Top 10 Optional Subjects for UPSC


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The candidates preparing for UPSC confuse over which optional subject to take. Optional subject has different meanings to different candidates. It may be one which is intended to score more marks, or the one which is easier to understand, the most recommended one or the one for which the coaching is available.


Most of the IAS aspirants go for a simple option whose main motive is scoring. Irrespective of the likes and interests, they just choose the subject and mug it up in a perception for scoring good or attaining qualifying marks.  Some of the scoring subjects which are opted by most of the candidates are Geography and Public administration.


The selection of optional subject also depends on the popularity of the subject. Suppose the last exam topper has taken Sociology as the optional subject, the general trend follows opting Sociology as the preferred subject.

Coaching/ Self Study

Suppose you have joined a coaching center for the preparation and the center has limited faculty for teaching. So you are not left with many options. You are destined to take the subject for which the coaching is available. But suppose you are preparing on your own, then you can take subjects which require lesser coaching and more of self study such as Public administration, History etc.


Suppose you are a medical graduate then you will definitely prefer medical sciences as the optional subject. It’s better and recommended to choose a subject of your interest or which you have already studied before. This will make sure that you have some basic understanding of the subject and have to focus on the application part of the concepts. People with engineering background prefer choosing Mathematics, Geography as the optional subject.

Always remember that the subject you choose should be of your interest and you should have sound understanding of the principles and laws governing that. Choosing a wrong subject may help you clear the prelims but does not guarantee for mains. While on the other hand choosing a subject of your interest increases your chances for qualifying the mains with flying colors.

Essentially, whichever subject you chose should

  • Not make you feel bored or sleepy
  • Have Capability to excite you to know more
  • Make you think innovatively
  • Have the study material easily accessible either offline or online

Here is a quick list of top 10 subjects which are mostly opted by the UPSC aspirants. This list is just to give you an idea regarding the ongoing trend.

  • Economics
  • Law
  • Public Administration
  • History
  • Geography
  • Sociology
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Medical Science
  • Mathematics

Scoring and popularity are just the indicators. If you are not having interest in the subject just don’t make it your optional subject. Remember, every optional subject confides equal scoring capabilities. You just need to practice your syllabus and possess good writing skills. Decision is yours, make it wisely as it can make or break your future.

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