When the ratio of ‘the number of candidates who appeared’ vs. ‘the number of candidates selected’ is analyzed, records show that Medical Science has the highest success rate among optional subjects chosen in the UPSC Civil Services Examination.
Amongst the subjects opted by 100 or more candidates, the highest percentage of success is observed with candidates who had opted for Medical Science.
The high success ratio of Medical Science is not just accidental for 1 year, but consecutively for three years – 2014, 2015, and 2016 (where data from UPSC reports is available in the public domain).
Medical Science had a 20% success rate in 2014
Out of the 356 candidates who appeared UPSC Civil Services Main Exam taking Medical Science as an optional subject, 71 candidates were finally selected. This accounts for a near 20% success rate.
With respect to success rate, Medical Science (19.9 percent) was followed by Law (17.0 percent) and Psychology (15.8 percent).
Medical Science had a 20.2% success rate in 2015
Out of the 327 candidates who appeared UPSC Civil Services Main Exam taking Medical Science as an optional subject in 2015, 66 candidates were finally selected.
Medical Science (20.2 percent) was followed by Law (16.7 percent) and Physics (15.6 percent) in terms of success rate in the UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination 2015.
Medical Science had a 17% success rate in 2016
368 candidates appeared in UPSC Civil Services Main Exam 2016 opting for Medical Science. Out of that, 61 candidates made it to the final rank list after the interview.
Amongst the subjects opted for by 100 or more candidates, the highest percentage of successful candidates had opted for Medical Science (16.6 percent) followed by Psychology and Literature of Kannada Language (15.6 percent each).
This Analysis by ClearIAS is based on a sample size above 100
In the years 2014-2016, some optional subjects showed a better success rate than Medical Science, however, we have not taken that into consideration as the sample size was too low. For example, in 2016, Literature of Bodo Language had a 100% success rate, however, only one candidate had appeared with that optional subject in UPSC CSE Mains and he cleared.
Medical Science – Optional Subject of Doctors
While anybody is free to choose any subject as an optional subject in the UPSC Civil Services Main Examination (written), medical science is generally chosen only by doctors. For others who don’t have a background in the same, it is not easy to finish the subject without assistance.
Is Medical Science a scoring optional?
The data shows that when ‘the number of candidates appeared’ and ‘the number of candidates selected’ are compared, Medical Science has the highest success rate among optional subjects opted in the UPSC Civil Services Examination (Mains).
However, one cannot conclude that Medical Science is consistently high-scoring (when compared with other optional subjects) from the above data. To know that, one should know the median and range of marks awarded to each optional subject. Unfortunately, such details are not available in the public domain.
The total marks of candidates and thus final selection are not just dependent on the marks of the optional subject. The marks of General Studies, Essay Papers, and Interview are equally important. One can conclude that doctors perform equally well in all these areas.
What makes doctors more successful in the UPSC Civil Services Exam?
Most doctors are above-average performers right from their childhood. They have a scientific approach to life and have good analytical skills. Much more than that, they are hardworking. As we can now see, hard work and intelligence are an unbeatable combination!