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Ever wondered, if it really helps to choose one particular subject for your mains in the IAS exams? Does it really have a huge impact on whether you would make it to the ranking list?

Truth be told, a lot depends upon your personal interest and sometimes even on your academic background, as in the subjects that you must have studied for your graduation.

Well, a lot of speculation revolves around this matter. But when you look at the ranking list of the previous year, the toppers, or to be more precise, over 100 aspirants who made it to the list, all had one subject in common chosen for their mains – and that was – PSIR or Political Science and International Relations.

Now, the subject title itself should ring a bell here. Since you would be appearing for the UPSC exams, which is the main exam, or the entrance exam to help you become a bureaucrat in future, you might want these topics to be by heart to you.

So, if you are really looking forward to making your mark in the government civil services,  you might as well consider having a stronghold over the Political Science of our country and the International relations as well. Both these topics really have a broader curriculum and help you become a successful bureaucrat who has the complete knowledge of the country’s political environment, which is definitely a must for this exam.

Having said that, here are a few key benefits that would help you make your decision about whether to choose Political Science and International Relations as your optional subject or not:

Advantage of overlapping topics for your mains and prelims

PSIR, as an optional subject, consists of many overlapping topics with your prelims general studies section. Thus, you might as well be saving a lot of time to study different topics, as you would already be preparing for your mains in advance, if you are preparing on topics that fall under the General Studies section for your prelims such as, Indian polity, Ethics, Modern Indian history, various social issues, and much more. Almost everything is covered under the PSIR topic.

This will certainly reduce a lot of your burden of studying various subjects to a much greater extent.

Easy to grasp and comprehend

PSIR is one subject that is absolutely non-technical and even if you do not have a background in this field, you can still study and understand the same without much of a hassle, especially if you are a regular newspaper reader. This subject deals with the general concepts that any layman can comprehend easily.

Closer to the current affairs section

Political science and International Relations revolves much around the current affairs section, or so to say, blends the various dynamic and static elements of the portion seamlessly.

In fact, you would be dealing with the much detailed concepts of current affairs such as International relations, Indian polity, etc. that would help you immensely for your current affairs section during your prelims. You can definitely consider this as an added advantage.

Interrelated topics in PSIR

This is definitely something that would help you save a lot of your time for studies as many of the thoughts and concepts like the Mills, Bentham etc. are pretty much interrelated and help you learn them and cover them faster than any other optional subject.

Optional but Mandatory

Well, As mentioned earlier, as a civil servant you would be required to have in-depth knowledge of the topics involved in PSIR as it is. There is no escaping them. So, you are sure to have an upper hand if you take the PSIR topic as your optional subject, as it would help you in more than one way to become a highly successful bureaucrat.

Assistance with the essays topic

When it comes to writing essays, you better note that, usually two questions out of the many are generally related to the Political science background. So, if you have chosen PSIR as your optional subject, you are really in a much better position to deal with the essays section as it is.

Added advantage for the Interview part

Interviews are generally the toughest part as they say, as this is where your personality along with your knowledge is tested.

And since most of the interview questions generally revolve around Indian Polity and your knowledge about the current affairs, which has an established connection with the PSIR topic, you are certainly at an advantage over others, since you are through with half of your interview preps, as you already know so much because of your chosen optional subject and that is, PSIR.


With that being said, to conclude, it would certainly be a good idea to select Political Science and International Relations as your optional subject. However, it is a personal choice after all and a matter of interest as well.

But as you can see the various advantages of the PSIR subject over others, you indefinitely start preparing for the same as soon as possible, for which you clearly don’t need a degree in the subject.

All you need here is the extreme motivation to keep yourself updated with the current happenings and of course India’s political climate and its know-how. Choosing PSIR definitely has its own benefits as we already discussed.

Hope this article will help you make a better decision.

Blog by Ms.Smrithi Ramanan, Director IAS BRAINS,

About the Author:

IAS brains institute for civil services offers PSIR optional which is imparted by our brilliant mentor  –Ms.Smrithi  Ramanan – who is a Social Science enthusiast and a research scholar. 

She has a vast experience in guiding several UPSC aspirants and has a reputation of taking them closer to their dreams of becoming a successful bureaucrat with her in-depth knowledge of the subject.

She also makes students to articulate in a batter manner so as to inculcate in them the analytical and rational thinking ability that would help them in the run long and as required for the UPSC exams.

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