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How to choose Best Optional Subject for civil services exam: Optional Subjects for Mains with high success rate

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Key steps to choose best optional subject for civil services exam that is best suitable for you.

“Which is best optional subject for IAS mains exam” is most frequent asked question that haunts most civil services aspirants even before they begin their preparation for civil services. Students often wish to choose the most popular and easy optional subject for IAS exam that have higher success rate, with a notion that it is easy to score well in a easy optional subject or best optional subject for UPSC suggested by different forum. This might not be the case always. The UPSC gives a choice of a variety of subjects for candidates to choose as per their interest. Aspirants must think hard before fixing on an optional. The two optional papers contribute 500 marks to the final tally and so, the optional subject can make or break your final ranking or your UPSC dream. It is unfair to say easy or difficult optional subject as each subject has its own pros and cons and each aspirants will have different academic backgrounds, aptitudes and interests of areas. The choice is strictly personal. In any case, in our endeavour to make life easier for IAS aspirants, we provide the success rates of the different optional subject selected by various UPSC aspirants in past years. In this article, I have tried to explain every aspect that you must care in order to select best optional subjects for Civil Services exam to get better score.

Optional Subject Success Rate
Candidates Appeared Candidates Recommended
Agriculture 18.6 220 41
Medical science 16.3 98 16
Animal husbandry and veterinary science 12.3 65 8
Economics 11.3 326 37
Psychology 10.9 1061 116
Anthropology 10.7 345 37
Public administration 10.5 3201 337
Political science 6.4 1320 85
Geography 5.8 4049 236
Sociology 5.7 1555 89
Chemistry 5.6 124 7
Commerce and Accountancy 5.6 266 15
History 5.5 3870 212
Law 5.2 365 19
Philosophy 4 2092 84
Zoology 3.7 484 18
Mathematics 2.9 277 8
The second table below gives the success rates based on  literature subjects in the UPSC main exam.
Optional Subject Success Rate
Candidates Appeared Candidates Recommended
Assamese 40 5 2
Punjabi 26.3 19 5
Gujarati 16.7 42 7
Kannada 16.7 84 14
Marathi 16.7 42 7
English 15 40 6
Urdu 13.8 29 4
Tamil 12.9 225 29
Sanskrit 8.2 122 10
Malayalam 7.5 67 5
Pali 7.1 255 18
Telugu 6.1 147 9
Hindi 5.7 974 56

We expect  above  information helps you decided which is the best optional subject for upsc, for you. Aspirants are advised to take a close look at the success rate and the total number of people who take up the optional as well. Aspirants  should also remember that these are mere indications to help in selecting the Best subject for IAS optional and the aspirants should also consider other factors such as their interest rather than deciding on which subject is popular or scoring. They should also think of availability of study materials of the optional subject before choosing the Best subject for civil services.

Before choosing an optional, instead of focusing on the ‘success rate’ , I recommend the considering three steps for aspirants –
  1. Interest in the optional (Most Important. You’ll have to stick with it through out your preparation)
  2. Availability of Study Material (Both online and offline as well as Mock Tests)
  3. Accessibility to Guidance (You’ll need it at times especially if the optional chosen by you is new to you)

All the very best for your preparation.

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