Most IAS aspirants struggle with selecting the best optional topic for the IAS mains. For engineering aspirants, this is particularly true because engineering subjects are not covered in the General Studies papers.

If you are currently studying civil or mechanical or electrical engineering or have recently graduated, it is best to take your core subject as an optional so the experience would be relevant and up to date. This will save some time, which you will use to prepare for other GS exams.

Read how to choose a UPSC optional subject for software engineer aspirants in this article and score more than your previous attempt.

UPSC Exam Guide

Why Optional Subjects are Important in IAS Exam?

To know the answer to this question, one must first consider the pattern of civil service examination. The IAS exam is divided into three stages: Prelims, Mains, and Interview. The Final Merit List is based on the marks obtained in the Mains and the Interview.

To be included on the ultimate list of recommended applicants, a number of close to 50percent (Mains + Interview) is normally needed. Since the GS section in Mains is complex and detailed, it is critical from an exam standpoint to recognise key places that can earn more marks with fair effort.

In general, applicants who want to score top marks without getting entangled by the large UPSC syllabus should concentrate on three fields.

Interview: 275 marks

Essay: 250 marks

Optional: 500 marks

Also Read: What is the Language for Paper A in UPSC? Tips to Crack the Paper A in UPSC Mains

UPSC Optional Subject for Software Engineer

Based on your interests and experience levels, you can choose mathematics or physics/chemistry as an elective. It is harder to understand these subjects from the start, but unless you’re good at them in the past, you can still brush up on your skills. Maths is recommended and you’ll be able to handle it with relative ease if you have engineering experience. Perhaps, because civil service exams do not include computer engineering, you could be better off keeping math as an optional subject.

Ultimately, you will learn arts topics such as history, public policy, political science, and so on. Whether you like them and want to hear something different about them. They will even do you well in your GS exams. Note that a student with a science background will still study arts or humanities subjects, although the same is not always accurate.

Best UPSC Optional Subjects

Taking into account the most recent UPSC syllabus and IAS results, the best UPSC optional subjects are as follows:

Public Administration





Medical Science





UPSC Preparation Tips

Study the Whole Syllabus

The curriculum should be adequately protected. Regardless of previous patterns, no section can be taken for granted. UPSC may favour any component of the vast syllabus, so it’s best to be on the right track. A lot should be learned from the Old India section of the UPSC Prelims 2020.

Give Mock Tests

Since covering a significant amount of the syllabus, a sufficient number of mock assessments must be undertaken. The total of mocks should be kept to a minimum. Too many exams would rob your vital resources, and too few would leave you unprepared. Mock exams can only be issued in exam-like settings. It will be prudent to participate in just one regular Test Series. Post-test review is a must-do activity. High performance should not be accompanied by elation, and low performance should not be accompanied by annoyance. Simply run the sprint to constantly change yourself.

Always Revise

The Prelims syllabus is very extensive and dispersed. More than just coverage, it is critical to consolidate all of the data. As a result, revision should be both fair and timely. A delicate balance is needed in syllabus covering and revisions of the covered section.

The curriculum should be thoroughly scanned and prioritised. The section of the curriculum that is more evidence and fact-oriented must be reviewed several times before the test. Such sections should be saved for the final period revision to keep things fresh in the mind.

Make Notes

No UPSC syllabus can be protected effectively unless appropriate notes are taken. Notes should be rendered in a correct format such that aspirants can memorise and repeat them more easily. Notes must not be too many, and the intent of the notes should always be taken into account.

Also Read: What is Paper A and Paper B in UPSC? Important Things to know about the Civil Services Examination

Don’t Study a Lot of Topics Before a Month

The last month prior prelims should not be used to cover new material unless it is incredible and extremely necessary. The period should be reserved solely for revision. Mains should be conducted along with Prelims, but a proportion of time must be determined.

Take it Seriously

Doing it gently can have serious consequences. People that are totally new to CSAT should hold it at the same level as General Studies. However, even aspirants who are at a more advanced level can take it seriously. For the very least, previous years’ papers should not be overlooked.

Solve Previous Question Papers

Previous years question papers should double as a radar for your training, providing guidance and orientation. Past year journals, in addition to expanding your information base, aid in the formation of your mental outlook. This improves common sense and aids in the elimination of alternatives.

Stay Updated with Current Affairs

Non-orientation planning, on the other hand, has the potential to undermine the whole intent of Current Affairs. As a result, it is important to carve and confine the borders. One daily newspaper, one weekly magazine should be on your Current Affairs platter. Taking an exclusive current affairs program is a positive thing, but being too reliant on it can be a pointless exercise.


Always remember that too much diversity in study materials will mess up your entire preparation and will bring anxiety and stress during the last leg of preparation. Try to make a proper timetable to cover the whole syllabus. And don’t pick your optional subject casually as this subject can be very beneficial for you. Choose a subject which is your strength and acquire good marks like a bonus.

Find some more UPSC information in the blog section of UPSC Pathshala.

Also Read: Best Books for Ethics UPSC: Which Book is Good for Ethics Integrity and Aptitude?

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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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