UPSC Optional Subjects: Overview Of IAS Optional Subjects - Abhipedia

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A candidate have to choose only one optional subject from the below list of IAS optional Subjects for IAS Mains Exam. The IAS optional Consist of Two papers of 250 marks each i.e. optional carry 500 marks in written exam. Therefore IAS optional plays an important role in candidates selection for IAS Interview/Personality test. Student has to fill his/her choice of IAS optional subject at the time applying for Preliminary Exam which cannot be changed further. According to the new IAS exam pattern, the number of optional subjects for UPSC IAS Exam to be chosen by the candidate for IAS Mains exam has decreased to one. The civil services mains exam General Studies papers account for 1000 marks and the two Optional Papers account for 250 marks each. Therefore it is very important for an aspirant to consider various pros and cons before choosing an optional subject for IAS Mains.


UPSC Optional Subjects – Complete List For IAS Exam


This is the complete list of UPSC Optional subjects for civil services main examination. You have to opt for any one subject.

  • Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  • Anthropology
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Commerce and Accountancy
  • Economics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • History
  • Law
  • Management
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medical Science
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Zoology
  • Literature of anyone the following language: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, English.
  • Agriculture



How important is the Decision of UPSC Mains Optional Subject?


The decision of UPSC Optional subject is very important. You need to select an optional subject for IAS Exam in which you are comfortable to score high marks in the UPSC mains. The level of comfort depends on many factors such as familiarity of the subject, availability of books and other study material, availability of faculty, the scope of peer discussion, recent scoring trends, the level of difficulty as per the syllabus and previous question papers etc.

If the subject you studied in your graduation is available in the list of IAS optional subjects, then students find that as the most comfortable option. You can also look for an optional subject which can be finished in a time-bound manner without disturbing the time for IAS GS preparation.

Several candidates choose an IAS optional subject because it is considered scoring. Marks should not be the sole criteria for making a choice. Depending on the interest of the individual, the optional subjects for IAS Mains Exam should be shortlisted. Based on the shortlisted subject, the candidate should take a thorough look at the syllabus of the respective optional subjects for IAS Mains Exam.



Best Optional Subjects for IAS Mains Examination


S. No

Optional Subject

Number of Applicants

Success rate in 2014

Success rate in 2015

Success rate in 2016



3000 +/- 50






3000 +/- 50





Public Administration

3000 +/- 50






3000 +/- 50





Philosophy + Psychology + Political Science + Economics


Avg above 10%

Avg above 10%

Avg above 10%


All other science/art subjects (in total)


Avg above 12%

Avg above 12%

Avg above 12%


All Other Literature Subjects

Less than 1000

Avg above 5%

Avg above 5%

Avg above 5%



Around 15000





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