UPAC IAS Mains Preparation Strategy for Civil Engineering Optional

IAS is a three-staged exam and every year almost out of 10-11 lakh; only 12000+ candidates get to appear in IAS Mains. This exam consists of 9 papers among which 2 papers are based on candidate’s choice of subject. The UPSC list of optional subjects consists of 48 subjects including Civil Engineering out of which candidates can choose any subject as UPSC IAS Mains Optional Subject.

Civil Engineering Optional Highlights

  • Like other optional Subjects, Civil Engineering Optional has 2 papers.
  • Each Paper is of 250 marks.
  • Know your subject completely before choosing the Civil Engineering Optional
  • Choose Study sources as per your comfort zone.
  • Collect and practice Previous Years’ Question Papers of Civil Engineering Optional.
  • Study Plan should be according to your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Make your own notes.

Is Civil Engineering Optional better than other optional subjects?

No subject can be judged by this point of view that this is better than this one. But Most of the Engineering subjects are actually easier than other lengthy and informative optional subjects both technical and non-technical. Therefore, for civil engineering students as well as other engineering students have sufficient knowledge about the subject. Moreover, when you prepare for this subject it will open another door to attend GATE which is also another distinguished national exam of India.

Who should take Civil Engineering Optional in IAS Mains?

Candidates are really getting confused about whether they should choose Civil Engineering as the optional subject of IAS Mains. Here is fair advice:

  • If you are a Civil Engineering student, you already have the depth of knowledge needed for the two optional papers in the IAS exam.
  • If you are a science student and you are really interested in Civil Engineering, you can choose it. But before choosing it, have a good look at the overview of the syllabus and the most important topics whether you are comfortable or not.

Why should you take Civil Engineering Optional in IAS Mains?

Civil Engineering is one of the most recommended subjects as the optional subject of IAS Mains. Choosing this subject will give you numerous tempting benefits. Here are the advantages:

  • If you are a Civil Engineer student, you already studied it for four years, so you definitely have the potentiality and strong foundation of concepts.
  • For being a technical subject, it is a very scoring subject.
  • This is also a science-based subject.
  • For being a science-based subject, you don’t need to prepare for all the topics or memorize all of them.
  • Concept clearing is one of the keys to crack Civil Engineering optional.
  • Nothing is left to the interpretation of the examiner, unlike the humanities subjects.
  • Having a lot of diagrams will pave the way for scoring better.
  • You can even prepare for Engineering Services Exam (ESE) while preparing for civil engineering.

Challenges of Civil Engineering Optional as an optional subject in IAS Mains

Though the above paragraph might give you immense delight, preparing Civil Engineering Optional will make you face some inevitable challenges as well. Here they are:

  • The syllabus of Civil Engineering Optional is quite vast. It might create difficulties to actually cover the syllabus minutely.
  • There is no overlap with general studies in this subject.
  • The conducting board UPSC has the tendency to ask dynamic questions and these can be difficult to answer unless you have a deep knowledge of the subject.
  • Most of the candidates admit that it is difficult to finish up the paper on time during IAS Main Exam because papers are considered lengthy and include lots of graphical sketching.

How much time does Civil Engineering Optional take to prepare?

To be exact, UPSC Civil Engineering Optional will take at least 4-5 months. You will only able to be complete in this time frame if you give Civil Engineering 12 – 15 hours per day. This time frame is enough regardless of your merit and educational background. But it also depends on how much time you will need to recall your graduation knowledge.

Step – by – Step strategies for Is Civil Engineering Optional of UPSC IAS Mains

UPSC Civil Engineering Optional is, no doubt, a tough subject. Though you have already good knowledge in it, it does not give you the privilege of neglecting it by any means. Only strategic preparation will save you both time and increase the scopes of obtaining scores. Here we are providing such suitable strategies and tips suitable for every IAS Civil Engineering Optional candidates.

Detailed Syllabus of Civil Engineering Optional of IAS Mains 2020

Before jumping into the preparation and analysing previous years’ question papers, memorize the syllabus very minutely. This will help you to keep the preparation in track and make you realize the percentage of your preparation out of the whole syllabus:

IAS Mains Civil Engineering Optional Paper: I

SectionsImportant Topics
Engineering Mechanics, Strength of Materials and Structural AnalysisEngineering Mechanics, Kinematics and Kinetics, Kinetics of particle, Strength of Materials, Deflection of beams, Structural Analysis, Slope Deflection, moment distribution, Rolling loads and Influences lines, Arches, Matrix methods of analysis, Plastic Analysis of beams and frames, Unsymmetrical bending.
Design of Structures: Steel, Concrete and Masonry StructuresStructural Steel Design, Design of Concrete and Masonry Structures, Reinforced Concrete, Water tanks, Prestressed concrete,
Fluid Mechanics, Open Channel Flow and Hydraulic MachinesFluid Mechanics, Kinematics and Dynamics of Fluid flow, Dimensional Analysis and Similitude, Laminar Flow, Boundary layer, Turbulent flow through pipes, Open channel flow, Hydraulic Machines and Hydropower
Geotechnical EngineeringSoil Type and structure,

IAS Mains Civil Engineering Optional Paper: II

SectionsImportant Topics
Construction Technology, Equipment, Planning and ManagementConstruction Technology, Construction, Construction Planning and Management
Surveying and Transportation EngineeringSurveying, Railway Engineering, Highway Engineering,
Hydrology, Water Resources and EngineeringHydrology, Groundwater flow, Water Resources Engineering, Irrigation Engineering,
Environmental EngineeringWater Supply, Intake of water, Sewerage systems, Sewage characterization, Sewage treatment, Solid waste
Environmental pollutionSustainable development. Radioactive wastes and disposal. Environmental impact assessment for thermal power plants, mines, river valley projects. Air pollution. Pollution control acts.

Previous Years’ Question Papers of IAS Civil Engineering Optional

It is getting really hard to find the previous years’ question papers for every candidate. We are here proving you such links where you can download the previous years’ question papers of Civil Engineering Optional of UPSC IAS Mains free of cost in PDF Format and you also can Print out if needed.

YearsPaper NameLink to download
2019Paper- IDownload
2018Paper- IDownload
2017Paper- IDownload
2016Paper- IDownload
2015Paper- IDownload
2014Paper- IDownload

Steps to Approach for Civil Engineering Optional

IAS Main is without any question is one of the toughest exams and the Optional papers of IAS Mains are no exception. UPSC Mains Aspirants must follow strategies to complete the syllabus of optional papers along with other papers. A perfect plan is required for seamless preparation and it also saves time. Here are some tips to create your own plan:

Proper Study Plan:

If you have a plan for Civil Engineering optional, you will kick-start the preparations on a daily basis, or else you will have this question in mind “What will I read today?” Make a Plan which includes every subject proportionately so that the syllabus of every subject. Make a plane of 6 – 8 months giving 10 – 12 hours a day and then intensifying the timing up to 15 hours a day for at least 4 months. This may seem lengthy procedure but this is compact planning to achieve IAS Mains.

Prioritize important topics:

While memorizing the syllabus in between the lines do not make the plan accordingly. Analyse the previous years of question papers and a few sample question papers so that you understand your weakness and strengths, as well as the important topics of Civil Engineering optional. Candidates should know the basic concept of Civil engineering to tackle Paper-II.

No need to read every topic you come across. Separate the important topics and go with a flow that will provide you to take the upper hand in concept clarification and depth of understanding.

Find a question Paper pattern:

You have to gather the previous years’ question papers of Civil Engineering Optional subject from the above-part of this article. When you analyze the question papers, you will find that a certain pattern is followed in it. Finding the question paper pattern will let you know about the important topics that are regularly asked in the UPSC mains.


Revision is very essential. Multiple revisions are needed to memorize those long and empirical formulae. Otherwise, you forget the formulas in the exam hall as you have never read before. If you have difficulties in remembering the formulas, try to make out a logical analysis so that it will remain in your mind.

Test Series:

Join test series or solve full-length papers at home to better manage time in exams. You will also learn about which question will be better to attempt and more scoring. Civil Engineering papers are in general very lengthy. So Test Series will also help you to speed up and help you to gain your desired speed.

Notes Preparation:

You might be getting suggestions like make your own notes. But your mind is like how to make them and in what format. As we all know that UPSC IAS Mains is an offline descriptive exam. So you need to increase the speed of your writing as well.

We must ensure that for each subject notes shouldn’t exceed a total of 15 – 18 pages depending on the page and handwriting, else the purpose will be lost. Notes should contain important concepts, formula, derivations, and theory, especially for paper 2 topics.

Practice Answer Writing:

Invest 90 days in answer writing. Your answer should be crisp and compact. While practising wrings answers of civil Engineering, include diagrams and graphical images as required. This increases the rate of scores. You also can follow model answer papers to have a good look at what kind of answers are desired in the IAS Mains Civil Engineering Optional papers by the examiners of UPSC.

General smart Tips:

  1. You prepare a concept based on a pre-decided schedule.
  2. You write answers to posted questions for Optional Subjects like every Monday-Wednesday-Friday.
  3. Follow model answers for standard question-answer.
  4. At least 12 Questions a week – 3 Questions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  5. Practice questions from Paper-I and Paper-II in Alternate Weeks so that you can maintain a constancy

FAQs related to Civil Engineering Optional of IAS Mains

Que. Which engineering branch is best for IAS?

Ans. Civil engineering and electrical engineering both branches are best but your own plan which you can choose. But know the language before choosing if this was not the subject you gratulated in.

Que. How many subjects are there in IAS?

Ans. There are a total of 48 optional subjects in UPSC Mains out of which, a candidate has to choose one. This subject need not to the subject you have graduated in.

Que. Which optional subject has the highest success rate in UPSC?

Ans. As per the research shows, Agriculture has the highest success rate. Every year approx 220+ candidates take this paper as their IAS Mains optional subject and get 18% recommended.

Que. Will Optional be removed from UPSC 2021?

Ans. No change has been declared in IAS Pattern in 2020. The Baswan committee recommended doing away with the optional subject, but there is no change in the IAS syllabus and exam pattern in UPSC notification 2020. The candidates are waiting for the removal of optional subjects to wait for more years.

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