In this article, you will read about the UPSC CSE optional subject list and a few pointers on how to decide on an optional for the IAS mains exam.
The Prestigious Civil Services examination conducted by the UPSC has three stages. The aspirants who have just begun their preparations have various questions such as “How many subjects in IAS Exam”, “How many optionals in UPSC?” etc. This article attempts to clear the air and familiarise the students with the IAS Exam subjects. The UPSC mains (written) examination comprises nine papers. This includes two qualifying papers and seven papers which will be calculated for ranking. Read on to know what the optional subjects in IAS are.
How many optional subjects for IAS?
Here, we give the complete list of optional subjects for UPSC IAS Mains Examination. Aspirants can check the linked article to know more about UPSC Syllabus and IAS Exam
General Studies Paper I to IV for IAS Mains Exam
The Four General Studies Papers are:
|General studies||Topics covered||Total marks|
|General Studies Paper-I||Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society||250|
|General Studies Paper-II||Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations||250|
|General Studies Paper-III||Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management||250|
|General Studies Paper IV||Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude||250|
What is the Optional Subject in IAS exam?
For the civil services examination, UPSC provides a list of optional subjects. Candidates have to choose one optional for the mains exam. The optional subject has two papers and each paper accounts for 250 marks. Candidates can choose from the list of optional subjects that also includes literature subjects (English and Indian languages).
The papers for the examination will be descriptive in nature. Each paper for UPSC mains exam will be of three hours duration. The question papers, other than the literature of language papers will be set in Hindi and English only. The optional paper plays an important role in the UPSC mains exam.
How many optional subjects in UPSC exam?/How many optional subjects in UPSC? The table below lists how many optional subjects to choose for IAS exam.
UPSC Civil Services Optional Subjects/Optional List for UPSC:
|S. No||List of Optional Subjects in UPSC||Detailed Syllabus|
|2||Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science||Syllabus|
|7||Commerce & Accountancy||Syllabus|
|20||Political Science & International Relations||Syllabus|
List of literature optional subjects in UPSC
Aspirants can opt for a literature subject as their optional for UPSC Mains even if they had not taken that language as their graduation subject. There will be two papers. Each paper is of 250 marks. The languages prescribed here are from the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
|S.No||List of Literature Optional Subjects||Detailed Syllabus|
UPSC Mains Optional related queries
- What is the success rate of optional subjects in the UPSC exam?
- From 2015 and 2016 data, the success rate for a few Literature papers in the IAS mains exam is the highest. However, considering that few candidates opt for these subjects in UPSC mains, these success rates should be taken only as a broad reference.
To know the success rate of optional subjects in the IAS mains exam in detail, please check the linked article.
- Which subject is best for IAS Mains optional?
- Subjects with high syllabus overlap with General Studies are usually considered to be a good bet. However, other factors like individual preference, study material availability and nature of syllabus, etc are equally important.
Refer to the linked article to select the best UPSC mains optional subject for you.
- Is Psychology a good optional for IAS?
- In 2015, a total of 1163 candidates had opted for this optional out of which 92 were recommended for the UPSC interview round. That gives it a success rate of 7.9% that year. Psychology is an interesting subject with a scope of citing real-life examples. However, there is no significant overlap with the General Studies syllabus for both UPSC Prelims and IAS Mains. To know about the pros and cons of selecting Psychology as the optional in the UPSC mains exam, please click here.
- Is Agriculture a good optional for IAS?
- In the recent past, Agriculture has emerged as a scoring optional in UPSC mains. The syllabus for Agriculture Paper 1 has significant overlap with GS in mains and in Prelims. However, Paper 2 has concepts related to Botany. It’s relatively contained syllabus adds to its popularity.
To know about the pros and cons of selecting Agriculture as the optional in the UPSC mains exam, please click here.
- Is Geography a good optional for IAS?
- Geography is one of the most popular optional subjects for IAS aspirants. The significant overlap of the Geography optional syllabus with GS 1 and CSE Prelims exam is one of the key reasons behind its popularity. In 2015, AIR 1, Ira Singhal aced the exam with the same optional. However, it’s comprehensive syllabus is a challenge.
To know about the pros and cons of selecting Geography as the optional in the UPSC mains exam, please click here.
- In which month UPSC exams are held?
- The three stages of the UPSC CSE exam are distributed throughout the year. For UPSC 2020, the exam date/months are given below:
- Prelims – October 4, 2020
- Mains – January 8, 2021, onward
- Interview – March/April (2021) [Tentative]
- Does UPSC syllabus change?
- Yes, refer the UPSC notification for the particular exam year to see the latest syllabus. Download the pdf of the updated 2020 UPSC syllabus here.
Now that you have a clear picture of how many optional subjects are chosen for IAS, you can choose the right optional and start preparing for your IAS exam.