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How to choose an optional subject for IAS-UPSC Exam?

This is very important decision. Fortunately in the new format GS is much more important. So don�€™t take this decision at the beginning. First start preparing for GS and then after some time take this decision. Because in four GS papers you will be introduced to variety of optional subjects like History, Geography, Public Administration, Political Science and Sociology. This will help you to determine your inclination to a particular subject. Every subject has its own demand (i.e. thinking pattern, writing style, presentation techniques etc). Your personality should suit to it.


Following are some basic criteria�€�

  • Interest and understanding in the subject (about which you will come to know when you study for GS Mains)
  • Analysis of the syllabus and previous years�€™ question papers of the shortlisted subjects
  • Writing style and presentation techniques suitable for that particular optional (about which you will know once you start writing for GS and essay)
  • Thinking Pattern expected for a particular optional (you will come to know about yours after you prepare for GS.)
  • Availability of study material
  • Availability of guidance
  • Weightage of optional in GS
  • Graduation background
  • Apart from this, some give importance to the length of the syllabus.

  • The new shift in Civil Services Main examination has not resolved the dilemma of choosing the optional subject. The candidates keep on asking what subject they may take as optional to score high marks.


    The popular choices among candidates are; Public Administration, Sociology, Geography, History, Political Science and Philosophy. More than 80% of the test-takers opt for these subjects. This is because all these subjects overlap with general studies. Among them Public Administration is the most popular choice. However, question remains do they fetch high marks?


    There are some thumb rules for selecting the optional subject. First, you should not select the subject, if you are not comfortable with it. Normally one should select subject studied at the graduation level. The criteria of the choice of subject should be as per your interest, rather than having studied them at the graduation level.


    Also keep in mind that you may have been proficient in a subject, but lack of touch may make it tougher to re grasp the same subject. This applies for technical subjects. In such case it is advisable to take a fresh subject. If you are engineering, medicine or science graduate and have been working for some time, you may have lost touch with your core subjects of graduation days. In such case it is advisable to take new subject which is easy to grasp.


    The selection of a subject should be based on the availability of the study material. A huge study material is available for subjects such as History, Sociology, Anthropology, Geography, Political Science, Psychology and Public Administration.


    • 2016-05-30T06:41:57

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