The Most Scoring Optional Subject in UPSC Civil Services Exam

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A lot of aspirants break their heads thinking about the optional subject that they should select for the USPC civil service exam. There are two papers for the optionals and each paper is out of 250 marks. That makes it a total of 500 marks for the optional subjects in the IAS mains exam. So, it is important to be careful before selecting an optional as it can make or break your IAS dreams. A lot of candidates ask, ‘Which is the most scoring optional in the UPSC CSE?’ An honest answer to this question would be none. Every individual is different with each one having unique preparation plans, studying methodologies, interests and academic backgrounds. So, there is no standard optional subject that would fit all. Every candidate should think for himself and come to a conclusion. And, once a decision is made, make every effort to study that chosen subject diligently.

If you look at the optional subjects of different toppers, you will realise that there is no one subject that stands out. So, what is the most scoring subject for the UPSC mains exam? We attempt to answer this question in this article.

A few points to consider in deciding which is the most scoring optional for IAS:

  • Science papers are more objective and there is not much room for interpretation. Subjects include mathematics, botany, zoology, physics, chemistry, etc. Here, if you know the answer to a question and have written the answer well, there is no reason for the examiner to withhold marks. So, science subjects can be scoring.
  • If you are good in arithmetic, statistics can be a scoring optional.
  • Economics and geography are also scoring papers especially for those with a science background.
  • For humanities background candidates, history and political science are good options. Although history is not technically considered scoring, it can be since the portions are more or less static in nature. If you prepare well enough, you can score good marks.
  • Geography is also scoring because of the scope of getting marks with diagrams and maps.
  • Public administration is also deemed scoring because of a well-defined syllabus and straight-forward questions.
  • If you have an inclination for them, the literature subjects can also suit you. For instance, Maithili Literature is supposed to be scoring. Again, you must have prior knowledge in the language.

As seen from above, there is no one subject that can be called scoring in the IAS mains exam. Your interest is most important when it comes to preparation. It would be a mistake to base your decision on what a topper suggested or on what the crowd is doing. As said before, different people have different styles of studying. So, when you choose an optional subject, remember the following:

  • Go through the list of optionals offered by the UPSC.
  • See what is your academic background.
  • Do you have an interest in the subject?
  • Do you have some knowledge about it?
  • Go through the UPSC previous year papers.

Weigh the pros and cons of different subjects and analyse your own strengths and weaknesses and come to a decision.

Some of the highest marks in optional UPSC was secured by Utsav Kaushal in the CSE 2016 with Mathematics as the optional. Read more.

Also, Read | How many optional subjects in IAS mains

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