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GOLDEN RULES WHILE CHOOSING AN OPTIONAL : In the entire journey of UPSC preparation, the only choice a student gets to make is the choice of his/her optional. While some choose it wisely, many fall prey either to the market forces or wrong advice.

Why is there an optional in UPSC ?

Is there any yardstick to choose an optional?

Yes. There are yardsticks in choosing an Optional. Every student who is serious in his/her preparation can use the under mentioned yardsticks in wisely choosing an Optional that is best suited for him/her.

  1. The Past Performance of that Optional: The best yardstick while choosing an Optional is its past performance. Do see the UPSC annual report to learn how many students passed the mains examinations with a particular Optional. Every Optional goes through a peak period, where students opting for a particular Optional have a fair chance over the others. Don’t miss this opportunity.
  2. The Availability of Good Faculty: The second most important yardstick is the availability of a good faculty. Good faculty in Optional is a little different from GS. While in GS, a good faculty denotes one who can convey the message written in the book, when it comes to Optional, a good faculty should assist the student in going beyond the book and connecting the student with the perspective of the author/philosopher. Here, a deep understanding of the subject is a prerequisite to qualify as a faculty member.
  3. The Availability of Good Study Material: While the availability of a good faculty member is essential, the availability of good study material augments the faculty teaching. Good study material will immensely help a student in revising, structuring and streamlining his/her preparation as per the needs of UPSC.
  4. Choice of Your own Graduation/Post-Graduation subject. While it is prudent to choose an Optional of your academic understanding, in UPSC this rule may not always apply. The standard of questions asked in the UPSC especially in the technical subjects is of very high standard. Ironically, no good faculty or study material is available in the market. As a result, it is wise to choose an optional easy to learn with all the support elements available, be it faculty or study material.
  5. Interest: Last but not the least. The interest of a student in a particular subject is also an important factor of consideration. But one statutory warning. Don’t choose a difficult subject purely based on your interest. If all the above factors are present, then the interest can be a factor for decision making in choosing an Optional.

There are 3 iron curtains in UPSC. These include, Optional, Essay and Ethics. It is strongly recommended not to commit any mistake in any of these, especially Optional.

If you are struggling with your Optional, do get in touch with us. Our mentors will guide you in your selection process.

Jai Hind Credits Major SPS Oberoi Academic Advisor & Faculty Ekam IAS Academy, Hyderabad

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