(Getting Started) Selection of Optional Subjects for UPSC Exams


(Getting Started) Selection of Optional Subjects for UPSC Exams

Under the scheme of UPSC examination; aspirants need to select optional subjects in the UPSC Mains Written examination. Earlier in the older pattern of examination aspirants had to select one optional subject in the Preliminary examination also. Selection of option subject one of the toughest nuts to crack. One can say this is door to final selection. The very much selection of the candidate is depend on this selection. Nowadays competition involved in the civil services exam has been on rising. This huddle of competition will only pass through proper planning, hard work, perseverance and patience. Selection of optional is comes under proper planning. The selection of optional subjects must be done most carefully, if it goes wrong, everything will go in vain. In the field of this battle choosing optional is half won. Normally candidates select that optional subject in which they are familiar with, or have at least studied till graduate level. This is not hard and fast rule anybody can select any subject from the 23 optional subjects but its better in the candidate that they should be judious while selecting optional subject.

If you are not comfortable with the subject, you should NOT select the subject as an optional.

In our opinion optional subject should be chosen on the basis of own interest in that subject and performance of subject in previous few years as scoring pattern, candidate got qualified from that optional etc. Availability of UPSC study material in that optional will also taken into account. Any optional subject may be evaluated on the basis of a number of parameters. These parameters are: some optional are considered scoring while others are preferred for their relevancy, relevant in either the General Studies paper or in the essay. Some candidates are chosen optional for their comparatively short, clearly defined syllabus. Availability and access of good and study material is yet another consideration.

There is a vast choice of optional subject. There are 23 optional subjects available to choose for the aspirants. By the stream the whole optional may be broadly categorised as science subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology; Humanities subjects like History, Political Science, Public Administration, Geography and Sociology; and languages like Hindi, English, Urdu, and Pali. The UPSC also allows for subjects like Anthropology, Psychology and Philosophy.

Among the optional subjects Geography, History, Psychology, Sociology, Public Administration etc has been widely selected, the very reason for this is the nature of subject, any candidates those not having special or additional educational qualifications have been doing reasonably well, whereas the optional subjects like Mathematics, Physics, and Engineering are considered as tougher subjects and the candidates with exceptionally good preparation only may expect to do well.

History is one of the optional subjects which are widely selected by the aspirants. Because of the nature and resources available in the market this subject has been chosen as safe optional subject. One of the other reason that candidates select this optional because it is easy to grasp, it doesn’t matter what your background is you can easily understand and do well in this optional.

Public Administration is another subject which is popular among aspirants. Public Administration can also be coupled with other optional like History or Sociology etc. This optional also covers significant areas of the General Studies papers. This optional subject does not require any previous background in the subject this is added advantage.

Philosophy is another subject that may be taken with other humanities subjects. This subject maybe coupled with Political Science or Sociology as there are several similarities between them. It is also very useful for the essay papers. The subject has been considered as scoring one and also requires no previous background.

Geography is another optional that is open to candidates from varied academic backgrounds. The nature of the optional is objective - with its tables and maps – it makes it highly scoring.

Economics is another optional that is often eschewed by candidates as it is considered as a difficult subject. However in the past Economics has helped some students topped the rank list.

One subject is Sociology, which is very useful in the "social issues" section of the General Studies paper and in answering essay questions.


However, it is believes that the primary criteria should not be the nature of the subject or whether it is comprehended as scoring or not.

Student interest in the subject should be given predominant importance. It should be correctly understood that any optional can be scoring if the student approaches it strategically and systematically.

Printed Study Material for IAS Pre General Studies (Paper-1)

UPSC MAINS General Studies all 4 Papers Notes


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