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Strategic Guidelines for Mathematics Optional | UPSC Mains 2018

Choosing Mathematics optional subject for UPSC can be like a walk in the park for some or walk on ice for some. The general guideline to choose Mathematics as an optional subject is that you should have some background and genuine inclination for mathematics. Since the syllabus is vast and requires impressive practice, it is important to have a genuine intrigue. This subject has certain advantages too which makes it intriguingly an obvious choice for few.


“The Only Way to Learn Mathematics is to do Mathematics”

— Paul Halmos

Scoring in Mathematics won’t be a problem if one input diligently good amount of hard work. Even after heavy scaling, one can expect to score decent marks. This sort of certainty is generally not present in humanities optional.

There are two papers for the Mathematics optional in the UPSC Mains. Each paper is of 250 marks with a total of 500 marks.

Syllabus for UPSC Mathematics Optional Subject


  • Linear Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Analytical Geometry
  • Dynamics and Statics
  • Vector Analysis
  • Ordinary Differential Equation


  • Abstract Algebra
  • Real Analysis
  • Linear Programming
  • Partial Differential Equation
  • Numerical Analysis and Computer Programming
  • Mechanics and Fluid Dynamics

Merits of choosing Mathematics as an optional

  • High Scoring

Scoring well in Mathematics totally depends on your preparation level. If one has prepared well for the exam and appeared well in the exam too, there are high chances of making it to the final list.

  • High level of Certainty

Mathematics is all about either you have done it right, or you have done it wrong. So, if you have attempted your paper well, then surely you are going to secure good marks.

  • Level Of Difficulty

Difficulty level of the paper is quite moderate and majority of questions are directly picked from the standard textbooks.

  • Competing among the few

Not many candidates opt for Mathematics as an optional subject in UPSC, so the competition level is restricted among few candidates.

Demerits of choosing Mathematics as an optional

  • Huge Syllabus

Mathematics has a vast syllabus as compared to other optional subjects and requires dedicated 3-4hrs a day for complete one year to finish up with the syllabus.

  • No correlation

Unlike other optional subjects, mathematics syllabus does not overlap with any other general studies preparation, so it might slow down your general studies preparation.

  • Zero or Full

As explained before, mathematics is all about either you have done it right, or you have done it wrong. So wild attempts might not yield marks.


There ought to be no such thing as boring mathematics. On the off chance if mathematics is the thing that interests you, then you should surely go for it.


All the Best with your preparation.


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