Choosing the optional is a milestone in one’s journey of becoming an IAS. A good optional can steer your way to success. But what makes an optional good. Actually, it varies from person to person.

Most of us have graduation in subjects which are either not in list of optional subjects for UPSC CSE exam or they are too heavy some to be covered in short period. This leaves is in a condition where we have to opt for a subject which is completely new. If one is in such a situation, then he/she should consider other factors to decide an optional.

These factors are:

  1. Short syllabus and easy to revise: We generally have one year for preparation of syllabus. In this, we have to prepare 4 papers of general studies along with optional. The 4 GS paper in itself consist of more than 10 subjects. To cover this much of syllabus in such a short period in itself is a cumbersome task. Besides, we also have to cover 2 papers of optional. Hence, a wise choice would be to opt for a subject which is short in syllabus. Anthropology excels in this regard as it has relatively shorter syllabus. Moreover, the syllabus is mentioned in fine details that there are no hidden topics. In addition to it the topics are so interconnected that makes the syllabus more concise.
  1. Interesting and relevant: One has to read the optional subject for at least a year. If things are not favourable in the first attempt, the candidate will have to stick to it for two three years as well. It won’t be possible to do so if the subject is not interesting or generates curiosity. So we should choose an optional that is interesting and is able to sustain the attention at least for two-three years. Anthropology is a very interesting subject overall due to diversity of the syllabus. We study social aspects of human life and then we also focus on biological aspects, we look at archaeology and languages as well. Such diversity will help sustain the interest of the student.
  2. Overlap with Gs: It would be an added benefit if some part of optional overlaps with GS. This helps save our time and effort. Moreover, by reading a topic in optional subject will give us an enhanced and more in-depth knowledge of the same topic. Anthropology has considerable syllabus which overlaps with GS Like-
  • Social Issues- Gs Paper I- is completely covered in Anthropology.
  • Science and Technology of GS Paper III Especially the Biotechnology Part is Covered in Physical Anthropology.
  1. Easy to Score– whatever be your choice, what matters at the end of the day is the score you obtain in the subject as it will decide whether you are in the list or not, whether you get you dream service or whether you get you preferred cadre or not. So, it is better to choose a subject which gives you maximum returns with minimum efforts.

Anthropology is the one of the most loved optional because it is very scoring due to kind of questions asked. Most of the questions asked are previous year and hence you can go fully prepared in the exam hall. Moreover, every year students who qualify with anthropology are easily able to score 300+ marks with very less effect.


  1. Easy to understand– Scoring is not possible without proper understanding hence while choosing the subject we should make sure that it should not be full of difficult concepts which are hard to understand & difficult to reproduce.

Anthropology fares well in this aspect also. Anthropology if read from genuine sources & under an experienced guidance is too easy to grasp and frame answers.

  1. Availability of guidance and materials: One thing that should be at one’s check list is whether there is enough material available in the market. Is this material enough to qualify the exam? Is there proper guidance available? Some subjects might fulfill the previously mentioned criteria but may not have proper guidance and material available which might make the journey difficult.

Anthropology is an optional with plethora of content available in the market and under proper guidance.

In fact, we at LevelupIAS also have a well-versed team that can help you with anthropology optional. We have experienced faculty (Mr. Karandeep Singh) who himself has performed extremely well in anthropology mains multiple times.