Choosing History as an optional by Nidhi Siwach(AIR-83)

History is among one of the most hated subjects by students either it is during school days or college or during the competitive examination preparation. History seems to be very boring with vast syllabus, a long list of battles and kings to be memorized with their kingdoms, administration and what not. The different time zones with kings with similar names, repetitive names of dynasties belonging to different time frames all appears to be mind boggling. But history can be interesting too if we change our approach and understand the demand of examination and prepare accordingly.

Before choosing History as an optional subject we need to understand the demand of the UPSC and its expectations from the candidates appearing with History as an optional. There are some basic misconceptions regarding History which don’t hold a valid ground in UPSC examination:

  • History is all about rot learning– it’s one of the biggest misconceptions. History papers are no more about rot learning. The trend has shifted from direct representation of facts and figures to analysis of the facts and draw an inference out of it. It has become more of logic- reasoning paper where you have the facts and you need to apply logics and reason focusing on “why” and “how” aspects.
  • It’s all about kings and battles – it’s another myth as now the focus is on multiple dimensions- economic and social lives, cultural developments, scientific advancements, status of women and lives of common people.
  • History is not scoringit’s not as much scoring as few other subjects but if you want a decent score it’s a good optional as you can predict the range quite enough. Number of candidates scoring 300+ has increased in recent times.
  • It needs too much time- Any subject that we start afresh needs time and efforts but in my opinion as we have studied history in our school days atleast we are aware of the basics. So, time frame needed to prepare history will vary from candidate to candidate but focus should be on ‘SMART PREPARATION’. Compulsory map work will definitely need time but as the syllabus overlaps with GS 1 it can be compensated.
  • Is coaching compulsory? It totally varies from candidate to candidate. If you have time plus resources plus willingness to attend then you can go ahead with it. Those who want to prepare on their own can prepare easily as study material is easily available and resource list too. So there is no lack o

Remember you are choosing History or any subject as an optional to qualify the UPSC examination and not to become a research scholar in it. Focus on hard work plus smart work in which previous year question papers are the biggest assets.

All the Best

6 thoughts on “Choosing History as an optional by Nidhi Siwach(AIR-83)”

  1. Mam I’m very much interested in history,but i want to know how should i proceed with Notes making of it as my Optional subject.Should it be more from NCERTS or mixture of Std books+NCERTS? Also should they be detailed? Very much confused about notes making.How to know that if i’m on the right direction of my Preparation.Hoping for a Reply.Thank you?

    1. I took one open seminar on History optional you can find the video on youtube. All your queries have been addressed.

      1. Hi Nidhi,
        The video has been removed from NextIAS in YouTube. It is a very comprehensive explanation of History optional. Im hoping they will add it back. Is there anything you can do about it ?

  2. Hello, Could you please share how you prepared for maps in History Paper 1 and what were your sources for the same?
    Thank you

  3. Hi Nidhi,

    Thanks for the demystifying the prejudices. As a History-Optional student, could you please share you experiences on the following?
    1. How much time to be devoted to Mains PYQ analysis and of how many years to be referred?
    2. Approx. number of hours/days you devoted to read the entire History Optional-1 and 2 = ?
    3. Can you please upload a sample of your notes prepared for a topic?
    4. Approx. number of hours/days you devoted for the first round of Revision = ?
    5. Approx. number of hours/days devoted for the second round of Revision = ?
    6. Book list for Paper-1 and Paper-2 = ?
    7. Answer writing practise for Optionals–how often did you do and which question did you take up?
    8. Mains Test Series–which, when, and how many tests appeared?
    9. Mains Test Series–how to do pre-test preparation and post-test analysis of our answers?
    10. Any five Dos and Don’ts you would like to suggest.

    I would be very thankful if you can help answer these questions for us. It would be a blessing.

    Kind regards.

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