After clearing the Preliminary stage, the next step for a candidate is the Main examination. The mains exam consists of total nine papers; four General Studies papers, two papers of Optional subject (Paper VI and Paper VII), one paper on Essay and two qualifying papers of mother language and English paper.
Optional subject consists of a total of 500 marks out of a total of 2025 marks and hence play an important role to get selection in the Civil services examination.
Optional papers can be answered in English or any of the languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. The optional papers can be answered in English even if none of the other papers have been answered by the candidate in English language.
For the optional subject, the UPSC has given the detailed syllabus in its notification. Regarding the syllabus UPSC has also mentioned that- “the scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) for the examination is broadly of the honours degree level i.e. a level higher than the bachelors’ degree and lower than the masters’ degree. In the case of Engineering, Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelors’ degree”.