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History Optional Strategy | UPSC Mains 2018 | SuperProfs
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History Optional Strategy | UPSC Mains 2018

History Optional undoubtedly remains one of most popular optional subjects among those who take the civil services prelims and mains examination as it covers a large portion of General studies paper. It plays an important role in candidate overall score. Most questions in UPSC prelims and mains are about ancient history, medieval history, Indian national movement and culture. So history as optional subject requires a mix of ‘Hard work’ and ‘right strategy’.

History Optional Strategy

Indian national movement is a critical part in preparation for prelims and mains. UPSC civil services are culture oriented. Around 30 marks are from freedom movement and newly added topic world history covers around another 20-30 marks. The History paper in the main exam focuses on concepts behind the facts of historical happenings. A major advantage of this optional subject is absence of any technicalities and involves no typical theories, principals and doctrines. History, an optional where developmental inter-connections and linkages are dominant. The outcomes of this are that if a candidate finished topic then several other can be finished automatically. We have listed below is the ‘right strategy’ for each section of the history optional paper for the mains exam.

Ancient Indian History

Here our main focus on early Indian history. So makes notes that are related to ancient Indian history. Among various source the archaeological source is the most important source to study of ancient India. It covers from the prehistoric times to the Iron Age and you have to keep track of latest findings of this source.

Your strategy should be to start from the Indus civilisation and trace the evolution up to the post-Gupta period. In science and mathematics segment of ancient India history, you must have notes on the contribution of the Indus valley civilization to ancient Indian scientist like Aryabhatta in addition to others.

Reference books

  1. Wonder that was India – A.L. Basham.
  2. An Advanced History of India – R.C. Majumdar, H.C. Raychaudhuri, – Kalikinkar  Datta.
  3. India’s Ancient Past – R.S Sharma.

Medieval Indian History

Here our focus on contemporary historians and sources of the medieval Indian heritage and culture. Prepare notes on all provisional dynasties but give special emphasis on the Cholas, the Vijayanagar and Mughal rule. You can also read the Delhi sultanate in totally.

Reference books

  1. Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India – Volume I, II, III- J.L. Mehta.
  2. Medieval India – Satish Chandra.
  3. Wonder that was India – Rizvi.

Modern Indian History

It contributes to major portion portions of our paper. So here our main focus on following units.

  1. British conquests and Indian reactions.
  2. British economic policy.
  3. Socio-cultural aspects.
  4. Freedom struggle.
  5. Independence to 1964.
  6. World history.

Reference books

  1. Modern Indian History – Grover & Grover.
  2. India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipin Chandra.
  3. Modern India – Sumit Sarkar.
  4. India after Gandhi: Ramachandra Guha.


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