“UPSC Exam Overhaul: Discussions Heat Up Over Scrapping Optional Subject from Mains”

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Civil Services Examination, one of the most prestigious competitive exams in India. In a recent development, there has been a growing discussion regarding the removal of the optional subject from the UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam. This article aims to delve into the potential implications of this change and assess its impact on aspirants and the selection process.

The Current System

Under the existing UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam pattern, candidates are required to choose one optional subject from a list of subjects provided by the Commission. This subject carries a significant weightage in the final score, and candidates have the flexibility to select a subject based on their interest, background, and expertise. This approach allows candidates to showcase their in-depth knowledge and understanding of a particular subject area.

Pros of Removing the Optional Subject

Greater Focus on General Studies: Removing the optional subject would shift the focus of the Mains Exam towards General Studies papers, which cover a wide range of subjects including History, Geography, Polity, Economics, and more. This change would encourage candidates to develop a well-rounded understanding of diverse topics and promote a holistic approach to the examination.

Leveling the Playing Field: The current system of optional subjects can create disparities among candidates, as some subjects are perceived to be scoring or easier than others. By eliminating the optional subject, the selection process becomes more standardized, ensuring that all candidates are evaluated based on a common set of subjects and criteria. This would lead to a fairer assessment of their knowledge and abilities.

Simplified Exam Preparation: With the removal of the optional subject, candidates would no longer need to invest significant time and effort in mastering a specific subject. This would simplify the preparation process, allowing aspirants to focus more on comprehensive coverage of the General Studies papers and enhancing their overall understanding of different subjects.

Cons of Removing the Optional Subject

Limited Specialization: The optional subject provides candidates with an opportunity to showcase their specialized knowledge and expertise in a particular subject. Removing this component could potentially lead to a reduced emphasis on specialized subjects and limit candidates’ ability to demonstrate their depth of understanding in their chosen field.

Loss of Interest and Motivation: The optional subject often serves as a source of motivation and interest for candidates. It allows them to explore subjects they are passionate about and fosters a sense of intellectual engagement. Removing this choice may result in a decline in enthusiasm among aspirants, as they may feel less connected to the examination process.

Impact on Subject Experts: The removal of the optional subject would affect subject experts who specialize in teaching specific subjects. These experts play a crucial role in guiding and mentoring aspirants, and the elimination of the optional subject may impact their professional opportunities and expertise utilization.

Potential Implications

Enhanced Interdisciplinary Approach: The removal of the optional subject could promote an interdisciplinary approach to the examination. Candidates would be encouraged to develop a broader perspective by integrating knowledge from multiple subjects, enabling them to address complex issues and challenges in a more comprehensive manner.

Adapting Preparation Strategies: Aspirants would need to adapt their preparation strategies to prioritize General Studies papers. They would have to focus on comprehensive coverage of various subjects, staying updated with current affairs, and developing critical thinking and analytical skills to excel in the Mains Exam.

Revamped Evaluation Process: The UPSC would need to revise the evaluation process to ensure a fair and balanced assessment without the optional subject. The weightage and scoring criteria for General Studies papers may undergo modifications to align with the new pattern, ensuring a valid and reliable evaluation process.


The removal of the optional subject from the UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam would bring significant changes to the selection process. While it offers advantages such as a focus on General Studies, a level playing field, and simplified preparation, it also raises concerns about limited specialization and potential loss of interest among candidates. Any decision to remove the optional subject should carefully consider these implications and aim to strike a balance between a comprehensive evaluation and candidates’ individual interests and expertise.