UPSC Optional

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UPSC Optional

UPSC Optional is a crucial subject in the UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE) because that is the only subject that a candidate gets to choose. The marks of the UPSC Optional subject are also counted as merit. So, if a candidate chooses the right subject for the optional paper, he/she can have a lead of 20-50 marks. 

In this blog, we will provide you with all the details of UPSC Optional, including the subjects you can choose and the syllabus of these subjects.

Significance of UPSC Optional

The UPSC Optional paper is a significant part of the Civil Services Examination. The importance of optional subjects in UPSC  is because of the following points:

  • Candidates have the scope of gaining more marks in the Optional subject as compared to the General Studies paper; wherein even the topper can secure only 50 of the total marks, i.e. 475-525 marks out of 1000 marks. Choosing the right optional subject can help one score 350-370 marks out of the total 500 marks which is equivalent to 70.
  • Choosing a different optional subject will make the scores of the candidates differ by a huge margin. 

Also See: TJSB Exam 2022

How to Choose the Right Optional Subject for UPSC?

Candidates can choose the Optional subject for the UPSC Mains Exam based on the following criteria:

  • All the Optional subjects of the Union Public Service Commission exam are not easy to score. As a result, candidates’ primary concern should be choosing a subject in which they can score good marks easily as per their knowledge and preparation. For example, in the years 2005 and 2006, Public Administration was one of the most popular subjects among students.
  • The choice of Optional subject would also vary depending on the candidate’s abilities. Hence, choosing a subject where the candidates can demonstrate their skills is wise. For example, for a candidate with writing skills, it will be better to choose subjective papers such as Literature and Sociology.
  • Another factor that plays a crucial role in deciding the optional subject is the candidate’s own interest. If a candidate is interested in a particular subject, it will be easy for him/her to score well. The reason is that it will be easy for them to work hard on the subject that they like.
  • Commonality-  If the subject is there in the general studies paper then choosing that subject would mean that the general paper would be relatively easy. In that case, the weightage of the paper has to be high.
  • Another thing to consider while selecting the optional paper is to check the length of the syllabus and the information available on the subject. 
  • The more dynamic a subject is, the more difficult it is to prepare. There are some subjects for which the answers change every year. For example, Political Science and International Relations. 
  • Finally, a candidate has to consider his/her background in a subject. Having a background in a particular subject makes the optional paper relatively easy to prepare.

List of UPSC Optional Subjects 

Here is the UPSC Optional subjects list for 2022. A candidate can choose the most suitable Optional subject for UPSC from the list given below.

2. Civil Engineering
3. Geology
4.Mechanical Engineering
6.Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
7.Commerce and Accountancy
9.Medical Science
10Public Administration
17Electrical Engineering
24Political science and International Relations

Literature is also a part of the UPSC Mains Exam. A candidate can choose his/her literature paper out of these options.


Optional subjects with a high success rate

Below given are some of the UPSC Optional subjects with high success rates.

S.NoSubjectSuccess Rate (%)
1Agriculture 10.5
2Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science18.8
6Civil Engineering10.3
7Commerce & Accountancy10.9
9Electrical Engineering8.0
15Mechanical Engineering5.6

Preparation Tips for the UPSC Optional Subject

Here are some tips that you can keep in mind while selecting and preparing for the optional subject:

  • Choose a Strategy that Works 

While preparing for the optional paper, it is best to choose a strategy that works best for the candidate. Either prepare for the GS (General Studies) and the optional papers simultaneously or choose to study them one by one. The choice completely depends upon the pattern that the student is comfortable with.

  • Consider Subject Knowledge

Those candidates who are good with objective papers should go for subjects like UPSC optional  Mathematics syllabus, Physics, and Geography. The reason is, that these subjects have only one correct answer. While those who are good with subjective papers can go for subjects that require high linguistic skills, writing, and knowledge of humanities. The candidate must consider his/her strength while preparing for that subject.

  • Devote Adequate Time 

On average, a candidate would need to spend 400 hours preparing for your UPSC Optional Syllabus. Adding the revision and answer writing, practising UPSC optional previous year papers, and mock papers it would take around 700 to 1000 hours to gain excellent scores in the optional subject exam.

  • Get Notes in case of Self-study

A candidate can clear the UPSC exams with self-study. However, it is best to get all the notes from coaching institutions. Solving mock test papers to specialize in the subjects is also a good idea. It is also best to find someone who can evaluate those answers.

  • Give Preference to NCERT subjects

Give preference to NCERT subjects as they will cover basics. Therefore, it will help to write answers concisely.


What is the full form of UPSC?

The full form of UPSC is the Union Public Service Commission.

Will the Optional Subject be removed from UPSC 2025?

UPSC Optional subjects will not be removed from the upcoming civil services exams.

Which is the highest-scoring optional subject in UPSC?

The highest-scoring UPSC optional paper is Anthropology.

Who scored the highest marks in UPSC 2021?

Shruti Sharma holds the Number 1 All India Rank (AIR) for the UPSC exams held in 2021.


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This was all about the “UPSC Optional”.  For more informative blogs, check out our UPSC Exams Section, or you can learn more about us by visiting our  Indian exams page.

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