Is Anthropology an easy Optional? by Nikhil Singh, Rank 280

ForumIAS announcing GS Foundation Program for UPSC CSE 2025-26 from 26th June. Click Here for more information.

Hello everyone, its been quite some time now since the CSE’17 results were out. I think no words better than “Thank you God” expresses my joyous state of mind for successfully exiting this vicious cycle.


Of late, quite frequently I have been hearing a lot of fuss about this so called “easy”  optional. Ya, 10 points to you for guessing it right, Anthropology. Now the million dollar question for thousands of aspiring Civil Servants is :

” Is Anthropology really that easy?”


In next few minutes, allow me to clear the air, as being a student of Anthropology, my moral compass somewhat compels me to point towards the right direction, free of disillusions prevalent at the moment.


First, the answer to this million dollar question –  “No, Anthropology is indeed that easy.”


Confused? I bet, you must be. Then here it is –


Take the bitter pill first. No, Anthropology is not an easy optional if you are planning to chew on some readymade printed or handwritten notes of xyz institute or Mr./Ms. Abc. Trust me, I know this better than anybody else as this same strategy landed me 5 steps behind the Mains cutoff in CSE’16 at 782 with a near average score of 250 in optional (as per Mains’16 marking pattern). No matter how much you sweat on these readymade packaged stuff, you will always end up scoring below or near average marks because that’s what these are worthy of.


Now, most of you must be perplexed. Then, What about the high scores of 320s, 330s or even 350 this time, which you have been hearing in Anthro for quite some time now.  Ohh dear, trust me, you have been honey trapped into it. The bitter truth behind such scores is the immense hardwork of these candidates who have tirelessly worked on standard materials such as reference books, Govt. Reports, foreign university videos, Committee reports etc. etc. Here, I assume that you are not being fooled by fairytales of some toppers who claim to have scaled the Mt. Everest without knowing it’s height.


Now, the much awaited part, for which you have been impatiently reading this write up. 🙂

“Yes, Anthropology is really that easy”. It is much more rewarding if you are not planning to take a shortcut and give it the due respect it deserves. Rate of return, as you smart guys call it, is indeed high in this optional provided that your mind is clear of misconceptions. The stories of toppers who switched to Anthro after having a rough time somewhere else and reaping loads of fortune thenafter, prove these points. But do not forget these were the people who were already addicted to the hard work and already done with their GS part so as to devote maximum time to this optional to get it done in less than stipulated time.


I will not go into the detailed strategy regarding the subject, as a lot has already been written for that part. To name a few, articles of Devendra Kumar, Kirthi Chekuri are indeed very useful and available on various platforms.


Now, a word of caution or wisdom whatever you may call it. You know, the only thing common between the good and bad times is – “It shall pass.” So tread carefully.

“Your Optional is your optional, none of other’s business.”


Wish you luck. May God be with you.


PS : If you are worried about my marks and strategy, I have followed both. I improved by 34 marks. Now get your maths working. 🙂

Vote of Thanks to ForumIAS

Thank you ForumIAS, my thanksgiving would remain incomplete without mentioning this community which is more sort of a family with some silent members like me (nickname – Koi_Baat_Nahi). I have benefitted a lot from this family, which has grown leaps and bounds in recent times.


Print Friendly and PDF