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How to Prepare History Optional for UPSC Exam?

The Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission has three stages – Prelims, Mains, and Interview. In the Main (written) examination, there are nine papers in total, out of which two papers are qualifying in nature. The candidates have to choose one subject as their optional subject, and there will be two papers for that particular subject, each carrying 250 marks. History is one of the popular subjects chosen by the UPSC aspirants. The aspirants believe that History is one of the most scoring subjects on the list of optional subjects. 

One of the main advantages of choosing History as an optional subject is that the whole syllabus has a chronological order, and the aspirants can easily take average marks. However, the syllabus of this subject is vast and has a lot of facts to remember. To start preparing for History optional, the aspirants have to know the list of Indian History Books from the linked article. Choosing the right list of History books and following it is an important step in the preparation of History optional. 

This article will discuss a few tips to prepare History optional for the IAS Exam. The candidates who have chosen History as the optional subject can find this article useful to strengthen their preparation strategy. Even though the aspirants put in their maximum effort in studying the concepts, a few tips like this will give leverage in the preparation. 

Tips to Prepare History Optional for UPSC Exam

The History optional has two papers – Paper 1 has two modules which include ancient History and medieval History; Paper 2 also has two modules which include modern History and world History. The History questions asked in the examination have become demanding and analytical in nature nowadays. Let’s discuss a few tips useful for preparing History optional for UPSC Exam:

  • Read the standard/basic books – The optional subject needs an in-depth study of the subject. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a strong basic knowledge of the subject, which can be acquired by reading the standard books relevant to the subject. Once the basic books are covered, you can gain more knowledge from other sources like coaching materials of renowned institutions, other History books, etc.,
  • Concentrate on effective study – The topics that you are covering have to fetch you the marks in the examination. In other words, you have to spend more time on topics which are likely expected in the exam or can gain you maximum marks in the exam.
  • Appropriate coaching classes/study material – Since History is one of the most popular subjects chosen by the candidates, the availability of study material in the market is sufficient. Since the optional paper requires a master’s degree level of knowledge, the aspirants can think about taking up coaching classes which will streamline the preparation strategy for History optional. 
  • Prepare one module per paper thoroughly – There are two modules in each paper. If the aspirants prepare one of the two modules very thoroughly, they can attempt more questions in this module and can answer fewer questions from the weaker module. 
  • Enough time for preparation – To cover the entire syllabus of History optional for the first time, the aspirants might require six to seven months. The aspirants should give sufficient time for preparation so that the topics are well understood. 
  • Take concise notes – The aspirants have to take precise notes while reading the important sources of study material and should not end up writing another comprehensive note which is as voluminous as the reference material. The notes should be taken in a way that would reduce the study time required to revise the particular topic. 
  • Stick to two/three sources of resources – There are n number of resources available for History optional in the market. But it is advisable to stick to only two or three sources of study material and not go overboard with the number of sources. 
  • Do not miss out on revision – Revision is the important key because the more you revise, the more confident you will feel regarding your preparation in the examination hall. Especially in the case of History optional, there are a lot of facts, including various names and years; therefore, it is very important to revise at regular intervals to not forget these facts. Revising periodically will lessen the burden for the aspirant before the exam day. 
  • Refer to previous years’ question papers – It is highly important to refer to the previous years’ question papers as it will help the aspirants understand the type of questions asked in the examination and identify the difference between the preparation level for General Studies and optional papers. 

The previous years’ question papers will give an overview of the examination level set by the UPSC and also will exhibit how the questions are changing every year. The candidates can refer to IAS Question Paper from the linked article, where they can download the question papers and practise them.

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