Preparing for UGC NET SOCIOLOGY? Here is a Step by Step Guide!

After the completion of a master’s degree in Sociology, many aspire to contribute to the field either by imparting knowledge to others through lectureship/assistant professorship or through research. If you are looking at either of these two ways to move forward in your career trajectory, the University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test (UGC NET) is a qualifying examination that you will be expected to attempt. 

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The UGC NET is an examination conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA)  twice a year across the country. Typically the examination is conducted in the months of June and December in 83 disciplines including Sociology. You can appear for the examination in either of the two months or in both the months, since there is no cap on the number of attempts that the candidates can take. Candidates can however, only apply for the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) till the age of 30. 


Are you wondering if you should give the UGC NET but are not sure? Let’s discuss the scope of the examination for a little more clarity on your options once you have appeared for the exam. Qualifying the NET exam opens up avenues in the field of research and teaching for candidates: 

Assistant Professorship

Those who qualify the UGC NET are eligible for assistant professorship positions across universities in India. These will be candidates who have scored above the cut-off marks which have been declared by NTA post the exam. In assistant professorship positions you will have the opportunity to teach and shape the minds of young adults by engaging with them in a classroom set-up. It will also be a learning and growing experience for you as an individual as you will be exposed to diverse perspectives. 

Opportunities in Research Organizations

Many research organizations or organizations offering research positions such as think tanks, government bodies prefer candidates who are UGC-NET qualified for these positions. Giving the NET exam will be useful for those who wish to take up research full-time and get exposure in different fields. Being UGC NET qualified gives you credibility in the discipline. 

PhD and Independent Research – UGC NET and UGC NET JRF

If you are someone who aspires to be a PhD candidate, qualifying NET will give you the advantage of being exempt from the interview process at the time of admissions.  

Additionally at the time of PhD the state offers a scholarship to the top 6 percent of candidates who qualify the UGC NET for their research. This category of candidates clear the criteria for the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF). In the course of independent research or PhD candidates can use the amount for the same. 

Lifetime Validity of NET Qualification 

Once you have qualified UGC NET, the validity of this qualification remains with you for a lifetime. This means that once you have scored higher than or equal to the cut-off, you will not be required to give the exam again unless you wish to try for JRF. 

How To Prepare for UGC NET Sociology?

Step 1: Familiarizing Yourself With the Syllabus

The syllabus includes both the syllabus for Paper 1 as well as Paper 2. The sociology syllabus as well as the Paper 1 syllabus are uploaded on the UGC website. The syllabus for Paper 1 will cover teaching aptitude, research aptitude, comprehension, communication, mathematical and logical reasoning, higher education system, and such.

The sociology syllabus includes basic concepts, schools of thoughts – structuralism and functionalism, core thinkers, research methods and methodology, rural and urban transformations, and topics such as state polity and society.

Familiarizing yourself with the syllabus would be not just reading and remembering but also understanding the concepts that are being discussed. Sometimes the meanings of certain terms may go beyond our common-sense understanding of the word. It is crucial, therefore, that you are trying to understand as you go on with revising the syllabus.

The syllabus for the NET examination is available online throughout the year; you can download it ahead of time and begin your preparations accordingly. You can also click here for the sociology NET syllabus.

Step 2: Covering the Syllabus

The aim in preparation would be to cover the entire prescribed syllabus before the examination. There are various books and videos which you can refer to in the process of your preparation. Videos tend to be more helpful as they are more explanatory in nature and easier to grasp. Books will be useful in understanding the use of terms in different contexts.

An interesting way to assess your understanding of the concepts would be to try and apply them to the world around you. Sociology is the study of the institutions of society, and will give you an understanding of how various institutions, like economy, education, family, will interact with one another. Trying to observe if what you are reading is present in the world around you will also facilitate in making the discipline less theoretical and easier to grasp.

While it may seem like a daunting task, there are ways that you can make your studying experience interesting.

The syllabus is already present in the PDF in the form of a list, which can alternatively be used as a checklist for the topics that you are required to cover. This checklist will help you with a progress check and will also allow you to figure out the topics in which you need a little more effort than the others.

Along with this, you can make notes, which are short and concise and you can go back to when needed. You can make use of different colour post-its to make extra pointers where required, highlighters to note the important terms, meanings of your notes.

While going through the syllabus, another way to go would be to make placards that may serve as a dictionary of terms, concepts, and theory, which you can later ask your family, friends to quiz you with.

Step 3: Choosing the Right Books and Videos

For the purpose of your preparation, it is extremely important that the books which you are choosing are relevant to your study topics, same goes for videos. Here are some references that you can use to begin your preparation:

  • NCERT for Sociology – This will help in getting a basic grasp of what sociology as a discipline entails. This is available easily on the NCERT website.
  • T.B. Bottomore – Sociology (1962) – gives an introduction to sociology. You can buy the book online on  Amazon.
  • George Ritzer – Introduction to Sociology – Useful for classical thinkers, understanding the emergence of sociology 
  • Trueman’s Sociology for UGC NET – Danika Publishing Company 
  • Coursera – Classical Sociological Theory course – Offered by the University of Amsterdam – Covers the theories of classical thinkers like Marx, Weber, and Durkheim 
  • Solved question papers – Arihant Publishers

These are some of the books which will get you started in your journey for the preparation for the UGC NET; other than this The Wiley Blackwell Companion has separate books for topics such as religion or political sociology; the content in these books gives an introduction to the key concepts as have been formulated by various thinkers and their explanations.

If you are already a student of Sociology, class notes, books allotted in your master’s or undergraduate program must be referred to get a hold of the basics and build a strong foundation of sociology.

Step 4: Understanding the Exam Pattern

Knowing the paper pattern will facilitate you to strategize your preparation better and allocate the required time for the same. Understanding the exam pattern means knowing the number of papers, the number of questions, the type of questions, total time given for the examination, and the marks allocated to each question.

UGC NET has two papers, the first paper is a general research and teaching aptitude paper, while the second paper is the subject-specific paper – sociology in this case. Both papers are to be completed in a period of 3 hours. 

Paper 1 has 50 questions of two marks each and paper 2 has 100 questions of two marks each, making it a total of 300 marks. All the questions in both the papers will be multiple-choice questions.

Candidates will get 2 marks for every answer that they attempt correctly and simply a 0 for the ones which have been attempted incorrectly since there is NO negative marking in the guidelines till 2023. 

Step 5: Solving Past Year Papers

The key to cracking any competitive examination is to assess the kind of questions that will be asked, the best way to do that is to look at past 10-year papers. These papers are available online, on the UGC website. Alternatively, there are various publications such as Arihant Publications – mentioned above – which have booklets for past year papers.

These papers will help you identify the level of difficulty of questions that will be asked, the language questions, and questions which are being repeated over the years or the questions which are more common than others.

Additionally, you can attempt papers in the stipulated time period, and cross check the answers to know which areas or topics you need to revise more, and identify your weakness and strength. It will also give you a fair idea as to whether you are able to complete both the papers on time and attempt them over the next few weeks accordingly.

It is important to not get intimidated if you do not know answers to questions at first; it is absolutely normal to feel a little overwhelmed in the beginning but there is nothing a little practice cannot solve!

Given below are some of the questions which have been a part of previous year papers: 

Q. The first wave of Feminism was synonymous with: 

  1. ‘Me-too’ movement.
  2. 1960’s Civil Rights Movement.
  3. Queer Movement. 
  4. Women’s Suffrage movement. 

Answer: d.  Women’s Suffrage movement.

(In order to be able to answer this question correctly, you will have to be well versed with the history of feminism and its various waves.) 

(Q1. (5001) from December 2022 NET paper)

Q.  Who gave the concept of ‘sick role’? 

  1. R. K. Merton
  2. Talcott Parsons 
  3. N. J. Smelser 
  4. C. W. Mills 

Answer: b. Talcott Parsons 

(Being familiar with the Talcott Parsons contribution to Sociological Theory will help you answer this question easily) 

(Q7. (5007) from December 2022 NET paper)

Q.  AN economy in which much of the work force is involved not in the physical production or distribution of material goods but in their design, development, technology, marketing, sales and servicing is known as – 

  1. Industrial Economy 
  2. Knowledge Economy 
  3. Pastoral Economy 
  4. None of the above 

Answer: b. Knowledge economy

(The key to answering such a question would be to learn the definitions of the concept but along with that also understanding the sociology of economy, what it entails and what is the ways in which we can understand economy from a sociological lens) 

(Q11. (5011) from December 2022 NET paper)

One more type of question, could as you to arrange the options in chronological order, for example: 

Q. Arrange the following social legislations in chronological order on the basis of the year of enactments: 

  1. The Equal Remuneration Act
  2. Abolition of Sati Act
  3. The Sati Prevention Act 
  4. The Hindu Marriage Act 
  5. The Maternity Benefit Act

Choose the correct answer 

  1. B, D, E, A, C
  2. A, B, C, D, E
  3. B, C, D, E, A
  4. A, B, D, E, C

Answer: 1. B, D, E, A, C

(Here the years of the Acts are crucial, it is important to learn by heart the years in which topics such as acts or theories or books may have been published. )

(Q15. (5015) from December 2022 NET paper) 

Q. Given below are two statements: 

Statement 1: Ambedkar asserted that for the emancipation of scheduled castes, they should come forward and assert for their own cause. 

Statement 2: Ambedkar wanted to liberate Dalits by building an egalitarian social order and suggested to them a mantra: Educate, Organize and Agitate. 

In light of the above statements, choose the correct answer from the options given below: 

  1. Both statement 1 and statement 2 are true. 
  2. Both statement 1 and statement 2 are false. 
  3. Statement 1 is true but statement 2 is false. 
  4. Statement 1 is false but statement 2 is true. 

Answer: a. Both statement 1 and statement 2 are true. 

(Such questions often require familiarity with the scholar in question. In this case you will benefit from being well versed with Ambedkar and his ideologies and his work in the upliftment of the so called lower castes. )

(Q. 34 (5034) from December 2022 NET paper) 

Q. Caste is derived from a word from a language used in the Iberian peninsula. The word is: 

  1. Casata
  2. Cazata
  3. Casta
  4. Castez

Answer: 3. Casta 

(Such a question is fairly technical and is more to do with the origin of the terminology than anything else. It is therefore imperative to go back to even the most commonly used words in the discipline and read more about who coined them, and their origins.)

(Q. 59 (5059) from December 2022 NET paper) 

Step 6: Time Management

The syllabus is vast; therefore, it is crucial to manage the time and divide it equally among covering the syllabus, practicing, and leaving enough time to go back and revise and brush up the weaker points properly.

It is suggested that you begin the preparation well in advance, and not wait till the last 2-3 months to prepare. Fetching out 3-4 hours in a day from your schedule will give you a good head start. Over a few days you will understand how long it will take you to cover a particular topic and you can alter the time you spend studying based on that.

On the days that you are solving the paper, you will have to take out a dedicated 3-3 and half hour for solving and cross-checking.

While spending adequate time preparing for the exam, it is crucial to take out time for other things which provide a mental break, such as listening to music or art or exercise, whichever works best to ensure that you are not burning yourself out in the process.

Step 7: Seeking a Support System

A lot of information that you will need is already present on the internet, but seeking support from your seniors who may have given the exam and teachers will give you a more personalized perspective on the preparation and the examination. 

They may be able to provide you with notes or resources which they have used for their preparation, clarify if you have doubts, and give you at times the confidence you need to keep going.

All competitive exams are a matter of hard work and strategy and understanding and catering to what works best for you. The above-mentioned steps would hopefully provide some guidance and clarity as to how you can go about preparing for the exam and subsequently clearing it.


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Aishani Menon, a sociologist, communicates her thoughts through words. She values learning, seeing it as the catalyst for growth, and believes that the best writing stems from continuous knowledge