prepp logo

IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains 2021 Preparation Strategy for Electrical Engineering Optional

Updated On -

Feb 22, 2021

Sudeshna Bhar's profile photo

Sudeshna Bhar

Exams Prepmaster

IAS (UPSC CSE) Exam will be held on September 17-22, 2021 tentatively. As the syllabus of the IAS exam is designed by the UPSC, the syllabus of the electrical engineering optional paper is also on the official website. Check the electrical engineering syllabus here.

On average, between 100 and 150 candidates select the electrical engineering optional for the mains exam. For the past few years, UPSC has given importance to Control System & Power System and they have an average weightage 85.5 and 82.

The optional subject is divided into 2 papers carrying 250 marks in each paper. In the following article, for better understanding, the electrical engineerings optional paper, the topic-wise preparation tips, best books for each topic, and reference books along with preparation strategy has been given.

IAS Weightage

Topic-wise Weightage of IAS (UPSC CSE) Electrical Engineering Optional

The topic-wise weightage is essential for preparation. The following tabular will help you to decide which topic is more important and requires the utmost attention.

Topics 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Control System 70 67.5 90 100 100
Power System 80 70 85 95 80
Digital Communication 60 77.5 70 80 90
Measurements and instrumentations 70 65 95 60 50
Energy Conversion 100 60 50 60 60
Circuit theory 50 60 60 70 50
Power Electronics and Electrical Drives 60 60 40 70 40
Microprocessor and Microcomputers 60 60 50 50 50
Analog Electronics 40 60 50 50 60
E.M. Theory 30 60 50 50 50
Analog Communication 50 40 40 40 40
Signal and System 40 40 60 10 50
Digital Electronics 30 20 50 50 50
Power System Protection 60 60 20 20 30
IAS Books

Best Books for IAS (UPSC CSE) Electrical Engineering Optional

At the beginning of the preparation, the following books will be very helpful. These books are available in both online and offline markets.

Topics Name of Books Authors/ Publishers
Circuit Theory Circuit Theory: Analysis And Synthesis Abhijit Chakrabarti
Signal and System Communication Systems Sanjay Sharma
Signals and Systems Alan V. Oppenheim, Alan V. Willsky, S. Hamid Nawab
E. N. Theory Principles of Electromagnetics Mathew Sadiku
Electromagnetic Fields & Waves K.D. Prasad
Analog Electronics Analog Electronics J.B. Gupta
Digital Electronics Digital Logic and Computer Design M. Morris Mano
Energy Conversion Energy Conversion Ashfaq Hussain
Power Electronics and Electric Drives Power Electronics PS Bimbhra
Analog Communication & Digital Communication Modern Digital and Analog Communication Systems BP Lathi
Microprocessor and Microcomputers Fundamentals of Microcontrollers and Applications in Embedded Systems Ramesh Gaonkar
Measurements and Instrumentations Measurements and Instrumentation AK Sawhney

Reference Books for Electrical Engineering Optional

Other than the above-mentioned, candidates can use these books as reference material:

  • Principles of Electronics – V. K. Mehta
  • An Introduction to Analog and Digital Communications by Simon Haykin
  • Control Systems by A. Anand Kumar
  • Radio Engineering – G.K. Mithal
  • Elements of Engineering Electromagnetics – Nannapaneni Rao
  • Electromagnetic Waves and Field – R.N. Singh
  • Data Communications and Networking by Behrouz A. Forouzan
  • Semiconductor – Nag Choudhary
  • Signals and Systems by Ramesh Babu
  • Signals and Systems by Alan V. Oppenheim
  • Electromagnetic Theory by Bakshi
  • Analog Electronics published by Technical Publications (authored by Godse and Bakshi)
  • Digital Electronics by Godse and Godse (Technical Publications)
  • Electrical Power Systems by CL Wadhwa
  • Physics of Semiconductor Devices – Simon Sze
  • Circuit Analysis – Gupta Electrical Technology – Thareja
  • Automatic Control System – Benjamin C. Kuo
  • Control Systems Engineering – Nagrath Gopal
Prep Tips

Preparation Strategy for IAS (UPSC CSE) Electrical Engineering Optional

Here are detailed topic-wise preparation tips for every topic in paper-1 and paper-2. Do note that dedicatedly studying for 3-4 months for 12 hours a week is elemental to complete the syllabus of this Mains paper-

Preparation Strategy for Paper-I of Electrical Engineering

In paper-I, the most important chapters are circuit theory, signals, and systems, e.m. theory, analog electronics, digital electronics, power electronics, and electronic drives, and analog communication. The preparation strategies on these chapters are discussed below:

Circuit theory

  • The best book for this subject is Circuit Theory- Analysis and Synthesis by A- Chakraborty.
  • Emphasize preparing basic network theorems, graft theory, and two-port theories.
  • Most questions from this chapter are numerical and hence, they should be practiced thoroughly.
  • 20-marks questions that involve proving theories are also asked which have to be done by substantiating with examples. Hence, practice writing and formatting your answers accordingly.
  • The filters section need not be studied as it has been scraped from the IAS syllabus after 2008.

Signals and Systems

  • Study the Laplace transform, Z-transform, Fourier analysis, and basics of signal representations which are very important from this chapter.
  • Signals and systems by Ramesh Babu is a good book for this chapter alone.
  • DFT and FFT related questions have never been asked so far in UPSC which can lead to the conclusion that they are not that important in the exam. However, it is in the syllabus and hence to be on the safer side, prepare a gist of these topics just in case.

E.M. Theory

  • Go through solved examples from a good book, especially from principles of Electromagnetics by Mathew Sadiku as UPSC often directly lifts these questions and asks them for the optional paper.
  • Focus on numerical related to the different concepts of E.M. Theory as they are asked more.
  • Electrostatics and magnetostatics are not there in the UPSC syllabus and can be safely skipped.

Analog Electronics

  • Practice and study solved examples- as many as you can.
  • Also, practice the various derivations in this chapter which are frequently asked in UPSC.
  • OPAMP, single-stage amplifiers are very important sections under this chapter. Biasing is also important. However, you can skip multi-stage.

Digital electronics

  • PLA and FGPA are important topics.
  • Mostly a 20-marks theory based question is asked from this chapter.

Power Electronics and Electronic Drives

  • Again, practice all the solved questions from Power Electronics by P.S. Bimbhra as the questions are directly lifted from here.
  • Chopper, rectifier, drive, and inverter are particularly important from this chapter.

Analog communication

  • This is a part of electronics engineering but included in the electrical engineering optional for UPSC. Hence this is a new topic for the candidates in most cases.
  • Phase Log Loop of FM demodulation is an important topic.
  • Theoretical and numerical questions come from this chapter and practicing the solved examples will be good enough for this. You will also find several repeated questions from previous years are from this chapter.

Preparation Strategy for Paper-II of Electrical Engineering

The important chapters in this paper are control systems, microprocessors, and microcomputers, measurements and instrumentation, power systems, digital communication. The preparation tips on these chapters are discussed here.

Control systems

  • Practice the solved examples from the control system by A. Anand Kumar. Similar questions are asked in UPSC.
  • Plots, root loci, block diagram analysis, are important topics.
  • Mostly numerical based on this chapter are asked so this topic will require rigorous practice.

Microprocessors and microcomputers

  • The topic programming from this section is rather tough but also a very important section that cannot be skipped for paper-2. However, if you are weak in the programming-based problems, make sure your theory-based preparation is strong as the questions related to the theory section are repeated.
  • You can skip the programming based problems when you are sure about your attempts at theoretical questions. Hence, focus on preparing the previous years’ questions thoroughly.

Measurements and instrumentation

  • The theory part from this section is huge but it is also easy to prepare.
  • Practice using diagrams extensively to substantiate the theory-based answers from this section.
  • Transducers, potentiometers, power factor measurements, power and energy measurements are very important topics.
  • Digital instrumentation is an important topic but there are few materials on it. Relying on the internet is the best way to prepare this part.

Power systems

  • Fault analysis, power system stability, equal-area criteria, critical clearing time, load flow analysis are some of the primary important topics.
  • You will get numerical as well as theoretical questions from this chapter.
  • The numerals can be prepared by practicing the solved examples from JB Gupta.
  • For power system protection, practicing the solved numericals in JB Gupta and studying the theory sections from Electrical Power Systems by CL Wadhya should suffice.

Digital communication

  • Pulse code manipulation, delta modulation, BPSK, phase shifting, error control, convolution theory, linear block coding, are important topics.
  • The questions asked from this section are simple but you have to make sure your conception is clear and you must not skip the section as questions come every year from this section.
Previous Papers

Previous Years’ Paper of IAS (UPSC CSE) Electrical Engineering Optional

The previous year’s question papers are essential for the IAS(UPSC CSE) exam. To download the previous year papers from 2016 to 2020 free of cost, click on the links given below:

Year of Exam Paper-I Paper-II
2020 Download Download
2019 Download Download
2018 Download Download
2017 Download Download
2016 Download Download

Choosing electrical engineering for your optional paper also implies in the first place that you have some level of confidence about your basics about the subject. This can also work to your advantage during the interview round. Keeping the preparation tips in mind and starting the preparation 4-5months early will help you achieve your goals.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.