Civil service Examination (Also called IAS exam) which is conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission), is normally considered to be very tough and the most Competitive exam and the students normally find it very tough to Crack.
A major Issue Every Student faces in this Reputed Exam is choice of optional Subjects. As we know that according to recent Changes made by government in the Pattern of IAS exam, the preliminary Test in this exam has now been replaced by Civil service aptitude test, which comprises of two objective papers for all students carrying Equal marks. So the students don’t have to decide on the optional subjects for the preliminary exam.
Along with 5 compulsory papers for the mains exam (two for general studies, one for essay, one for qualifying English and one for a language from 18 optional languages), candidate has to choose two subjects from a list of 25 optional subjects. Following are the not allowed combinations in the UPSC syllabus-
-> Political Science & International relations and Public Administration,
-> Commerce & Accountancy and Management,
-> Anthropology and Sociology,
-> Mathematics and Statistics,
-> Agriculture and Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science,
-> Management and Public Administration,
-> Any TWO branches of Engineering,
-> Medical Science and Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science,
-> Combination of TWO Literature
In the previous pattern, candidates used to take their mainstream subject as first optional and most of the stuff was covered in the prelims exam and then all they had to do was to decide on the second optional subject. But in the new pattern, all the candidates are at equilibrium in the prelims and have to decide two optional subjects for mains exam with more agility and criterion in mind as this is the very factor that determines candidate’s chances for getting through in this exam.
Following are a few criterions to be taken care of while choosing optional subjects in new pattern for IAS exam-
First and the foremost, Candidate must be comfortable in grasping the subject. The decision should not be made on the basis of length of the subject but on the one’s comfort with concepts in the subject. For example, History and geography are known for lengthy syllabus and answers, while public administration and anthropology have limited syllabus and short answers. The edge is not in selecting the subjects that have short or lengthy answers but in comfort with the subject.
Availability of IAS study material is also a vital factor in determining the optional subject. There should be enough resources available for preparing the subject, consulting to an experienced senior in case of a completely new subject in your perspective is quite sensible.
Candidate should not choose a subject just because it’s scoring or his friends are choosing it. More students choosing for an optional subject (say history) means more students with history will be chosen for next round and thus a greater competition, it doesn’t ensure a greater score. Remember, the easier the subject the tougher the competition in it.
For commerce students, a good combination is assumed to be Commerce+ Public administration, as Public administration Covers lots of topics in commerce like role of CAG etc. Commerce + geography is also a good combination if you are familiar with semi-technical topics and can look around in the maps. This combination is highly scoring and can score you 300-350 marks in the mains exam.
For biology students, Agriculture + botany is good combination since many topics of agriculture are covered in botany.
Once and for all, it’s about candidate’s own comfort in understanding the subject and choosing the optional subjects should be done carefully since it is the very deciding factor for the candidate’s selection in this prestigious examination.
All the Best for your Success!