UPSC Mains Exam: Optional Subjects that Overlap with General Studies Paper

It seems to be a challenging task to choose an optional subject for UPSC Mains exam. After all, it is a matter of 500 marks, it can make or break the final score. There are many things one should consider before deciding an optional subject for oneself. One of the factors is the overlap of certain subjects with the subjects of general studies. Read on to find out which optional subjects have the most overlap with general studies papers. This will help you make a decision on the optional subject for the IAS mains.

Know more about UPSC 2021 at the linked article.

Choosing optional subjects with maximum GS overlap:

  • Since a lot of topics would overlap so one can save a lot of time. This is advisable especially when you have truly limited time for your preparation. If you are weak in an optional subject, it is better not to choose it despite it being an overlapping subject. This move might backfire.
  • Check the general studies syllabus mentioned in the IAS Notification mentioned in the linked article.


Topics in history overlap in General Studies I. Topics in history like ancient, medieval and modern Indian history, culture is present in GS paper I.

You can check out all about the IAS history optional in the link below:

History optional UPSC – Strategy, Books, Syllabus, Preparation Tips


Geography finds overlap in GS paper I.

Political science & international relations

This optional subject finds overlap in general studies paper II. The syllabus for GS II includes the constitution, polity, social justice and international relations. All this is covered in the polity. So, political science is an excellent optional in terms of GS overlap.

Advantages of Political Science Optional for UPSC Mains Exam


Economics is an optional subject with repeated topics in general studies paper III. Economic development is a topic in GS III.

Public administration

In this subject, a lot of topics find overlap in GS paper II like governance and constitution.

Other subjects that find considerable overlap with general studies include sociology, law and philosophy (especially in the ethics paper).

Make sure that you don’t choose an optional for yourself based on overlap criterion only. Your interest and prior knowledge matters. Other factors that you should consider are the availability of study material and coaching. For more on selecting the right optional subject, click on the link given below:

Choosing the Right Optional Subject for UPSC Civil Services Mains

It is always advisable to prepare the optional subject before you make your decision to fill the UPSC Online Application.

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