There is no such thing as “best optional subject for UPSC.” It is a myth. You must be interested in the subject, the most critical criteria accepted by many successful and aspiring candidates. However, in the initial stages of preparation, it is challenging to select your area of interest.

Some Ways to Narrow Down your Choices are:

  1. Choose between Science and Humanities. Irrespective of which stream you graduated from, choose a stream that will drag your interest for the entire duration of your preparation before you choose the best optional subject for UPSC.
  2. Narrow your choice by eliminating the topics you don’t want to pursue. Look at the list of optional subjects in UPSC CSE notification, and discard a few of them that you have zero interest in. There is a long list of 25 options available, excluding the regional options. Make a list of straight away rejects from this list.
  3. Now, if you have a list of 8-10 options, go through the syllabus, previous examination papers, and availability of useful study material and coaching to evaluate the level of difficulty. With a bit of research, you will narrow down your choices further.
  4. If you have narrowed your choices to two-three subjects, start going through the NCERT Books of class 6 to class 12. This should help you choose the best optional subject for UPSC you are interested in and comfortable with and help you score.

UPSC Optional Subjects List

While English, General Studies, essay, and Indian language are compulsory subjects for the UPSC exam, candidates can undertake 25 optional subjects. UPSC optional subject syllabus is listed below:

  • Agricultural
  • Veterinary and animal husbandry
  • Botany
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Law
  • History
  • Civil engineering
  • Accountancy and commerce
  • Management
  • Mathematics

All of these subjects are crucial, as they are deemed to be UPSC mains optional subjects. The candidates need to select them as per their educational strength and interest.

The underlying graph below shows the success rate of choosing optional subjects in the year 2016 for UPSC. The graph shows the candidates’ success rate scoring good numbers in literature  or language subjects like Assamese, Punjabi, Gujarati, Kannada, Urdu, etc.

Also Read : UPSC Maths Optional Syllabus: Check-out the Updated Syllabus for UPSC 2021

How to Determine the Best Optional Subject for UPSC?

“Best optional subject for UPSC” can only be determined by individual choice and interest. Choosing an optional UPSC subject is indeed a tough job for the aspirants, as the marks gained in the optional paper decide the overall rank.

The aspirants can only determine the best optional subject for UPSC. It must be chosen, considering several factors like their interest, educational qualification, and knowledge about that subject. A candidate should choose a subject on which they are confident enough to score well.

Best Optional Subjects for IAS for Engineering Students

IAS’s best optional subject mainly consists of geography, public administration, political science, psychology, history, and sociology. However, it is mostly advisable for engineers to look for core topics such as electrical, civil engineering, and Mechanical engineering. For IAS aspirants with an engineering background, it is mostly advisable to stick with the core subjects. This will work a great deal of progress shortly for the experience if they get selected from the examinations.

There are greater chances of scoring enhanced marks on the course subjects then pursuing others. UPSC examinations are conducted with intricate ideas about the particular subject that has been selected by the candidates. This almost works like an algorithm, and hence the selection of the best course of subjects is necessary for generating better scores.

Hence, all the engineering students should undertake the subjects they have their core expertise from the IAS optional list. Mostly it is preferable to undertake civil engineering since it is one of the most basic forms of engineering subjects that are being undertaken.

Best Optional Subject for UPSC in Hindi Medium Students

Most of the students appearing for the UPSC examination come from the Hindi-medium background as well. The most preferable subjects to be considered by the Hindi medium students for their UPSC mains would be literature in which they are comfortable. Apart from this, history and philosophy can also be preferred by the students. In terms of literature, regional languages such as Hindi, Sanskrit, Maithili, and Urdu are available.

These are the subjects with which Hindi medium students are most prolific. This will help them in scoring better marks, and also it will be from their core expertise. They are able to gather better information and score higher marks for the literature-based topics. The candidates must only select available literature subjects if they are sure about their proficiency in them.

Otherwise, political science is an excellent option that can be undertaken by Hindi medium students. This is the basic course of subjects which are taught to every student from every medium. They are also easy to understand, and there are many online materials available for political science due to which scoring better grades can become very seamless.

Easiest Optional Subject in UPSC

The literature-based subjects are easy to understand, and in case someone is proficient in the regional language, they can undertake the literature-based topic for their examinations. Apart from these. Topics like geography, sociology, and public administration are also scoring.

Again, it depends on the candidates what they find easier. While selecting the optional subjects, it is essential to go through the list several times before making the final decision. Candidates should choose those subjects on which they are sure to get accessibility to good books and resources, past year question papers, faculty availability, and others.


UPSC is one of India’s most prestigious and most challenging competitive exams, and cracking it one go is indeed an outstanding feat to achieve. However, most of us make it after several attempts, but this shouldn’t stop participating.

The only strategic factor about UPSC success is choosing the right subject in the mains after clearing the preliminary level. Apart from this, a candidate needs to give full-time devotion to studies and research work and fully prepare to pass the examination with flying colors. Nothing can stop one from clearing the finals, only if they have the right motivation and urge to achieve the most challenging feat.
Stay tuned for more updates on the Best Optional Subject for UPSC.

Also Read : Best Career Options after 12th: Science PCM PCB Medical Commerce

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Which is the Best Optional Subject For UPSC? Here's the Guide to Choose the Most Scoring Optional for UPSC
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Which is the Best Optional Subject For UPSC? Here's the Guide to Choose the Most Scoring Optional for UPSC
Wondering which is the best optional subject for UPSC? This guide is all you need for choosing your UPSC mains optional subject. Read to know more.
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