Zoology Optional UPSC – Success Rate, Toppers, Preparation Strategy

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Zoology Optional UPSC is one of the popular optional subjects among life science students and MBBS graduates (Doctors) who wish to appear for the IAS exam. Zoology is counted as a science subject, and therefore many students from science backgrounds take up Zoology Optional UPSC. Zoology includes the scientific study of animals, genetics, physiology, animal anatomy, evolution, ecology, biochemistry, and behavior. Those who want to opt for zoology as optional in UPSC must know the pros, cons, and UPSC Zoology Optional Syllabus.

In this article, we have covered all you need to know about the Zoology Optional UPSC, such as its success rate, IAS toppers with zoology optional, its pros & cons, UPSC zoology optional syllabus, and strategy to prepare for this subject.

Zoology Optional UPSC

Zoology is one of the best optional subjects in the UPSC Mains exam. It includes two papers- Paper I and Paper II. Each paper carries 250 marks and contributes a total of 500 marks. The optional paper carries a significant weightage of 500 out of 1750 in the Mains exam, and that’s why everyone must be very careful while choosing their optional subject. To make things clear and easier for the candidates, here we will be covering the Zoology Optional UPSC syllabus and all the books related to having an effective preparation strategy to ace the optional zoology paper.

Pros and Cons of  UPSC Zoology Optional

Before taking any optional subject, candidates should be aware of their strengths and weakness so they can find an optional subject that is best suited for them. The Pros and Cons of Zoology Optional UPSC will help you decide if Zoology would be a good fit for you or not.

Pros of Zoology Optional

  • Zoology is scientific in nature, and that’s why it can be scored. Candidates can fetch good marks in this subject if they present answers neatly and correctly.
  • The UPSC zoology optional syllabus is static in nature.
  • The questions from the Zoology Optional UPSC are straightforward and direct.
  • The competition is less as compared to other Optional Subjects in UPSC

Cons of Zoology Optional

  • Zoology optional is not recommended for all the candidates as it is technical in nature. Only candidates who have studied this subject can go for this optional subject.
  • It has minimal overlap with the General Studies papers in the UPSC Mains.
  • The UPSC zoology optional syllabus is vast, and you have to study in depth.

UPSC Zoology Optional Syllabus

Those who have made up their mind to opt for Zoology as optional in UPSC must go through the syllabus. They should analyze the Zoology Optional UPSC syllabus in depth and plan to cover the topics in an efficient manager.

There are two papers in Zoology Optional UPSC, and in the above-given link, we have provided the syllabus for both papers. Additionally, we have mentioned the link to download the syllabus in Hindi as well.

UPSC Zoology Optional Success Rate

Candidates will get a clear picture of the success rate of the optional zoology subject over the years below. However, the success rate shouldn’t be the only factor to choose Zoology as their optional subject.

Year No. of candidates appeared No. of candidates cleared Success Rate (%)
2017 55 1 1.8
2016 484 18 3.7
2015 72 5 6.9
2014 79 9 11.4
2013 92 9 9.8

IAS Toppers with Zoology as Optional in UPSC

In the past years, there have been many toppers who have opted for zoology as their optional subject. 2013, Rachit Raj, AIR 3 in IAS Exam secured 133 and 139 marks, which is the highest marks in UPSC Zoology optional ever. In the table below, we have mentioned the names with a rank of the candidates with Zoology Optional.

Name UPSC Exam Year Rank
Kajal Jawla 2018 28
Preeti Malik 2016 265
Megha Bhardwaj 2015 32
Rachit Raj 2013 3
Arun Thamburaj 2012 6

How to Prepare Zoology Optional for UPSC?

Every subject demands its own preparation strategy. No matter how hard you try, if you don’t take a strategic approach during the preparation, then your hard work might go in vain. Below are some general tips that will help you prepare for Zoology Optional UPSC.

  • After going through the syllabus for zoology optional, get a hold of the previous year’s zoology question papers by downloading UPSC Previous Year Question Papers.
  • The next step is to gather some basic books like Modern Zoology by Ramesh Gupta or NEET Zoology (Wiley Publications). These basic books will help you to gain a fundamental understanding of topics and explain the topics with a lot of clarity.
  • You need to draw diagrams in the exam, or you will end up losing marks. So make sure you practice diagrams as well.

Zoology Optional UPSC Paper I Strategy

  • You need to cover the theories of the Chordata and non-Chordata properly.
  • The subsection of economic zoology, bio stats, and bio instrumentation are scoring. These are also small topics where the questions can be predictable. Try to fetch maximum marks from these topics by studying thoroughly.
  • Focus on developments in India in economic zoology.

Zoology Optional UPSC Paper-II Strategy

  • In paper II, questions on peripheral topics are not generally asked.
  • Practical biochemical pathways with the structural formula of molecules are very important in Biochemistry. So you need to use flowcharts for this section.
  • Organic Evolution (Evolutionary Biology) by Veer Bala Rastogi is the best book for evolution, so try to cover this book. You will find topics from genetics as well in this book.
  • Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology is a great book for physiology.
  • To tackle the developmental biology practice diagrams.

Best Books for Zoology Optional UPSC

There are several books available that can help candidates prepare for the Zoology Optional paper. However, it is essential to choose the right ones for an efficient preparation. Below, we have mentioned some highly recommended zoology optional UPSC Books by experts and IAS toppers with zoology as optional.

  • Modern Zoology by Ramesh Gupta
  • Ecology And Environment by PD Sharma
  • Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology
  • Genetics by PK Gupta
  • Modern Textbook of Zoology – Invertebrates by RL Kotpal
  • Organic Evolution (Evolutionary Biology) by Veer Bala Rastogi
  • Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology
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