UPSC Mains – How to Prepare for Economics Optional? What is the success rate of economics optional in UPSC?


As an aspirant for the UPSC exams, you need to know that the subject of Economics is undoubtedly one of the most important for you to learn, and you at least need to possess sound knowledge of the basic tenets of this subject.

Also, as a future public administrator, the main reason you need to learn more about our country’s economy is to know how to manage its finances, budget, the know-how of the frequently used terminologies in this area, etc. Economics is definitely one of the four pillar subjects apart from History, Geography, and Indian Polity for the UPSC exams.

Thus, if you are thinking of taking it up as your optional, then you are definitely on the right track and this would save you a lot of time and energy while preparing for the prelims as well. No doubt the subject is convolutely connected to the current affairs section and you have to study it thoroughly as well. 

Well, you will also be glad to know that most of the topics, such as the fiscal deficit, budget, national monetary policies, inflation, deflation, etc. from this subject are repeated in the UPSC exams.

In this blog, let us learn more about in detail how to prepare for this highly intricate subject, as many of you would think it is, and is it really worth it to take this subject as your optional for the UPSC mains.

What is the success rate of Economics optional in Mains?

Now, before we dive deeper into whether Economics is really worth to be taken as your optional subject for the IAS Mains, let us first observe the Economy trend analysis from the past 10 years in the UPSC prelims General Paper – 1.

Year of UPSC prelims No of questions asked in the Prelims on Economy
2011 19
2012 17
2013 19
2014 10
2015 13
2016 18
2017 16
2018 18
2019 28
2020 14

From the above table, it is quite clear that the topic of Economics really holds an important place in the prelims and you can expect anywhere around at least 15 questions on the subject. 

Having said that, you should also know that many UPSC toppers in the past have had Economics as their optional subject.

However, whether to choose this subject as your optional for Mains is completely an individual choice, here are a few pros and cons of the subject should certainly help you make the right decision considering all the factors.

Pros of Economics Optional Subject

  • No educational background is required for this subject. It is a highly comprehensible topic.
  • It has a good overlap of topics with the UPSC prelims GS subject, almost close to 60%, which is immense.
  • The curriculum for this one is pretty much concise and specific.
  • A lot of study material is available for this subject easily everywhere.
  • It is also good as a scoring subject if you have absolute clarity of concepts, know where to illustrate with proper diagrams and examples, etc.

Cons of Economics Optional Subject

  • It involves a lot of conceptual clarity and is a very technical subject. So, if you wish to take it up, you need to be prepared to handle huge numbers, graphs, diagrams, etc. along with the clarity of various concepts to score those great marks. 
  • You need to have a lot of interest in this field to comprehend this subject in a much better way. Because it is your interest that would drive you to score more and learn more in detail about the topic.

How to Prepare for Economics Optional?

How to Prepare for Economics Optional?

The main thing to do to clear the overall UPSC and thus score well in the Economics optional is to prepare a good strategy ahead of time and you also need to get all your basics right.

Since you would be dealing with Economics in detail for your optional, if at all you choose the same, then here are some really helpful pointers that should help you overcome all your fears of the subject and get started with it right away.

  1. The start is always from the basics. It is highly recommended that you start by reading the NCERTs from class VIII to XII to get a better hang of the core concepts of Economics.
  2. And the next step would be to move on with the important and highly recommended reference books that would help you understand the concepts in a much more detailed manner. These books include: 
  • Advanced Economic Theory by HL Ahuja
  • Indian Economy by Uma Kapila
  • Indian Economy by Misra and Puri
  • Money and Banking by NK Sinha, to name a few. 
  1. The next important thing to ensure is to keep taking notes of whatever important topics or concepts you come across while referring to these books. It really helps you recall all of them correctly during the exam and even for your revision.
  2. Keep practicing your writing skills, that is your answer-writing skills. You need to master your answer writing skills in order to score well in this subject and for this, you can try solving previous years’ question papers for the Economics subject for UPSC mains.
  3. Always be ready with graphs, diagrams, and examples of popular economists, to grab more marks in the mains paper.
  4. Be prepared thoroughly with your Economics terminology. Economics is a very particular topic and requires the proper usage of terminologies without fail.
  5. It is also highly advisable that you combine your answers to connect them with current affairs. For this, you will have to keep a regular watch on the Economics news and happenings and make sure you take notes and segregate them properly to connect them with the concepts in the subject. 

Well, these were a few things to help you make a better decision regarding your choice of optional, that is Economics. Hope this helps.

However, if you are really interested to know more about this topic in detail, you should definitely try out by joining the best IAS academy in Hyderabad Pragnya IAS Institute, which has the best and most highly experienced trainers who can help you with comprehensive understanding of this topic.