UPSC Optional Subjects – Choose the Best Optional Subjects for IAS
Candidates preparing for IAS exam have a huge dilemma on How to choose my optional subjects? Many aspirant have the confusion whether I need to choose my optional based on my graduation subject or I need to choose the popular optional subjects which have good success rates. Apart from this, candidates gets numerous inputs and suggestions from seniors and mentors. To address such issues we have come up with this article.
List of Optional Subjects
This is the complete list of UPSC Optional subjects for civil services main examination. You have to opt for any one subject.
Best Optional Subjects for IAS Mains
|S. No||Optional||Number of Applicants||Success rate in 2014||Success rate in 2015||Success rate in 2016|
|1.||History||3000 +/- 50||8.3%||7.7%||6.5%|
|2.||Geography||3000 +/- 50||7.2%||5.6%||9.8%|
|3.||Public Administration||3000 +/- 50||5.1%||6.2%||5.3%|
|4.||Sociology||3000 +/- 50||9.2%||9.1%||10.6%|
|5.||Philosophy + Psychology + Political Science + Economics||2000-3000||Avg above 10%||Avg above 10%||Avg above 10%|
|6.||All other science/art subjects (in total)||1000-1500||Avg above 12%||Avg above 12%||Avg above 12%|
|7.||All Other Literature Subjects||Less than 1000||Avg above 5%||Avg above 5%||Avg above 5%|
IAS Mains Optional: Basis of Selection
- Specifically defined and comparatively small syllabus.
- Easy availability of study material.
- Interesting and short subject material.
- Scoring nature of the subject.
- Availability of experienced guidance.
- Paper-I - General Studies-I - 250 Marks - (Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the World and Society).
- Paper-II - General Studies-II - 250 Marks - (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations).
- Paper-III - General Studies-III - 250 Marks - (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management).
- Paper-IV - General Studies-IV - 250 Marks - (Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude).
How important is the Decision of UPSC Optional?
If the subject you took for graduation is available in the list of subjects given, in most cases the same option will turn out as a comfortable option. You can also look for an optional subject which you can finish in a time-bound manner without disturbing the time for GS preparation.
A lot of candidates choose an optional subject because it is considered as a scoring subject. The score should not be the sole criteria for making a choice. Depending on the interest of the individual, the optional subjects for IAS should be shortlisted. Based on the shortlisted subject, the candidate should take a thorough look at the syllabus of the respective optional subjects for IAS.
Factors Affecting Choice of Optional
Interest towards the Subject
Availability of Coaching and Reference Materials
In addition to coaching, the availability of reference books should also be considered. Every subject will require extensive reading and preparation, hence the optional subject for IAS should be chosen after considering all the aspects.
Obsessiveness with Favourite Subject
An Overlapping Optional with GS
How to Select Best Optional Subject for IAS
- First go through the list of all the optional subjects for IAS thoroughly. Invest a lot of time in reading and understanding the syllabus.
- Think about your favourite subjects. Think about the subjects you excelled in, in which subject you showed more interest and the subject on which you scored the most.
- Now contemplate your current situation. See which areas of news you are more interested in. Think which topics of General Studies interest you. Some people like history, some like polity, some sociology, so on and so forth. Think of shortlisting them as your optional subjects for IAS.
- Based on above criteria, make a list of 4 UPSC optional subjects which captivate your interest and which will keep you hooked until the very end of your preparation.
- Now go through the previous year question papers (at least 3 years) of the shortlisted subjects. Read all the questions.
- Test yourself on the level of interest you have or the knowledge you possess in order to be able to answer each question. It will help you understand your level of comfort with the subject.
- After these steps, you will be able to make the right choice of optional subject for IAS.
IAS Mains Optional: What to avoid?
- It is important to not choose a subject because a friend or a family member suggested it.
- Do not opt for an optional just because it is what most of the aspirants have chosen.
- Candidates have managed to clear the exam in every optional and not a so-called high scoring optional.
- Do not make your decision based on the option chosen for the past year toppers.
Civil Services Mains Pattern in Detail
- One is English and the other is a paper on any of the enlisted Indian languages. Both carry 300 marks each. However, their marks are NOT taken into account in the main examination.
- According to the new pattern, there are 4 General Studies papers, each comprising of 250 marks with a total of 1000 Marks.
Civil Services Mains Pattern & Marking Scheme
|1||Indian Language (Qualifying)||300|
|4||General Studies I||250|
|5||General Studies II||250|
|6||General Studies III||250|
|7||General Studies IV||250|
|8||Optional Subject Paper 1||250|
|9||Optional Subject Paper 1||250|
|Interview (Personality Test)||275|
Thus, the Main examination has 9 papers. All of them are subjective in nature.
Thus, it can be rightly concluded that choosing an optional subject for IAS should be based on an individual s interest and liking for a subject. There is no ideal optional subject to clear the examination; it always depends on the dedication in terms of preparation for the exam. The optional subject should be chosen keeping in mind your knowledge base and interest in the particular subject area.