optional subjects details

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.

  1. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  2. Anthropology
  3. Botany
  4. Chemistry
  5. Civil Engineering
  6. Commerce and Accountancy
  7. Economics
  8. Electrical Engineering
  9. Geography
  10. Geology
  11. History
  12. Law
  13. Management
  14. Mathematics
  15. Mechanical Engineering
  16. Medical Science
  17. Philosophy
  18. Physics
  19. Political Science and International Relations
  20. Psychology
  21. Public Administration
  22. Sociology
  23. Statistics
  24. Zoology
  25. Literature of anyone the following language:Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, English.
  26. Agriculture

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%
TOTAL Around 15000

IAS Mains Optional: Basis of Selection

Your selection of the optional subject for IAS should be based on the following criteria:
  • 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.
The four papers of General Studies are divided as mentioned below
  • 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?

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.

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