The UPSC examination offers a wide range of optional subjects for the aspirants to choose from. In order to secure higher marks, it is important to carefully choose a suitable UPSC optional subject. The subject should be scoring and it helps if it has a small syllabus. The syllabus for the optional papers will be more than the bachelor’s degree and lower than the master’s level. Each optional subject for IAS comprises of two papers each of 250 marks, making it a total of 500 marks.
Your selection of the optional subject for IAS should be based on the following criteria:
The four papers of General Studies are divided as mentioned below –
The decision of UPSC Optional subject is very important. You need to select an optional subject in which you are comfortable to score high in UPSC mains. The level of comfort depends on many factors like the – familiarity of the subject, availability of books and other study materials, availability of faculty, the scope of peer discussion, recent trends of marks, the level of difficulty as per the syllabus and previous question papers etc.
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.
In order to select the best optional, the first criteria should be the interest towards the subject. When an aspirant is interested in learning the subject, the process becomes much easier.
The syllabus and the requirement for coaching should be considered next. An optional with a limited syllabus is ideal since it will take lesser time for preparation and will have a chance of scoring higher marks. With a small and limited syllabus, it is possible to cover the subject within a period of 5-6 months. If the syllabus is limited, there will be a lesser requirement for coaching. Even if the candidate opts for coaching for the subject, the time period will remain between 3-4 months, which means there will be more time to prepare for the other papers. The decision to choose a particular UPSC optional subject should never be based on the popularity.
Coaching also plays a significant role in the selection of the optional subject for IAS. The aspirant will have to determine if coaching for the subject is easily available or not.
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.
Do not blindly choose your favourite subject without having a look at the syllabus. It might be your favourite subject but it could have an extensive syllabus which will take up a lot of your time for preparation. Look for other options and analyze the syllabus before making an informed decision.
Another trick is to choose two options which are related to one another. This will allow you to relate the concepts and also make the process of preparation easier. Any option you choose will help you in the GS paper. The GS paper forms the crux of the examination and the time you spent in preparing for the optional will also help you prepare for the specific subject of GS. GS covers various topics and requires a thorough knowledge of the same.
This is the complete list of UPSC Optional subjects for civil services main examination. You have to opt for any one subject.
Selecting the Optional subject is a tricky task. Here are a few tips to help you choose
Though the number of candidates selecting each Civil Services Mains Optional can vary year to year, the below table gives an average estimate for the coming years based on past year trends of optional subjects (as per latest syllabus).
The Mains Exam consists of 2 qualifying papers –
The latest pattern along with the marking scheme is as follows –
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.
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