UPSC aspirants spend considerable amount of time in choosing optional subject and it is good to spend enough time in deciding your optional. You don’t want to invest effort and money (like I did) into a subject only to realize midway that you would not be comfortable with that subject. But what we do is we spend that time being misled by all the myths surrounding the optional subjects.
Myth 1: XYZ subject is scoring subject, ABC is not.
There is no such thing as scoring subject. Particularly if you look at the scores in subjects this year, almost all have performed well. The score will depend not on the subject but on your effort and perseverance. So do not use this criterion at all while deciding the optional.
Myth 2: If you have background in XYZ subject, you must choose that
This was the mistake that I made. I had Biology background and hence chose Zoology in the first attempt. I did not realize that Zoology had many non-overlapping topics that were new to me. So do not get carried away by emotional attachment with your graduation subject. Check the syllabus, previous years’ questions and then decide.
Myth 3: UPSC penalizes one subject or other every year (butchering)
As a constitutional body entrusted with the responsibility of conducting fair selection process, UPSC would never introduce such a deliberate bias. So do not lose sleep over it. Despite Geography performing relatively bad in 2015, I stuck with Geography as I was personally comfortable with it and it paid off. I scored 288 without the help of coaching.
Myth 4: UPSC is going to remove Optional subject
If UPSC decides to remove optionals from Mains, they will let you know through the official channels. They do not communicate through Whatsapp, Forum or word of mouth. This rumour floats around every year and many students do not give full effort believing it to be true. In any case, even if they remove the optional, your knowledge will not go waste. You could use it in the Essay, GS papers, interview or life.
I hope this helps you clear your mind while you take the important decision of zeroing on an optional. You can next read my article on how to choose UPSC optional. Also, mention in comment if you have any doubt regarding UPSC optional subject.