gs is left out and doing coaching in vajiram so plzzzz suggest that how I balance my syllabus of both and I think it’s a silly question but plzz ans that how much you do self study beside coaching and newspaper ….I hope you will ans this as soon as possible….thank you and congrats…
    You are inspiration as to clear in 1st attempt …..

  22. Sir, can i do the maths optional by self study ? Is it enough to read the books reffered by prakash rajpurohit sir? Or should i go for more option? Sir plzzz tell me which books should i go for ????

    1. If you have self confidence and will to do hard work, anything is possible. Most of your queries and my knowledge on these aspects have already been addressed in the blog articles.

  23. Hello sir
    Sir I’m in doldrum that I am doing IMS and only focus on maths instaed of gs now so I’m infear that my gs is left out and doing coaching in vajiram so plzzzz suggest that how I balance my syllabus of both and I think it’s a silly question but plzz ans that how much you do self study beside coaching and newspaper ….I hope you will ans this as soon as possible….thank you

    1. This will happen in the initial months. Don’t get overwhelmed and worried. Finish Maths asap and then focus fully on GS. If you are under-confident in GS, you need to allot more time to it. Finding that right balance is very important and depends on person to person.

  24. Sir,

    I see 17 printed notes of IMS in a shop of Mukherjee nagar.
    Are these upto the mark?
    Or sir ,
    I want some guidance regarding Group Theory and numerical methods parts.
    Waiting for your valuable reply

  25. Sir how often did you appear for prelims test series? And from when did you start giving the test series?
    Because maths has as you said huge syllabus so I hardly even get to open my gs

    1. I wrote Vajiram and Vision prelims test series – around 40-50 tests. Mostly at home from March onwards.

  26. Sir, Is it beneficial for me to take mathematics as an optional subject ? I have an interest in the subject but no background study of the topics that are asked in the UPSC. Also, I am presently working at ISRO.

    1. Maths is a very bulky optional and if you do not have any background understanding it is definitely going to need a gigantic effort on your part. If you are comfortable in any other subject and have interest in it, you can consider it instead of Mathematics. You need to find the right balance between “interest”, “effort-needed”, “background-knowledge” and most importantly chances of “scoring-well” in the optional.

      1. Thank you for your valuable reply sir. If possible, can you please suggest me some other optionals those are less time taking and i can score well in them.

  27. Hi Sir,first of all congratulations on your grand triumph. I have been preparing for CSE 2020 since JAN 2019. I have scrutinised whole the GS syllabus once and sociology as optional as well. Sir during studying sometimes MY mind stops to function and goes in another space . How to keep my mind utterly focussed?

    1. No one can help you in such situations except yourself. Just remember why are you preparing for UPSC and what is at stake? If you desire and motivation is strong and real, you will get focused soon enough.

  28. Hi,

    Thanks a lot for your posts on Mathematics and your prompt responses to the queries.

    I am currently appearing for Mains 2019 with Maths as optional. I could complete theory parts of the syllabus and I have made short notes on them as well. However, I currently lack the practice of problems. IMS Notes contains several no. of problems and I think that covering them in this time (1.5 months) would be inefficient. What would you suggest for me at this time in order to get at least around 290+ marks? I am reasonably comfortable (can understand and derive the theorems) with the syllabus (apart from Physics topics and few difficult subtopics in others). Do you have any collection of model problems (1st or 2nd iteration that you’ve mentioned) that you can share or will the IMS Test Series (2015-2018) cover the problems exhaustively? Any other suggestion would also be helpful.

    Thank you,

    1. I do not have any compilation of questions. I have shared my notes, please check them if you wish.

      If you have revised well, just focus on solving as many problems as possible. Cover commonly asked questions by UPSC and solve one test series thoroughly. Then you are set to go.

      1. सर,मैंने बी॰एस॰राजस्थानयूनिवर्सिटी से की है। और मैं गणित विषय क़ो ऑप्शनल बना कर upsc की तेयारीकरना चाहता हूँ ।
        क्या आप बता सकते हैं की venkanaa sir jii,
        ims कोचिंग मैं पढ़ाते है ….

        प्लीज़ comment kare
        दिल से शुक्रिया आपका sir?❤️

  29. What kind of edge do IITians have over Non-IITians who opt Mathematics? Clearly IITians are dominating in Maths optional. How should a normal graduate overcome this fear?

    1. Any person who has interest in maths and can understand it, then IIT or nonIIT doesn’t make any difference. I think IITians are comfortable and more confident in choosing it as an optional. If same confidence anyone else has then they taken also pick Maths.
      Have self belief and do not compare with anyone else. This is my mantra to overcome fear in any subject.

      1. Hello sir ,Congratulations! I am Monalisa . I have completed my B.Sc in Maths and I think i m comfortable in maths
        only rather than any subjects as I choose for Optional in UPSC.I want to crack CSE and preparing for the same. Need some guidance sir.

  30. Sir did you leave hyperboloid in the analytical geometry part as i didn’t find any notes from your side ?

  31. Hi kanishak, I have done integrated MSc in mathematics and computing, iitkgp. To me papers are easy except few topics which haven’t been taught to us. Initially when I didn’t know about scaling I thought I could score 450+( I now it’s silly). I wanted to know how much score you would have got without scaling in each paper? and some extra details if you can give is always welcomed

  32. Sir as u said u are fully relied on IMS notes .sir kya ap n koi bhi standard book use ni ki. And agr standard book kisi chapter k liye use ki h to sir pls mention the chapter ..sir pls guide ..bcz i m fully relied on IMS

  33. i have not mathematics background in graduation can i take this mathematics as an optional subject

  34. Hello Kanishak Sir,
    Can you please share the preparation strategy for personality test (Mathematics related). And what are those mathematical aspects that you were asked in interview? Kindly Share.

  35. Sir,
    With respect,
    I am doing B.Sc. in Physics
    But I want to choose Mathematics as optional in cse
    Please suggest me about the difficulties which I shall have to face during my cse preparation

  36. hello Sir ,
    I am in my final year at IIT Kanpur and new to UPSC CSE preparation and still mulling over the optionals to choose on
    I did well in my IIT JEE examinations especially JEE advanced mathematics.
    Also in my first two semester did decently well in Applied Mathematics papers.

    However , I am not able to gauge the difficulty of the CSE mathematics in relation to JEE advanced mathematics.
    In you article , mythbuster point number 4 :
    Do you mean to say JEE advanced Mathematics is tougher than CSE optional mathematics?
    I was not able to understand whether you meant it is easier or tougher .

  37. hello Sir ,
    I am in my final year at IIT Kanpur and new to UPSC CSE preparation and still mulling over the optionals to choose on.
    I did well in my IIT JEE examinations especially JEE advanced mathematics.
    Also in my first two semester did decently well in Applied Mathematics papers.

    However , I am not able to gauge the difficulty of the CSE mathematics in relation to JEE advanced mathematics.
    In you article , mythbuster point number 4 :
    Do you mean to say JEE advanced Mathematics is tougher than CSE optional mathematics?
    I was not able to understand whether you meant it is easier or tougher .

  38. Hello sir.
    I am an undergraduate student pursuing btech in electrical engineering. I am also willing to prepare for upsc examination but i have a serious doubt in choosing my optional subject- I want to take my graduation subject as an optional since it is my strong part and i really like studying the subject but everyone keep telling me that it won’t be possible for me to manage both parallely as it is really vast. Since I have no contact with any civil servant so I just wanted to clear my doubt that would it be fruitful for me to take the subject or not. In addition to this i also wish to know can the time be managed well during 3 hrs as questions are more in these optional than others?
    Sir Please reply if you get the message.
    Thank you.

  39. Sir mene 12 tk mp board se hindi medium se pdayi ki fr me delhi university se bsc(hons) maths kr rha hu aur me apna upsc attemp hindi medium se dena chahta hu but me maths ko optional me lena chahta hu but “sir kya esa possible hai ki mains ke gs vale papers ko hindi me likho lekin optional me maths lekar use english me likho”??

    Sir agr esa ho skta hoga to me maths ko hi optional me lekar apna try krunga kyuki i think maths hi hai jisme me score kr skta hu.
    Pls sir mere is question ka solution jarur btane ki kosis krna kyuki mujhe iska answer abhi tk khi nhi mil paya.

  40. Hello sir, I am Maths, I want to take MATHEMATICS as an optional paper. I am here on your post for searching book list for maths but you mentioned here that you prepared by IMS notes only. Is it enough to cover all the topics by only notes or some books are also in your list. Please guide me, THANK YOU.

  41. Hello Sir,
    First of all, Hearty congratulations to you for your such grand success and warm wishes for the future.
    I have decided to opt Mathematics as a optional subject. I would like to purchase the IMS notes. The ”” claims that they have procured the notes from the students of IMS contain 4400 pages. So they must be taken it in 2017 or 2018 from the students. They are selling it(xerox copy) at the price of ₹2210. If I now( in 2020) purchase that, would it be up-to-date and well enough(more than enough) for the preparation of CSE 2023?
    Awaiting of your reply.
    Thanking you!

  42. Congratulations sir for ur victory in CSE,
    1-Sir I wanna ask u that ,can anybody get the ful marks in optional (maths)?
    My some senior friends told me that if u solve both the papers 1&2 still u can’t get get full marks
    I have done my bsc (pcm)and cover all the topics of maths syllabus except fluid dynamics,statics and probability
    I’m a native of rural areas of Bareilly,UP and can’t go to outside (delhi) as belonging to lower than middle class family.And I want to do whole preparation by myself with internet from village.
    2-I have my first attempt in 2022,please guide me what should I do?

  43. Sir I am in the 2nd year of college and I will be giving my first attempt in 2022 And I am doing Bsc cs now can I take maths optinal sir because I have a interest in the maths subject .

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