A Detailed Guide to Choosing the Best Optional Subject for UPSC Exam

 

optional-subject-in-UPSC

The decision of selecting a UPSC Optional Subject is a deep-rooted situation for civil services aspirants. According to the latest syllabus, the number of optional subjects for UPSC to be chosen is reduced to one. This naturally leads aspirants to wonder what the Best Optional Subject for UPSC could be.

In spite of the fact that the weightage of the optional paper is just 500 marks out of 2025 marks according to the most recent pattern of UPSC Civil Services exam, it is still an integral factor in the final ranks because of the inconsistency related to General Studies Papers (1000 marks GS + 250 marks essay) and Interview (275 marks).

1. How Important is the Decision of Choosing IAS Mains alternative?

With newspaper reading and note-making tendencies, the choice of IAS mains optional won’t play a major difference in your outcomes. Be that as it may, lamentably not very many aspirants fall into the “strong GS” category of students and it is difficult to get into the club without serious long-term preparation.

The choice of IAS mains optional is exceptionally crucial. You have to choose an alternative subject in which you are comfortable to score high in UPSC mains.

The level of comfort relies upon numerous elements like the familiarity of the subject, accessibility of books and other examination materials, availability of staff, recent trends of marks, the scope of peer discussion, the level of difficulty according to the syllabus and previous question papers and so on.

Important Thing to Keep in Mind

In the event that the subject you took for graduation is available in the rundown of subjects given, in most cases, a similar alternative will turn out as a comfortable option. All others (who don’t have a choice for an alternative subject), search for an alternative subject which you can complete in a period bound way without encroaching the time for GS preparation.

Also Read: What are Endogenic and Exogenic Forces? IAS Geography Notes

2. Important Steps to Consider for Choosing the Optional Subject

  • First, go through the list of all the optional subjects (the list is provided below). Read the names of the subjects over and over again for the time period of 15 minutes.
  • Now backpedal to your school and college days. Take into consideration your most favourite subjects at that point. Think about every subject in which you exceeded expectations, in which subject you showed more interest, in which subject you got great marks.
  • Now come to the present. See which parts of news you are more interested in. Think which subjects of GS you like more. A few people like history, some like polity/ sociology and continue pursuing those books as though they are doing masters in those topics. Consider short-listing them as your alternative subject.
  • Some individuals likewise have a pastime of reading the literature of their mother language.

List of UPSC Optional Subjects:

Sl. No.

Optional Subject

Number of candidates appeared

No. of candidates recommended

Success Rate

1

Agriculture

220

41

18.6

2

Medical Science

98

16

16.3

3

Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science

65

8

12.3

4

Economics

326

37

11.3

5

Psychology

1061

116

10.9

6

Anthropology

345

37

10.7

7

Public Administration

3201

337

10.5

8

Political Science

1320

85

6.4

9

Geography

4049

236

5.8

10

Sociology

1555

89

5.7

Recommended Topics by Previous UPSC Aspirants

Following the above mentioned 10 best optional subjects, below mentioned are the other subjects that are taken as alternative by aspirants who appeared for the UPSC 2016 Exam and were recommended:

Sl. No.

Optional Subject

Number of candidates appeared

No. of candidates recommended

Success Rate

1

Chemistry

124

7

5.6

2

Commerce and Accountancy

266

15

5.6

3

History

3870

212

5.5

4

Law

365

19

5.2

5

Philosophy

2092

84

4

6

Zoology

484

18

3.7

7

Mathematics

277

8

2.9

Top Literature Subjects as Optional

Additionally, there were numerous applicants who chose literature as their optional subject, however, few literature subjects made it in the 10 best optional, read through to know the top literature subjects as optional.

Sl. No.

Literature Optional Subject

Number of candidates appeared

No. of candidates recommended

Success Rate

1

Assamese

5

2

40

2

Punjabi

19

5

26.3

3

Gujarati

42

7

16.7

4

Kannada

84

14

16.7

5

Marathi

42

7

16.7

6

English

40

6

15

7

Urdu

29

4

13.8

8

Tamil

225

29

12.9

9

Sanskrit

122

10

8.2

10

Malayalam

67

5

7.5

11

Pali

255

18

7.1

12

Telugu

147

9

6.1

13

Hindi

974

56

5.7

3. How to Shortlist from the Initial List of Optional Subjects

  1. Based on the above-mentioned criteria, prepare a list of 4-5 subjects that you think you have interest in.
  2. Now, go through the syllabus of each alternative subject. Read all topics precisely. Underline/ highlight the points that you think you know something about or have some interest in the syllabus of each shortlisted optional subject.
  3. Now go through the previous year question papers (3-4 years) of the shortlisted subjects. Read all the questions. Then again, measure yourself the level of interest you have or the knowledge you hold to answer each question. It’s just to know yourself how compatible you are with a subject, don’t stress on the off chance that you don’t know the answer to any question.

Two More Steps to Shortlist

  1. Finally, the availability of materials and guidance through training matters a lot. For a few papers, it is hard to get standard books, for some subjects coaching may not be available. Non-technical subjects can be prepared by doing self-study provided you consistently work on writing.
  2. By now you will have a reasonable picture of choosing between 2-3 papers. For instance, if you are from the engineering background and especially good at your engineering subjects, in the meantime if you have broadly read the literature of your native language, might be since your childhood, you will be in quandary to select between these two subjects.

Other Factors that Matters While Shortlisting

In this scenario, the ‘success rate’ counts. Generally, literature subjects have performed well in all years. You may wind up choosing literature of your native language as your alternative paper. It’s a decent choice.

For a few people who have worked in a big organization, Public Administration is a great choice and in fact, it has been the most prevalent option with working aspirants or with the individuals who have quit their jobs.

Medical students may settle on Medical Science, Zoology or Anthropology as these papers are related to their field.

The choice of selecting the alternative is an individual decision of every competitor as indicated by his/ her qualities and shortcomings. In any case, only the aspirant knows his/ her strengths, weaknesses, taste, and availability of study materials.

Also Read: Understanding the Different Dimensions and Branches of Ethics: Ethics for UPSC

Top 10 Optional Subjects for UPSC IAS Exam

After analyzing the above data, here is the list of the best optional subjects for UPSC.

  • Agriculture
  • Medical Science
  • Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science
  • Economics
  • Chemistry
  • Commerce and Accountancy
  • History
  • Law
  • Psychology
  • Literature Subject (Any)

Conclusion

At last, what makes a difference is the measure you love the subject. If at all you love every point in it, then it is the ‘One’ you should go along. Not with the ‘best’ or ‘the most popular’ ones.

The rules and statistics mentioned above may enable you to illuminate a couple of your questions. IAS Aspirants’ who will take the UPSC 2021 exam or any year in future can go through the rundown as they have time left to settle on which optional subject to pick and then to go ahead with their UPSC Preparation.

Do the research and settle on the best choice. All the best!

Summary
Article Name
A Detailed Guide to Choosing the Best Optional Subject for UPSC Exam
Description
Understand the best optional subject for the UPSC exam before you regret. Here is the step by step guide to making this crucial task of choosing the optional subjects, easier for you.
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UPSC Pathshala
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