Deciding the Best Optional Subject for UPSC Exam

Every year Union Public Service Commission ( UPSC ) conducts Civil Service Examination for recruiting candidates for administrative positions in the government like IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS, etc. The exam is conducted in three phases the prelims, mains, and interview. Every year lakhs of aspirants attempt the exam but only a few crack the exam.  The overall passing percentage of the exam is considered 0.2%. Therefore, it is considered one of the toughest exams in the world.

Every year aspirants in pursuit of fulfilling their dream start their UPSC preparation with full energy and zeal. But only a few who are consistent, and hardworking make it. 

Understanding the syllabus is a crucial factor in preparation.  It acts as a foundation for your preparation. Every year UPSC releases a notification of the latest updated UPSC Exam Syllabus. The vast syllabus of UPSC demands proper effort, time, and hard work from the candidate.

Once an aspirant has a clear understanding of the syllabus and pattern, the next step is to determine the mode of preparation, whether it’s self-study or joining an institute. Developing an effective study plan, tailored to individual strengths and weaknesses, is critical. As part of exam preparation, a candidate should include solving mock tests and previous year papers. Strengthening basic concepts is also essential, and starting with NCERT is a recommended approach. Even if an aspirant joins an institute, having a self-made study plan is vital. 

In addition to covering the UPSC syllabus, one should also attend guest lectures by past aspirants who have cracked the exam, attend personality development classes, interview training classes, etc. These extra activities boost your morale, keep you motivated, and help you in achieving your dream.

As mentioned earlier, there are three stages to the UPSC Exam: the preliminary exam, the main exam, and the interview. If candidates pass the preliminary exam, they can take part in the main exam, which consists of descriptive papers on topics such as English, an optional subject, and an essay. The optional subject, along with the general studies papers, is essential in determining a candidate’s overall score in the exam. Therefore, it is important for candidates to choose their optional subjects carefully to maximize their chances of achieving a high score.

Some basic criteria for deciding the best optional subject –

  1. Choose based on your interest 
  2. Available time to complete the syllabus
  3. Prior Knowledge about the subject
  4. Availability of study material
  5. Does it overlap with the GS exam and help you in future 

Factors that will help you decide the right subject – 

  1. Competition Level – Some candidates feel the subject which is the most preferable among the aspirants must be chosen. But it is not necessary that the most preferable subject is suitable for you.
  2. Availability of Resources – There are a lot of optional subjects but only a few have sufficient resource materials for covering the needed topics. Therefore, choose the subject that has the needed content.
  3. Familiarity with the subject – If you have studied the subject in your graduation or post-grad level, it would be an ideal choice. Otherwise choose based on your interest, resources, and syllabus.
  4. Vast Syllabus – One should carefully choose a subject that he/she thinks can be completed within the available time.

Every year lot of UPSC aspirants come to Delhi in order to fulfill their dreams. Most IAS aspirants prioritize joining an institute in Delhi, as many of the institutions in this area are renowned for their long-standing history of delivering excellent results. Popular areas in Delhi for IAS coaching include Rajinder Nagar, Karol Bagh, and Mukherjee Nagar, which are known for providing some of the best UPSC Coaching centre in Delhi.


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