IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains 2021 Preparation Strategy for Medical Science Optional

Updated On -

Mar 22, 2021

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Exams Prepmaster

One of the toughest recruitment competitive exams in the country, IAS (UPSC CSE) can be attempted by any graduate. Those who qualify are selected for bureaucratic posts in the central government in departments of IAS, IPS and IFoS.

In total, there are 51 optional subjects in an IAS Exam. From these, 26 subjects comprise Literature while the other 25 contain other subjects. Medical Science is a popular optional subject that is mostly opted by candidates having a medical or science background. Candidates with MBBS degrees or other similar graduate/postgraduate backgrounds choose this as well.

Previous years have seen over 300 candidates opting for Medical Science as an optional subject in IAS Exams. In addition, they have had a consistent success or passing rate as well. However, Medical Science has a huge syllabus that cannot be covered by candidates who are not familiar with the subject.

Pros & Cons

IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains 2021 -Medical Science Optional Pros and Cons

Like any other optional subject, there are a few advantages and disadvantages of Medical science. The following list will help you to understand why it is a good optional subject for aspiring doctors and those with a medical background.


  • The syllabus is usually static in nature and pretty straightforward.
  • Candidates with a BAMS or BDS graduate can take this optional as well.
  • Generally, the level of difficulty is very less as compared to MBBS. Moreover, the syllabus overlaps with that of MBBS as well.
  • Questions for Medical Science are mostly direct and factual.
  • The subject is not subjective or conceptual.


  • There is no overlapping of the syllabus with General Studies or other main subjects of the IAS Exams.
  • The syllabus is very vast and can only be covered by candidates having a medical background.
  • Candidates also need to have a genuine interest in the subject to score well. Therefore, those with little knowledge will find it difficult to complete the syllabus.
  • There is little to no coaching available for Medical Science optional subjects.
  • In some cases, tough clinical questions can be asked in the exam.

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IAS Books

IAS (UPSC CSE) 2021 Mains – Reference Books for Medical Science Optional

Generally, candidates can study for Medical Science from their graduate or postgraduate medical books. However, here are a few top books available for clearing the optional subject.

Book Name Publisher/Author
Paper 1
Biochemistry U Satyanarayana
Essentials of Medical Pharmacology KD Tripathi
Human Anatomy BD Chaurasia
Human Embryology Inderbir Singh
Microbiology Dr Arora
Pathology Harsh Mohan
Review of Medical Physiology Ganong
Textbook of Human Neuroanatomy Inderbir Singh
The Essentials of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology KS Narayan Reddy
Paper 2
Book on Skin Uday Khopkar
Clinical Surgery S Das
Essential Pediatrics OP Ghai
General Medicine AOI, Davidson, Harrison, George Matthews and SN Chugh
Gynecology Shaw
Manual of Surgery Manipal
Obstetrics DC Dutta
Preventive and Social Medicine Park

Other Studying Resources for Medical Science Optional

As stated earlier, Medical Science has a vast syllabus. Also, it is only suitable if chosen by candidates with a medical background. Therefore, you can study from your graduate or postgraduate books or study from online resources such as YouTube. Additionally, MBBS Books are a great help. All the topics from the syllabus can be found in MBBS and graduate/postgraduate books.

Check Best Books For UPSC CSE Prelims Exam 2021

Also check IAS (UPSC CSE) Medical Science Paper-I Question paper

Also check IAS (UPSC CSE) Medical Science Paper-II Question Paper

IAS Prep Tips

IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains – Preparation Strategy for Medical Science Optional

Medical Science can be a scoring subject for candidates who are pursuing MBBS or have relevant educational background due to graduate or postgraduate courses.

1. Study the Important Topics

Due to its vast syllabus, there are various important topics for both Paper 1 and Paper 2. However, the important topics for Paper 1 overlap with the first year of MBBS or the primary years of a medical graduate degree.

The important topics for Paper 1 include the following -

  • Biochemistry
  • Forensic medicine and Toxicology
  • Human Anatomy
  • Human Physiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology

Accordingly, the important topics for Paper 2 overlap with the final years of MBBS or medical graduate degree. These include the following -

  • Community Medicine
  • Dermatology
  • General Medicine
  • General Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

2. Practice Diagrams

Generally, the questions are direct and straightforward. However, there are some questions where you have to provide diagrams in your answers. Hence, you need to practice the diagrams as much as you can. Make sure that it is drawn neatly and is properly detailed during the Mains exams. As an added bonus, you can use color pencils to make the overall diagram look attractive. This can help you to score more.

3. Study the Clinical and Non-clinical topics together

Both Paper 1 and Paper 2 have clinical and non-clinical topics. By studying both of them together, it can help you to brush up on the basic concepts of the subject.

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4. Focus on Easy Questions

Try to study important topics like Biochemistry, Dermatology, Forensic Science and Pediatrics. These topics are easy but can get you high marks. Therefore, study and attempt these questions first before you move on to other harder topics. Also, make sure that you make important notes while studying. Practice previous year question papers

5. Study from MBBS textbooks

As stated earlier, the MBBS degree covers all the topics that appear in the Medical Science optional subject in IAS Exams. Therefore, you can study from the standard textbooks if you do not want to buy other study materials.

Writing Techniques

IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains 2021 - Answer Writing Techniques for Medical Optional

The presentation of your answers play a key role in the IAS Exams. Therefore, make sure that your answers are neat and well-structured. For this, you can follow the tips given below.

  • Write the answers in a direct way without filling it up with useless information or extra words to lengthen it. In fact, make sure that it is to the point.
  • Create subheadings and bullet points wherever necessary. It makes the answer look attractive and easier to read. Hence, it can easily fetch you high marks.
  • Draw diagrams wherever necessary. Try to make it as detailed as possible and explain it in a simple manner. As stated earlier, using color pencils is a bonus.
  • Apart from diagrams, create graphs and flowcharts as well. This can be used when you need to portray certain answers.
  • Attempt clinical questions very carefully. They can be often confusing so read it again and again. Thereafter, follow a methodological approach while framing the answer.

Check IAS Practice Papers

Emphasize on practicing your diagrams and study from both online resources and MBBS textbooks. Also, practice previous year question papers and make sure that you are able to complete the questions within the allotted time. Do not forget to make your answers look presentable and detailed with diagrams, subheadings and bullet points.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.