How Many Candidates take Literature Optionals in UPSC Mains?

In the UPSC civil services mains exam, there are two papers for the optional subject. Candidates can also opt for literature optionals. Check the list of optional subjects here. Not many candidates opt for the literature optionals; less than 10% of the total number of candidates taking the IAS mains exam selects a literature subject as the optional. This article presents some interesting figures regarding the number of candidates taking literature subjects as their optional.

The following table shows the number of candidates who had taken a literature subject as the optional in the years 2014 and 2015:

Language

Candidates in 2014

Candidates in 2015

English

33

21

Assamese

4

3

Bengali

3

6

Bodo

0

0

Dogri

0

2

Gujarati

87

108

Hindi

403

421

Kannada

131

116

Kashmiri

0

0

Konkani

0

0

Maithili

95

106

Malayalam

65

65

Manipuri

17

20

Marathi

24

15

Nepali

0

0

Oriya

7

7

Punjabi

61

50

Sanskrit

89

109

Santhali

1

2

Sindhi (Arabic script)

3

2

Sindhi (Devanagari script)

2

3

Tamil

94

93

Telugu

122

132

Urdu

31

40

Total

1272

1321

 

As is evident from the table, literature of Hindi language has the most number of takers. It is followed by Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Tamil and Maithili, although the exact order varies each year. Other major languages that are taken by the candidates include Malayalam, Punjabi and even Sanskrit.

One of the pros of taking literature optionals is that there is reduced competition because of the less number of candidates opting for these subjects. Another advantage is that the syllabus for these subjects is generally constant for 2 – 3 years. So, if you have been preparing for the past couple of years or so, you don’t need to update regularly, a mere revision will suffice. Most importantly, if you have a genuine interest and liking for the language, its preparation will seem less strenuous compared to the general studies subjects. Also, there is no limit to how well you can write the answers here.

An obvious disadvantage of taking the literature optionals is that being a subject of the humanities stream, it is subjective in nature. It is considered less scoring by some. In addition, there is literally no overlap with the general studies papers.

Also See | UPSC Mains: Statistics on Candidates’ Medium of Examination

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