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How to Select Your UPSC Optional Subject?

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The UPSC Mains Exam, the second tier of the IAS exam, allows you to choose any optional subjects you want. The UPSC candidates’ scores are significantly impacted by the optional subject. Papers VI and VII, two of the nine tests in the CSE Main exam, are from the UPSC optional topic. Both Subject Papers 1 and 2 are optional.

They each carry 250 marks. In the UPSC Mains Exam, the UPSC optional subject hence carries 500/1750 points. The final merit is computed by taking into account the marks earned in the optional UPSC subjects. Therefore, it is important to choose an optional subject for the UPSC carefully. Since applicants must now select just one optional subject, “how to select the best optional subject for UPSC” continues to be the most often posed query among UPSC aspirants.

The UPSC optional subjects that a candidate might select are listed on this page, along with advice on how to pick the one that will guarantee you marks.

What to Choose from the UPSC Optional Subjects?

Below, there are a few pointers that should definitely consider before making the very important choice of choosing your optional subjects for UPSC 2022; 

#1 Common Syllabus

In both the Prelims and the Mains, the General Studies syllabus is covered by some of the optional subjects, including History, Political Science & International Relations, Sociology, Geography, Economics, and Public Administration. Thus, it could help you save some time on preparation.

#2 The Length of the Syllabus

You currently have four General Studies papers and a merit-based essay to complete. If you select an option with a large syllabus, you will need to invest extra time in your preparation. Therefore, pick a topic that you can easily finish in the allotted time.

#3 Competitiveness of the Subject 

Some applicants believe that a strong UPSC optional subject is one that consistently attracts more applicants than recommended candidates. It is only partially accurate, though. Your text will be assessed mostly on the basis of how understandable your response is. Choose a topic that you are familiar with as a result.

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#4 Resources

There are currently 47 alternative disciplines offered, but there are very few teachers, study materials, and pertinent literature available. Even if you may now access more resources from the comfort of your home thanks to online education, it is crucial that you assess your options based on the resources that are available.

#5 Familiarity with the subject

Your familiarity with the subject is a crucial consideration when picking the best UPSC optional subject. They should be your pick if that subject is already required for graduation or post-graduation. Otherwise, pick a subject that you can study repeatedly without getting bored.

Along with these, elements including relevance to the work function for the civil services, a common preference among top scorers, scoring potential, and comfort level with the subject may also be taken into account while analysing the alternative subjects.

Which Is The Best Optional Subject For UPSC? 

Some subjects have higher passing rates than others. However, if we look at the bigger picture, both technical and non-technical courses were where IAS toppers got 320+. Some subjects are seen as having low scores because candidates lack the capacity to put out the necessary effort or they choose an optional subject that isn’t a good fit for them.

Technical topics, like mathematics, can help you achieve high results because the solutions are definitive. Basically, unlike disciplines in the humanities, the examiner’s biases or preferences don’t matter as much. However, non-technical subjects offer greater study time and reading material overall. They raise the overall Mains score if studied thoroughly, especially those that overlap somewhat with the GS syllabus.

The ideal UPSC optional subject would depend on a variety of variables. The following six questions should be asked by a candidate before choosing a topic.

  1. How big is the optional syllabus?
  2. How much time do you have to prepare?
  3. Do you have graduate- or post-graduate-level prior knowledge of the subject?
  4. How much of your optional choice’s curriculum corresponds to the GS section in Prelims/Mains?
  5. Is the coaching and reading material easily accessible?
  6. Do you have the necessary motivation or interest to learn the material for the UPSC exam?

A candidate should make an “individual” decision regarding the best UPSC option for them based on the answers to the aforementioned six questions. All applicants are recommended to choose an optional subject without considering their score and instead focus on the traits listed above, keeping in mind that each candidate may value these qualities differently.

Nothing can prevent you from getting high scores if you understand the syllabus and have enough writing experience since the grades will come naturally.

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