Optional Subjects Notes

The selection of the optional paper for the IAS exam is a difficult task for Civil Services aspirants. As per the UPSC syllabus, the number of optional subjects to be selected is reduced to one, but aspirants are still confused. Weightage of the optional paper is only 500 marks out of 2025 marks as per the latest pattern of UPSC Civil Services exam, it is still a deciding factor in the final ranks due to the unpredictability associated with General Studies Papers (1000 marks  GS + 250 marks essay) and Interview (275 marks).

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Veterinary Sci Paper-1

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Geography Paper- 1

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What are the optional subjects in the Mains exam?

Here is a list of subjects that can be taken as optional paper in the Civil Services (Mains) examination. Knowing the IAS Syllabus thoroughly is one of the most important sections of making through the IAS exam conducted by UPSC.

Optional IAS subjects for Social Science

List of UPSC Optional Subjects for Science

IAS exam Optional Subjects List of Engineering

  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

Optional subjects for IAS exam for Commerce and Management

  • Commerce
  • Management

Optional Subjects for UPSC Mains 2020

The UPSC Main exam consists of 2 qualifying papers and 7 merit ranking papers.

  • Qualifying papers consist of English and any other Indian language from Eight Schedule of the Constitution of India
  • Merit Ranking papers consist of the following:

– UPSC Essay

– General Studies Paper I

– General Studies Paper-II

– General Studies Paper III

– General Studies Paper IV

– General Studies Paper V

– Optional Paper I

– Optional Paper-II

Here, we will elaborate on UPSC CSE mains optional subjects

The UPSC “Optional Subjects” list consists of 48 subjects out of which the IAS aspirant can choose one for both the papers. Each optional subject consists of 2 papers I and II, each of 250 marks. 

The syllabus of the optional papers is at the honor’s degree level, which is higher than the undergraduate degree level but lower than a master’s degree level. The aspirants can also take literature subjects as an optional paper. The choice of optional paper significantly affects the chances of success in UPSC 2020. 

Choosing the optional papers for the IAS exam can be a challenging task for the IAS exam aspirants. As per the latest UPSC mandate, the number of optional subjects to be chosen is reduced to one; however, the students are still confused. Out of the total 2025 marks, the weightage of the optional paper is only 500 marks according to the latest pattern of the UPSC civil service exam. Because of the unpredictability associated with general studies papers, it is still a deciding factor in the final ranks. 1000 marks GS + 250 marks essay and 275 marks for interview. 

About UPSC CSE optional subjects in the Main Exams

Here is a look at the subjects which can be taken as an optional paper in the Civil Services Main Exams. 

Optional Subjects for Social Science

  • Law
  • Sociology
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Public administration
  • Indian history
  • Political science
  • sociology

Optional Subjects for UPSC CSE for Science

  • Agriculture
  • Geology
  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Animal husbandry
  • Statistics
  • Anthropology
  • Medical science
  • Zoology

Optional Subjects list for Engineering

  • Mechanical engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Electrical engineering

Optional Subjects list for Commerce and Management

  • Management
  • Commerce

Optional Subjects for Literature

  • Urdu
  • Sanskrit
  • Bengali
  • Assamese
  • Dogri

The below-mentioned factors should be kept in mind when choosing the optional subject for UPSC:

  • You must consider the average success rate of the UPSC optional papers. A high success rate is an indication of the good availability of the IAS study material for those subjects.
  • You must consider your expertise when choosing the optional subjects and try to choose a relevant subject so that you can score well. It also reduces your time for preparation.
  • The UPSC optional subject chosen by the toppers in the past is also an indication of high scoring potential and availability of preparation material for IAS. 


  1. List of UPSC Optional Subjects for Science

    Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
    Medical Science