Written byRamya Patelkhana
It is a three-stage exam comprising Prelims, Mains, and Personality Test. Choosing the right optional subject for Mains is a critical decision and not selecting the right one could be a terrible mistake.
Here are some tips to choose the optional subject.
The Main examination comprises nine papers, including two optional subject papers carrying 250 marks each.
These papers account for 500 marks or 25% of the total 2,025 marks considered for merit calculation- Mains Papers I-VII (250 marks each) and Personality Test (275 marks).
Candidates must choose the optional after considering various factors as it can make or break their shot at cracking UPSC CSE.
Also, UPSC guidelines say, "The questions [in optional papers] are likely to test the candidate's basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio‐economic goals, objectives, and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers."
The list of optional subjects includes Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Anthropology, Botany, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Commerce and Accountancy, Economics, Electrical Engineering, Geography, Geology, History, Law, Management, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Medical Science, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science and International Relations, Psychology, Public Administration, Sociology, Statistics, and Zoology.
Alternatively, candidates can also choose any one of the Language/Literature subjects prescribed by UPSC.
The list of Language/Literature subjects that candidates can choose their optional subject from includes Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, and English.
Toppers say scoring high in optional subject papers will give candidates an edge over others.
IAS officer RA Israel Jebasingh, Director of Chennai's IAS Academy, said on Quora that optional paper marks decide whether candidates get a call for the personal interview and join their preferred service and cadre.
Before choosing a subject, Jebsingh says, students should go through the complete list of subjects.
Jebasingh says after going through the optional subject list, candidates should shortlist any three and select one that suits them the best.
To make a better decision, one can also pick an optional subject after going through previous questions of the shortlisted subjects.
Students can also select a subject that interests them or one which they have already studied or acquired some knowledge about.
Candidates must consider several factors before making their decision, including their educational background, interests, and most importantly, the ease of access and availability of guidance/coaching/study material for that subject.
Even UPSC CSE-2017 AIR-2 holder Anu Kumari told TheBetterIndia that choosing an optional subject should depend on the availability of study material/guidance, candidates' interests, and the overlap in that subject's content with General Studies subjects.
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