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 UPSC offers a wide range of optional papers for Mains Exam. If any aspirants of UPSC are fairly interested in English literature, he can select it but he needs to be very careful if he is not having this paper in his graduation.


While doing preparation for English Literature first priority should be Coverage of UPSC syllabus. After analyzing question pattern of last few years, it can be easily said that questions may come from any corner of the UPSC syllabus of English Literature. So, if you are a graduate with English, devote three months to cover entire UPSC Syllabus of English literature Optional Paper. But, if you have done graduation with any other subject and taking English as your optional paper for UPSC Mains, you would need six months for the purpose of IAS Preparation 

A very helpful article on

for English Subject as an optional.

For Syllabus visit


First go through literary work and after that read the historical portion. Each literary period has its traits and novels and its characters will depict those traits. If you have read literary work, you will have clear idea of various periods without any extra effort.



One mistake which UPSC aspirants with English literature do that they use unnecessary complex words and structure to impress the evaluators. Objective is to keep your ideas and for that you can use simple language. Answering questions is an art. It’s not any competition to show complex lexicon. Such things will not help you to fetch any extra marks. UPSC exam is conducted to test your knowledge of ‘literature’ and not of ‘English’. English is just a medium for the expression.



To impress in UPSC Exam, you should do practice of answer-writing which is of utmost importance. For the purpose you should have with you collection of previous years papers.



A UPSC aspirant with English literature should have one copy of Glossary of Literary Terms by M.H Abrams. For English-origin novels and drama, either ‘Norton Critical edition’ or ‘Worldview edition’ is recommended.