10 Best Optional Subjects for UPSC

Are you dreaming of becoming a successful IAS officer one day? Regardless of your educational background, UPSC provides everyone a chance to fulfill their dreams with loads of rigorous perseverance.

One of the most prestigious exams, The Union Public Service Commission conducts Indian Administrative Service. So, if you have that determination to crack UPSC, start your hardcore preparation today! This examination follows three powerful stages of scrutinizing candidates via Prelims, Mains, and Personality Test.

So, here comes the decision of choosing one UPSC optional subject! Despite being a deep-rooted situation for UPSC aspirants, they can choose only one subject. That’s why it left candidates in the wonder which one to select from the endless lists!

After passing the Prelims exam, a candidate should opt for an optional subject containing 500 marks in two papers. That’s why choosing the best optional subject could make a significant difference!

In today’s article, we have summed up the 10 best optional subjects for UPSC, from which they can choose anyone according to their preferences. Read on to get vast information about the best optional subject from the top 10 lists.

We will let you know all the details regarding how to choose the best optional subject for UPSC, the success rate of candidates with UPSC optional subjects, and more. Let’s get started!

Best Optional Subjects for UPSC

Most Coveted Optional Subject in IAS Mains

Some outstanding and scoring subjects are there to ease the candidate’s preparation. As far as the broader scenarios can be seen, IAS toppers have generally scored more than 320 in non-technical and technical subjects.

The probable reason for the low scoring of the candidates is they can’t provide the required endeavor. Also, maybe they have chosen the wrong optional subject, which is not meant for them.

Technical subjects like Maths can bring higher marks as there are no chances of score reduction. Furthermore, unlike humanities subjects, examiners are unbiased while cutting the marks. On the other hand, non-tech subjects, those which are overlapped with the general studies syllabus, offer more preparation time and reading overall material. Hence, the overall Mains score can be maximized if studied diligently.

A few extraordinary subjects are consistently selected over the years by the majority of the UPSC aspirants. The most coveted optional subjects are overlapped with their general syllabus. So, the best optional subjects are shown below:

Optional SubjectNumber of AspirantsSyllabus Overlaps With
Public Administration3000Prelims, GS II
Philosophy1000GS IV. Essay
History3500Prelims, GS I
Sociology1800GS I, GS II, Essay
Geography3500Prelims, GS I and GS III
Political Science1800Prelims, GS II

Major Success Rate of Candidates with UPSC Optional Subjects

We have demonstrated the detailed chart of the UPSC optional subject success rate of 2017.

Serial No. Name of the Optional subject The number of Candidates appeared Selected candidates Rate of Success
2Animal Husbandry2328.7
13Electric Engineering193199.8
14Medical Science3133210.2
17Political Science12461179.4
21Mechanical Engineering1701911.2
22Public Administration116511910.2
25Civil Engineering124118.9

Another table is given below to check the success rates of the literature subjects in the UPSC exam 2017:

Serial No. Name of the Optional subject The number of Candidates appeared Selected candidates Rate of Success

Also Read: 6 Best Online Coaching for IAS Exam

10 Best Optional Subjects for UPSC

Various factors to consider while choosing the best optional subject for the UPSC exam.  In order to get started, that question mostly asked by the aspirants is: “How many optional subjects are there for IAS Mains?”

After considering every possible data mentioned above, the latest UPSC syllabus, and the IAS results, the top 10 Optional Subjects for UPSC are shown below in a tabular format:

Serial No. Name of the Optional subject
2Medical Science
9Literature subject (any)
10Public Administration

How to Pick the Best Optional Subject for UPSC?

The UPSC optional subjects play an inevitable role in the Mains exam. Out of 2025 marks, the portion of the optional subject contains a total of 500 marks. Therefore, if your selection is appropriate, these 500 marks could make a huge difference while optimizing the final total marks.

Students often make the wrong decision of choosing that particular optional subject based on the topper’s scores in that subject. Also, they have mistaken the process by considering factors like the availability and popularity of the study groups.

Therefore, you shouldn’t make the same things happen to you! Be wary of selecting an optional subject as choosing a subject on the parameters mentioned above, may futile your powerful preparation. So, take a look at the best factors, which you should consider while picking the best UPSC optional subject.

  • Competition level

According to some UPSC aspirants, a top-notch optional subject has a greater success ratio than the number of students appearing for the exam.

It’s not completely true! You should know that your copy must be assessed based on the comprehensibility of your answers. That’s why you must opt for an optional subject in which you are comfortable!

  • Overlapping Syllabus

History, Economics, Political Science, Geography, Sociology, Public Administration are some of the optional subjects that overlap with the syllabus of general studies. Therefore, choosing one of them will save your preparation time.

  • Availability of resources

An all total of 47 optional subjects are there for UPSC. The availability of the resources is highly limited in terms of study materials, educators, and relevant books. However, with the rise in online teaching, students can get full-fledged access to resources sitting right in front of their laptops. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to make the selection of an optional subject solely based on available resources.

  • Lengthy Syllabus

You already have the best four General Studies papers and a merit-based essay paper. Selecting an optional subject with a convoluted and lengthy syllabus will mean you have to devote more time for preparation. That’s why it is imperative to select one subject that you can finish its preparation in a definite time.


This is a brief discussion of the best optional subject of the UPSC Mains exam. The preference of which is an unprecedented optional subject for UPSC would be the sole decision of the candidates themselves. As the aspirants only know their shortcomings, strengths, and weaknesses, they can opt for anyone from the aforementioned top 10 lists.

GetJobsAlert brings you an insightful list of the best UPSC optional subject and what to consider while picking one. So go through the article and if you have any doubt, do let us know by commenting below!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.