How to Prepare for History Optional for UPSC? 🎯 Effective Strategies, Daily Schedules & List of History Toppers

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How to Prepare for History Optional for UPSC?

For UPSC applicants, history is a popular optional course. Its syllabus greatly overlaps with both the UPSC Prelims test and General Studies Paper I. In any event, reading history is a must for anyone hoping to qualify for the IAS! Many people view history as a very broad subject, which discourages some students from pursuing it. But in actuality, the subject can be covered in five months with the right approaches and a solid preparation strategy. Moreover, you can cover a substantial chunk of the IAS syllabus with this optional because of the strong overlap with the prelims and GS. Everything you need to know about the history optional is covered in this article, including its advantages, recommended reading list, and method of preparation.

Why History is one of the Best Optional Subjects?

The advantages of selecting History as an IAS Mains optional subject are mentioned below :

  • Because the general studies examinations (prelims + mains) contain historical parts, candidates can prepare for both the optional and GS papers at the same time and save time.
  • The essay paper may benefit from the historical topics mentioned.
  • History is a fascinating subject that explains many facets of the political and economic systems, among other things.
  • History is easy to comprehend as it unfolds like a story, devoid of complex formulas or concepts.
  • A good reading habit is encouraged by studying history.
  • History is largely a static subject. Once covered, the subject matter remains unchanged for a few years, making it easier for candidates to attempt the exam for the second or subsequent times.

Effective Strategy to Prepare For History Optional For UPSC📍

You can follow the given systematic and focused approach to prepare for the history optional for UPSC. 

1Familiarize with SyllabusUnderstand the syllabus thoroughly to know the scope of the subject and align your interests.
2Formulate StrategyDevelop a structured study plan covering all stages of the UPSC exam, utilizing the previous year’s question papers (PYQs) for guidance.
3Read, Analyze, and Make NotesStart learning through recommended textbooks gradually, starting with foundational books and moving toward advanced materials. Take notes for better retention and understanding.Utilize online resources such as YouTube channels for additional insights.
4Start with Foundational TextbooksStart learning through recommended textbooks gradually, starting with foundational books and moving toward advanced materials. Take notes for better retention and understanding. Utilize online resources such as YouTube channels for additional insights.
5Take NotesDevelop a habit of taking notes while studying. Compile your notes into a single document for easy access during revision. Utilize YouTube channels and UPSC PDF notes for supplementary learning.
6Read NewspaperRegularly revise the syllabus and engage with the UPSC test series for History optional. This helps assess your progress, identify areas for improvement, and refine your study strategies.
7Revise Syllabus and Solve Test SeriesBegin with NCERT books from classes 8 to 12, along with textbooks like “History of Medieval India” by Satish Chandra and “Ancient India” by R.S. Sharma. Then advance towards specialized texts like those authored by Dr. Jitendra Kumar and other recommended readings for deeper understanding.

Let’s explain each stage of history optional preparation in detail :

Understand the Syllabus⬇️

  • The first thing is that you need to familiarise yourself with the UPSC History optional syllabus. In this step, make sure to identify the topics you need in-depth knowledge of.
  • Now, break the whole syllabus into small parts and strategize to cover them according to their weight in previous exams.

Best Study Material for History Optional📚

  • Choose quality study material like Bipan Chandra’s “History of Modern India” and R.S. Sharma’s “Ancient India.”
  • Read the book thoroughly and summarise the important events, concepts, dates, etc. into short forms. Have a focus on understanding the concepts, events, and historical significance of different periods.

Make a Timeline📃

  • The easiest and simplest way to remember important historical dates and events is to make a timeline of historical events in chronological order. This way, you can understand the connection between the events and remember them in a story-like form.
  • Highlight the important events, dates, and concepts to revise the important stuff quickly.

Also Read: Indian National Movement

Practice Answer Writing📝

  • Practice answering questions regularly. This is important for the UPSC exam, which has a major focus on your ability to represent your knowledge in the correct format for the examination.
  • Solve the previous year’s question paper to understand the pattern and structure of the questions. Allow yourself some time to write answers perfectly within the specific time limit.

Stay Updated with Current Affairs🗞

  • Keep yourself updated with current affairs related to historical developments, as questions might come from this topic in the exam.

Also Read: UPSC Previous Year Question Papers For Last 10 Years

Ideal Daily Time Table For History Optional Aspirants

Below is an example of a study schedule that many toppers have adopted. This study plan includes all necessary components while striking a balance between inclusivity and realism. It’s important to remember that, even if this is just a prototype, customization to suit personal tastes is strongly advised.

6:00 AM – 7:30 AMMorning Routine, Exercise, and Breakfast
7:30 AM – 9:00 AMCurrent Affairs and Newspaper Reading
9:00 AM – 11:00 AMStudy Session – Subject 1
11:00 AM – 11:15 AMShort Break
11:15 AM – 1:00 PMStudy Session – Subject 2
1:00 PM – 2:00 PMLunch Break
2:00 PM – 4:00 PMStudy Session – Subject 3
4:00 PM – 4:15 PMShort Break
4:15 PM – 6:00 PMPractice Answer Writing
6:00 PM – 7:00 PMLeisure Time/Hobbies
7:00 PM – 8:00 PMRevision of the Day’s Topics
8:00 PM – 9:00 PMDinner
9:00 PM – 9:30 PMMindfulness and Relaxation
9:30 PM – 10:30 PMRevision of the Day’s Topics
10:30 PM – 11:00 PMBedtime Routine and Wind Down

Utilize the three slots in the following manner:

  1. Slot 1: Big topics (early morning, more energy and focus)
  2. Slot 2: Medium-length topics, as this is only for 2 hours
  3. Slot 3: Revision of topics studied previously. It is recommended to revise the topics at least three times.

History Optional Toppers UPSC👩‍🎓

Below you can find the list of toppers who have chosen history as their optional subject.

Name of the CandidateYear of PassingTotal Marks (500)History Paper I (250 Marks)History Paper II (250 Marks)
Shruti Sharma2021306150156
Rajat Ravindra Ubhaykar2020301151150
Nidhi Siwach2018290150140
Chitra Mishra2018300139161
Aparajita Singh2017287138149
Ishwar Kumar Kandoo2017316160156
Hardeep Singh2015257107140

A total of 1761 candidates took the IAS mains exam in the 2015 UPSC civil services, with the history optional. 150 of the candidates were chosen, yielding an 8.5% success rate. hence reassuring candidates that the history optional in IAS has a very high success rate. It is difficult to determine whether history is a good or bad optional subject; rather, a candidate’s ability and areas of interest in a subject determine whether or not that subject is appropriate for the civil services exam.

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How can I start preparing the history optional in UPSC?

Firstly make sure to understand your syllabus well, and then study the whole syllabus with a strategic timetable. Keep the target of completing a small chunk of the syllabus daily. Reward yourself when you achieve the daily target, and this way you will be able to complete the whole syllabus.

Is history easy for UPSC optional?

Yes, it can be an easier choice for those students who have an interest in this subject. Otherwise, it can be a challenge to remember all the dates and important events, unless you are good at it,

What is the history of the optional strategy of toppers?

Toppers believe in following a strategic timetable to cover the syllabus in the right way. In the above section of the blog, we have included a timetable shared by Tina Dabi who is the first female UPSC topper.

This was all about the “How to Prepare for History Optional for UPSC?”. For more such informative blogs, check out our UPSC Exams Section, or you can learn more about us by visiting our Indian exams page.

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