Top UPSC Optional Subject Course

UPSC Optional Subjects Preparation Strategy:

What is the difference, General Studies vs Optional Subject?

The major difference between the GS and the Optional Subject paper is the expertise. Aspirants are expected to write much detailed answers in Optional subjects and it is also necessary for the aspirants to have a subject focused approach. Political Science & International Relations is a good example and the GS Paper 2. If we assume that a question comes on “challenges of democracy” in both papers.

Then General Studies answer would talk about the challenges to the concepts of democracy as we know it. It would talk about the prevailing situation regarding democracy, various concepts of democracy, the challenges as per the definition of democracy, the challenges as per the current model in practice, etc. The content of the answer will change with the paper.

How to choose an Optional Subject?

Optional subjects play a very important role and if you choose the right one then it will be very helpful in your final selection on the merit list. Many aspirants face difficulties while choosing their optional subject. Fortunately, as per the new format, General Studies is much more important as UPSC has done away with two optional subjects and now the candidate has to choose only one optional subject. So aspirants should not take this decision at the beginning. First they should start preparing for General Studies and then as time progresses they should make this informed decision.

As in 4 General Studies papers aspirants will be introduced to a variety of optional subjects like History, Geography, Public Administration, Political Science & International Relations and Sociology. This will help aspirants to determine their inclination to a particular subject. Every subject has its own demand and importance (i.e. thinking pattern, writing style, presentation techniques etc). One’s personality should suit it.

Following are some basic criteria:

  • Interest and understanding in the subject.
  • Analysis of the syllabus and previous years’ question papers of the shortlisted subjects.
  • Writing style and presentation techniques suitable for that particular optional.
  • Thinking Pattern expected for a particular optional.
  • Availability of study material.
  • Availability of guidance.
  • Weightage of optional in GS.
  • Graduation background.

Apart from this, some give importance to the length of the syllabus.

The popular choices among aspirants are: Public Administration, Sociology, Geography, History, Political Science & International Relations and Anthropology. More than 80% of the test-takers do opt for these popular subjects. This is because all these subjects overlap with general studies except one i.e. Anthropology. Among them, Public Administration is the most popular choice. However, the question remains: do they fetch high marks?