How to select the optimal optional subject for UPSC: A systematic approach

Education

A Systematic Approach to Selecting the Optimal Optional Subject for UPSC

          Selecting the optimal optional subject for the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exam is of paramount importance for aspirants aiming to excel in the Civil Services Examination. The choice of two optional papers out of the total nine plays a vital role in determining the final score and rank.

Presently, there are 47 optional subjects available, encompassing both technical and non-technical disciplines, as well as literature in various languages. The optional papers carry a total of 500 marks out of the 2025 marks in the UPSC Mains exam.

Carefully chosen optional subjects not only have the potential to enhance one’s score but also offer an opportunity to demonstrate expertise in specific areas, which can contribute significantly to a successful career in the civil services.

Here’s a guide on how to choose the best optional subject for UPSC:

1. CONSIDER OVERLAPPING SYLLABUS AND PREPARATION TIME

Certain optional subjects, including history, political science and international relations, sociology, geography, economics, and public administration, share syllabus content that overlaps with the general studies (GS) syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and Mains examinations.

2. EVALUATE THE LENGTH OF THE SYLLABUS

Considering the substantial focus required for four general studies papers and an essay paper, it is recommended to opt for an optional subject that has a manageable syllabus. Choosing a subject that can be comfortably covered within the allotted time will alleviate unnecessary stress and facilitate effective preparation.

3. CONSIDER COMPETITION LEVEL AND COMPREHENSIBILITY

While the success ratios of previous candidates can provide insights into the popularity of an optional subject, it is crucial for candidates to prioritize their comfort and understanding when making a selection.

In the end, the evaluators assess answers based on the candidate’s ability to comprehend the subject matter, underscoring the importance of choosing an optional subject that aligns with the candidate’s strengths.

4. AVAILABILITY OF RESOURCES

When selecting an optional subject, it is important to consider the availability of resources, including educators, study materials, and relevant books.

Candidates should carefully assess the accessibility and availability of resources pertaining to their chosen subject. This is particularly significant in light of the expanding landscape of online education, which provides a wealth of resources that can be accessed conveniently from the comfort of one’s home

5. FAMILIARITY AND INTEREST IN THE SUBJECT

Having familiarity with a subject can offer a substantial advantage in comprehending and retaining information. Candidates who have previously studied a subject during their graduation or post-graduation should strongly consider selecting that subject as their optional choice

On the other hand, opting for a subject of personal interest and possessing the ability to consistently study without losing motivation are vital factors for sustaining long-term dedication and ensuring effective preparation.

6. ADDITIONAL FACTORS TO CONSIDER

The decision-making process regarding the best optional subject for UPSC is influenced by various factors. These factors include the subject’s relevance to the civil services job role, its popularity among high rankers, scoring potential, and personal comfort.

There is no definitive answer to what constitutes the ideal optional subject for UPSC, as it varies for each individual. Technical subjects such as mathematics can be highly scoring due to the objective nature of answers.

On the other hand, non-technical subjects, particularly those with overlaps with the general studies syllabus, offer more preparation time and reading material. Diligent study of such subjects can significantly enhance the overall UPSC Mains score. Before finalizing an optional subject, candidates should carefully evaluate the syllabus, required preparation time, existing knowledge, overlap with General Studies, availability of study materials and coaching, as well as personal drive and interest in the subject. Considering these factors will enable candidates to make an informed decision and select the most suitable optional subject for their UPSC exam

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