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How to Choose Optional Subjects for IAS Preparation


Preparing for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) examination is a highly competitive and challenging task. One crucial aspect of IAS preparation is selecting optional subjects for the mains exam. This decision plays a significant role in shaping a candidate’s overall score and ranking. In this article, we will explore the essential factors to consider when choosing optional subjects for IAS preparation.

Understanding the Importance of Optional Subjects

The IAS mains examination consists of nine papers, out of which two are optional subjects. Each optional paper carries 250 marks, making a total of 500 marks for both papers combined. The significance of these optional subjects lies in their potential to boost a candidate’s overall score significantly.

Consider Your Interests and Strengths

Choosing optional subjects that align with your interests and strengths is of utmost importance. Opting for subjects you are passionate about can motivate you to study harder and perform better. Additionally, having a background or prior knowledge in a subject can give you an edge in understanding the concepts.

Analyze the Syllabus

Before finalizing your optional subjects, thoroughly review the syllabus for each subject. Evaluate the topics and sub-topics to understand the depth of the subject and its coverage in the exam. Select subjects with a comprehensive syllabus that you can comfortably cover within the available time frame.

Check Previous Years’ Question Papers

Studying previous years’ question papers can provide valuable insights into the pattern and types of questions asked in the IAS mains examination. Analyze the frequency of questions from each optional subject and identify which subjects have been consistently scoring well.

Seek Guidance from Experts

Consulting with IAS experts, mentors, or successful candidates can offer valuable guidance in making the right choice. Experienced individuals can share their insights, recommend suitable optional subjects based on your strengths, and provide study strategies to excel in those subjects.

Consider Overlapping with General Studies

Some optional subjects may have topics that overlap with the General Studies (GS) papers of the mains examination. Choosing such subjects can help you save time in preparation, as you can simultaneously study for both the optional and GS papers.

Evaluate Past Performance

Analyze your past academic performance and identify the subjects in which you have excelled consistently. These subjects may be a good choice for optional papers as they reflect your proficiency and familiarity.

Opt for Scoring Subjects

Certain optional subjects are known to be more scoring than others. Research and identify subjects that have a record of higher success rates and choose accordingly.

Mind the Availability of Study Material

Ensure that ample study material, including books, notes, and online resources, is available for your chosen optional subjects. Lack of study material can hinder your preparation progress.

Manageable Workload

Taking on two optional subjects with an unmanageable workload can be overwhelming. Choose subjects that allow you sufficient time to cover the syllabus effectively.

Time Management

Effectively managing your time between optional and GS preparation is vital. Create a study plan that allocates enough time for both areas while maintaining a balance.

Take Mock Tests

Practice mock tests for your chosen optional subjects regularly. Mock tests help you assess your preparation level and identify areas that need improvement.

Remain Updated with Current Affairs

IAS exams often include questions related to current affairs. Ensure that your chosen optional subjects don’t isolate you from staying updated with relevant news and events.

Stay Committed

The journey of IAS preparation requires commitment and perseverance. Stay focused on your goals and maintain a positive mindset throughout the preparation process.


Choosing the right optional subjects for IAS preparation is a critical decision that can significantly impact your chances of success in the mains examination. By considering your interests, strengths, syllabus, past performance, and expert guidance, you can make an informed choice that maximizes your potential for scoring well.


  1. Q: Can I choose optional subjects unrelated to my academic background?
    A: Yes, you can choose optional subjects based on your interests and passion, regardless of your academic background.
  2. Q: Are some optional subjects more scoring than others?
    A: Yes, certain optional subjects tend to have higher success rates and are considered more scoring.
  3. Q: Should I opt for subjects that overlap with General Studies?
    A: Choosing subjects with overlapping topics can be advantageous, as it allows you to save time in preparation.
  4. Q: Is it necessary to take coaching for optional subjects?
    A: Coaching can be helpful, but self-study and dedication can also lead to success.
  5. Q: How many optional subjects can I choose for the IAS mains exam?
    A: You can choose two optional subjects for the IAS mains examination

AMIGOS 21st Century IAS Academy is one the Best IAS Coaching in Hyderabad was established in 2003. Since then, we are committed to empower the IAS aspirants to crack Civil services Examination. Going by the dynamics of the civil service examination system, candidates need to acquire the knowledge of the basics as well as the contemporary issues. 

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