Which do you think is the most scoring optional subject in UPSC. Well, it is more the matter of the personal expertise and command. Let us get to know more.
UPSC enlists around 48 Optional subjects every year for the UPSC Mains examination. Out of these 48 subjects, 25 subjects are a mix of Humanities subjects like Political Science; Science Subjects like Medical Science, among others, and the other 23 subjects are literature subjects like Assamese, Dogri, Bodo, etc.
Choosing any optional paper should be the aspirant’s individual choice. There are many factors that should be considered before finalizing any subject. Some of the important factors are mentioned below:
Factors To Consider
- Optional Syllabus ( Either vast syllabus or small syllabus)
- Time duration needed to prepare the subject well (Depends on the background knowledge of the subject and Background of candidates choosing the subject. E.g. Candidates from Engineering background may not be comfortable in choosing Biology subjects
- Mentorship/Guidance available for the subject (Ample Material/ Availability of preparation resources)
- Syllabus overlap between GS papers and prelims exam to save the precious time
- Level of understanding (Basic understanding or advanced level) of the subject chosen
- Average marks of that particular subject over the years (Scoring subject)
- Success rate or achievement rate of Different optional subjects i.e. the ratio of total candidates selected to the total number of candidates who opted for the same subject
Every aspirant should research each and every point before finalizing any subject. But following the human psyche, we tend to give much more importance to the success rate and tend to choose the preferred subjects or popular subjects chosen by the toppers.
UPSC Best Optional Subject
- Before choosing any optional subject for UPSC Civil Services, one should consider what subject one enjoyed in school and college. If it was one of the Humanities subjects like Sociology and Public Administration, non-technical subjects like History, Theoretical Subjects like Indian Geography, engineering subjects like Electrical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Static subjects like literature (Dogri, Bodo, etc); she/he should opt for it.
- Another important factor to consider is the subject’s relevance to the future role in the civil service. It is best to choose a subject that you know and can easily study without losing interest in it. Candidates securing high ranks tend to choose subjects that are relevant to their specific role. Additionally, they tend to be comfortable with the plenty of material available in the market.
- Categorizing any one particular subject and tagging it as the best mains optional choice for UPSC Civil Services Examination is a very subjective task. For some aspirants, Science subjects like Physics, Chemistry, etc may be unsuitable subject while for others subjective type subjects like Sociology may be a tough nut to crack.
Optional Subjects For The UPSC Exam
There are 48 Optional subjects listed on the UPSC website for the UPSC IAS Mains examination. All of them are beneficial subjects in one or the other sense. Students should first shortlist 4-5 subjects based on the following :
- Area of interest
- Original Stream / Academic background
- Proper study material availability
- Accessibility of study materials
- Previous year papers
- Level of preparation / Conceptual clarity
- Time for preparation
- Creative thinking skills
- Linguistic skills
- Theoretical knowledge / Basic awareness
- Popular choices
- Technical nature / Confusing nature / Dynamism of subject
After shortlisting, candidates should test their writing skills for the subject papers based on the common knowledge of the subject. This will narrow down their options and eventually help finalize the subject of choice for the UPSC IAS Mains examination.
Optional Subjects With Highest Success Rate
- Optional subjects with high success rates in UPSC include Economics, Geography, Law, Political Science, and Sociology. These subjects are commonly chosen by students for a variety of reasons. However, this doesn’t mean that these subjects should be taken. The subjects with the highest success rates in UPSC are not necessarily the best ones to choose from.
- When selecting optional subjects, it is important to analyze the previous year papers. This will let one decide whether they are comfortable with the subject or not. It is also important to check if the subject has good training material or abundant study material available in the market.
- Arts background students generally choose the same subject that they studied in their graduation years to have a deep knowledge and grasp of the subject
- Candidates from engineering backgrounds tend to choose either science subjects like Physics or Mathematics or Humanities subjects like Anthropology.
- Another excellent subject is philosophy. This optional subject involves reading different philosophers from different parts of the world, including Indian and foreign ones. This subject is very interesting and informative, and it can help one score well in essay paper and GS-1 paper (Indian society; administrative society) also.
Most Opted Optional Subject For UPSC
- There are several factors that determine the most opted optional subject for UPSC. One important factor is whether a student has experience in the subject or not. If a student has experience in a subject, the chances are high that they will score high in the exam. Another important factor is how relevant the subject is to the job role.
- If a student has a background in science or humanities, subjects like zoology or anthropology can be of great help.
- A combination of technical and non-technical topics makes geography a good choice for UPSC. Candidates from all backgrounds tend to choose geography as an optional subject. Geography study materials are easily available both online and offline.
- Subjects chosen by UPSC CSE toppers are listed below:
- 2014 – Rank 1- Ira Singhal – Geography
- 2015 – Rank 1- Tina Dabi – Political science and International Relations
- 2016 – Rank 1- Nandini K R – Kannada Literature
- 2017 – Rank 1 – Anudeep Durishetty – Anthropology
- 2018 – Rank 1 -Kanishak Kataria – Mathematics
- 2019 – Rank 1 – Pradeep Singh – Public Administration
- 2020 – Rank 1 – Shubham Kumar – Anthropology
- 2021 – Rank 1 – Shruti Sharma – History
Every subject is scoring when one has a firm grasp of the syllabus, good practice of answer writing , writing authentic answers, answering with flowcharts, and above all an advanced level of understanding of the syllabus and pattern of questions being asked.
Every aspirant has a different story to tell regarding optional choices. The subject which yielded results became the preferred choice of all.
Rather than following the herd, one should take a conscious decision when choosing the optional subject for UPSC CSE Examination.