Choosing right optional

Choosing right optional

Choosing the right optional in Civils mains examination is almost like choosing a life partner. Once selected you cannot go back. Your entire future depends upon the selection.

Choosing the right optional in Civils mains examination is almost like choosing a life partner. Once selected you cannot go back. Your entire future depends upon the selection. Though it is said in a lighter vein, one should be careful in choosing the right optional at the right point. In the Civils mains examination out of 1750 marks 500 marks are allotted for optional. There are two papers with 250 marks each. During the preparation of prelims, the candidate has to choose his optional.

This gives a mileage for the Prelims exam also. To get a good score for the rank one has to be confident in writing the optional subject. The main dilemma will be how to select a good optional. UPSC has provided the list of 48 given subjects as optional. One can choose a subject.

Out of these 23 are modern Indian languages And the rest of them are of different academic disciplines.

Choosing a right subject

The following suggestions are made to choose the right subject at the right time. Some of the candidates at the first attempt choose an optional and at a later date they change the subject. It is wasting one's own energy. Start with a few subjects listed by the UPSC and go through the syllabus. Some of the subjects have limited syllabus and it is easy to acquire knowledge.

Candidate with his personal background can access the gravity of the syllabus. If He is from engineering background or from medical sciences he may choose subjects akin to his knowledge already acquired. Another important thing is how much time the candidate can devote to the optional during the preparation. The coaching starts from the prelims examination and moves on till the mains examinations.

If you can spare at least 1/ 3 of the time for optional you can choose according to your priority. The subjects chosen should help the candidate during the prelims as well as at the interview. Subjects like public administration will help in both. Besides all this individual perspective also is more important.

During recent years candidates are choosing their own regional languages as optional. But the syllabus for the Telugu language especially is a little difficult to acquire knowledge in the particular field. Prior to 2014 candidates were supposed to choose two optionals. At that time the combination of history, geography and other subjects were very popular. With the single optional it has narrowed down.

Answers in regional languages

UPSC has allowed the candidates to write the mains examination in regional languages also. Except the compulsory paper in English the others can be written in their own mother Tongue. In the interview also candidates can reply in their own mother tongue. A translator is provided to assist the candidate.

During the year 2017 the candidates opted for Indian languages are 1022. In Hyderabad the coaching for Telugu literature is available at several institutions. Books are available for reference.


The recent trend is towards anthropology. Irrespective of the background of education, candidates opt for anthropology since the syllabus is less and coaching centres are encouraging. Similarly public administration, geography have gained importance.

Keeping in view of the importance given for optional one should not be under the impression that the other side - General studies 4 papers should not be neglected.

They carry 1000 marks out of 1750. Hence the concentration should be more on general studies papers. The level of mains examinations is of masters degree level and the candidate is supposed to have a thorough knowledge.

The following points are to be kept in mind while selecting the optional. Think of resources nearby and availability of experienced teachers and reference books. Lot of material is available in the market for these papers and it is better to acquire knowledge to the fullest extent.

The questioning pattern also is not of the traditional academic nature. The examiner would like to gauge the level of knowledge of the candidate in the subject. So be careful in selecting the optional which is a deciding factor in securing the rank. Even if you miss the bus with 5 to 10 marks it will have a serious effect on your service selection.

The option should be helpful at the time of interview also. The subjects like public administration, polity, and anthropology will help a lot.

(The author is retired additional director general Doordarshan, Delhi)

Show Full Article
Print Article
Next Story
More Stories