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IAS Mains Preparation Strategy for Management Optional

Updated On -

May 20, 2020

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Sumit Agarwal

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The UPSC Civil Services Exam is held once every year for those who aspire to be in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service(IPS). Incidentally, the IAS Preliminary Exams were going to be held on 31/05/2020. However, the recent coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions have forced the governing body to postpone the exams. The Civil Services Exams Personality Test for 2019 candidates were postponed as well. The latest notification regarding the new dates and schedule is going to be announced on 20/05/2020. As a result, candidates now have more time to prepare for the examination.

Management Optional Subject Overview

Incidentally, there are 25 optional subjects to choose from in the IAS Exams. Additionally, there are 26 literature subjects that brings the total optional subjects to 51. Out of these, the Management subject is one of the lesser chosen subjects as an optional subject. Moreover, it has seen consistent performance from candidates over the years.

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Despite its low popularity, it is considered to be a safe subject to choose. However, it should be opted by candidates who have had MBA as their educational background or had management in their graduate or postgraduate studies. The reason is that it has a big syllabus which is easier to cover with a management background.

Check IAS 2020 Syllabus for Prelims and Main, Pattern and Books

Pros and Cons of Choosing Management as an Optional subject

There are various advantages and disadvantages of choosing Management as your optional subject in IAS Exam. The following list will help you to ascertain its strengths and weaknesses to make the final decision. Moreover, it will also help in understanding how it can be a scoring subject.


  • The questions are pretty direct and straightforward.
  • The syllabus is mostly static in nature.
  • Management is actually a logical subject.
  • The level of difficulty for a candidate with management background is medium.
  • Some important questions are repeated from previous year question papers.


  • The syllabus is quite lengthy which can be a problem for candidates with no management background.
  • Candidates often find it difficult to complete the paper in time due to lengthy questions.
  • There is no connection to the syllabus with General Studies or other subjects of IAS Exams.
  • Scope of coaching for management is quite less. Moreover, it is not recommended by coaching guides.

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Top Studying Materials for Management Optional Subject

Incidentally, there are many reading materials and books available for studying Management as an optional subject. However, here are some of the top-rated books that can help you to clear the IAS Exams.

Book Name  Publisher/Author
Paper 1 
Cost and Management Accounting MN Arora
Financial Management Prasanna Chandra
Fundamentals of Management  DeCenzo, Agarwal, Bhattacharya & Robbins
Human Resource Management K Aswathappa
Marketing Management Philip Kotler 
Organizational Behavior  Stephen Robbins
Paper 2
Business Environment AC Fernando
International Business Hill and Jain
Management Informations System Laudon or O’Brien
Operations Management Heizer and Render
Quantitative Approaches to Management Levin and Rubin
Strategic Management  Hill and Jones

Check Best Books For UPSC CSE Prelims Exam 2020

Other Studying Resources for Management Optional

In addition to the book suggestions provided above, there are various other online and offline resources to study from. Some of the top ones have been highlighted below.

#1 YouTube

As one of the most popular online video platforms, YouTube is a great place for both professors and other students. It enables them to teach and explain various concepts that can be otherwise difficult for some candidates to understand. Moreover, there are various channels or users to help explain a concept properly.

#2 UPSC IQ Magazine

UPSC IQ Magazine is a great studying resource for candidates. Here, you can find materials for almost all the main and optional subjects of IAS. Hence, it can help you to find important study materials for Management optional as well.

#3 NCERT Books

Apart from the books mentioned above, candidates can also study from the NCERT management books. These include books of both 11th and 12th Standards. Books from graduate or postgraduate degrees can be used as well.

#4 IGNOU Study Material

IGNOU is a widely known institute that offers online and distance learning as approved by the government bodies. The course for ‘Department of Management Studies’ includes all the topics from Management optional. Thus, candidates can get this study material from its nearby regional centers.

Check Common Mistakes In UPSC IAS MAINS Exam

Studying tips and Preparation Strategy for Management Optional

Management optional is not that difficult for candidates who have a business or management background. However, one needs to study hard if he/she wishes to score high marks in this optional subject. This accounts for 500 marks out of a total of 2025 marks of IAS Exams.

Hence, follow some or all of the tips given below to effectively study for Management optional.

1. Focus on Important Topics

There is some significant difference between the difficulty level of Paper 1 and Paper 2. Comparatively, Paper 1 is full of theoretical questions which are direct and simple. In fact, you can even expect theory questions for the Finance section. However, Paper 2 is purely based on concepts and the application of such theories.

In Paper 1, the important topics include the following -

  • Organizational Behavior
  • HR Management
  • Finance and Accounting

Similarly, the important topics from Paper 2 include the following -

  • Operations Management
  • Strategic Management
  • Business Statistics
  • Case Studies

2. Practice and attempt the Direct Questions

For the most part, the questions asked in Management optional are usually simple and straightforward. Thus, go through the previous year question papers and practice the same. This will help you to save time during the Mains exams.

3. Time Management

Create a time schedule and make sure that you devote enough time to each topic. You should cover the important topics before moving on to the others. Moreover, you should also manage your time while answering the questions. This will help you to attempt all the questions while giving the IAS Exams.

4. Solve Previous Year Questions

Generally, most of the important questions are repeated in previous year question papers. Therefore, you can expect the same to happen for IAS Exams in 2020. Hence, attempt and solve mock tests and go through the previous year question papers. Mark the repeated questions and analyze the important topics as well. This will also help you in time management while writing answers.

5. Go through Other Study Resources

Candidates do not have to study for Management optional from cover to cover. They can easily identify the important topics from previous year questions and study selectively. In addition, studying from other online/offline resources can help them to gain enough knowledge to score high in the optional subject.

Check IAS Practice Papers

Answer writing tips for Management Optional

One of the most important aspects of IAS Exams is the presentation of answers. Each question can carry different marks. However, it is the responsibility of the candidate to make their answers look attractive. They can do this by following the given points.

  • Follow a certain format for writing answers. Start with the definition and provide subheadings if necessary.
  • Use bullet points wherever possible. This helps to condense the information in a much simpler and readable format.
  • Draw tables and diagrams wherever it seems appropriate. This can easily dignify the answers and show that you have a strong grasp of the concept.
  • For case studies, make sure that you use simple formulas and follow the basic models or frameworks.
  • At the end, always give your views on the question in a logical manner.


To summarize, Management optional is a good scoring subject if the candidate has relative interest and background in it. Moreover, the clearance rate of the same is consistent as it has limited competition. Also, candidates should not try to read each and everything from the books mentioned above. Read once and mark all the important points. Later on, create notes and study from them. Following this advice can easily help you to clear IAS Exams by securing high marks in the optional subject.

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