Comparison of Optional Subjects’ Success Rates from 2010 to 2014

“Which is the best optional subject in the UPSC exam?” – is a question that haunts many IAS aspirants hoping to join the elite Indian civil services after clearing the civil services exam. Candidates have to choose one optional subject out of the list of more than 40 subjects given by the UPSC. Prior to 2013, candidates had to select two optional subjects. Thankfully, there is only one subject now, but it doesn’t seem to have lessened candidates’ confusion in this regard. There are many factors to consider before fixing on an optional subject in the IAS mains like academic background, interest levels, scoring ability, etc. There is no perfect optional subject since the criterion for success depends solely on the individual. However, for the benefit of candidates who are unable to make any headway in this crucial decision-making process, we bring you a comparison of the success rates of the optional subjects from 2010 to 2014. 

Table showing the success rates for the optional subjects (in percentage) from 2010 through 2014:

Optional subject

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Medical Science

18.8

23.4

23.4

16.4

19.9

Management

14.3

5.6

14.4

13.8

11.4

Anthropology

12

13.2

6.6

11.8

11

Sociology

10.5

8.2

9.2

9.1

10.6

Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science

10.1

10

23.1

15.6

14.3

Physics

9.9

9.6

6.4

8.8

9.3

Public Administration

9.2

7.9

5.1

6.2

5.3

Geography

8.6

7.6

7.2

5.6

7.3

Geology

8.3

10

14.3

6.7

3.6

Psychology

8.2

10.5

7.9

9.8

15.8

Law

8

8

17.1

24.3

17

Political Science and IR

7.6

9.7

10.9

6.1

6.3

Commerce and Accountancy

7.3

6.9

14.9

7.5

10.3

Mathematics

7.2

8.3

7.1

6.1

10

Economics

6.6

5.6

19

20.2

12.1

Chemistry

6.5

8.9

10.6

7.1

7.1

Mechanical Engineering

5.8

6.8

4.7

6.7

6.3

Zoology

5.5

7.1

12.7

9.8

11.4

Electrical Engineering

5.3

5.3

6.3

11.5

7.8

History

4.8

8.5

8.3

7.7

6.5

Philosophy

4.3

8.2

8.9

7.9

7

Botany

3.4

6.7

11.5

14

0

Civil Engineering

1.7

3.4

10.6

13

7.7

Agriculture

1.5

12.1

16.4

9.1

10.8

Statistics

0

5.3

6.3

16.7

16.7

Bodo Literature

100

0

0

NA

NA

Dogri Literature

100

0             

0

0

NA

Sindhi Literature (Devanagari script)

100

NA

0

0

0

Sindhi Literature (Arabic script)

100

NA

NA

NA

66.7

English Literature

26.7

15.1

21.9

16.7

9.1

Telugu Literature

24.6

8.2

11

4.3

10.7

Manipuri Literature

18.2

22.2

0

5

23.5

Tamil Literature

16.3

13.4

25

10.7

14.7

Marathi Literature

15.6

15.8

15.4

3.8

12

Malayalam Literature

14.6

27.3

15.2

8.7

10.8

Maithili Literature

14.6

10.1

14.7

10.7

14.7

Kannada Literature

14.4

24.7

13

12

10.6

Urdu Literature

8.5

40.9

22.2

17.9

19.4

Gujarati Literature

7.4

16.9

14.5

12.5

13.8

Sanskrit Literature

7.3

11.8

11.4

5.6

10

Hindi Literature

3.9

13.1

11.7

4.2

5.4

Punjabi Literature

2.6

16.7

10

11.1

6.6

Oriya Literature

0

7.1

0

10

0

Bengali Literature

0

20

0

16.7

33.3

Santhali Literature

0

33.3

33.3

100

0

Assamese Literature

0

25

37.5

0

0

 

It is evident from the table that medical science has been the most consistent performer among all the subjects. Please note that some of the literature subjects show a very high percentage (as much as 100%) because of the very less number of candidates who take the optional. For subjects marked ‘NA’, there were no candidates who had opted for that optional subject that year. The data for the discontinued subjects have not been included.

Also See | How Many Candidates take Literature Optionals in UPSC Mains?

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