Are you thinking about changing your optional subject for UPSC CSE Mains? IAS officer Varun Reddy, who changed his after failing in his first two attempts, shares tips for aspirants.

Pick a study environment that works for you: Varun spent most of his study hours in the library, which induced a sense of seriousness,  he opines.

“Seeing everyone around you study while in the library always pushed me to work extra hard. Also, one is away from all electronic gadgets and the disturbance that it causes,” he says.

Limited resources and maximum practice: “Do not get tempted to pick up an extra book or resource material. Try to keep the resource books that you chose for the prelims and mains common.”

Shake things up: After not clearing in the first two attempts, Varun says, “I wanted to break away from my comfort zone.”

“The first thing was to move to a new locality and put myself in a new environment. This led to me changing my optional paper as well.”

Find a strong support system: Varun says that switching his optional paper at the last minute was met with a lot of discouragement from those around him.

However, he had the support of his family and friends, who were confident that he would make it. “It helped boost my confidence levels too,” he says.

It was only when he started preparing for Math did he realise that it wasn’t as hard as it was made out to be. Math as an optional also helps in pulling your optional score higher up, he says.

“With your formula sheet ready for revision, Math should not take up more than two whole days for your final revision,” says Varun.