Mains Optional Subjects for UPSC

The IAS subjects as per the ics syllabus includes mostly all the subjects that we covered in school in the name of general studies. One has to study those and more. The IAS exam syllabus given by UPSC may appear simple on face value but requires a lot of study and understanding of each compulsory and optional subject and its portions. The UPSC subjects in civil services are designed to judge you on your understanding of things around you as only an informed person can take informed decisions as a civil servant. IAS officers are policy makers and most of the services within the Civil Services include dealing with people and policies. It is with great deligence that IAS subjects are chosen.

How Many Optional Subjects for IAS

How many Optional Subjects for IAS exam is a recurring question asked by many students. Apart from the compulsory subjects in the IAS exam, there is only one optional subject that you can choose for the UPSC exam. There are two papers in the optional paper which are conducted on teh same day of the exam as a morning and an afternoon paper.

The UPSC Syllabus is divided into three sections:

  • UPSC Prelims Syllabus for IAS Exam
  • UPSC Mains Syllabus for IAS Exam
  • UPSC Personality Test (Interview)

Preliminary Syllabus

It is designed to evaluate a persons’ understanding of current affairs and tests their ability in short duration of time. The preliminary paper is a compulsory and qualifying paper. Aspirant must clear the prelims exam to qualify to the next stage of the exam called Mains Exam. The prelims exam has two papers General Studies Paper I and General Studies (CSAT) Paper II (qualifying in nature) carrying a maximum of 400 marks.

UPSC Subjects for Prelims

The syllabus for the Preliminary Exam for Paper-I consists of Current events of national and international importance, History of India and Indian National Movement, Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World, Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc., Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.,General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change and General Science. This means that the subjects for the IAS exam to be covered are roughly as follows.

UPSC Prelims Subjects List

  1. History
  2. Geography
  3. Political Science / Civics
  4. Economics
  5. General Science – Physics, Chemistry & Biology
  6. Environmental Science
  7. Sociology

All the above are compulsary subjects in teh prelims exam paper 1. We propose that all NCERT books related to these subjects must be read well.

Mains Syllabus

The mains syllabus for optional papers is generally of the honours degree level that is between the bachelors degree and the masters degree. It contains 9 papers, where there are two qualifying papers and seven papers counted for ranking and syllabus is framed according to the subjects with total of 1750 marks.

IAS Subjects for Mains

The syllabus for the mains is more widespread and the subjects are roughly the same as the prelims except teh focus on Dissaster management, government policies and Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude. If you are preparing for the IAS exam we recommend that you prepare the same syllabus as the mains for your prelims too in the first level and during revisions you can focus only on what is mentioned in the prelims IAS exam syllabus.


Interview (Personality Test)

The UPSC Interview/personality test has no prescribed syllabus. The candidates will be interviewed by a Board of competent and unbiased members and will be questioned on matters of general interest and the candidate will be evaluated not only based on their intellectual qualities but also on social traits, interest in current affairs, mental alertness, critical power of adaptation, rational exposition, balance of judgment, variety and depth of interest, ability for social interconnection and leadership, logical and moral uprightness

Compulsory Subjects for UPSC exam

  • General Studies – 4 Papers of 250 marks each
  • Essay – 250 marks, any language as medium
  • English – Qualifying 300 marks
  • Indian Languages – 300 marks, qualifying

What are the optional subjects in Mains exam?

Here is a list of subjects that can be taken as optional paper in the Civil Services (Mains) examination. The list is as per the UPSC prescribed subjects. Once you click on the listed links you will find all resources regarding that IAS exam paper and the syllabus. 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

  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Indian History
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology
  • Law

List of UPSC Optional Subjects for Science

  • Agriculture
  • Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Medical Science
  • Physics
  • Zoology
  • Anthropology
  • Geology

IAS exam Optional Subjects List of Engineering

  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

Optional subjects for IAS exam for Commerce and Management

  • Commerce
  • Management

UPSC Optional IAS subjects for Indian Languages

  • Assamese
  • Bengali
  • Bodo
  • Dogri
  • Gujarati
  • Hindi
  • Kannada
  • Kashmiri
  • Konkani
  • Maithili
  • Malayalam
  • Manipuri
  • Marathi
  • Nepali
  • Oriya
  • Punjabi
  • Sanskrit
  • Santali
  • Sindhi
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Urdu
  • English

Useful Tips For Civil Services Exams

  1. IAS Exam Strategy
  2. Prelims Exam Syllabus 2019
  3. How To Prepare For Prelims
  4. Mains Examination Syllabus
  5. How to Choose Mains Subjects
  6. Guidance for Mains exam
  7. General Studies
  8. Essays for Mains
  9. English (Qualifying nature) for Mains
  10. Indian Languages for Mains
  11. Preparing for Mains
  12. How to Read
  13. How to Prepare Notes
  14. UPSC Question Papers
  15. UPSC Interview Questions

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