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10 factors to help you in deciding Optional Subject best suited for Civil Services (Main) Examination from the list of few subjects short-listed

While choosing suitable optional subject you should follow a systematic approach.

After short-listing a few optional subjects from the given list of optional subjects available your search becomes little easier.

You may look at following 10 factors that help you in zeroing on a particular subject that contributes in a big way in your success-plan.


10 factors to help you in deciding which subject is best suited to you for Civil Services Examination from the list of few subjects which surround your mind.

1. Study material availability:

It should be the first criteria when you opt for any particular subject. You should understand the examination standards and examiners’ expectation which clearly indicate that anything of average quality will not work here.

Basic books do not suffice the purpose and as these are printed with some gap, these fail to update you on current and evolving issues.

Many a time even standard set of books do not fully cover the syllabus. So, you need relevant, up-to-date and crisp content which covers syllabus fully and takes care of newly added topics as well.

If, the subject you choose has enough study material which can fulfill your requirements, shortlist the subject for further consideration.

2. Interest in the subject:

Being familiar with any subject doesn’t mean that you develop interest in it.

You need to have proper understanding of the subject, till the time you don’t have interest, how can you continue preparation as you move ahead from the basics.

3. Aptitude for the subject:

How so ever interesting the subject is or you are familiar with that subject, till the time you don’t have aptitude, you can’t move. Skills and knowledge can be built up over time. Interest can be developed once acquaintance grows and learning progresses.

History is a very interesting subject but you don’t have aptitude for remembering facts and figures, how can you attain a level which ensures success?

It is said higher the aptitude; better the chances of an outstanding performance.

4. Capacity to absorb information related to subject:

This becomes important as you have to manage preparation for General Studies and the optional subject you are going to decide with this exercise.

You fully understand your capabilities and despite interest and aptitude for any particular subject, if you find any subject has staggering demand, think again before opting for such subject.

If any subject requires such extraordinary efforts which are beyond your capacity, better to ignore that subject and review another from the rest.

5. The nature of the subject and time it requires for preparation:

Each and every subject has its own requirements and special demands which you need to execute.

You can’t escape as you have to reach the examination level. It is not that examination will adjust to your level. Again, how much time it will require to reach examination level and do you have sufficient time to do that.

You can have best of the study material and even top rated coaching, if you feel that you will not be able to do justice with it, better take any other subject.

6. Overlapping a portion of General Studies syllabus:

Yes, it is logical to opt for some subject part of which gets covered with your rest of preparation.

History, Political Science, Sociology, Geography even Economy help you in General Studies preparation. Likewise, some subjects like Philosophy renders some helps in Essay and interview stage.

Take a look at the subjects you have short listed and see if any falls in this category. Pick it up for further review.

7. Size of syllabus:

On the face of it, it may seem so but look at the past years’ question papers and trends before finally deciding about any subject.

Few subjects like Philosophy, Hindi Literature, and Anthropology etc. are some of the optional subjects which prop up on this parameter.

UPSC does not allow such discrimination based on syllabus size. Again, not every aspirant opt these optional subjects is able to succeed.

Still you find any optional subject which can work to your benefit; make your own judgment.

8. Marks yielding/high scoring subjects:

No doubt, there are few subjects which are considered to be highly scoring by aspirants based on hearsay. Many a time, candidates fetch really high scores in subjects like Mathematics, Physics, some Engineering subject and even some language literatures of Languages.

Don’t fall in trap of those coaching institutes which show promising scores of 300+ in the optional they are offering. It is what I call juggling as I feel every subject is scoring and candidates get good marks and succeed with almost all subjects.

Only those who have excellent preparation and deliver scintillating performance can expect anything close to 300 and that can be achieved in any subject. You may find many candidates achieving scores in vicinity of 280-300 in almost all popular subjects.

It is another matter you have few subjects which have become very popular and attract thousands of aspirants and their marks, their successes are prominently highlighted.

Still, add any optional which attracts you on the basis of scoring pattern.

9. Availability of resource on Internet:

For some aspirants, this examination is becoming book-less examination and their dependence on Internet impacts the choices they make.

As such, UPSC is in an inventive mode and looking at their approach towards contemporary issues, internet plays a vital role in preparation.

Most of the candidates with professional degrees and even some working candidates are really hard pressed for time and don’t have much time left before examination can consider bulky books; their preference is online study resource where they can prepare during breaks.

But, this alone should not be the basis for your subject choice.

10. Guidance/quality coaching/Test Series availability:

Not everyone is interested in Coaching that is why it has found space as the last reasons for consideration.

It is an important factor as in last few years; the examination has the level much above it used to have.

When you are hard pressed for time and wish to achieve a competitive edge, you can always reach out to the experts who can take you to the level this examination requires.

Look out for the subjects where you have trusted coaching institutes who innovate, follow the latest trends and fulfil you examination related requirements.

Good guidance can always be a deciding factor, if you desire or require, single out from the subjects you have picked up. 

Last Update Monday 23rd April 2018     

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