Crack UPSC Optional Subject: Expert Preparation Tips for Success


The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is responsible for conducting the Civil Services Examination (CSE) in India. The CSE is one of the most prestigious exams in the country, and it is considered a gateway to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and other Group A and B services.

One of the unique features of the CSE is that it offers a wide range of optional subjects to choose from. The optional subject is an important component of the CSE, and it carries 500 marks out of the total 2025 marks. Therefore, it is essential for the aspirants to choose the right optional subject for UPSC that suits their interests and strengths.

In this article, we will discuss the UPSC optional subjects list, syllabus for IAS exam 2023, and other relevant details.


List of UPSC Optional Subjects 

For Mains Exams 

Here is a table for the optional subjects in UPSC with their corresponding subject codes and numbering:


# Optional Subject Subject Code
1 Agriculture AGRI
2 Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science ANIM
3 Anthropology ANTH
4 Botany BOTN
5 Chemistry CHEM
6 Civil Engineering CIVL
7 Commerce and Accountancy CMAC
8 Economics ECON
9 Electrical Engineering ELEC
10 Geography GEOG
11 Geology GEOL
12 History HIST
13 Law LAWS
14 Management MGMT
15 Mathematics MATH
16 Mechanical Engineering MECH
17 Medical Science MEDC
18 Philosophy PHIL
19 Physics PHYS
20 Political Science and International Relations PSIR
21 Psychology PSYC
22 Public Administration PUBA
23 Sociology SOCY
24 Statistics STAT
25 Zoology ZOOL


For Literature Subjects

Sure, here is a table for the UPSC Optional Subject List for Literature Subjects with their corresponding subject codes and numbering:

# Optional Subject Subject Code
1 Assamese Literature ASML
2 Bengali Literature BEGL
3 Bodo Literature BODO
4 Dogri Literature DOGR
5 English Literature ENGL
6 Gujarati Literature GUJR
7 Hindi Literature HIND
8 Kannada Literature KANN
9 Kashmiri Literature KASH
10 Konkani Literature KONK
11 Maithili Literature MAIT
12 Malayalam Literature MLYM
13 Manipuri Literature MANI
14 Marathi Literature MRTI
15 Nepali Literature NEPL
16 Odia Literature ODIA
17 Punjabi Literature PUNJ
18 Sanskrit Literature SANS
19 Santali Literature SANT
20 Sindhi Literature SIND
21 Tamil Literature TAML
22 Telugu Literature TELG
23 Urdu Literature URDU


Note: This table may not be exhaustive and may be subject to change. Please refer to the official website of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for the latest information on the IAS exam.


How to Choose Optional Subjects for UPSC Exam 2023?

Choosing the right optional subjects for the UPSC exam can be a crucial decision that can have a significant impact on your overall score and ranking. Here are some tips on how to choose optional subjects for the UPSC exam:

Interest and aptitude

Choose subjects that interest you and that you are good at. This will help you stay motivated and focused during your preparation.


Scoring potential

Look for subjects that have a good scoring potential and are relatively easier to prepare. This will help you score higher marks and improve your overall ranking.


Availability of study materials

Check if there are enough study materials, books, and coaching available for the subject you are interested in. It is important to have good study material and resources to prepare effectively.


Syllabus overlaps

Look for subjects that have some overlap with the general studies papers. This will help you prepare for both the optional and the general studies papers at the same time.


Previous performance

Analyse the past year’s UPSC results and see which optional subjects have been performing well consistently. This can give you an idea of the popular optional subjects and their potential to score high marks.

Consult seniors or experts

Seek guidance from experts or seniors who have cleared the UPSC exam in the past. They can provide valuable insights and guidance on choosing the right optional subjects.

Overall, choosing the right optional subjects requires careful consideration and analysis of various factors. Take your time to evaluate your options and choose the subjects that best suit your interests, skills, and goals.


UPSC Exams: Format and Preparation

The CSE consists of three stages: the Preliminary exam (also known as CSAT), the Mains exam, and the Personality Test (also known as the Interview).

Preliminary Exam (CSAT)

The Preliminary exam consists of two papers – General Studies Paper-I and General Studies Paper-II (CSAT). General Studies Paper-I consists of 100 multiple choice questions worth 200 marks, while General Studies Paper-II consists of 80 multiple choice questions worth 200 marks. The duration of each paper is two hours.


Mains Exam

The Mains exam consists of nine papers – two qualifying papers and seven merit-based papers. The two qualifying papers are English Language and Indian Language, each of 300 marks. The seven merit-based papers include Essay (250 marks), General Studies I, II, III, and IV (250 marks each), and Optional Subject Paper I and II (250 marks each).

Personality Test

Candidates who clear the Mains exam are called for a Personality Test (Interview) which is conducted by a board of experts. The Personality Test carries 275 marks.


Preparation for UPSC Exam

  1. Familiarize yourself with the exam pattern and syllabus.
  2. Create a study plan and stick to it.
  3. Read newspapers, magazines, and other relevant sources regularly.
  4. Choose the right study material and resources.
  5. Practice writing essays and answer writing for Mains exam.
  6. Take mock tests and previous year question papers to assess your performance and identify areas of improvement.
  7. Revise regularly and make short notes for quick reference.
  8. Stay physically and mentally fit and take breaks when required.
  9. Seek guidance from experienced mentors or join a coaching institute if required.
  10. Stay motivated and focused on your goal.


Additionally, it is important to maintain good physical and mental health, get enough sleep and exercise regularly. A healthy lifestyle helps to stay focused and motivated.

Lastly, it is crucial to stay calm and composed during the exam and manage your time effectively. Do not panic if you come across a difficult question and move on to the next one. Time management is crucial, so attempt the questions that you are confident about first and then move to the rest.



In conclusion, with consistent efforts and a strategic approach, cracking the UPSC exam is achievable. Keep your spirits high and stay focused and motivated to achieve your goal.


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