How to prepare for the "Mains Exam"? - Part 1 

Okay, just to re-cap, let us first understand what are the papers you will have to give in the mains examination:

  • 1 Essay type Indian Language Paper (300 marks)
  • 1 English Qualifying Paper (300 marks)
  • 1 General Essay type paper (200 marks)
  • 2 General Studies papers (300 marks each)
  • 4 Optional subjects papers (300 marks each)

In case you are confused about what "4 optional subject papers" means, let us just clear that up first. You see, for the "mains exam" you have to select 2 optional subjects. And on each of these optional subjects, you will have to give 2 papers. So that makes 4 optional subject papers in all!

As we said earlier, when you are studying for the prelims, you should study both the “optional subject” and the “general studies” really well! If you do this, you can use the same knowledge to give the mains exam. It will reduce your study load for the mains exam a lot! When studying for the mains exam, one of the optional subjects will be almost done and a lot of the “general studies” syllabus will be covered!

If you are confused about what the “mains” is all about, you might want to go back and take a look at the “Format of Civil service exam” page!


How to choose the second optional subject?

To select the second optional subject, you must decide on basis of two factors:

  1. The availability of study material/books etc. on the subject you select.
  2. The amount of interest you have in that subject!

Study material is generally a problem! So you should keep a look out for good books etc. that cover the syllabus of the optional subjects you select.

Now, as we decided previously, one optional subject will be the same as the optional subject you chose in the prelims! The other optional subject could be something like “history” or “geography” etc. if you can mug-up a lot of facts! On the other hand, if you have interest in some other subject and you can find enough study material on it, you should definitely go for that subject.

The list of options you have for your optional subject's is here:

  • Agriculture
  • Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Commerce
  • Economics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Indian History
  • Law
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medical Science
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Zoology
  • Arabic
  • Assamese
  • Bengali
  • Gujarati
  • Hindi
  • Kannada
  • Kashmiri
  • Konkani
  • Marathi
  • Malayalam
  • Manipuri
  • Nepali
  • Oriya
  • Pali
  • Persian
  • Punjabi
  • Russian
  • Sanskrit
  • Sindhi
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Urdu

Here is the link to the mains syllabus of these subjects!

Please Note: You see many languages listed about as optional subjects. In case of these languages, the syllabus consists of literature etc. that is written in that language. You can check out the syllabuses here.

Next - How to prepare for the Mains Exam? - Part 2 >>


<< Previous - How to prepare for the "Prelims"?

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Table Of Contents

  1. How to become an IAS/IPS officer? - Introduction
  2. Civil Services Exam - FAQ
  3. Pattern of Civil Services Exam
  4. How to prepare for the "Preliminary Exam"?
  5. How to prepare for the "Mains Exam"? - Part 1
  6. How to prepare for the "Mains Exam"? - Part 2
  7. What to do in the Interview?
  8. Preparing a study schedule!