UPSC Civil Services exam is a three stage process comprising of Prelims, Mains and Interview. The final merit list is prepared based upon Mains and Interview score. The cumulative score of Mains and Interview is 2025 Marks. A candidate scoring 50% marks can easily get top 200 rank in the coveted list. As per Civil Services Exam 2018 merit list, a score of 1065 out of 2025 i.e. 52.5% marks can get you top 10 rank. The UPSC CSE Rank 1 generally has marks up to 55 –56 %.

Candidates have to choose an optional from the list of optional subjects given by UPSC. There are 26 optional subjects including literature as one subject ( Note:- If a candidate chooses literature optional, then he has to choose anyone of the 23 languages prescribed by UPSC).

The optional subject carries a weight-age of 500 marks. A score in the range of 280–300 is considered a good score. Thus, the optional subject can easily contribute around 30% to your final score which is significant. Moreover, Optional subject also provides a degree of certainty to your score as general studies and interview are highly unpredictable. Because of this, choosing the correct optional subject and preparing it thoroughly is vital.

While choosing any Optional subject, following things should be kept in mind:

  1. Length of Syllabus — some of the Optional subjects have too vast syllabus which compromises candidates’s general studies preparation.
  2. Whether your graduation subject is their in the Optional subject list? And if yes, then is the syllabus same or different?
  3. Average marks and highest marks being scored by candidates and total selections from that Optional subject in past 2–3 years. Anthropology, Mathematics outscore other subjects here.
  4. Books, study material, test series available. Some of the popular Optionals like Public Administration, Geography, Political Science have easily available study material, books etc.
  5. Degree of overlap of Optional syllabus with general studies syllabus. History, Geography, Public Administration, Political Science, Sociology cover a good deal of general studies syllabus.
  6. And most important, your interest in the subject. This is the single most important parameter because until and unless you can develop interest in that subject, you cannot study it at length, nor would you strive to dive deeper into the topics.

In case you are undecided about choosing Optional subject, it is better to first start with general studies preparation where you will be reading about History, Geography, Polity, Economics etc. Delaying about choosing Optional is better than making a wrong choice and then making a shift which can spoil your one year.

UPSC GUIDE is an online education platform registered under the Government of India under Nikam Education OPC Private Limited, which functions under the Advisory board of Previous Years Selected Officers. The Primary motto of the organization is to break the barriers of UPSC Aspirants and help them achieve their dream and fly with colorful wings in the skies of Mussorie and career as well. In recent year 2020-21 we have made accomplishment of reaching every corner of the nation. We are proud to make this announcement that more than 5000 students have enrolled into various courses provided by us including the GS Foundation Course and Optional Classes for various subjects. We were also successful in covering the current Affairs classes along with qualified Self Study Plans and Test Series. We are also happy to announce that we have extended our reach to J&K Family supporting aspirants with Free Coaching in Kapwara district Administration (J&K). Innovation is the key to deal with the current changes and challenges we face. With this note we have successfully helped aspirants connect with achievers. We at UPSC GUIDE conducted various Live Sessions (Open for all) with many dignitaries. Till date we have reached the count of 150 Officers who have completed the live session on our social handle (IG: @upsc_guide) Live sessions with Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi (Ex IPS Officer), Ira Singhal IAS AIR -01,Dr. Bilal Bhat IAS AIR 10, Saurabh Sabhlok IFS, Safin Hasan IPS, Pradeep Singh IAS, Nitin Kulkarni IAS (Secretary)  are also included. 

We have now expanded our wings and have ventured into offering a full-fledged educational service to aspiring students.

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