How to Choose the Right Optional Subject for the UPSC Mains?
Choosing the right optional subject for the UPSC Mains exam that is easy to understand and scoring is a dilemma that every UPSC aspirant faces. Since the score in the optional subject becomes a determining factor in securing a place in the merit list, the dilemma to choose the right subject is justified!
As per the current UPSC syllabus and exam pattern, a candidate has to choose only one optional subject for UPSC Mains that has two papers for 250 marks each. Collectively the optional subject constitutes 500 marks in total. A good score in the optional can be a game-changer for any UPSC aspirant. Hence, the choice of an optional subject is extremely crucial and must be made cautiously.
In this article, we will try to answer the most frequently asked question of the UPSC aspirants “How to choose the right subject for the UPSC Mains”. But before we begin, let’s first look at the top 10 optional subjects for UPSC.
Top 10 Optional Subjects for UPSC
1. Public Administration
4. Political Science & International Relations
7. Medical Science
10. Literature Subject
Also read: Toppers Tips to crack UPSC Exams
Key Points to Consider for Choosing the Right Optional
Before choosing an optional subject many important aspects should be kept in mind such as:
1. Interest and Educational Background of the aspirant
Be a smart candidate. Choose a subject that interests you and has relevance to your educational background. Half of the battle is already won if the chosen subject matches your degree background. For instance, if you have a medical background, the most obvious option for you would be Medical Science! Don’t just follow the “Trend” mindset while choosing an Optional subject. It may cost you an attempt.
2. Overlapping Syllabus
Choosing an optional subject that is relevant to the General Studies syllabus is always a wise decision. The following subjects are popular among IAS aspirants from both technical and non-technical point of view because of the high overlap with the General Studies syllabus or other parts of the UPSC exam:
- Public Administration – Highly relevant with a compact syllabus. It is Paper-II (Indian Administration) and has a lot of overlap with the Polity and Governance part in General Studies (GS) II.
- Sociology- The study of society, Sociology has a lot of material that can be used in GS I, Essay, and even in Ethics paper.
- History- Relevant for Prelims as well as GS I.
- Geography- Relevant for Prelims as well as GS I
- Political Science- Relevant for Prelims as well as GS II
- Law – Relevant for Prelims as well as GS II
Choosing one of the aforementioned optional subjects will help you prepare effectively and save you some preparation time.
Read more: How to Prepare for UPSC Mains 2021?
3. Vastness of the Syllabus
There is no denying that the UPSC Mains syllabus is vast. With four General Studies papers and an essay paper having vast areas of studies, it’s wise to choose an optional subject that isn’t lengthy. Go with the one that has a concise syllabus. It will save you precious time during Mains preparation.
4. Availability of Study Resources
Coaching for UPSC exams is required at some point of time during your preparation journey. When it comes to choosing an optional subject, sometimes candidates face a shortage of resources in terms of educators, study materials, and relevant books. Therefore, it is imperative that you evaluate the choice of optional on the basis of the available resources.
We hope the above-stated pointers will help you to select the right optional subject wisely.
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All the best for your exams. Stay tuned for more updates.
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