“Choose subject which You Like Most “- That’s what the advice given by most of the people, also there is a saying as well – ‘Dulhan wahi jo piya mann bhaye, aur subject wahi jo samajh mein aaye’. however there is something more to it since most of the people are kind who are never sure about their interest and some time interested subject will have low scoring pattern or else it is completely filled with high scoring people for example you like Mathematics, however when it comes as an option to choose then you might see that successful people who have cleared upsc with Maths optional are most of them from IIT, and yes it is obvious these IITians have more knowledge then any other else, in most of the case – Point is there is not just interest which can decide selection of optional rather then various common factors which need to analysed before finalizing the optional, many toppers have changed the optional subject in their 2nd and 3rd attempt why? There would be some obvious reason.
Why Choosing Right Optional Is Very Important
If you guys see the recent marks card of toppers then it is optional subject which has really differentiated between succesfull people and rest, GS1,GS2,GS3 and GS4 marks are more or less in the same range of most of the really comepetitors every one score less then 100 marks in GS2, that is fact and serious aspirants knows about that, however it is Optional Marks which add to the total, if you can score more the 300 in optional and average in GS PAPERS and decent marks in essay then also you are through, the point is – It is optional which is your rank decider so it is very very important to choose optional very carefully.
Factors which need to analysed before selecting Optional Subject
The major factor in deciding the optional is your interest, in fact passion and love towards the subject. You should enjoy reading that subject, it should make you enthusiastic, should make you excited, should not at all get bored, instead, should enhance your overall UPSC preparation and should make your UPSC journey a smooth ride. Take the optional which you are good at. There may be some optional subjects which have huge syllabus and takes more time to cover, also revision is a must for several times, by which one may get bored and frustrated, but this is when your inner love towards the subject should come to embrace. Look back and try to remind yourself the subject that you like the most from the school days, also question yourself, why do you like it and how far can you study it without getting bored and without losing the excitement.
so as per experience let me put the following factors before choosing the right optional subject –
Please Note : Interest in the Subject is inclusive of the below factors
- Syllabus Lengthiness – Few subject like Anthropology has very limited syllabus, just read the syllabus if you feel your interest can be inclined with this subject then go ahead.
- Familiarity/Comfortableness with Subject – This is very important if you are from maths background and you are choosing medical science as optional then you are not doing justice with yourself, always choose the subject which you feel is comfortable like your graduation subjects or your deep interest in the subject, dont choose the subject which you are not familiar.
- Availability of Material and Test Series – point is self explanatory go with optional who has enough readable me trial, decide whether you can attend the coaching for the subject or there are enough online material available.
- Overlapping Subject with GS papers – For example you are working and don’t have time to cover lengthy syllabus of gs and optional then better take Geography, IR etc which are there in GS papers as well, Keep in mind you should be interested in that subject genuinely.
Please Note: Do not take the optional subject for shake of overlapping if you are not interested in that subject or else you will fail both ways in GS papers as well as Optional Subject.
- Conceptual and Contemporary Subject List : There are subject which are more scientific in nature like Maths, Geography where there are two options you know the answer or dont know the answer of a question, few subjects are general like Sociology, IR etc where you can use the current affairs aspects and write some answers to a questions if you dont know the answer of the question at all. Both type of subjects have pros and cons, so choose the subject if you like Concepts or else go for contemporary subjects which will help you to attempts more questions in the exam.
- Eliminate the Subjects – This is something you can do from starting list out all the optionals now note down which optional you can never imagine to read like You are not from medical background then will straight away reject Medical Sciences etc, Short list 5 6 subjects which are of your interests then further analyse them with above points.
- Analyse recent trend, old question papers, scores of people, read interview of toppers who have taken those subject – All these effort will help you to think whether you can score well in the subject or not.
- As per recent trend few people use to take Literature subjects and succeeding like Gujrati,Kannada literature and even people preferring Hindi as their Literature subject since these subject have very less competitions considering you should have to cover in-depth knowledge of the subject then there are more chances to score well.
- Read for few days and then change again – If you in starting stage of your preparation then you can always taste the subject, old question papers and few starting introductory videos and decide whether you are not at all comfortable with those subjects, Read interview of few toppers who have changed their subject after their 1st or 2nd attempt so don’t hesitate to change the optional if you are feel comfortable with it.
Procedure to Follow While Selecting Optional
Once you have understood the factors which need to take care before selecting the optional then follow the simple strategy – Analyze time you have before mains exam, based on syllabus lengthiness and your interest Eliminate the Subject you will never take i.e. remove the subject which you can never read at any cost, now you will have around 5-6 subjects left. Again start from scratch and apply each factors on each subject like – Whether I can cover the subject before mains, is there test series and material available for it ? What are the recent trend for this subject ? You will for sure eliminate the further 2-3 subjects for sure. Now you are left with just 2-3 subjects – Now it is left to you which subject you can choose out of these. Please note none of the subject is best it is always Relatively Best i.e. For some people Geography is Scoring for some people Literature Subjecting is Scoring etc, so based on your interest and closeness of the syllabus choose 1, if you have enough time and you have already read the subject for 1 or 2 months and you feel I am not comfortable then better choose another subject, dont hesitate, many toppers have done that after various attempts.
Subject Wise Popularity of Optional Subjects
Lets us take the figures about number of candidates appearing for the mains exam and number of people choosing each optional, So every year around 15000 candidate appear for the mains exam, here is breakup of candidates subject wise –
|Optional||Approximate Number of Aspirants Opting for it|
|History||3000 +/- 50|
|Geography||3000 +/- 50|
|Public Administration||3000 +/- 50|
|Sociology||3000 +/- 50|
|Philosophy + Psychology + Political Science + Economics||2000-3000|
|All other science/art subjects(in total)||1000-1500|
|All Other Literature Subjects||Less than 1000|
Success Rate Calculation of the Optional Subjects
Success rate is something very interesting before choosing optional subject, it is measured as ratio of number of candidate selected divided by total number of candidates appeared for the exam, here is list of top 10 optional subject with highest success rate ( data based on latest UPSC Mains Results)
|Sl. No.||Optional Subject||Number of candidates appeared||No. of candidates recommended||Success Rate|
|3||Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science||65||8||12.3|
Lets dig more into actual stuff about Optional Subject Selection for Civil Services like What are optional Subjects, Trend for people who are selecting the optional Syllabus etc.
Back To Basics : List of Optional Subjects and Their Syllabus
Here is comprehensive list of subjects which are recommended by UPSC for writing mains exam
- Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science
- Civil Engineering
- Commerce and Accountancy
- Electrical Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Medical Science
- Political Science and International Relations
- Public Administration
- Literate Subjects : Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, English.
UPSC Previous Year Question Papers
Once You have Syllabus for the Optional Subject then you can download the Last year question papers from the UPSC official Website Here
We will further provide the tips from toppers how they have chosen their optional subjects, you can comment below if you need further information.