UPSC CSE is all about Main exam (Pre is screening only) and Main exam is all about writing papers.
CSE has three stages (Officially only two) -Pre, Mains and Personality Test (Interview). Candidates are screened out through Preliminary Exam and eligible students get an opportunity to write the Main Exam which is main because the marks attained here will be counted for making and deciding the AIR, Cadre and Service. Total 1750 marks are at stake which comprise of Seven Papers . The Distribution of Papers and marks are given below-
CIVIL SERVICES (MAIN) EXAM-
Two Language Papers (300 Marks each) are of qualifying nature only.
As displayed above, 500 Marks of optional Subject are very crucial as it is YOUR SUBJECT and UPSC gives leverage to you to choose any optional subject from the list of 27 Subjects.
List of optional subjects
Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
Commerce and Accountancy
Literature of any one of the non-English languages listed above
Political Science and International Relations
Isn’t it like choosing your best weapon before going to a War?
So How to choose a good 0ptional subject? I don’t think there could be any subject termed the Best.
There have been multiple discussions or debates which subject is better ,which has outperformed others or which has been butchered. Market gurus attempt to predict that this year subject X will shine or subject y will witness assault. This is confusing and creating information asymmetry nothing Else.
I would like to emphasize here that UPSC does not play any favoritism card ,it gives equal weightage to all the optional subjects else it would have not given a long list of subjects. We see students getting selected from almost every optional subject though the percentage may vary. Have a look on the table to see the selection from the optional subjects( We don’t state it is relative performance of subjects since Subjects cannot be compared because of unequal sample size )-
UPSC Optional Subjects Success Rate
So how to select an optional subject for getting success in CSE?
UPSC LOUNGE is of the view that Its only you who should decide this Million Dollar Question based on your inherent strength and weakness (Can you ask a student from Humanity background to choose Physics or Mathematics? OR Vice Versa -Obviously NO).However , we put forth following points to enable you in making a wise decision-
Overlapping of the syllabus- CSE is about General studies(Entire Pre exam and 1250 marks of CSM) and you can’t afford to remain away from the GS for a considerable time. Whenever you prepare for your Optional Subject, it should be in sync with GS and imagine if you have got overlapping Optional Subject- EK TEER SE DO NISHANE! Can you also think about a doctor preparing medical science as optional? She is away from core GS syllabus for the entire duration of optional preparation. She might get good marks in optional but at the cost of bigger sacrifice. The Result-Poor performance in GS and Essay papers.
So we recommend you that the biggest criteria in subject selection should be overlapping of syllabus-your chosen optional subject should overlap with the GS Papers. For example-Geography has got overlapping syllabus with GS Paper I ( Around 7-8 questions are asked from Geography out of 20 Questions in CSM GS Paper I). There are some overarching concepts helpful for GS paper III and you can also import some good content to your essays. Can you recall how many questions came from Geography in this years CS(Pre)?
PSIR has got good amount of overlapping with GS Paper II(See International Relations!). Same applies to Sociology, History, Pub Ad etc. So Smart job is to pick an overlapping subject to make your task simpler because it will give you an extra edge in your GS papers and it will save your precious time you can better utilize in answer writing. Remember time is the only Luxury a serious Civil Service Aspirant does not have.
Background and Aptitude- Second criteria to decide an optional paper is see a subject you have read during your college years. This can be a tough call for professionals but people with humanities background or three years program can choose one out of three subjects they have studied during graduation. Also . People who want to prepare right from the first year of their degree should pick a relevant subject and can strengthen it well over three years of college life.
So what is an optimal subject for a master degree holder? Our simple answer is your master’s subject because you know better than anybody in your subject. You have already gone through the syllabus and written university papers. Just align your subject with UPSC exam and you will get good marks for sure.
Your aptitude can be different from your interest and you can prepare a subject as per aptitude if was not studied at college. This is applicable for professional who wish to move away from their degree subjects .They can choose any subject from the list of 26 subjects. Interest Is irrelevant because you are preparing a subject for UPSC to score maximum not a fiction to time pass. Once you select an optional, you will have to put in har work and dedication and believe me-the subject will appear interesting to you.
ALWAYS BE UPFRONT-YOU WANT TO INCREASE KNOWLEDGE OR MARKS ! Both are not the cause and effect, look around! Many candidates crack this exam in first or second attempt whereas many Gyani people keep trying and trying.
Syllabus and Resources- As already brought out, all subjects in the offing are equal in size and scope and UPSC Panel has done fantastic job in assigning syllabus and difficulty level. Nobody can make a claim that subject X is smaller in volume or its Question Paper is easier compared to others. But still some subjective feeling exists. For example-Anthropology, Psychology , Botany etx.
Rather the looking only into volume, also assess the resources available at your end. If you are choosing a new subject, you need to have good pool of study materials including core text books, tutorials and a good test Series to practice answer writing. remember Mains is about Answer writing. Hence, this is an important criteria to select optional subject. Your intention should be on minimum resources, maximum resourcefulness and effectiveness . Because Gyan nahi number badhane hai!
So apply these criteria to reach to a conclusion, select an optional and make it BEST for you by finding your place in the holy pdf. We also suggest a Litmus Test –
-Go to UPSC Official Notification. Go through the list of Subjects .Strike off those you cant go with.
-Zero in 3-4 subjects you might choose one out of them.
-Go through the syllabus assigned to each subject, Check out your level of Familiarity. Have a glance over PREVIOUS YEARS QUESTONS. Are you able to recall any relevant stuff and feel confident? Reach to the most Familiar subject.
Total Fees: Rs.25000/- + GST.
REGIMENT for Optional Subjects by UPSC LOUNGE
UPSC LOUNGE has always at the forefront in devising customized modules for candidates ( Refer to our Sampoorna for Beginners, Nirantar for working professionals and Swavalamban for the home makers) to provide the most relevant and quality study materials. Thanks for posing your faith and trust in team UPSC LOUNGE , it propels us to sweat more to bring better versions. Since Long, we were receiving many queries regarding launching of Optional Subjects. We have also realized the deficiency towards giving you a holistic preparation.
We launch a dedicated module -Optional Regiment!
Why Regiment? Because Regiment is a Team of best soldiers recruited for a common purpose i.e. defending the nation. Here in Optional Subject Regiment, through the qualified faculties and content writers, we will try to give you the befitting preparation for the subject chosen. It will be One Stop Solution for all your concerns such as Classes, Content& Value Added Notes etc. We have crafted a scalable and practical planner and will adhere to the commitments we make to ourselves besides our aspirants. Our Faculties are experienced and seasoned teachers who have well understood the nitty gritty of exam syllabus, pattern, and examiners viewpoint in setting question papers.
Subject Offered –
Public Administration and International Relations (PSIR)
So what we promise to provide you!
Live , Interactive Classes
Value Added Notes
Daily Target Drill
Daily Answer writing Practice
Weekly Mini Tests
Mains Test Series
Mental Helpline (in case you need it)
We can assure you that similar to our GS classes, optional classes will give you that needed confidence and ultimate boost to overall preparation so that You will be Groomed To Lead .We together Can and will Create a Beautiful success story.