How To Choose the Right Optional Subject For IAS Exam?

September 15, 2021

After taking the decision that you will attempt for the civil services Exam the very next question comes in your mind is which optional you will choose?
Which is the best optional ?
Why choosing a right option is crucial ?
Optional papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) of the Mains Examination carry 500 marks together which is almost 25% of the total marks (2025) of the written and personality tests put together.

So, with so much weightage, the options can be a deal maker or a deal-breaker.

-If you’d have analysed the General Studies marks of a particular year’s topper and the person who’d scored the 100th rank, the range of their marks will not be at much variance. Toppers become toppers through their Optional subject and the Essay paper. Best UPSC Coaching in Indore is helping you here to choose right option subject for your IAS exam.

How to choose a right optional?

First go through the list of all the Optional Subjects. Read the names of the subjects again and again and try to have an idea about them.

-You try to scan and select an optional subject which you have studied thoroughly during your Graduation ,PG Level .

– You should select an optional subject which in which you are highly comfortable and in this you have in-depth interest .

– The level of comfort depends on multiple factors like the – familiarity of the subject, availability of books and other study materials, availability of faculty, the scope of peer discussion, the level of difficulty as per the syllabus and previous question papers etc.

– You also keep an eye on optional subject which in recent years have a high success rate .

You should select an optional subject which has a good overlap with GS.

In this case if you study the optional it means you study the GS.
– Make a short list of 4-5 subjects that you think you have interest in.

– During the process also go through the syllabus of short listed optional and previous 5 years papers .

– Find out the availability of materials and guidance in the form of upsc coaching matters a lot. For some subjects it is difficult to get standard books, for some coaching may not be available.

– So when you select the optional subject, Be Clear & Go Through the Syllabus.
Have UPSC Toppers of various years belonged to the same subject?

Analysing previous year records, it can be seen that the optional subject chosen by UPSC toppers were all different.

In 2013, All India Rank 1, Gaurav Agrawal opted for Economics.
In 2014, the topper Ira Singhal chose Geography as her optional subject.
In 2015, Political Science was the optional subject of Tina Dabi, the topper then.
In 2016, Nandini KR secured top rank with Kannada Literature as her optional subject.
In 2017, Anthropology was the optional subject of Anudeep Durishetty.
In 2018, Kanishak Kataria secured the top position opting for Mathematics as his optional subject.
In 2019 ,Topper Pradeep sing opting for public administration as an optional subject.
Should I take an Optional which overlaps with G. S. syllabus?

Selecting an overlapping optional with General Studies is a good strategy, as the time required to study an optional subject is equal to time spent for GS . However, is subjected to discussions as above.

Take the case of Rachit Raj, UPSC 2013 Rank 3, who scored exceptionally well with Zoology optional. There are also many who made it to the top with optional subjects like Medical Science or Law.

None of these overlaps with GS syllabus as subjects like History or Geography do.
What are the Do not’s while choosing an optional?

-Don’t take an overlapping optional if you are weak in it, there is every chance that it can turn counterproductive.

-Don’t take an optional subject which requires extensive preparation, if the time left before you is limited (say less than 4 months)

-DO not take an option whose success rate is currently struggling.
What are the most popular optional subjects-

The number of candidates selecting optional for IAS mains do vary from year to year, the below table gives an average general approximate estimate.

Optional Subject

The approximate number of candidates selecting each Optional Subject in IAS Mains

Geography : Approximately 3000

History : Around 1500

Public Administration : Approximately 1500

Sociology : Around 1500

Philosophy + Psychology + Political Science + Economics+ Anthropology :
<3000

All other science/art subjects (in total) : <1000

All literature subjects (in total) : <1000

Total- Around 12,000-15000

What are the optional subjects with Good success rates?
Table showing the success rates for the optional subjects (in percentage) from 2010 through 2015:

Click here to see the table of option subject and it’s ration in IAS exam.

Thus decision of selecting the optional is a personal choice of each aspirant according to his/her strengths and weakness his likings and disliking.

We have suggested you the tools to select the right optional for you .We advise you to decide optional using these tools and your strengths and weaknesses.

All The Best ! From Sharma Academy Best ias Coaching in Indore

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