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Which is the best optional subject for UPSC Civil Services Examination as Per the Latest Civil services Pattern?

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 31, Dec 2021
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How to choose right optional subject for you?

The decision of selection of the IAS Mains Optional is a conundrumfor all UPSC aspirants.

As per the latest Pattern of UPSC, the number of optional subjects to be selected is reduced to one, but aspirants are still confused if they make the right choice or not.

UPSC/IAS Exam comprises of three steps –Prelims, Mains and Interview. Amongst these three stages, the Mains Examination is the most important because it comprises approximately 86% marks of the total marks (1750 Marks out of total of 2025 Marks).

Best time to choose Optional in UPSC Exam

In the new pattern of UPSC General Studies (GS) is much more important. So, don’t take quick decision in this regard.

First start preparing for G.S syllabus & solve Previous year paper and then after 2 or 3 months take this decision.

because in all GS papers you there is part of optional subjects like History, Geography, Public Administration, Political Science and Sociology. This will help you to identify your interest to a particular optional subject. Every subject has its own demand (i.e. thinking pattern, writing style, presentation techniques etc).

Selecting an overlapping optional with General Studies is a good strategy, as the time required to study an optional subject as per GS syllabus can be saved.

Important point to remember before choosing an IAS Optional

  • Try to identify your Interest and understanding in the optional subject
  • Analysis of the syllabus and previous years’ question papers of the selected subjects
  • Subject with easy availability of study materials like books and notes
  • Optional for which one good coaching is available
  • Subject with some previous base in graduation or post-graduation, take into consideration factors your own academic background
  • Optional with the best results in the IAS exam
  • Writing style and presentation techniques suitable for that particular optional (about which you will know once you start writing for GS and essay)
the number of candidates selecting each optional for IAS mains 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).
Optional Subject The approximate number of candidates selecting each Optional Subject in IAS Mains
Geography Around 3000
History Around 1500
Public Administration Around 1500
Sociology Around 1500
Philosophy + Psychology + Political Science + Economics+ Anthropology <3000
All other science/art subjects
(in total)
All literature subjects
(in total)
Total Around 12,000-15000
  • The above chart is just indicative in nature as the trend varies every year.
  • There is nothing like good or bad optional, lengthy and small optional, these perceptions vary from person to person depending upon individual situation and capabilities.
  • No optional is scoring or not scoring, it all depends upon how you have prepared it.