UPSC Mains Exam consists of 4 General Studies papers, one Essay and one Optional Subject Exams. Almost every candidate who appears for the UPSC Mains Exam scores average marks. In General Studies papers I TO IV, it is difficult to score very high marks. But it is the UPSC Optional subject which will decide whether one will get the interview call or not. In the past, many UPSC Toppers who have cleared the exams have fully relied on the Optional Exam’s good score to secure a Service of their choice.
While choosing an optional subject, the following factors should be taken into consideration should be kept in mind
- Interest in Subject
- Availability of Study Material
- Overlapping with General Studies
- Educational Backgrounds
- Interest in subject – The first and foremost factor while choosing an optional subject is to consider one’s interest in the subject. It is quite possible that the subject which other people find difficult can be interesting for you. There are a few subjects which are quite popular among UPSC aspirants. For example – History, PSIR, Geography, Sociology, Public Administration and Economics. But you should keep in mind that whichever subject you choose, you have to go through it 3-4 times. If you choose an Optional Subject in which you have interest, it can become the most scoring subject for you.
- Availability of Study Material: Study material plays a very important role when choosing an Optional Subject. Even if one is from a medical science background and the material is not available from UPSC point of view, this might not be the best choice. When deciding on your optional subject, consider the availability of study materials.
- Overlapping with General Studies: One can choose an optional subject which is having some part of its syllabus overlapping with General Studies subjects. In this way, one will have some prior knowledge before choosing the optional subject. Also, the efforts required to prepare the optional subject will reduce manifolds. If several topics in both the Optional and G.S are the same, they do not require any additional preparation.
- Educational Background: Educational background plays a significant role. For instance, if someone comes from an arts background, they are likely to find arts subjects more manageable than technical ones. On the other hand, if a person has pursued engineering but has lost interest in it, they should consider opting for other subjects. These subjects are easier to grasp, and the time needed for preparation is relatively short.
You can also watch this video on Launchpad IAS youtube channel.