Which Is the Toughest Optional in UPSC and How to Crack It?


UPSC is considered to be the most difficult exam in itself, and one of the reasons for this is that its Optional Subjects are quite difficult. That is why it is very difficult for the candidates to find a completely suitable Optional Subject.

In this context, candidates also ask which is the most difficult optional subject of UPSC, and how to crack it. If you want to know this, then stay with us till the end of today's article, because in today's article, we will provide you with all the information regarding this.

Apart from this, some such facts will be provided which will help you more in the context of the most difficult optional subject of UPSC.

So let's start-

What Is an Optional Subject in UPSC?

In the UPSC Civil Services Examination, candidates are given a chance to choose an optional subject for the main examination. Out of the total of 1750 marks in the main examination, the optional subject carries 500 marks. The candidate can choose any one subject from the list of subjects provided by UPSC.

The list of optional subjects includes both literary and non-literary subjects. Under this, history, geography, political science, sociology, economics, mathematics, physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, and many other subjects have been included.

The choice of an optional subject is an important decision as it can affect the understanding of the candidate and overall at the time of examination. The candidate should choose a subject in which he/she is comfortable and has a good understanding and interest. It is advised to choose such a subject whose ultimate aim is to crack UPSC.

How Many Optional Subjects Are There for The UPSC Exam?

About the optional subjects mentioned under UPSC, we have given you information below, and have also told you that in each optional subject, you get to see and know this type of information −

  • Agriculture: [Study of agricultural sciences, farm management, and related topics.]

  • Anthropology: [Study of human society, culture, and their development.]

  • Chemistry: [Chemistry includes the composition, properties, and behavior of matter/atom.]

  • Commerce and Accountancy: [Study of accounting principles, auditing, taxation, and financial management.]

  • Electrical Engineering: [Study of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism.]

  • Geology: [This study includes of earth's structure, its composition, and its making processes.]

  • Law: [Study of legal systems, principles, and practices.]

  • Mathematics: [Study of mathematical concepts and applications.]

  • Medical Science: [Study of medicine and medical sciences.]

  • Physics: [Behavior of matter study and study about energy.]

  • Psychology: [Study of the human mind and behavior.]

  • Sociology: [Human society study, culture, and social interactions study.]

  • Urdu: [Study of the Urdu language and literature.]

  • Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science: [Study of animal breeding, animal health, and veterinary sciences.]

  • Botany: [Study of plant sciences, including their structure, function, and classification.]

  • Civil Engineering: [Study of the design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure projects.]

  • Economics: [Study of the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth.]

  • Geography: [Study of the physical features of the earth and human interaction with the environment.]

  • History: [Study of past events, including social, economic, and political developments.]

  • Management: [Study of organizational leadership, strategy, and decision-making.]

  • Mechanical Engineering: [Study of the design, construction, and operation of mechanical systems.]

  • Philosophy: [Study of fundamental questions related to existence, knowledge, and ethics.]

  • Political Science and International Relations: [Study of political systems, governance, and foreign relations.]

  • Public Administration: [Study of the organization and management of government policies and programs.]

  • Statistics: [A deep study of the collection & analysis, with interpretation, and data presentation.]

  • Zoology: [Study of animal life, including their behavior, classification, and distribution.]

How to Choose an Optional Subject for UPSC CSE?

If you want to choose the right optional subject for UPSC CSE, then you should pay attention to some of the suggestions given by us. The selection of this optional subject can play an important role in your success in the Main Civil Services Examination.

  • Identify Your Interests and Strengths: Choose a subject in which you are interested and have a good understanding.

  • Analyze The Syllabus: Try to know whether it matches your strengths and patients. Also, know whether this syllabus has any overlap with the question papers of General Studies.

  • Check The Availability of Study Material: At present, there are some optional subjects in the UPSC syllabus for which there is not enough. That's why you should choose such a subject for which you have enough study material available to study.

  • Look at The Success Rate: Before choosing any optional subject, you should note that the ultimate objective of choosing your optional subject should be to clear the UPSC Civil Services exam, and for this, you need to know in which optional subject the success rate is highest.

  • Get Guidance: Get guidance from expert counselors and seniors who have attempted the exam before. They can provide you with valuable insight and advice on choosing the right optional subject.

  • Keep in Mind the Scoring Pattern: Check the scoring pattern of the optional subject and based on that choose the subject which has the highest scoring potential.

  • Do Not Follow Herd Mentality: Do not choose any optional subject just because one of your friends has chosen it, or it is popular and trending.

Which Is the Toughest Optional in UPSC and How to Crack It?

It is a bit difficult to tell about the most difficult subject of UPSC, but if we look at the success rate of a subject and the rate of facing difficulties in studying it, then we have given Geography the most difficult natural subject out of all the optional subjects of UPSC. Is. Geography is considered to be the most difficult subject out of all the optional subjects of UPSC, and we have given the main reasons for it below-

Reasons why Geography is the Most Difficult Optional Subject in the UPSC CSE examination

  • Interdisciplinary Nature

  • Analytical huddles

  • High Competition

  • Technical Terminology

  • Current Affairs complexes

  • Interconnectivity

  • Complex Maps

  • Multiple Approaches

  • Scoring Nature

  • Difficulties in Understanding the topics

All these are the main reasons that UPSC's Optional Subject Geography gets the most difficult optional subject.

Below we have given you 10 such steps which if you follow then it will be possible for you to pass Geography Optional Subject

First of all,

  • Understand the Geography syllabus and exam pattern.

  • Concerning this makes a comprehensive study plan, and give enough time to each topic.

  • Make the best use of books and reference materials, and online resources to cover each topic including important concepts.

  • Make short notes for more and more questions and turn to previous years’ question papers.

  • Mock tests regularly & Evaluate yourself Control the subjects and ensure Get expert guidance.

  • Access study materials and regular mock tests at coaching institutes.

  • Try to join a Coaching Institute.

  • Try to develop analytical and interpretive skills to analyze and answer information Stay updated with current affairs especially environmental issues and globalization.

  • Pay more attention to the urban sector Remember that while geography is a difficult optional Subject may be considered.

  • It is necessary to choose a subject that coincides with your interest and strengths and background.

Top 10 Toughest Optional Subjects UPSC

We have given you the list of the top 10 most difficult optional subjects based on their difficulty level and based on passing the optional subjects suggested by the UPSC aspirants and considering them well. Along with this, we have also given you the difficulty level-

SubjectPassing ChancesDifficulty Level
Public AdministrationModerateModerate to High
AnthropologyModerateModerate to High
GeographyModerateModerate to High
PhilosophyModerateModerate to High
SociologyModerateModerate to High
Electrical EngineeringModerateHigh
Medical ScienceModerateHigh


Q1. What is the best way to score well in the optional subject?

Ans. The best way to score in the optional subject is a complete understanding of the syllabus. Practice as many questions as possible, and develop analytical and interpretive skills to analyze data and graphs.

Q2. How much time should I devote to studying the optional subject?

Ans. It is advised to allow sufficient time for each subject and make a comprehensive study plan. Devoting at least 4 to 5 hours daily to the optional subject is sufficient.

Q3. Is it necessary to join coaching classes for the optional subject?

Ans. It is not necessary to join coaching classes. But guidance from experts, access to study material, and regular mock tests can be helpful. It provides a competitive environment that motivates you to perform better.

Q4. How do I prepare for the optional subject in the UPSC exam?

Ans. To prepare for the optional subject in the UPSC exam, you should start by understanding the syllabus and pattern of the exam. Try to solve as many questions as possible in a concise manner from the best study material. Revise the particular topics regularly. Also, stay updated with current affairs in relevant fields.

Updated on: 13-Apr-2023

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