Atul Bansal History Optional Preparation Strategy | Quora – Optional subjects, as such, are more predictable than general studies. Going through the syllabus and past year questions gives a fairly good idea of the demand of the exam from that subject.

So for fresher, who has no previous background in history optional, he/she should :-

First, go through the NCERTs and understand them. In first reading just read a plain reading and understand the basic concepts without worrying for dates, facts, names etc.

The NCERTs to be read are :

  • Ancient India by R.S.Sharma
  • Medieval India by Satish Chandra
  • Modern India by Bipin Chandra
  • World History by Arjun Dev
  • Class 11 NCERT on Art and Culture

(The first four are the old NCERTs and the last one is the new one).

Second, go through the past 15–20 year questions topic wise. Note down the parts of the syllabus which are important from where questions have been repeatedly asked. These are the portions you have read in detail and give maximum emphasis upon. Then there are parts of the syllabus from where questions have been asked but not as frequently. Read these topics as well but maybe not in as much detail. Last, there are some topics from where hardly any question has been asked. These topics can be left straightaway. Remember that in optional paper, you have a choice. Only 5 out of 8 questions are to be done.

Third, re-read the NCERTs mentioned above. This time read in detail emphasizing on important topics.

Whether to go for coaching or not is purely your decision But in case you are not opting for any classes and you are not from history background, then it is better you refer to class notes from any good classes. I attended classes and read notes of Baliyan Sir (Insight IAS Academy). The class notes are really good. The good thing about them is that the teacher in such classes has an experience of 10–15 years and knows the nuances of the civil services exam.

Fourth, read some of the books. Note that you should read least amount of books (one book for one topic). Do not read any book cover to cover. Read only the selected topics and leave other topics. The books I referred to are:

  • Ancient India – Upinder Singh
  • Medieval India – IGNOU notes
  • Modern India – Grover and Mehta (till 1857 revolt), Spectrum, few chapters from Plassey to Partition
  • World History – L. Mukherjee (till WW2), Norman Lowe (after WW2)

This list is illustrative and you can refer any other book as well.

Fifth, make small bullet point notes combining NCERTs, class notes and these books. Add more facts from wikipedia, google if required. Your notes would look something like :

Please keep in mind that you are preparing for an exam. So don’t read history in a very academic manner but rather as required by the exam. Atul Bansal History Optional Preparation Strategy | Quora

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