(Tips) How To Select An Optional For UPSC/IAS Exam
"Which optional/subject should I take ?" is the most often asked query in the comments section of this blog. This question like any other important question does not have a simple answer. The choice of optional may prove to be one's undoing in this exam as optionals carry huge weightage in terms of marks in all three stages. But if anyone thinks that just by choosing a safe optional one will clear all stages then one is just fooling oneself.
At the same time choosing an optional in which you have more than a passing interest and one which you feel you have the aptitude for ,may prove to be an invaluable asset in this exam.Go through the syllabus and prelims/mains question papers of 2-3 subjects that you would have shortlisted from the unending list of UPSC optionals.Just see for yourself what kind of questions are being asked and whether you feel you will be able to answer them once you are thorough with the syllabus.Selecting optional remains more of an art and if you have to go by something then go by your interest in the subject alone,everything else should take a backseat.
Some of the basic factors that one must consider before zeroing down on an
1.Never choose a subject solely because everyone else is going for it.Consider your own interest and inclination for the subject especially if it is going to be your first optional as you will have to read it in much detail and get clarity of concepts.
2.The availability of resources in terms of books,guidance,coaching etc.For popular subjects ,resources are more easily available but it should be considered after you satisfy the first criterion.
3.Your subject in graduation or post-graduation should be considered if you are really comfortable with the subject.But do not go for it just because you have read it in college.
4.Once you decide on an optional ,fully back yourself to clear the exam with it no matter what others may say.In this exam individual performances only matter ,general trends count for little.
Finally, no optional is safe or unsafe despite what the coaching institutes or other experienced people might say.It is your preparation level which will determine whether the optional that you have selected will have one more successful/unsuccessful candidate.Listen to others,but do your own thing.All the very best !!!