Choosing an optional subject for the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exam is a critical decision that can significantly impact one’s performance in the examination. To make an informed choice, aspirants should consider several factors. Firstly, they should assess their own interests and strengths. Opting for a subject that aligns with one’s academic background or personal interest can make the preparation process more engaging and manageable. Additionally, candidates should research the syllabus and past question papers of optional subjects to understand the level of difficulty and the extent of their familiarity with the content. Analyzing the scoring trends and success rates of candidates in previous years can provide valuable insights. It is also advisable to seek guidance from mentors, teachers, or seniors who have successfully cleared the UPSC exam. Practical considerations such as the availability of study materials and coaching support should also be taken into account. Ultimately, a well-thought-out decision based on a combination of personal interest, academic background, and strategic considerations can enhance the chances of success in the UPSC examination.
When taking this CSE Main exam, out of nine questions, papers VI and VII are part of the subjects that are optional for UPSC. These are subject papers that can be optional as well as Optional Subject Paper 2.
Each one of them is worth 250 marks. Therefore, each UPSC optional subject is worth 500/1750 marks for the UPSC Mains Exam. The marks earned during those UPSC subject options are used in the preparation of the final merit. Therefore, the choice of the optional subject for UPSC should be made with caution. As opposed to the past, applicants are required to pick only one option, so “How to choose the best optional subject for UPSC” is the most frequently asked query by UPSC aspirants!
In this article, we’ve provided our top UPSC possible subjects that applicants could choose from. However, it should be done with a seasoned approach to selecting the right alternative subject to be used for UPSC.
Which subject is most optional in UPSC?
There are certain subjects that are more scoring than others. But, when we look at the whole picture, IAS toppers have scored over 320 points in both non-technical and technical areas. The reason certain subjects are deemed to be low-scoring is that candidates don’t make the required effort or have picked an optional subject that’s not suitable for them.
Subjects that are technical (such as mathematics) are able to earn top marks because the answers are complete. In general, in contrast to humanities subjects, the biases of the examiner’s preferences do not have an influence.
However, subjects that are not technical, particularly those that have a connection to those on the GS syllabus, offer the opportunity to spend more time in preparation and reading content in general, thus increasing the overall score of the Mains if they are studied thoroughly.
There are a variety of aspects to consider when deciding on the best option for UPSC. Before choosing a subject, the candidate should consider the following questions:
- What is the scope of the elective?
- How much time for preparation are you allowed?
- Do you have any prior knowledge of the subject at a higher graduate or postgraduate level?
- What is the degree of overlap in the syllabus between your option and the GS portion of Prelims/Mains?
- Do you have the study materials and coaching materials readily accessible?
- Do you have the motivation or interest to learn the subject matter for the UPSC test?
Based on the answers given to the six questions mentioned above, candidates should make an “individual” decision of the best choice for them in UPSC to suit their needs.
For the majority of aspirants, the top 10 UPSC optional subjects are:
- Medical Science
- Public Administration
Which is the easiest optional subject for UPSC?
The subjects that meet the most comprehensive PT syllabus or that have had the best scoring trends in past examinations can be considered to be the subjects that are the easiest to add as optional subjects to be included in UPSC Mains.
These can be in public administration, sociology, philosophy, and so on. Your passion for the subject could make it the ideal option for you to choose an optional subject.
Which is the least chosen optional subject in UPSC?
According to the number of candidates who appear in the options, the subjects with the fewest applicants (less than 100) are:
- Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science
- Civil Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Medical Sciences
- Management and
- The majority of literature subjects (except Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu)
The number of students for these subjects may exceed 100, but on average, they’re not as well-known as other disciplines like sociology, geography, history, and public administration.
Can I take any optional subjects for UPSC?
Yes, you can choose any subject you wish. One subject must be chosen. Two papers on the same subject could be written. The syllabus for both papers is different; however, the subject matter is identical. For instance, in the case of a candidate who chooses to study Geography, Paper 1 will be called World Geo and Paper 2 will comprise Indian Geo. Similar to the syllabus, it will differ in other topics.
Optional subjects for the UPSC Mains Examination:
- Animal husbandry and veterinary science
- Civil engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Political science and international relations
- Public administration
- Mechanical engineering
- Medical science
Q: What factors should I consider when choosing an optional subject for the UPSC exam?
Consider your interest and aptitude: Choose a subject that genuinely interests you and aligns with your strengths. It’s crucial to enjoy studying the subject as it will require extensive preparation.
Availability of study materials: Check if there are ample resources and study materials available for the optional subject you are considering. Having access to good-quality books and study materials can make your preparation more effective.
Previous knowledge or background: Evaluate your prior knowledge or educational background in a particular subject. Opting for a subject you’re already familiar with can give you a head start in your preparation.
Q: How does the scoring pattern vary among optional subjects in the UPSC exam?
Analyze past trends: Look at the past years’ question papers and scoring patterns for different optional subjects. Some subjects may have a more predictable pattern, making it easier for candidates to score well.
Subjective vs. objective scoring: Understand whether the optional subject is assessed subjectively or objectively. Some subjects might have more objective questions, leading to a more straightforward evaluation process.
Q: Can I choose an optional subject based on its overlap with the General Studies syllabus?
Syllabus integration: Some optional subjects have a considerable overlap with the General Studies (GS) papers. Choosing such a subject can be advantageous as it reduces the overall syllabus and allows you to focus on common topics.
Time management: Opting for an optional subject with overlapping content can save time during preparation, as you may only need to delve deeper into certain areas rather than starting from scratch.
Q: How should I assess the difficulty level of an optional subject for UPSC?
Consult experts and seniors: Seek advice from UPSC toppers, subject experts, or seniors who have already taken the exam. They can provide valuable insights into the difficulty level, preparation strategies, and scoring potential of different optional subjects.
Evaluate past success rates: Analyze the success rates of candidates who have chosen a particular optional subject. A higher success rate may indicate that the subject is relatively more manageable for most aspirants.
Q: Is it advisable to choose an optional subject based on its popularity?
Popularity vs. personal interest: While popular optional subjects may have more resources and study materials available, it’s crucial to balance popularity with your personal interest and aptitude. Choosing a subject solely based on popularity may not be the best strategy if it doesn’t align with your strengths and preferences.
Individual strengths: Assess your strengths and weaknesses and choose an optional subject that allows you to leverage your strengths. A less popular subject that aligns with your skills and interests might be a better choice for you personally.
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