I think this is one area which gets least attention from many aspirants.
Usually a new candidate goes by the conventional wisdom of those whom he know personally. But one should also do one’s own research before choosing optional. They should look at study material of different optionals, listen to what previous year toppers are saying, read blogs, speak to teachers before deciding the optionals.
The following factors are usually considered while choosing a optional
- Less syllabus so that it can be covered fast
- Same subject as taken by a friends
- Perception of being “easy”
- Overlap with GS
Among this many forget the most critical factor that should be game changer in deciding optional is how scoring the subject is. An optional is one area where you can confidently score good marks. Because in GS it is very difficult to improve from 100 to 110 but it is possible to improve from 250 to 300 in an optional if chose wisely.
Keeping these in mind I am a strong advocate of science and engineering optional. Once they are done thoroughly you can be assured of 280+ score . This is not so with many humanities optional. Also I heard from many aspirants that they are stuck at a particular score in mains in even after 3 attempts. And this becomes critical for their selection because it is the mains score which will take you the final list. Many just miss out from a rank because their mains marks are just not there. And optional is the main culprit here.
Thus an aspirant need to honestly think about pros and cons of choosing a optional. Yes, science and engineering subject demands a certain aptitude, inclination and interest but many just shy away from science optional because they demand hard work and take long time to prepare.
When I chose my optional, I had option of Geography, Anthropology and of course PubAd. But I went with Physics. Physics wasn’t my forte but I had a interest in it. I always wanted to study it but couldn’t during college years due to various reasons. I knew that Physics will bring diversity to my preparation as this is not a matter of 1 or 2 year because I might have to spend more time in preparation. It will help me in breaking the monotonicity of GS .Moreover it was a highly scoring subject. Many of may seniors of college (Manish Bansal Sir, Rishav Gupta Sir) had cleared the exam with this optional. So I chose Physics.
Choice is yours. Be wise!
PS – This post is based on personal experience and not any kind of data.