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What is the best way to study optional subjects for the UPSC exam

Choosing the right optional subject for the UPSC exam is quite significant. It is so because the scope of achieving higher marks is more in optional than General Studies Mains exam or any other category.

Optional is the only type of subject that aspirants get to choose in the Civil Services Exam and whose marks are considered in merit calculation. All of the final papers are either identical for everyone or are purely qualifying. The UPSC CSE’s optional topic test is the key to success. You might not be able to make much of an impact on the GS Mains exam, but if you pick the proper choice and put in the necessary work, you could even lead by 20 to 50 marks in the optional exam.

In this article, we will talk about what the finest optional subject actually signifies to an IAS applicant.

A scoring subject

Geography and public administration are two examples of optional subjects that are thought of as scoring, which is why the majority of IAS beginners choose them. What makes these optional as scoring subjects? When we see the scores of these subjects in the past few years in the IAS mains exam, candidates have scored high. It is seen that subjects like public administration might seem like the highest scoring optional in the IAS exam. Again, though, there is no assurance of this. Any subject is up for scoring. Depending on the candidate’s performance.

Previous background of Subjects

Most applicants will find it simpler to study for an exam if they have already studied the subject. As a result, candidates can also rule out courses that are not part of their graduate or postgraduate programme.

Additionally, choosing these topics will drastically cut down on the amount of preparation time. Candidates should, however, pick a subject that they are well familiar with or one that you find appealing.

Availability of Guidance

Although coaching is not required, giving the right advice is. If you are not a graduate in the optional topics you are considering, you should examine whether there is access to good guidance.

While there is sufficient study material available for the mainstream humanities optionals, investigation must be done to see whether there are sufficient study materials available for an unconventional alternative like agriculture or animal husbandry.

Easy to Study Optional Subjects for UPSC Exam

It also depends on how much time you can devote to your elective subject each day. Even with topics you find interesting, preparation takes time. Go for it if you understand the fundamentals of any technical or scientific field; otherwise, choose a social science area. Many students with backgrounds in science, engineering, and medicine choose to study social sciences. If you have a strong recall and a proactive learning style, these subjects are simple to understand.

Study Smart

The top UPSC exam scorers over the past five years, who are either engineers or management graduates, have opted for Humanities topics primarily because of the overlap between the syllabus and the GS examinations. Such a calculated move helps conserve time and energy. The brightest minds are known to favour careers in engineering or medicine. Engineers frequently perform better than Humanities students who might lack the required confidence due to their meticulous approach. However, the UPSC exam is a fair playing field, and candidates in the humanities must use their knowledge and talents to raise their results.

Go through the Syllabus

You must choose an optional subject with great clarity. When you are preparing for the UPSC test, you should not realise that we should have chosen a better optional subject because we have to live with it for a few years. So be sure to read the syllabus before choosing the elective course. You must choose the subject if you like the UPSC Syllabus. Check out the test questions from previous years. Once you are familiar with the subject, begin reading and analyzing NCERT books on it.

Graduation Background

Also bear in mind that even if you were knowledgeable in a subject, losing touch with it could make it harder for you to re understand it. This holds true for technical topics. It is advisable to choose a new subject in these circumstances. If you have a degree in engineering, medicine, or science and have been employed for some time, it’s possible that you have forgotten about your majors from undergrad. It is advisable to choose fresh subjects in these circumstances.

Time Management for UPSC Preparation

Another important aspect to take into account before selecting the options is time management. The candidate must choose how much time he or she will devote to studying their optional subject. Select the optional paper that takes less time for a respectable level of preparation if the candidate is running short on time. It can also affect how well you prepared for the optional paper by compromising your General Studies grade. The time needed to study an optional subject in addition to general studies should be estimated by aspirants who may also be attending college or working while they prepare.

Read Previous Year question Papers for optional subject

You can gain a better understanding of an optional subject by reading the question bank from the previous year. Examine the optional’s historical pattern. It provides you with a general sense of the questions to expect as well as the time and work needed to prepare for optional. You can look up the optional subject’s performance over the last few years.


The aforementioned facts and rules may help you find answers to a few of your questions. IAS aspirants who will sit for the UPSC test in 2022 or in any other year in the future may review the schedule because they still have time to decide which optional subject to select before continuing with their UPSC preparation. Make the best decision after doing your study.