An optional subject is important from the Mains point of view. One subject is to be chosen from a list of 26 options (25 mainstream subject choices + 1 literature subject out of 24 literature subject choices). The optional subject has two papers of 250 marks each. Thus, it is important for an aspirant to make the right choice. Things to be kept in mind while selecting an optional are:
Interest – Select a subject which you find interesting. While preparing for civil services, one ends up spending a lot of time on the optional. So, the subject should keep you interested. Don’t choose a subject just to follow peers. An optional which one studied in graduation/post-graduation can also be a good choice.
Strategic choice – An optional subject the syllabus of which overlaps with the syllabus to be covered under general studies could be very advantageous. History optional, for example, includes Ancient, Medieval, Modern Indian History and World History which also forms part of the General Studies syllabus of Preliminary and Mains exam. Subjects like Geography, Sociology, and Political Science also come under this group.
Availability of resources – In terms of books and guidance, some subjects require more than just aptitude like Mathematics. So, choose wisely.
Though important, the optional comes into play later. Starting point has to be General Studies. General Studies will help the aspirant make an informed choice.