How to choose an optional subject for UPSC?
Every aspirant goes through this dilemma during his/her start of the journey. This dilemma is justified by the importance of the optional subject in this examination. A careful assessment requires an empirical understanding of your own needs and interests. There are many schools of thought which advise aspirants regarding the wheel of choice that one should turn for choosing the optional subject. We would like to make it easy for you by presenting you limited options to satisfy yourself before making a final decision.
1. Background – Most of the aspirants run away from their graduation/post-graduation subjects because they have not given due attention to the subject during their college time. It is such a crass approach because even if you have little information about the subject, you are still one step ahead in that subject as compared to starting with a new subject altogether.
2. Interest – Every genuine aspirant already narrows down to two or maximum three subjects around which their interest is spread and mostly they are so close that they do not know which one should they choose. In such a case, it is advisable to go through the syllabus thoroughly and see which one comes close to your mind (heart not written deliberately).
3. Availability of guidance – If you have enough guidance to pursue the subject, you are in for a treat my friend. If there is lack of guidance, especially the initial guidance, you should probably rethink because it might take a good amount of your precious time and energy to know more about the subject.
4. Availability of study material – The study material of some subjects are easily available in the market and all over the internet, however, you cannot just elect a subject based on the availability of study material. After following the previous two guidelines, the turn of study material comes (in case you remain undecided). It would act as a solidifier for your confidence and enhance your chance to choose one subject out of the dilemma constructors.
5. Strength of the syllabus – Sometimes it is wise to relax yourself by going for that subject which has limited syllabus because that would help you to divide your time efficiently between the General Studies portion and the optional subject. In some cases, the optional subject already covers a comprehensive part of the General Studies syllabus. However, you cannot draw parallels between the two and would jeopardize your chances of selection in case you replicate your optional subject knowledge in General Studies paper.
There are many other considerations too such as the recent trends of difficulty, securing a good score probability (especially in technical subjects) and grasp over the subject. However, if your interest quotient is too high, we suggest you to go towards that concerned subject leaving aside all other inhibitions about yourself and the subject that you are going to choose. Do not be misguided by the peer group aspirants and follow your own path, rather carve your own path.
You have been blessed with a wonderful intellect. Let us move the rocks together.