How to choose the perfect optional subject for IAS?

Apr 10, 2019 by

Choosing the Optional subject wisely can make a lot of difference in your score. It should be noted that the IAS Mains requires 9 Papers to be cleared by the candidates, out of which 2 Papers are for the Optional Subject. Each of the Optional Subject Papers carries 250 marks. So, if you choose the Optional Subject carefully, you have a bright chance of scoring the maximum out of the 500 marks. It can positively affect your rank as well. But, many a times, the students feel confused as to what Optional Subject would be the best one for them.

It should always be kept in mind that the Optional Subject that is best for an IAS aspirant may prove to be the worst for another. There is no general rule that may be applied by all while choosing an Optional Subject.

Tips for choosing the perfect optional subject for IAS

It cannot be denied that some of the Optional Subjects are chosen more often than others, it is not the subject, but the candidate who is going to score. However, the tips given below may help you choose the Optional Subject for IAS, that may prove to be perfect for you.

  1. Do you have an academic and/or professional background for the subject? If you have already studied the Optional Subject while pursuing your graduation or any other degree/diploma etc., it might help you while preparing for the IAS exam. Besides, it will be a great help while tightening your grip on the subject also. However, in case you feel that you do not have a strong hold over the subject even after having studied it earlier, it is more sensible not to choose it for the Optional Subject Papers for the Mains exam. The same applies if you feel that you have forgotten most of what you had studied. In that case, you can also choose a new subject for even in the case of the previously studied one, you would be required to re-read whatever you had studied earlier.
  2. Does the subject interest you? Nobody likes to pursue amonotonous activity.And preparing for the Optional Subject forms no exception to the rule. You friends and acquaintances might have chosen a specific Optional subject. Even quite a few of the Toppers might also have made the same choice. But as all the individuals are unique, you may have different areas of interest. So the Optional Subject that the Toppers and your friends might have found very interesting may not hold the same kind of interest for you. And if you find the subject dull and boring, you will not feel like studying it. And that may affect your score in the Subject. Even your rank might suffer considerably. So, it’s only sensible to choose the Optional Subject that interests you.
  3. Study material, the coaching institution and the faculty: All these aspects are interconnected when it comes to prepare for the Optional Subject that you opt for. It should not be forgotten that a competently designed study material, a coaching institution dedicated to the cause of equipping their students achieve their goals and a competent faculty – may help enhance and even cultivate the interest in the subject for a number of the candidates.

For example, Elite IAS Academy is quite well known for Sociology optional coaching – one of the Optional Subjects for the preparation of IAS exam. Mr. Bibhash Sharma, the Founder of the Academy has been teaching Sociology with great success. It is worth noting that Ila Tripathi, IAS (AIR-51, CSE-2016), (Abhilash Baranwal, IAS – AIR-44, CSE-2017) – has been known to score 301 marks, 303 marks respectively – one of the highest in Sociology. Theyalso provide online sociology classes, very popular among students.

Besides, it is remarkable that Sociology does overlap with the syllabus of the GS to some extent. So, if the subject is prepared well and studied properly, it would definitely provide an edge over other competitors while facing the Mains exam. So, it is also going to take some burden off the shoulders of the candidate while preparing for the Mains exam.

  1. Do not be swept off your feet by the myths and/or any other influence: Though you might be having a vast circle of friends and sensible ones too, it is best to distinguish between the myths and reality. As already said above, you might get to hear that a specific Optional Subject is more interesting than another.

Similarly, there may be great many more myths as well. Quite a number of the IAS aspirants might have scored very high in a particular Optional Subject. But that is no guarantee that all would have the same experience. So, try not to fall a prey to such or any similar myths that you might come across. It is best to choose for the Optional Subject with a cool and relaxed mind rather than in a haste. There is a famous adage that says that haste makes waste.

There are quite a number of the Optional Subjects that UPSC offers to opt from for the IAS exam. The commonly chosen ones by the IAS aspirants include Sociology, Geography, Public Administration, History etc. However, there is no dearth of the choices for the Optional Subjects. There are Sanskrit, Mathematics, Urdu, Pali Literature, Chemistry, Physics etc., as well.

Finally, one should always keep in mind that it is you who has to choose the Optional Subject. It is you who has to prepare for it. It is you who has to face the exam. It is you who has to score well. And hence the rank is likely to shoot higher than the competitors if you accomplish all these tasks well.

You should choose your optional subject with combination of different aspects, like – interest towards the subject (go through previous years questions), its scoring pattern in UPSC (very important, if you are to choose subject which you haven’t studied yet), availability of study materials and teacher or guide.

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