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UPSC Mains 2021 Preparation Strategy for History Optional

Dec 21, 2021

UPSC Mains 2021 Preparation Strategy for History Optional

History Optional is one of the celebrated optional of the UPSC Civil Services Mains examination. Vast in the syllabus, yet a frequently chosen optional, it can be easily prepared and mastered with the right strategy during the UPSC exam preparation.  

The prime reason for being the most suitable Optional choice among the Civil Services aspirants is its syllabus overlap. The Prelims and Mains cover a substantial portion of the History Optional syllabus. 

Toppers with History Optional

History optional has a good “History” of producing IAS toppers. The table below has a few toppers who had History as their optional.

Ishwar Kumar Kandoo2017187
Gazal Bharadwaj201540
Agam Jain2015133
Surabhi Malik201151

History Optional Syllabus- UPSC Mains

History Optional is divided into two papers. Only when you are well-versed with the History syllabus you can prepare efficiently and perform better in the exam.

Click here to check and download the History Optional syllabus.

History Optional Questions- UPSC Mains

From Paper A

  • Puranas were the innovative genre of literature to popularize and revive Vedic religion. Elaborate with examples.
  • Discuss the factors that played an important role in the process of urbanisation after the Later-Vedic Period.
  • A number of scholars considered Alexander as ‘The Great’, although long term impacts of Alexander’s invasion on India need to be re-evaluated. Comment.

From Paper B

  • Describe in detail about the foreign travellers’ accounts which gave information of Vijayanagar Kingdom.
  • How did international trade support urbanisation in North India during the 13-14th century CE.
  • Evaluate the contribution of Sher Shah towards trade and commerce, administration and agricultural reforms.

How to Prepare for the History Optional- UPSC Mains

We will share a few practical tips with you that will enhance your History preparation and make it more effective. Refer to the below-listed tips:

  • We recommend you start your preparation with the NCERTs as they provide crucial information of all the historical events chronologically. Moreover, NCERTs are written in an easy-to-understand language.
  • Make short notes of all the crucial dates and the events as they are an essential part of the preparation.
  • Solve previous year’s question papers to get an idea of the type of questions asked in the exam.
  • Before advancing to the next topic and to avoid any sort of confusion, make sure you understand the existing topic thoroughly. For instance, if you are studying the Unification of Europe, dedicate sufficient time to understand the topic before moving further to study the Disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World.
  • Do focus on various travelers who have been to India during in the past during different times. For instance, Fa Hein, Al Biruni, etc. Learn about their observations from about Indian Economy, Society, and Polity during the time they stayed in India.
  • Apart from the above-stated tips, it is vital to practice maps regularly as they can fetch you good marks if prepared in a proper manner.

Watch a video lecture on The 'Great Five' in the Field of Science in Ancient India by Hemant Jha Sir, one of our educators of the DREAM TEAM for UPSC:

Best Books for History Optional Preparation

  • India’s Ancient Past by R.S Sharma
  • Ancient and Early Medieval India: Upinder Singh
  • Ashoka and Decline of the Mauryas by Romila Thapar
  • Medieval India: From Sultanate to Mughals I by Satish Chandra
  • Medieval India: From Sultanate to Mughals II by Satish Chandra
  • Modern India by Bipin Chandra
  • India After Gandhi by Ram Chandra Guha

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Auther Details

Raminder Singh

Raminder is a Content Manager at PrepLadder. He has worked in several aspects of the education industry throughout his career and has assisted numerous candidates in cracking major competitive exams.


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