IAS Preparation : Most Popular Optionals

IAS Preparation

Choosing the most appropriate optional goes a long way in IAS preparation and in helping you score well overall.

IAS Preparation

The basis for the selection of any optional could be:

  • Specifically defined and comparatively small syllabus
  • Easy availability of study material
  • Interesting and short subject material
  • Scoring nature of the subject
  • Availability of experienced guideline

Geography, Political Science and Public Administration have emerged as the three popular optionals for IAS Mains in the recent years. All these 3 subjects have their advantages.

Lets us get an overview.


Advantages of Geography as an Optional

It is scientific in nature unlike other Arts optional. Hence, logical and rational. It’s good for engineers and students from a non-humanities background.

It is heavily covered directly in GS Paper-1 and also indirectly in many areas of GS Paper-3 of IAS Mains.

Sufficient material is available in the form of books  as well as coaching institute material.

Ample scope for diagrammatic representation. This helps in fetching marks.

Helps a great deal in interview.

Political Science

Advantages of Political Science as an Optional

Anyone who intends to clear prelims can never neglect Indian Polity section.

Anyone who takes Political Science as optional would study Indian Polity and Governance along with International Relations anyway consequently saving time for other topics for the preliminary exam.

In this way the preparation for Prelims and Mains would get integrated for a Political Science student and will help in the IAS preparation.

UPSC;s  move of revision of syllabus of General Studies has generated a golden opportunity to score high marks in the subject.

In fact as of now, even those students who don’t have the background of political science have fared better in many respects.

Since almost all the factual parts of the syllabus have been deleted in the new syllabus, the conceptual understanding in Political Science theory section would make a better presentation of the answers possible.

Also, answer writing practice especially for the conceptual portions of the subject gives experience for answering questions in the general studies papers.

There is general notion that Political Science syllabus is exhaustive and extensive, but it’s not –

(a) Repetition of Topics is there-Marxism, Marx, Gramsi, Marxist notion of state

(b) Topics are interrelated –Thoughts of Mill, Bentham and Liberal notions of state, democracy, justice are complementary to each other

(c) Ideas of Marxism, Liberalism, Feminism, new social movement and issues like environment, democracy, Human rights is in Paper-1 as well as in paper-2

Lastly, in interview the subject comes to be extremely handy as a good knowledge of Governance, Polity and IR can result in very good marks.

Public Administration

Advantages of Public Administration as an Optional

The syllabus of Public Administration is relatively less as well as well defined.

The study material is easily available and compact in nature.

It being a popular and scoring optional subject has got easy availability of experienced guidelines.

The scientific and logical nature of the subject helps to prepare the subject for main examination within less span of time.

This helps the candidates for the preparation of Essay and General Studies papers with “extra time” and ensures better performance and marks in examinations.

Thus, the Public Administration is a popular and successful optional subject in Civil Service Examination.

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