How to select Optional Subjects in CSS Examination?

The CSS Written examination has total 1,200 marks which are further divided into 2 parts. Part I is Compulsory Subject with total marks of 600 and Part II is Optional Subjects with total marks of 600.

There are 49 Optional Subjects divided into 7 groups. A candidate will have to select subjects with total marks 600. For more details, please check our page.

For every group of subjects, there are group-specific restrictions.

Not more than 200 marks can be selected from a single group.

Subjects have been divided into groups to create a level playing field and give a fairly balanced opportunity to candidates from different educational backgrounds.

Steps for selection of an optional subject

Selection of an optional subject should have the following steps;

  • Study the syllabus of an optional subject
  • Study the past papers of an optional subject. This will give you a fair idea of the complexity and depth of knowledge required for a subject.
  • Assess your own aptitude about an optional subject. No one else can decide a subject for you, it’s you who’ll have to make a FINAL DECISION!


Equal distribution of time and effort for each subject

Since you’ll be preparing for 1200 marks, so each subject would ideally get 8.33% of your study time. You should not select a subject with marks having 100 and consuming more than 20% of your study time. This can happen in Science and Mathematics as those subjects consume more time.


Subject complementing each other

There are subjects with similar knowledge areas and topic.

For example, International Relations is more linked with Current Affairs and English Essay. Sociology and Gender Studies cover topics related to society which may again be found in Pakistan Affairs and English Essay. So opting International Relations would increase your knowledge in Current Affairs and Sociology may help you write a better essay on social issues.

Hence one should select subjects complementing each other so that topics can be covered in less time and with more depth. A list of subjects complementing each other is as follows. This is by no means a definitive or exhaustive list. These are some of the examples of subjects having similar knowledge area.

      1. Essay, Current Affairs, International Relations, History of USA, Political Science
      2. Essay, Pakistan Affairs, History of Pakistan and India, Sociology, Gender Studies, Anthropology
      3. Governance & Public Policies, Public Administration, Political Science Paper, Constitutional Law
      4. Geology, Town Planning & Urban Management, Environmental Sciences, Geography
      5. Islamic History & Culture, Muslim Law & Jurisprudence

Do not act in haste. Study the syllabi and past papers of various optional subject and take your time to select optional subjects. It would never be a good idea to select a subject, study that for a while and then leave that subject somewhere in the middle of the journey.

You should select an optional subject for high scoring marks with least effort and time. Remember the 8.33% time allocation for each 100 marks subject. (100 x 12 = 1200 Marks)