Strategy for Physics

I had no pure background in Physics except the fundamental concepts of senior secondary and few basic courses attended while during engineering. Yet, if there is one subject which I love the most and could study just for the sake of it, then it was Physics only; thus, I chose Physics over any other optional. NOT because it was scoring, or had less syllabus or was easy or whatever. For as every one says that each optional is equally difficult and easy; thus, what matters is personal inclination for a subject and nothing else.

In this examination the physics optional syllabus is midway of BSc and that of MSc hons. in Physics. Thus, in order to cover the syllabus in best suited time and understand the overall demands of the examination, I joined the classroom study program at DIAS under the guidance of DP Vajpeyi Sir. I for one can say that these classes were upto the mark and helped a lot in covering the depth and breath of the whole syllabus in a very holistic manner. Around 60% of final notes got prepared during the classes itself while rest were finalized with self study and topic wise books and Internet.

Following are few sources and links that I followed (in brackets topics are mentioned which I found to be the best)

Paper I


  • An introduction to Mechanics by Kleppner and Kolenkow
  • Mechanics by D S Mathur  (Mechanics of continuous media)
  • Electricity and Magnetism by David J Griffiths (Relativity)


  • Optics by Ajoy Ghatak (polarization and LASERS)
  • Optics by Brijlal, Subramaniam (diffraction)

Electricity and Magnetism:

  • Electricity and Magnetism by David J Griffiths (Boundary value problems)


  • Thermodynamics, kinetic theory and statistical thermodynamics by Sears and Salinger
  • Thermal Physics by Garg Bansal Ghosh (very important from exam point of view)

Paper II

Quantum Mechanics:

  • Quantum Mechanics by David J. Griffiths
  • Concepts of Modern Physics by Arthur Beiser
  • Quantum Physics by HC Verma

Atomic Structure:

  • Atomic and Molecular Spectra by  Raj Kumar

Nuclear Physics:

Solid state and Electronics:

  • Solid state physics by Puri and Babbar
  • Internet for learning Logic gates, boolean etc


  • Notes of Abhijeet Agrawal and Rishav Gupta: They are largely same as the classroom notes but with some added information and problem questions which help in understanding the concepts in a better way.
  • Previous year questions of IAS and IoFS:  They are very important. By doing them one can observe the pattern  and Sometimes they are repeated in the paper.
  • HC Verma and I.E. Irodov

Test Series:

I joined mains test series at DIAS. These mock tests acted important link in one’s preparation and the final outcome. It not only exposes the weaknesses but also helps in building the examination temperament.

Other useful links:

Concluding words

  • By the end your notes should be such that the whole syllabus can be revised in just 4 hours. (Thus, Flash notes. I would share them in the following posts) ~ topper 1
  • Physics would take time initially but if once prepared well it will be easier and faster only. ~topper 2

25 thoughts on “Strategy for Physics

  1. Sir, do we really need to read all the above mentioned books in detail & solve all the problems.. Please reply


  2. I have mentioned all the books which I read and referred for my preparations. After the first reading of these books, it became more clear to me to study which part from which books for ex (I have mentioned that already in the brackets). Rest, one can always refer Abhijeet Agarwal’s blog, where he has clearly mentioned to study which topic from which book and also, he has mentioned some other alternatives too. Rest, on consoling part I can say, don’t get intimidated from the number of books, for once you would get hold of them, they themselves would seem very necessary from exam point of view.

    I didn’t solve all the questions but depending upon my weaknesses in given topics. But more or less I must have done 70% of them too.


  3. Sir, can you please share your complete strategy like how you studied for those six months while preparing for physics and how you balanced both GS and physics during that time plus your complete approach towards physics right from theory to solving numericals.
    It’ll be highly beneficial for all aspirants taking physics optional.
    Thank you in advance.☺


    1. During my Post prelims phase, my main priority had been my optional only. I was much sure of ROI on my optional rather than GS in general. Thus 60-70% of initial 2.5 months after pre were focussed on Physics itself, But each day I used to cover bits of GS as well. For ex. writing mains answers on every alternate days, revising modules of GS in between etc.

      I emphasized more on theory for unlike JEE in UPSC mains we are supposed to support numericals with right mix of explanation, contexts, results interpretation, diagrams etc. But once I used to be confident of my theory part, I practiced numericals in rough. Moreover, one should always have sound hold over theory as one might know if UPSC gonna ask a simple numerical for 20-25 marker or not.


  4. Sir please tell in details about what should be the content of an answer.. How to substantiate a given numerical with the required theory? How to approach the theoretical questions and derivations? sir clarify as I would not be able to go to Delhi for coaching. Please guide


  5. sir… I was there when u r giving speech at DIAS. It was very impressive. Sir, I want 1 answer sheet of yours.. I am confused on how to give a good descriptive answer … as my last descriptive answer was 5 yearsa ago


  6. Hi Prateek,

    Thank you for sharing the strategy. I’m having a little difficulty in understanding the level of difficulty. How much should I focus on the difficulty level of the questions in numerical/solving aspect, like JEE preparation ( courtesy Griffiths QM questions) vis-a-vis writing a comprehensive answer?


    1. If going by last 5 year questions of mains examination, I hardly find the questions to be extraneously difficult (as of JEE standard). Thus, you might focus on the comprehensibility of your answer as in diagrams, relevant equations, assumptions, units of numericals, interpretation of final results of the numericals etc. UPSC is known for maintaining the level playing field thus, one can avoid expecting very difficult paper. Nevertheless, few bouncers would always be there say 5-10% only, which can be avoided by adequately selecting the questions in the mains paper ( as choices are given to select upon).


  7. Hi Prateek
    Much thanks and appreciation for your guidance and efforts.
    I had one request, since Abhijeet’s and Rishav’s notes are quite old(>5 years), and pattern has changed slightly, could you please upload your own notes?
    That would be of a giant help to your younger brothers and sisters, us aspirants.
    Many thanks again.


    1. This is the advantage or the beauty of Physics optional that earlier notes would never be out dated. And would always remain relevant. Anyways, my classroom notes are quite similar to Rishav Gupta notes only. Thus, I saved on time and effort to scan my classroom notes and rather uploaded flash notes which were not uploaded by him. If you have any problem in downloading any of these notes do let me know. Best regards.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Dear Sir,
    In dias coaching, are all the tutorials discussed thoroughly in the class room by vajpayee sir? Where I can get all tutorials in the market?
    Thanks & regards


    1. In the classroom, almost all the tricky questions of the previous years are discussed by sir. Rest, you can always take it upto him in spare time. You wouldn’t get the tutorials in market in the form DIAS provides, but in nutshell they are previous year questions being segregated topic wise. So any 100 Rs Vishal previous year questions papers can also suffice your purpose.


    1. Absolutely not. It’s your decision to make according to your own confidence level. Prathmesh Kumar (CSE 2015) took no classroom coaching but appeared in test series. Thus, weigh your own odds and favours and then make a suitable decision, don’t go for a coaching because I or anyone else says so. Good luck!


  9. Hello,
    Sir during college what should be my approach towards physics. AsI am honour physics 1 years student. Plz help


      1. Sir thanks for the positive reply I am confuse what is the role of personality development for UPSC during college years. Should I only focus on physics or on other arts subjects?




    1. As you said, there is much difference between MSc. and UPSC syllabus so I think your MSc. background will be of very less support (unless you have a bachelor’s degree in it as well).

      To answer your second query, I have already shared my strategy for Physics on this blog, so kindly go through it once (and also see strategies of other Physics toppers) and afterwards, make your own strategy – picking best of practices from all of them.


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