How to prepare History optional for IAS

Strategy for History (Optional) Paper we will be discussing History Optional Strategy to help UPSC aspirants, who will be taking or already taken History as an optional.

Why History as an Optional?

First of all whatever optional you take, you must have interest in that because you have to read this subject for the next 2-3 years. We believe that History is a scientific, objective, analytical subject. Because it is based on scientific evidences also, historical records, and based on that records you have to frame your answers and to connect the points, it is required that you have good analytical skill. Most interesting thing is that it helps in General Studies too, because its 40% syllabus is common to General Studies syllabi in the form of World History, Modern History and Art & Architecture. Historical perspective is require to analyse social issues, political issues, as well as economical issues and it also helps in writing Essay. So, this optional will help you in enriching your knowledge.

How to prepare?

History has a vast syllabus and there are so many books, so how do I prepare?

First thing is select few books as reference books and follow those books religiously. Use other study resources as supplementary material to complement your knowledge and to cover the syllabus. Particularly, notes making is very helpful in History optional because when you make notes, you can revise it very easily, you can remember the fact, event and this gives you confidence in exam. Do practice more and more with last years questions because History is a static subject so there are many concepts which will be repeated. So, attempt atleast last 10 years question papers and this will enrich your answer writing skills also.

List of Main text books followed as reference books:

  • Upinder Singh (Early and Medieval India) [Buy from Flipkart]
    It has rich maps and figures, latest discoveries and very important from map point of view. Because recent times early historical and ancient historical sites have been asked mostly in the exam.

  • Salma Ahmed Farooqui (Comprehensive History of Medieval India) [Buy from Flipkart]
    Also follow OLD NCERT Medieval India Book.

  • Modern India by Bipin Chandra [Buy from Flipkart]

  • India after Independence by Bipin Chandra [Buy from Flipkart]

  • Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe [Buy from Flipkart]

Other book and study resources:

  • India After Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha [Buy from Flipkart]

  • Spectrum Modern India History and Culture books.[Buy from Flipkart]

  • Surf, wikipedia, whatch episodes of "Bharat Ek Khoj", is very good for Art and culture related topics.

How to write answer in History Optional?

This is very important aspect from Main exam point of view. To get a good rank you need to score good marks in optional. In recent times the questions asked in History required good understanding of concepts & analytical answering. Have strong hold in at least one part of each paper. While writing answer give recent examples and findings (functions & structure). Read the question carefully find the parts of the question then decide what you have to write in answer.

Think first then write, follow Structural answer writing concept:
Lets take an example question "Water conservation strategies during Harappan civilization. Comment!" Keep focus on What is Asked.

Start with Introduction and cover all the parts of the question in the Main Body section. So, you can write about water conservation strategies used in harappan civilization, give examples in main body and in the Introduction part you can describe the importance of water conservation in that time and also little bit about Harappan Civilizations. In the Conclusion part you can always conclude implications of those strategies and you can connect them with the modern times also.


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