Which Is the Toughest Subject in UPSC?

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Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding the UPSC Exam
  3. Analyzing the Subjective Difficulty
  4. Evaluating the Objective Difficulty
  5. The Perceived Tough Subjects
  6. Strategies to Tackle the Tough Subjects
  7. Conclusion
  8. FAQs


The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination is one of the most challenging competitive exams in India. It is conducted to recruit candidates for prestigious positions in the country’s civil services. With a vast syllabus and high competition, candidates often wonder which subject is the toughest in the UPSC exam. In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of subject difficulty in UPSC and provide insights into the perceived tough subjects.

Understanding the UPSC Exam

Before we delve into the subject difficulty, let’s have a brief understanding of the UPSC exam. The UPSC exam consists of three stages: the Preliminary Examination (Prelims), the Main Examination (Mains), and the Personality Test (Interview). The Prelims comprise two objective-type papers, while the Mains include nine subjective papers. The subjects covered in the exam range from history, geography, polity, economics, science, and technology to current affairs and general awareness.

Analyzing the Subjective Difficulty

Subjective difficulty refers to the level of comprehension, analytical skills, and expression required to excel in a particular subject. In the UPSC Mains, candidates are evaluated based on their ability to articulate their thoughts, analyze situations, and present well-structured answers. While all subjects demand a comprehensive understanding, some may pose higher subjective difficulty due to their intricate concepts or vast syllabus.

Evaluating the Objective Difficulty

Objective difficulty, on the other hand, focuses on the level of factual knowledge and problem-solving skills required in a subject. The Preliminary Examination tests candidates’ factual knowledge and their ability to apply concepts to solve objective questions. This aspect of the exam helps evaluate the objective difficulty of different subjects.

The Perceived Tough Subjects

When it comes to the toughest subject in UPSC, opinions may vary among candidates. However, some subjects are commonly perceived as challenging due to their vast syllabus, dynamic nature, or technical aspects. Let’s explore a few subjects often considered tough:

1. General Studies Paper III – Economics

Economics can be a challenging subject due to its dynamic nature and the need to analyze complex economic concepts. Candidates need to stay updated with the latest economic policies, global developments, and economic theories. Understanding macroeconomics, microeconomics, and Indian economy comprehensively requires dedicated effort.

2. General Studies Paper II – Polity

Polity, or the study of the political system, can be demanding due to its vastness and the need for in-depth knowledge of the Indian Constitution, governance, and political processes. Candidates need to be well-versed in topics like fundamental rights, directive principles, electoral systems, and administrative structures.

3. Optional Subjects – Public Administration and Law

Optional subjects play a crucial role in the UPSC Mains, and two subjects often regarded as tough are Public Administration and Law. Public Administration demands a comprehensive understanding of administrative theories, bureaucracy, and public policy. Law requires an in-depth knowledge of Indian legal systems, constitutional provisions, and case laws.

Strategies to Tackle the Tough Subjects

While some subjects may be perceived as tough, with the right approach and strategies, candidates can excel in any subject. Here are a few strategies to tackle tough subjects:

  1. Start Early: Begin your preparation well in advance to allow ample time for comprehensive understanding and revision.
  2. Break It Down: Divide the syllabus into smaller sections and create a study plan to cover them systematically.
  3. Thorough Reading: Invest time in reading standard textbooks and reference materials to develop a strong conceptual foundation.
  4. Practice Answer Writing: Regularly practice answer writing to improve your analytical and expression skills.
  5. Seek Guidance: Join coaching institutes or seek guidance from experienced mentors to clarify doubts and gain insights.


In conclusion, determining the toughest subject in UPSC is subjective and varies from candidate to candidate. However, subjects like Economics, Polity, Public Administration, and Law are often perceived as challenging due to their vast syllabus and conceptual depth. With the right strategies, consistent effort, and comprehensive preparation, candidates can overcome the challenges posed by these subjects and excel in the UPSC examination.


Q1: Is it necessary to choose one of the tough subjects as an optional in UPSC?

A1: No, it is not necessary to choose a tough subject as an optional in UPSC. The choice of optional subject should be based on your interest, understanding, and availability of relevant resources.

Q2: How can I improve my answer writing skills for the UPSC Mains?

A2: To improve your answer writing skills, practice regularly by attempting previous year question papers and mock tests. Analyze your answers, seek feedback, and work on improving the structure, content, and expression.

Q3: Are there any subjects considered relatively easier in the UPSC exam?

A3: While the difficulty level varies for each candidate, subjects like History, Geography, and Science and Technology are often considered relatively easier due to their conceptual clarity and availability of study resources.

Q4: Can I clear the UPSC exam without opting for a tough subject as an optional?

A4: Yes, you can clear the UPSC exam without opting for a tough subject as an optional. Many successful candidates have scored well without choosing traditionally tough subjects. The key lies in thorough understanding, consistent preparation, and effective time management.

Q5: What are the additional resources available for preparing tough subjects in UPSC?

A5: Apart from standard textbooks, candidates can refer to online resources, video lectures, and coaching materials specifically designed for tough subjects. Joining test series and participating in study groups can also provide valuable insights and support.

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