IAS Prelims 2018: How to Prepare for Indian History

IAS Prelims 2018: How to Prepare for Indian History

How to Prepare for Indian History: UPSC IAS Prelims is the first stepping stone towards the final dream of becoming a Civil Servant. It is an objective exam and marks secured by a candidate in Prelims are not counted towards the final merit. It is that essential stage of IAS Exam that you need to clear if you want to attempt the IAS Mains Exam.

Out of nearly 9 lakh candidates that appear for Civil Services Exam annually, 10,000 – 12,000 candidates are selected to sit for the Main Examination. Hence, there is every reason why each candidate must take the Preliminary Examination seriously.


IAS Prelims 2018: Introduction to Indian History 

Indian History is an important part of both the Preliminary Exam and the Main Examination for your IAS 2018 Exam preparation. A considerable share of the total questions asked in General Studies for IAS comes from Indian History. However, in this blog, we shall be concentrating on preparing Indian History for IAS Preliminary test alone.

Before we take it further, here’s a brief analysis of Preliminary Exam conducted over the past few years. This would help you ascertain the weightage allocated to Indian history over the past few years and show you the corresponding trends.

 Year  Indian History  Art & Culture
 2013  5  10
 2014  5  15
 2015  13  4
 2016  12  3
 2017  9  5

After going through the previous year questions, let us now guide you how you can prepare efficiently for History & Culture section.


Preparation Tips and Study Guide for IAS Indian History & Culture Section

Indian History is a very vast subject. Given time constraints that IAS aspirants face, aspirants need to do the following:

  • Prioritise Topics
  • Shortlist Specific Sources
  • Prepare
  • Evaluate
  • Revise

1. Prioritise Topics:

Most of the History questions asked in IAS Preliminary Test usually come from Modern India & Art and Culture. It has been seen that Medieval Indian History & Ancient Indian History don’t constitute a major part in terms of the number of questions asked.

So if one has to prioritise the topics for Indian History, Modern India (especially the Struggle for Independence) & Art & Culture should be given preference vis-a-vis Medieval Indian History & Ancient Indian History. Having said that, OnlineTyari never advises you to leave the low priority topics altogether. You never know what UPSC may be up to and may lose out on some really simple & scoring questions coming from these two sections i.e Medieval Indian History & Ancient Indian History. Aspirants who take that kind of a risk may do it at their own peril.

2. Shortlist Specific Sources & Books:

One common mistake that most IAS aspirants make is that in search of relevant books & study materials, they end up with a multitude of resources. Having too many books & study resources on one particular subject can do more harm than good when it comes to quick revision later.

OnlineTyari suggests all IAS aspirants come up with a select few books or resources as suits their preference and stick to them until the very end. If you are fond of referring to multiple resources, you may as well prepare comprehensive notes from the same in your own language. Always try and have only one notebook in the end, properly highlighted or underlined and try not to lose it 🙂 This would save up on a lot of time. NCERT’s are a must for all IAS aspirants. Other reference books for Indian History and Art & Culture are:

Indian History:

  • History Of Modern India – Bipin Chandra.
  • India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipin Chandra.
  • A Brief History of Modern India – Spectrum (History)
  • India’s Ancient Past – R.S. Sharma (For Ancient Indian History)
  • History of Medieval India – Satish Chandra (For Medieval Indian History)

Art & Culture:

  • Class 11th NCERT (Old)- Textbook on fine arts
  • New NCERT-Class 12th-Themes in Indian History
  • Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum. (Art & Culture)
  • CCRT Website
  • NIOS material

3. Prepare:

After you are done shortlisting your sources, start preparing. It always helps to know Indian History in a chronological order. NCERT’s help you with that. They cover Indian History in a strictly chronological order. Once you have a timeline in your head, reference books like Bipin Chandra’s India’s Struggle For Independence start making more sense.

History is often seen as a subject that needs a lot of cramming. However, it is more than what meets the eye. There are things we appreciate better when History is looked at from different perspectives. Try and appreciate each event that occurred in the Indian History in terms of its significance to the larger picture. Having said that, one can most certainly not avoid mugging up altogether. Prepare so well that certain facts, dates, events are there at your fingertips and you don’t waste a lot of time to recall.

4. Evaluate:

After you read a particular section/chapter, always make sure you save enough questions around the same. You can always solve previous years’ question papers to begin with. They are available for free. Besides, there are numerous question banks available in the market and you could use them too. This helps you evaluate how much you can remember immediately after you read. Try and take weekly tests around the same repeatedly so that you can clearly see improvements in your preparation. Read questions carefully before you attempt and you’d come across numerous types of questions asked by UPSC. This will help you avoid silly mistakes while attempting the real Preliminary exam.

5. Revise:

Revision is key to your success. The syllabus for Civil Services Exam is huge and it covers a multitude of topics. As you prepare for one, there are high chances you lose tracks of the others. Make sure you stay in touch with topics you have finished and what better than Mock Tests and revision cards to serve the purpose. If you have one single notebook in the end, properly highlighted or underlined, it makes a lot of difference. You can revise a lot in just a cursory glance at items highlighted/marked. As the Preliminary Exam approaches, make sure you attempt a lot of mock tests.

6. Test Your Preparation level & Learn from your mistakes

We can never undermine the importance of tests for IAS Exam preparation. To begin with, you can always solve previous years’ question papers. Refer to numerous question banks available in the market and solve them.

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Try and take weekly tests around the same repeatedly so that you can clearly see improvements in your preparation. A good test series will always help you evaluate yourself better and give you enough pointers to improve upon.


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OnlineTyari’s IAS Prelims Ultimate Package has 40 tests.This Ultimate Package is totally based on the latest pattern of UPSC Prelims syllabus. Core emphasis is given on the fusion of Current Affairs with traditional topics of History, Geography, Polity, Economy, Science & Tech, Environment sectional Tests, and Current Affairs, GS Paper-1, CSAT Paper-2 are included in this Package. Every Mock test contains 100 Questions (Except CSAT Mock Test). Every question has detailed answer description.

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We hope that this article on IAS Prelims 2018 History Tips will help you formulate your preparation scheme and score well in the real Examination. Stay connected for more information regarding UPSC IAS Recruitment 2018. To excel in IAS Exams, download the Best UPSC IAS Exam Preparation App for free.

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    • Thanks for appreciating our efforts Sudhir,
      We will be publishing new articles on a regular basis. Bookmark our blog to stay updated.

    • Hi Pavani,

      Many of the students share the same aspiration as you and we are glad to help.

      We assume, you already know about the pattern of the Examination. If not please refer to this link first:

      As a beginner, there are a few common questions, and we would answer them for you:

      Q1: When should you ideally start preparing for Civil Services Exam?
      Ans: Well, it totally depends on your caliber. There are popular perceptions that at least 18 months of preparation is necessary to crack Civil Services. There is no hard & fast rule like that. We have heard success stories of successful candidates who started later than usual and still made it to the final list. But OnlineTyari would suggest that you start in the month of October i.e. 15 months prior to the Main Exam.

      Q2: What should be the minimum number of hours you need to put in to crack Civil Services?
      Ans: Well this is the most absurd of all questions. There is no such thing as the minimum number of hours you have to necessarily put in to crack this exam. All you need to do is to look at the syllabus, devise a study schedule you think would help you cover and revise your course and stick to it CONSISTENTLY.

      Q3: Which Optional should you choose?
      Ans: There is a lot of ambiguity around this question too. It is NOT necessary that you take the same Optional Subject that you have an undergraduate degree in. For instance, if you are an Electrical Engineer by qualification, its NOT mandatory for you take up Electrical Engineering as an Optional. There are 26 Optional Subjects that you are free to choose from.

      Now the choice of an Optional depends on various factors:
      Whether the syllabus is concise and clearly defined?
      How comfortable you are at understanding & mugging up concepts & data?
      Answer Writing is critical to Humanities Optionals. How comfortable you are with that?
      Whether that particular Optional has been scoring well in the past or not?
      Answer these questions and choose whatever optional you find fits your bill.

      Q4: How do I begin?
      Ans: Well begun is half done. Always choose to build your basics first. Before you jump to newspapers and bulky reference materials, go through NCERT books at least once. There’s a detailed blog post on that: http://blog.onlinetyari.com/ias/importance-of-ncert-books-in-ias-exam-preparation

      NCERT’s would help you build your concepts well and you’d be no longer a beginner. After that you may take up other reference materials.

      Follow atleast one newspaper religiously. There is no need to take up multiple newspapers because that would take up most of your time of the day. You may choose from amongst The Hindu or The Indian Express. Out of so man news items published in a day, what not to read is more important than what to read. This is what Gaurav Agarwal, Civil Services Exam, 2013 – AIR 1 has to say about the correct approach behind reading the newspaper.

      Once you are done with NCERT’s, take up the necessary reference books. We have started this initiative of helping students prepare for IAS exams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjxTdZ-Fg0k

      There is a series of blogs to come up with Main Examination Preparation as well. Keep visiting OnlineTyari 🙂

      Hope it helps. Should you have further questions, feel free to ask.

  1. Hlo sir, ur app is d best app for the new comer like me.. I hav scored 66% in graduation.. Can i clear this IAS exam

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