Botany Optional For UPSC

botany optional for upsc

In this article we will learn about how good or bad can be Botany optional for UPSC. Let us get to know all about it.

Plants have a world of their own around us. It is indeed very intriguing and beautiful. But, very few people understand their world in detail. These people study Botany. Botany being one of the most interesting and unique field of study fascinates to a big proportion of Biology students. This subject is also one of those offered by UPSC as an optional.

Botany is a very specialized subject. It requires a lot of revision and you must have a solid knowledge base on the biology of plants. This is one of the most challenging subjects in the UPSC exams and requires extensive preparation. Fortunately, there are a number of tips and tricks that will help you pass this exam with flying colors.

Comparison/Similarity With Other Optional Subjects

Botany optional for UPSC is one of the most interesting subjects. As far as preparation is concerned, it is important to understand the basics of the subject. A thorough understanding of plant pathology and microbiology is necessary. These subjects teach students the structure of microorganisms, their applications in agriculture, and the control of soil and water pollution. They also teach students about fungal toxins and disease forecasting.

In comparison to other Humanity Subjects, Botany is favored by the aspirants because it is one of the listed subjects in the UPSC IFoS (Indian Forest Service examination). Aspirants attempting both examinations should choose one of the Science Subjects as Optional as it will reduce their burden and will save time during preparation.

Time Duration

It will take around 4-5 months time duration to complete the entire syllabus of Botany Optional.

Mastering The Subject From Basics

Botany optional for UPSC CSE is an extremely broad subject, one needs to make sure that one has a firm grasp of the various concepts that make up the subject. Starting from scratch, this Optional paper can be a tough nut to crack.

Concepts like Cell Receptors, Cell Signalling, Function of Cell Organelles, Markers in Plant Breeding, and Molecular Markers are a little time taking.

Academic Background

Botany is a safe optional subject to attempt if one has prior experience in Life Sciences or Biotechnology. The questions are direct and easy to answer and one can expect to get good marks if she/he has conceptual clarity.

Botany is a highly-scoring subject, and those with prior experience in the field are well-positioned to score high marks.

Overlapping Syllabus with GS/Essay

Not much overlap is there between the GS and Essay papers. Although some scientific concepts like the Basis of Cell Cycle, Techniques of Cell Biology, Polygenic Inheritance, Sex-Linked Inheritance, Crop Diseases, DNA Fingerprinting, Environment (Protection) Act, Genetic Engineering, Invasive Species, etc are common in the General Studies part of the Prelims and GS paper 3 syllabi.

Help In Interview

Questions related to the Optional Subject can be asked by the panel in the Interview process. Apart from that, general concepts of Protected Area Network, Plant Succession, Eukaryotic Cells, Transfer of Genes, DNA Sequencing, Energy Conservation, Energy Plantation, Energy Transfer, Plant Indicators, etc are some of the hot topics that can instill conversation.

Related – Botany Optional for IAS and IFS Aspirants

Scores Available

Average marks for Botany Optional Subject range from 250 to 270. The highest marks till date have touched the 300+ mark.

Recent Toppers

Some of the recent toppers who opted for Botany as an Optional subject are as follows:

  1. Nikhil Thawal ( Rank 799, 2017)
  2. Dibya Jyoti Parida ( Rank 26, 2015)

Botany Optional For UPSC | Syllabus

Botany has a well-defined and manageable syllabus. The topics and micro-topics of the syllabus can be checked here-

Standard References

  1. Microbiology- Powar
  2. Pathology- Singh’s book along with a foreign author
  3. Physiology and Biochemistry -Salisbury and Ross or Fritz and Noggle
  4. Plant Anatomy- B.P. Pandey
  5. Taxonomy-R Nair
  6. Systematic Botany-S C Datta


The nature of questions for the Botany Optional for Mains Exam has been more or less the same in recent years. Analysis of papers and practice papers make it easy for the students to check their progress.

Since professors correct the paper, it’s important to give precise and simple answers that are Fact-rich, coherent and well-illustrated answers.

One should also keep in mind that there is less competition in the Botany section of the UPSC exam, which is good news for those who are confident in their knowledge of plants and have a background in these fields. 

Past year Question papers and standard reference books make it easy for the aspirant to build an evolutionary viewpoint. It will enrich the answers in the mains examination.

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