Subject Strategy – How to Choose your subjects for the Mains exam

How to Choose your subjects for the Mains exam

How to choose optional subject?

That’s one question which haunts students who at many times, lose precious time waiting for this decision to happen. Years ago UPSC has done away with specific subjects at the preliminary stage and also reduced the number of optional subjects from two to one. Students should perhaps find it easier to get down to preparation straight away. Even then, One should choose one’s subject well ahead of time, so as to have ample time to collect notes and books, and also to form study groups.

Normally one should select options, which one is familiar with, or has at least studied till the graduate level. If you are not comfortable with the subject, you should not select the subject as an optional. But the choice should not only be as per your interests but also be based on the study material available. Even science and engineering students take up subjects like history, sociology, anthropology, geography, political science, psychology and public administration because there is a huge amount of study material available in these subjects. Also keep in mind that you may have been proficient in a subject, but lack of touch may make it tougher to crack technical subject where freshers may do better. The competition is among the people who have opted for the same subject. One should top in his/her subject to succeed in the examination. The Point is if you are an electrical engineer with 2 years of experience go for a new subject like Public Administration or Sociology.

Point to remember while selecting an optional subject

  • Your Graduation Subject: You have studied it in your graduation years for 3 or 4 years. Sometimes aspirants feel less comfortable about graduation subject but trust me choosing an entirely new subject will give you a harder time, so don’t reject it without considering.
  • Syllabus: Analyse the syllabus of the optional subject you are intending to choose. and analyse past trends.
  • Previous Paper: Go through previous year’s papers and marks trends before making a decision.
  • Availability of study material: Don’t go for a subject for which you can’t get study materials easily.
  • Teacher/Guide: Choose a subject for which you can get a good teacher easily or with little effort.
  • Test Series: Test is the most important part of mains preparation, you are going to need a good optional test series.

Get some feedback/advice from seniors and fellow students who are well versed in the subject. Remember no subject is bad. History is good if you can spend more than 4-5 hours every day. Geography is a good option if you can spend at least 4 hrs every day Public Administration, more than 3 hours. Sociology, more than 2 hours and so on…. So, it all depends on how much time you can spend a day and your liking of the subject. You have a very good memory then a technical subject may help else a social subject would be better.

Looking at trends of questions and marks scored by qualifying candidates I personally won’t suggest you go for Geography or Public Administration unless you like these two subjects or it had been your major subject in graduation.

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