IAS Mains

UPSC exam has three levels- Prelims, Mains and Interview. All the levels are tough and need hard work for preparation. UPSC mains written examination has nine papers. Choosing the right optional paper is important for IAS preparation. Candidates need to choose the optional paper based on their interests. They can research popular subjects which have higher rates of success. Candidates can ask their seniors also if they get confused. Choosing the wrong optional paper can decrease your marks in exams.

So, choose the optional paper wisely for securing good marks in the IAS exam.

General Studies Paper for IAS Mains exam

The General Studies paper is divided into four parts. Each paper consists of 250 marks. Details of the papers are mentioned below:-

General Studies Topics
Paper-I Indian Heritage and Culture, history and geography of the world and society
Paper-II  Governance, Indian Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations
Paper-III Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment studies, Security and Disaster Management
Paper-IV Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude


Optional papers for IAS Mains exam

The UPSC optional paper mainly focuses on the aspirant’s ability to understand the subject and how to apply the knowledge to problems when it is needed.

UPSC provides the list of optional papers for the Civil Service Exam. Candidates have to choose one optional paper for the IAS Mains exam. The optional paper has two papers, paper VI and Paper VII. Both papers are of 250 marks each. It means both papers collectively count for 500 marks out of 1750 marks overall. Candidates can choose from the list of optional papers. Here is the list of optional papers which candidates can choose as per their interest:-

S. No. Subject
1. Agriculture
2. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
3. Anthropology
4. Botany
5. Chemistry
6. Civil Engineering
7. Commerce and 


8. Economics
9. Electrical Engineering
10. Geography
11. Geology
12. History
13. Law
14. Management
15. Mathematics
16. Mechanical Engineering
17. Medical Science
18. Philosophy
19. Physics
20. Political Science
21. Public Administration
22. Psychology
23. Sociology
24. Statistic
25. Zoology 


List of Literature optional papers for IAS Mains exam

Candidates can choose a literature subject as an optional subject for UPSC mains. Each paper is 250 marks, the list of literature optional subjects are as follow:-

Sr. No. Subjects
1. Assamese
2. Bengali
3. Bodo
4. Dogri
5. Gujarati
6. Hindi
7. Kannada
8. Kashmiri
9. Konkani
10. Maithili
11. Malayalam
12. Manipuri
13. Marathi
14. Nepali
15. Oriya
16. Punjabi
17. Sanskrit
18. Sindhi
19. Santhali
20. Tamil
21. Telugu
22. Urdu
23. English

How to prepare for the best optional paper for UPSC?

Candidates need to have a better strategy for the preparation of optional papers. Never follow anyone for choosing an optional paper. Everyone has a different level of interest. So, choose the optional better in which you have interest and prepare for it.

Here are some points which you might like for the preparation.

#1. Know your syllabus 

The first thing to do is to go through the syllabus very carefully and understand the topics. Understanding the syllabus content is very important. This will save you from spending your valuable time on out syllabus topics. Understanding of syllabus is also useful to allot time on topics as per their weightage in the UPSC exam.  

#2. Study material and notes 

Be very specific and clear while selecting the study material. There is a lot of content available in the market in the form of books, journals, e-books, websites, etc. Aspirants must select and prepare notes as per the syllabus.

#3. Be systematic 

Aspirants must follow a systematic approach while preparing for the UPSC IAS exam. Brief indexing must be prepared by aspirants for every topic. This will help aspirants at the time of final revision. By this approach, aspirants will be able to remember all the notes prepared by him/her when required.   

#4. Understanding of concepts

After selecting and lining up the study material and notes preparation, the next step is to understand concepts accordingly. Being clear about concepts is essential in the preparation for the UPSC IAS exam. You can take any reference to understand the concepts at your convenience.  

#5. Topic-Wise Preparation Strategy

Aspirants are advised to break the complete syllabus into separate topics. It will lead to a better way of preparation. Aspirants must prepare the topics on a priority level. Easy topics must be covered first and then tough topics must be covered.

#6. Practice diagrams and labeling

Some optional papers like Anthropology and biology etc contain diagrams and labelings as per topic requirements. If your subject demands this, do it properly and be very clear about diagrams and labelings. Candidates can use diagrams and labelings that reflect their command over the topic and lead to achieving a good score in the UPSC IAS exam.  

#7. Use references and quotations

Use of References and quotations increase the beauty of your answer. Aspirants must practice to put references and quotations at the right place in the answer. By adding references and quotations when it requires.

#8. Revision is the key

Keep revising your notes for maximum retention of the content of the syllabus. It is extremely important for a descriptive paper. In order to effectively revise, either make comprehensive notes or make use of digital resources for note-making.

#9. Previous year Questions

You can have a better idea of questions pattern and time management in the UPSC IAS exam by Practicing the previous year’s question papers of the optional paper section. 

#10. Mock tests:

Mock tests are very important as they will allow you to assess your preparation and identify the area of weakness that could be worked out in the future.

Choice of the optional subject for IAS should be based on a candidate’s interest in a subject. There is no best optional subject to clear the examination. It depends on the dedication in terms of preparation for the exam. If you are hard-working and have a well-managed study plan for a subject, you can secure good marks. There are many coachings which give classes for the preparation of optional subjects. 

According to me, Legacy IAS Academy Bangalore is the best IAS coaching in India for IAS exam preparation. They have separate classes for the preparation of optional papers. Candidates can join online classes of Legacy IAS Academy Bangalore. They have the best online coaching also.

So, keep working hard dedicatedly. You will achieve success.


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