Optional Subject Performance in Civil Services Exam 2018 - An Observation

In the whole set-up, one thing that is exceptionally crucial in any candidate’s Civil Services Exam result is overall performance and marks secured in Optional Subject is one of the most significant one that impacts the fortunes.

Looking at the successful candidates in Civil Services Examination 2018, Cut-off and marks details gives lots of insights and identifies the areas that helped in success.

When it comes to future aspirants, inquisitiveness about performance of optional subject is top of mind and many a time, the current trends helps them decide the most suitable optional subject for themselves.

It is just an overview and not authentic figures; the observations are based on information gathered from successful candidates and associates from teaching fraternity.


Though, the weightage of the optional subject paper in just 500 marks out of aggregate 2025 marks; still, picking only ‘ONE’ optional subject is a major decision and its influence reflects clearly in your final results.

Aspirants’ curiosities converge at the Optional Subject that helped these candidates in accomplishment; we look at current trends and subject performance in recent CSE 2018.

Since the official authentic data available in public domain are stale and these gets published with a long gap, candidates look at the details from various sources.

Number of Successful Candidates CSE 2017 & 2018

As CSE 2018 result shows 759 successful candidates against 990 candidates recommended by UPSC for appointment to various posts and services.

This would have bearing on the performance of many optional subjects particularly on some of the most popular ones.

Diverse disciplines; different performance – A glance at steady performers in CSE 2018

When I expressed my views analysing CSE 2017 results and optional subjects’ performance exactly a year back and written in particular about Mathematics making a comeback; now, with success of Kanishak Kataria (Rank 1) in first attempt, spotlight is on Mathematics.

It is not only Rank 1; we have Karnati Varunreddy (Rank 7) and Tanmay Vashistha  Sharma (Rank 10) with Mathematics as optional subject in top 10. In all Mathematics would have 30+ successful candidates that show the emergence of Mathematics as a strong choice as optional subject.Optional Subject Performance in CSE 2018

Another popular optional subject that featured in my articles in last 4-5 years is Commerce and Accountancy. Atirag Chaplot (Rank 15) figures in top 20 with Commerce and Accountancy and if I say this subject has been the ‘Performer’, I will have many to back my view.

It is a specialized study and candidates with Commerce background only pick it as optional; moreover, this year, it was relatively tougher papers. With this backdrop, I feel with only a few hundred candidates opting Commerce and Accountancy, the result reported is remarkable and as I could gatherit would have 30 odd successes and hope the success-rate would have certainly gone up this year.

With brilliant success of Akshat Jain (Rank 2), Shreyans Kumat (Rank 4) and Varnit Negi (Rank 13), Anthropology continues to be a hot optional subject that is delivering result consistently. However, looking at its increasing popularity and number of candidates opting Anthropology as optional going up, this year successes reported are looking less in number comparing last year.

Another optional getting reputation of putting on good show is Law; non-Law background Shubham Gupta (Rank 6) and Vaishali Singh (Rank 8), a Law graduate have brought this subject in limelight. Here again, number of successful candidates looks lesser than last year.

Though, another optional subject where I see huge potential is Economics. Though, results are not as strong as other subjects discussed above; still you can spot many candidates with Economics as optional.

When candidates have to pick only ’ONE’ optional subject, candidates are imposing faith in their own subject; in such a scenario, CommerceEconomicsMathematics and Law are specialist subjects that stand to gain popularity.

Whereas Anthropology has been liked by all; Law has become a choice of even non-Law background candidates.

Medical Science also continues to dominate and once again would show decent success-rate.

All these optional subjects discussed above are potential performers and just keep an eye on these as concept of ‘choosing own subject’ is gaining momentum.

It gives me immense satisfaction when I am able to read the trends and spot the opportunities for future aspirants and year after year, their performance proves me right.

Political Science and International Relations continues its excellent run and with Gunjan Dwivedi (Rank 9) and Dhodmise Trupti Ankush (Rank 16) among top 20, it has probably the maximum success to report.

Among the most popular optional subjects Sociology also continue to deliver good results. Srushti Jayant Deshmukh (Rank 5) and Pujya Priyadarshini (Rank 11) among top 20 have brought laurels to the subject that is strengthening its place when it comes to choice of optional subject.

A few weeks back I shared my views about Public Administration making a comeback; I can spot many successful candidates with Public Administration as optional and am able to spot at least two among top 20. Ankita Choudhary (Rank 14) and Rishita Gupta (Rank 18) have achieved brilliant success with Public Administration as optional.

As such, sentiments were so low for Public Administration for such a long period that it is bound to show some turnaround sheer due to its relevance and overlap with General Studies Paper 2. With number of candidates choosing Public Administration as optional subject going down; now candidates understanding subject’s demands are able to perform better.

As I indicated last year also about Geography getting severely hit; may be because of most popular choice among candidates Geography has more disappointments than success reported; in CSE 2018 again it has not been able to revive its fortunes. Despite the fact that Junaid Ahmed (Rank 3) succeed with Geography as optional, it has probably lost its sheen.

Evergreen optional History is able to hold its fort with many successes to report.

Like Public Administration, another optional that is regaining life is Philosophy as lots of candidates with Philosophy as optional are visible in the merit-list.

Despite the fact that Mathematics saw stability, successful candidates with other pure science subjects are being sporadically spotted and interest in engineering subjects is on the rise.

The fortunes for those opting Literature of Languages as optional subject are not favouring as there is not much to write about. The lone success among top 25 is with Literature of English Language. 

Trend spotting is a difficult preposition when it comes to Civil Services Examination; but, if I have to pick a few optional subjects based on my observation, among the most popular optional subjects my eyes would be on Public Administration, History and Philosophy for Civil Services Examination 2019 and hope success-rate for these subjects improves.

As such, Political Science and International Relations and Sociology are delivering good results.

Psychology has been attracting gradually lesser candidates; but, it can continue to show high success-rate.

Always make a rational choice while deciding about Optional Subject

While making a choice about optional subject; current success trend of different optional subjects is just one factor that candidates keep in mind. Though, there are many other aspects, current performance of optional subjects is the major one.

However, you need to spend a little time to explore and be sure about the optional subject choice after evaluating various issues associated with it.

The following article can help you in making choice a little easier:

The right way to Choosing optional subjects for Civil Services (Main) Examination

Also Read: Performance of Optional Subjects in CSE 2017 - An Observation

Last Update Sunday 26th May 2019     

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