Best Optional Subject for UPSC

Best optional subject for UPSC

UPSC stands for Union Public Service Commission. It is the government body, which conducts exams to select class I and class II officers to work in different departments of the Government of India. UPSC conducts many exams but the most famous exam is CSE (Civil Service EXAM) because of its popularity it is also called the UPSC exam or IAS exam. This exam is conducted in three phases

  1. Prelims Exam
  2. Main Exam
  3. Interview and Physical test

Best Optional Subject for UPSC

Best Optional Subject for UPSC
Best Optional Subject for UPSC

The prelims Exam has 2 objective papers if you clear prelims only then you are allowed to seat in Main Exam. The Main Exam has 7 subjects the 7th subject is optional. The optional subject must be selected from the list given below.

List of Optional Subjects in UPSC

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal Husbandry And Veterinary Science
  3. Anthropology
  4. Botany
  5. Chemistry
  6. Civil Engineering
  7. Commerce & Accountancy
  8. Economics
  9. Electrical Engineering
  10. Geography
  11. Mathematics
  12. Geology
  13. History
  14. Law
  15. Management
  16. Mechanical Engineering
  17. Medical Science
  18. Philosophy
  19. Physics
  20. Political Science & International Relations
  21. Psychology
  22. Public Administration
  23. Sociology
  24. Statistics
  25. Zoology

UPSC offers the following literature subjects as an optional subject

  1. Assamese
  2. Bengali
  3. Bodo
  4. Dongri
  5. Gujarati
  6. Hindi
  7. Kannada
  8. Kashmiri
  9. Konkani
  10. Maithili
  11. Malayalam
  12. Manipuri
  13. Nepali
  14. Oriya
  15. Punjabi
  16. Sanskrit
  17. Santhali
  18. Sindhi
  19. Tamil
  20. Urdu
  21. English

There are two papers on the optional subject each having 250 marks. The optional subject covers 30% of the total marks of the exam. Hence, you should select the optional subject carefully. Your selection of optional subjects is the deciding factor in whether you will succeed or not. In this article, we are going to discuss what factors you should consider when selecting an optional subject.

1. Educational Background & interest Area

You must select your optional subject according to your educational background and interest area. Select the subject with which you are more familiar. For example, consider the following cases

  • If you are an art student then you can select between History, Political Science, and Geography.
  • If you are a medical science student then you can select medical science as an optional subject.
  • If you are a Science student then you can select Physics, Chemistry, Maths,s, and biology as your optional subject.
  • If you are an engineering student, you can select Mechanical engineering, Civil Engineering, and Electrical Engineering as your optional subject.
  • If you are a commerce student, you can select between Commerce & Accountancy, Economics, Public Administration, and management.

As you can see it does not matter from which stream you have completed your graduation UPSC offers a wide spectrum of optional subjects to match your educational qualification and interest area.

2. Overlapping of the syllabus of the optional subject with General Studies

The most significant factor in deciding the selection of an optional subject is the overlapping of its syllabus with the General Studies paper. If a considerable part of the optional subject overlaps with the General Studies paper then you will require less time to prepare for your exam. You can invest this extra time in revision activity, which will make your study perfect and strong.

Some optional subjects and general studies syllabi have more topics that are common. Such subjects are History, Geography, Political Science, and Economics. If you select any one of these subjects as an optional subject then you have a better chance of clearing the exam with less hard work. However, don’t take that optional subject that overlaps with that part of General studies in which you are weak it may produce negative results

3. Availability of study material and coaching

UPSC offers a total of 47 subjects as optional subjects but while selecting the subject you should consider the availability of books and coaches in your locality. The study material for every subject is not always available in rural areas. In coaching institutions faculty of only popular subjects like history, Political science, and Geography is available. Hence, while selecting an optional subject you should consider the availability of study material and coaches in your local area. Our team recommends that if you are interested in any particular subject but its study material and coaching are not available in your town then you should not select it as an optional subject.

4. Optional subject of Toppers

We should learn from toppers let’s take a look at toppers’ optional subjects

yearName of AspirantOpted optional subject
2013Gaurav AggrawalEconomics
2014Ira SinghalGeography
2015Tina DabiPolitical Science
2016Nandini KRKannada Literature
2017Anudeep DurishettyAnthropology
2018Kanishka KatariaMathematics

After analyzing the above table, we can say that all optional subjects are high Scoring because all the toppers have different optional subjects. There is nothing like the best optional subject. But right optional subject for the best aspirant.

5. Length of Subject.

We know that UPSC offers 47 subjects as an optional subjects but all subjects do not have the same length. Some subjects like Mathematics and political Science require more time to prepare. Conversely, some subjects like sociology and philosophy take less time to prepare. It is always smart to select such a subject that will earn more marks in less amount of time.

6. What statistics say

Let’s look at most opted optional subjects. These numbers are not accurate but approximate figures. This will give you a rough idea about the popularity of optional subjects.

Optional Subject(Approx.) Number of Candidates
Public Administration3000
Political Sciencesecond 1800
Philosophysecond 1000

7. Our final recommendation

After considering the above mention point and after analysis of each point we have prepared the list of the top ten optional subjects for UPSC.

  1. Sociology
  2. Agriculture
  3. Medical Science
  4. Literature
  5. Anthropology
  6. Public Administration
  7. Psychology
  8. Law
  9. Geography
  10. History

All the above-mentioned subjects are high-scoring and relatively easy as compared to other optional subjects.

Optional Subject in UPSC Quiz

Q. What is the weightage of marks for the optional subject in UPSC Exams?

Ans: The total weightage of marks for the optional subject in UPSC is 500 out of 2025 marks.

Q. How many languages literature is available as an optional subject for UPSC?

Ans: The UPSC offers 22 language literature as an optional subject.

Q. Is it compulsory that you should have the optional subject as one of your subjects at graduation?

Ans: No, it is not a compulsion that your optional subject should be one of the subjects of your graduation. You can select any subject whichever you find easy and score.

Q. Who was the topper of the UPSC CSE exam in 2018 and what was his optional subject?

Ans: The Topper of the UPSC CSE exam 2018 was Kanishak Kataria his optional subject was Mathematics.

Q. Which is the most opted optional subject for UPSC CSE Exam?

Ans: Geography is the most opted optional subject for UPSC CSE Exam.


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