On January 16, 2022, the UPSC Mains 2021 Optional Subject examination was conducted. This year’s optional exam was reported to be easier than the previous year by candidates. Furthermore, the candidates found the paper to be a little longer, but it was still within their cognitive abilities.

Other papers, such as GS 1, 2, 3, 4, were said to be tougher than the optionals. Picking the correct option from a plethora of subjects is a challenging task, and gearing up for it better than the others is even more tricky.

UPSC Optional Paper 2021 1 & 2

The UPSC aspirants can choose from the following optional subjects

S No Subject
1 Anthropology
2 Agriculture
3 Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
4 Botany
5 Chemistry
6 Civil Engineering
7 Commerce
8 Economics
9 Electrical Engineering
10 Geography
11 Geology
12 Indian History
13 Law
14 Mathematics
15 Management
16 Mechanical Engineering
17 Medical Science
18 Philosophy
19 Physics
20 Political Science
21 Psychology
22 Public Administration
23 Sociology
24 Statistics
25 Zoology

Also Read: Highest Scoring Optional in UPSC: List of IAS Toppers with Optional Subjects

UPSC Optional Subjects (Language)

The UPSC aspirants can choose from the following language optional subjects

S.no Subjects
1 Assamese
2 Bengali
3 Bodo
4 Dogri
5 Gujarati
6 Hindi
7 Kannada
8 Kashmiri
9 Konkani
10 Maithili
11 Malayalam
12 Manipuri
13 Marathi
14 Nepali
15 Oriya
16 Punjabi
17 Sanskrit
18 Santhali
19 Sindhi
20 Tamil
21 Telugu
22 Urdu
23 English

The UPSC Mains 2021 optional paper consists of two 250-mark papers that candidates can take in any of the languages in the table above. This paper is extremely useful for candidates looking to make up for marks lost in the first four papers. As a result, experts advise that this paper be carefully targeted.

Optional Paper Analysis & Strategy

When comparing the person’s performance in the GS papers, experts recommend a 52-55 percent score in the optional. These papers are very important in balancing the applicants’ final scores.

Applicants must revise or brush up on current events topics before making an appearance for the Optional paper. This implies they must reassess all theories based on events in the last six months.

They must also hold some examples on hand to back up their theories. Experts advise candidates to only go over their most complex topics on the final day of preparation and not study a single word before the test on the official date.

Candidates spend the entire year having studied their optional subject, so they should be confident in it as well. Feeling insecure and underestimating oneself leads to mistakes.

Also Read: Which Optional Subject is Easy for UPSC? Choose the Most Suitable UPSC Optional Subject! 

How to Choose Optional Subject UPSC?

It is strongly encouraged to all candidates that while selecting a topic, they should not consider the score. Instead, they should select a subject that possesses the aforementioned attributes, and bear in mind that these aspects may change from one aspirant to the next.

When you understand the curriculum and have enough writing experience, nothing will stand in your way of obtaining high grades.

The fact that applicants who passed the UPSC exam and performed well in the optional topics demonstrate that not only popular courses are equally scoring. Choosing a subject only on the basis of the scoring criteria is thus improper. If you are still unsure about which topic to choose, you can take guidance from UPSC Pathshala.

Top Scoring Optional Subjects

Aspirants should proceed cautiously when selecting optional subjects because it will affect their overall performance on the UPSC exam. The most scoring subjects in UPSC are shown here.

#1. Political Science & International Relations

There are several reasons why this is regarded as one of the highest-scoring and finest optional courses in the UPSC.

The subject is readily comprehended by everyone and does not require a background in political science, but having one will undoubtedly give you an advantage. You will have some knowledge of every subject presented in the test if you have a fundamental understanding, keep up with current events, and read editorials on a daily basis.

This subject is highly gratifying for people who enjoy writing because it needs explaining information in a unique manner. A number of questions are nearly like essays or need you to describe certain concepts, thus solid writing abilities will come in handy.

Also Read: Check out the Best Timetable to Ace the Upcoming UPSC IAS Exam

#2. Anthropology

Anthropology is regarded as one of the top UPSC optional subjects. Because of the grading nature of this curriculum, it is increasingly being picked by candidates. Because none of the toppers in the last ten years chose anthropology as an optional, a percentage of students from other ranks did and received great marks.

If you’re wondering what anthropology is, it’s the study of human communities and their development. To be more exact, anthropology is the study of human evolution, including biological and physiological characteristics.

Everyone will tell you that the syllabus is quite condensed. But don’t be deceived by this statement. Despite its well-defined subject, public administration is all about viewpoints. The same issue might be viewed via various lenses, which necessitates a significant amount of reading and comprehension.

Mucking around will not be as beneficial as conceptual clarity. The topics are intertwined, and the questions might be tough at times.

#3. Sociology

Aspirants who have already completed some fundamentals in Sociology may find Sociology to be a high-scoring optional subject in the UPSC exam. What exactly is sociology? It is the study of societal patterns, social relationships, civilizations, and so on. It is another high-scoring and excellent topic in the UPSC Mains. It is also one of the most straightforward subjects presented by the UPSC. Because it has always been a decision among applicants, there is a wealth of literature and advice available on the issue.

Having ready-to-read information is really beneficial in any topic and saves a lot of time. You will also benefit from the strategies and expertise of individuals who took it as an elective.

#4. Public Administration

Since its inclusion in the Mains optional category in 1987, Public Administration has grown in popularity and is a popular choice among applicants. This topic also has a greater success percentage than certain other non-technical disciplines. All of this naturally makes it one of the highest-scoring and finest optional subjects in UPSC.

It is extremely important for your future career as an administrator. Topics in Paper I such as Accountability, Organizations, Personnel & Financial Administration, and so on, as well as the full subject matter of Paper-II (Indian Administration), will be valuable in understanding the environment you will ultimately be a part of. As a result, the issue becomes highly practical and relevant.

This paper’s topic overlaps with the Polity & Governance Paper in General Studies. Finding such convergence in papers is really advantageous because it saves you time and effort while also providing adequate material and distinct viewpoints to create superior responses in both disciplines.

#5. Philosophy

It is the study of knowledge, ethics, existence, mind, and language, among other things. According to the UPSC test, Philosophy had a 7 percent success rate in 2015-16, which was higher than History, Public Administration, Geography, and Political Science.

The most significant argument for selecting philosophy as being one of the top courses in UPSC should be your passion for it. When studying Indian philosophy, If you are interested in the ideas of famous Indians as well as international philosophers, this is the topic for you. If you have a passion for it, it is a really fulfilling, informative, and intriguing subject. And when you do, no one can stop you from getting a great score here.

#6. Geography

Most applicants select Geography as their optional subject since it is the highest-scoring choice in UPSC and the most preferred among aspirants. There were a number of toppers with this subject last year as well.

Geography is a fascinating blend of technical and non-technical topics, which makes it attractive among students with both arts and scientific backgrounds.

There is a wealth of knowledge on Indian and global geography available both online and offline. There is a lot of reading material available on geography because it is one of the greatest courses for the UPSC Mains exam.

Less time intensive because the majority of the material is already covered in GS. This implies you’ll be reading the same themes over and over again. Rereading will aid in the memory of essential terminology and concepts.


If you’re still wondering what the highest scoring subjects for the UPSC exam are, you should know that there is no right answer; there is just the appropriate match for each individual.

We’ve given you a few things to think about before deciding on an optional subject. Think about them and then make a decision based on what you genuinely desire. It is preferable to rely on your own judgment rather than what previous toppers did.

Whatever optional subject you select, keep in mind that it is your commitment and efforts that will turn it into a scoring subject. So, once you’ve decided on your subject, stay with it and pursue it zealously. You will almost certainly obtain favorable outcomes.

Also Read: Overview of UPSC Optional Subject Anthropology: Know the Syllabus & Important Topics

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UPSC Mains 2021 Optional Paper: Top 6 Scoring UPSC Optional Subjects
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UPSC Mains 2021 Optional Paper: Top 6 Scoring UPSC Optional Subjects
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About the Author

Madhurjya Chowdhury

Madhurjya Chowdhury, a web content writer in Ufaber EduTech has a very strong passion for writing and alluring the readers. You can find him writing articles for the betterment of exam aspirants and children. With immense interest in research-based content writing and copywriting, he likes to reach out to more and more people with his creative writing style. On the other side, he is an Electronics and Communication Engineer from LPU, Jalandhar. In his leisure time, he likes to play badminton or read about space discoveries. Apart from this, he is a pro gamer on PC, PS and Mobile gaming platforms.

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