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Law as an optional in UPSC

How is law optional in UPSC.png

To answer the above question or is law being a good optional of UPSC/IAS Exam and Should you consider taking it ?  We have to find out what 'factors' that determines the suitability of any optional subject in UPSC. Ponder over them and examine its suitability as per your need. 

Factor - 1

Yellow Rulers

Factor - 4

Polygon 6

Factor - 2

Triangle Ruler

Factor - 5


Factor - 3

Gingerbread House

Factor - 6


Generally Speaking there are two type of candidate who will opt for law optional in UPSC, i.e Law Graduate and Non Law Graduate

It will seer stupidity for law graduates if he/she do not take this subject as a optional for UPSC Mains exam. The reason for saying such a harsh thing is this. they have to study half of what they must have studied in their law college.  

For non law graduates there are multiple advantage over other subject which a candidates may choose. ​ Let's Dive in and read a little more about criterion which makes law optional a suitable subject for qualifying in UPSC

Factor - 01

Smaller Size of Syllabus

The syllabus of all other optional is more than what student study in their graduation course. In law it is not the case at all.


It do not Include Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Civil Procedure Code(CPC) and Evidence Act, which generally student dread and find it tough to decipher.

It is a good news for student, as most of above referred laws are not there. They are considered one of the most vast and goes into very nitty gritty on rules and regulations on which courts functions.


In judicial services exam procedural laws are 50 percent of the syllabus, not in UPSC Exam. That is why having a law background is not necessary at all for opting law optional. 

If you read smartly and follow right strategy the whole syllabus can be covered from end to end in 4.5 month sharp. It require no further study.


All together there are 7 laws you have to study which covers 70 percent of the questions in exam.

You will attempt those Seventy percent questions right away. The laws are Constitutional, Administrative law, International Law, Law of Crime, Low of Tort, Law Of contract and Special Contract laws.

Factor -01 Law optional

Factor - 02

Very Scoring optional, Can easily get 300 Marks.


This optional is far better than More popular one such as Geo, Socio Etc. I say so on two ground. One is the pass percentage of people taking law optional and people actually getting selected is very high.

People Don't take Law optional as they are feel it is very tough and only law student can do it. You get very less marks etc. Well UPSC report concludes its wrong.


It have been one of top optional consistently in optional subject in upsc. You can read an analysis done by Mudit Jain IPS 2015 Batch on Quora (link) . I have be written a detailed blog on what is the success ratio of the law optional in upsc.

From Quora blog of Mudit above you can see it have been top three with highest passing percentage. It is not relevant how much people give the exam. may be number is high for pub ad or other subject but passing percentage of law is much better.


Factor - 03

High Success ratio

Law optional in upsc have in recent years have had much higher success ratio as compared to other subjects having 100 or more candidates appearing in Mains examination. In recent Report(69th) of UPSC it have been highest that is 14 %. 

To see a comparable Study a detail blog on Success Ratio of law optional on this website

Factor - 04

OverLap With other Common GS PAPER in UPSC CSE Mains


At least three section of compulsory paper in Civil service have common with law optional. Those three parts are:- GS paper-2, Let us take UPSC exam of 2019. In GS paper-2, GS paper- 3 and Essay.


Almost 50 percent of compulsory paper can be studied along law optional only. So taking alw optional automatically gives you an edge. Lets See extent of overlapping in these three paper.

  • Overlapping between Law optional and GS paper - 2


Almost every topic related to constitution you will study in more depth in law optional, the governance part is more of less is covered in administrative law ehre constitutional governance is a topic itself in law optional paper-I.

Let's Take example of GS paper - 2 Question of 2020 CSE Mains.


Q.1 - The judicial systems in India and UK seem to be converging as well as diverging in the recent times. Highlight the key points of convergence and divergence between the two nations in terms of their judicial practices. (Answer in 150 words)

[A law optional would very easily answer it as most of law we study have comparative case law mostly judgement of english law]

Q.2 - Judicial Legislation is antithetical to the doctrine of separation of powers as envisaged in the Indian Constitution. In this context justify the filing of large number of public interest petitions praying for issuing guidelines to executive authorities.

[ Question is directly related to law optional topic of PIL, in optional we do a very very detailed study of PIL which other optional people might not]

Q. 3 - “Recent amendments to the Right to information Act will have profound impact on the autonomy and independence of the Information Commission”. Discuss

[Above question is again part of RTI, a topic in Contemporary legal development of UPSC law optional paper - II ]


Let's take the another example of gs paper -2 of (2019) There was at least three question which could have been only be answered in a better way by a law optional student, Namely,

Q.1 - Do you think that constitution of India does not accept principle of strict separation of powers rather it is based on the principle of ‘checks and balance’? Explain.(10)

Q.4 -From the resolution of contentious issues regarding distribution of legislative powers by the courts, ‘Principle of Federal Supremacy’ and ‘Harmonious Construction’ have emerged. Explain.(10)

Q.5 - What can France learn from the Indian Constitution’s approach to secularism?(10)

Q.12 “Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution is a limited power and it cannot be enlarged into absolute power.” In the light of this statement explain whether Parliament under Article 368 of the Constitution can destroy the Basic Structure of the Constitution by expanding its amending power?(15)

Above Five Question just an example of how law optional student could have written it better. Like question number one is what you will study in administrative law. There have been previous questions on same doctrine in law as well.


The Harmonious construction principle you can not find in laxmikant even you search it then as well. However the answer should not be law specific it has to be with reference to paper two. Slight modification and integration with law optional preparation you could easily get more marks.

  • Overlapping of law optional with GS paper-3(2019)


Topic related to environment and disaster management can be clubbed together with law optional. NDMA act can be studied to have a better picture of disaster management institutional arrangement. It is one of environmental laws of india.

Sustainable development topic of GS 3 can be read with international environmental law principle specifically Stockholm conference principle which covers all aspect of environment and development.

Similarly Intellectual property topic of law optional paper II can help you understand similar topic in GS paper-3.

International Economic organisation of law optional topic can be clubbed with economic institution of paper - 3. Like IMF, WTO and World Bank. Lets see example of question rom 2019 paper of Compulsory GS - 03 Paper.

Q.5 - How is the Government of India protecting traditional knowledge of medicine from patenting by pharmaceutical companies?  

Q.9 - Indian Government has recently strengthened the anti-terrorism laws by amending the unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 and the NIA act. Analyze the changes in the context of prevailing security environment while discussing the scope and reasons for opposing the UAPA by human rights organizations.

In both of above question law optional paper - 1 and 2 will help you a lot. Apart from this year there have been question on cyber law which also is there with law optional syllabus.

  • Overlap of law optional With Essay

Essay topic in last 5 year have been invariably related to law topics, SOme time directly Some Time Indirectly. Even on social issues essay topic you will have to write its constitutional or legal aspect in part, if not in totality. Lets see last years essay topic to understand the overlapping better.

Biased media is a real threat to Indian democracy (2019 Essay) :- This topic can be studied under topic ''Trial by Media" in law optional paper - 2.

Impact of the new economic measures on fiscal ties between the union and states in India (2017) : - This essay topic can be clubbed with trade and economic relation related provision in constitution between union and states.


Factor - 05

Improved Writing Skills in Law optional UPSC

Writing skill plays an important role in upsc mains examination. You must have come across multiple editorials in the hindu where invariably most of them are written by lawyers.


That is the beauty of law optional in UPSC,  it helps you a lot in presenting and articulating your idea in more structured format. you become more articulate and learn to write lot of information in precise manner.

You will learn to use keywords automatically in answers. It helps to hit the write note which most students struggle most of the time.

Factor - 06

Ease of Preparation

Preparing for any optional requires lot of material resources and their readily availability in the market. 

Law optional UPSC also suffered from this problem till few years back, that is not the case now. there is plethora of books and notes available for the same.

Multiple subject specific books can be bought from market and very easily with help og previous year question paper, topic to be studied in syllabus 

High Scoring optional
High Sucess Ratio
Improved Writing
ease of Preparation
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