How to Prepare for Anthropology Optional? What is its success rate?

Are you worried about choosing the right optional subject for your UPSC exam? Is Anthropology a good optional subject for you? Is it easy to comprehend? Can you score higher with the help of Anthropology as your optional?

Well, if these questions are flooding your mind right now, you are sure you are at the right place. In this blog, we will discuss the various aspects of Anthropology as an optional subject, from its success rate in the previous UPSC exams, its advantages, and disadvantages, and how to get you started with the right strategy to prepare for this optional.

Anthropology is one subject that is taken up by many UPSC aspirants, especially those belonging to the Science field. The reason behind it is that this subject includes a lot of scientific concepts.

Also, while choosing this subject as your optional, the first and foremost thing that you need to know is that you need a lot of interest in this one to really be able to score really well.

Success Rate of Anthropology optional

Unlike Public Administration and Geography, Anthropology is one subject that is not opted for by many aspirants. But when compared to these and other optional subjects, the success rate of Anthropology is relatively higher and falls anywhere between 10-12%.

Here is a trend of the various success rates over the past few years to give you a better idea about this subject:

Year of UPSCSuccess rate of Anthropology optional in %

Thus, from the above table, it is pretty much clear that the success rate of Anthropology has really been a good one as compared to many other popular optional subjects in UPSC.

Also, over the years toppers have also opted for this subject, namely, Shruti Raj Lakshmi of Jharkhand AIR 25 in 2021, Anudeep Durishetty AIR 1 in 2017, Sachin Gupta AIR 3 in 2017, etc. had Anthropology as their optional subject.

You can certainly opt for this subject considering its higher success rate. But then, It would be wise to check for your liking of the subject and how much you are into conceptual understanding to get into the details of it. 

Advantages of Anthropology optional in UPSC

  • Anthropology is a very easy subject to comprehend and doesn’t have a very lengthy syllabus that you need a lot of time to prepare. You can simply complete the topic in about 4-5 months, of course, if you have a lot of dedication, apply the right strategy and refer to the proper study materials.
  • It is a blessing for candidates belonging to the engineering and science background since it majorly deals with in-depth concepts and no mugging up of theory is required. You simply need to focus on the core concepts and understand them properly.
  • It is also a good scoring subject.
  • With the help of very creative answers, that include diagrams, tables, figures, flowcharts, etc. you can easily score well.
  • As compared to many other optional subjects, anthropology does not have much of an overlap with the UPSC Prelims GS Paper. However, it definitely has some overlap, if not much, such as on topics relevant to tribal welfare and issues, or social welfare, social justice, etc.
  • You can even write your essays based on your knowledge of Anthropology.
  • With the help of an Anthropology base, you can even write better answers as regards current affairs, wherein you have to deal with topics like Social injustice, cow slaughter, etc.
  • Many chapters are interrelated in this subject, so it will definitely save you a lot of time while preparing for it.

Disadvantages of Anthropology optional in UPSC

  • A lot of Conceptual clarity is a must for this subject. You simply cannot mug up these concepts.
  • You need a lot of understanding and guidance to learn this subject and finish this one on time. With self-study, it is a bit difficult to understand and complete it before 4-5 months.

How to Prepare for Anthropology Optional in UPSC Mains?

Before starting your preps for the Anthropology topic, you really need to skim through its entire syllabus to give you a fair idea as to what you would be dealing with in this subject.

Once you have gone through the syllabus, now is the right time to prepare a good study strategy and stick to it to be able to finish it on time and score well.

Here are a few pointers to help you prepare one of the best strategies to study for Anthropology as your optional in UPSC Mains.

  • Take down notes all the time and highlight important events or other things. You can even highlight and note down important events from the newspapers and other magazines as well as quotes to help you improve your answer writing skills and make your answers more relevant and score well.
  • While preparing, it is better have an analytical outlook on various concepts and also try to have a clear and concise understanding of the same.
  • Make sure you practice youranwer writing skills. You need to have a proper structure for your answers that would not only make it more presentable but also help it to become more appealing and easy to comprehend for the supervisors.
  • Read newspapers, especially the editorial sections, to help you give more insights on various topics from an anthropological viewpoint.
  • Mention various Anthropologists, or researchers to make your ansswers more relevant and informative.
  • Do not get carried away while writing answers on a particular topic. Especially for this subejct, you clearly need proper time management with your preps and answer writing as well.
  • Try to add more diagrams and flowcharts, figures, again to make your answers more presentable. Also focus on various case studies as well.


Thus, you can easily take up Anthropology as your optional subject and succeed with higher scores in your UPSC exams. However, the correct strategy and right appraoch needs to be opted.

Also, as already mentioned, you need ample of guidance to score really well in this topic. So, we recommend you join the Pragnya IAS Academy to help you with a better conceptual understanding and focus on the right strategy for Anthropolog as your optional for UPSC.