IAS Subjects for Science Students

Off late, a lot of students from science and technical backgrounds like engineering and management are trying their hand at the UPSC civil services exam. Apart from the draw of the IAS tag, the change in the UPSC exam pattern especially in the prelims, wherein the CSAT paper includes mathematical ability, data interpretation and logical reasoning, has led to this change in the profile of UPSC candidates.

All the exam dates, exam plan and scheme, the procedure of application, and other relevant information is given in the  UPSC Notification.

While most of the UPSC syllabus includes traditional humanities subjects like history, political science, public administration, etc., a candidate can choose from a lot of optional subjects which encompass science and engineering subjects also. There are two optional papers (with one optional subject only) each for 200 marks thus making a total of 400 marks. So, if you take the right optional, you can score well in the IAS mains exam. This article tries to help a science background student to pick his/her optional subject.

First of all, we give you the list of optional subjects you could choose from for the UPSC mains exam. You have to choose one optional from the list below:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal husbandry and veterinary science
  3. Anthropology
  4. Botany
  5. Civil engineering
  6. Chemistry
  7. Commerce
  8. Economics
  9. Geography
  10. Electrical Engineering
  11. History
  12. Geology
  13. Philosophy
  14. Political science
  15. Psychology
  16. Sociology
  17. Law
  18. Mathematics
  19. Public administration
  20. Management
  21. Mechanical engineering
  22. Medical Science
  23. Physics
  24. Zoology
  25. Statistics

Good Science Optional Subjects:

  • Animal husbandry and Veterinary Science
  • Anthropology
  • Botany
  • Civil Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Medical Science
  • Physics
  • Zoology

As you saw, there are a lot of science and engineering subjects you can choose.

If you are a recent graduate or are still doing your graduation and have started your IAS preparation, it is recommended that you take that subject as your IAS optional. This way you can save time and also take advantage of the fact that the knowledge is still fresh in your mind.

If there is a gap between your graduation and IAS preparation, there are three scenarios:

i) You still remember your graduation subjects well: In this case, you can take up your old subject as your IAS optional.

ii) You are out of touch with your graduation subject but still have to tune for scientific and technical topics: In this case, it is recommended that you take up a subject that has a scientific base to it, such as the following:

  • Anthropology
  • Geology
  • Geography
  • Economics
  • Psychology

These subjects will also help you in the General Studies papers.

iii) You have forgotten your graduation subject to a great extent: In this case, it is advisable for you to take up a subject that is strongly covered in the General Studies papers like history, geography, economics, public administration or political science. Since you have to start from scratch, taking up these subjects can help you cover a lot of ground in the general studies papers as well.

It is strongly recommended that you go through the UPSC syllabus of each subject before choosing an optional.

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