Last Minute Preparation & Revision of History for IAS Prelim: Tips and Tricks

By Sudheer Kumar K|Updated : September 29th, 2020

History and INM: Last Minute Tips and Tricks to Score High

History is an important subject in Prelims. It decides the success in prelims. It is a weak area for most of the science aspirants as the syllabus is vast to cover.

Questions may range from 15 to 25 in prelims. On average, about 15 questions will come from History and Art & Culture. That is 30 marks. UPSC mentioned special emphasis on Indian National Movement. So, maximum questions may come from the Indian National Movement.

Section-wise marks composition of History and Art & Culture [past five years]

























Art & Culture













As we are left with only five days, is it possible to revise the Whole History in one day or these five days. Yes, it is.

Managing time during the fag end of the preparation is very crucial. A structured and planned study will be helpful to revise the syllabus fast. Hence, if you have 10 hr study time in a day, divide it into four sections: Ancient [2hr], Medieval [2hr] and Modern History [4hr] and Culture [2hr].

Focus Areas:

  • Revise only your notes that you have prepared in the first place.
  • Try to revise and link topics comparatively. For instance, Indus Valley Civilisation vis-a-vis Vedic Culture or Delhi Sultanate with Mughal Administration etc.
  • Some focus areas:
    • Buddhism – Buddhism spans entire Ancient India that is why Buddhism is important.
    • In recent years, questions were being asked from the Medieval Period also. So give a faster revision.
    • The advent of Europeans and Crown’s policies and charter etc. till 1857.
    • Various movements including Social Reform Movements
    • The early phase of the Freedom Struggle
    • Gandhian Phase till 1947
    • Culture is not a separate entity, but it is integrated. Ancient and Medieval history covers more than 90 %, including:
      • Literature: Vedic, Buddhist, Jain and Sangam Literature and foreign sources and accounts.
      • Temple Architecture & Indo-Islamic Architecture
      • Music, Painting and Dance forms
    • Some miscellaneous culture aspects like Fairs and festivals, puppetry, cultural institutions etc. need less emphasis. But focus on Art and Culture topics that are in news will also cover them.
  • Chronological study: If you have already prepared, then you can recall the subject by drawing a timeline. If stuck, open the notes and read those points and come back and continue recalling the next topic and so on.


  • Spending time researching on any particular topic/s.
  • Reading reference books a few days before the exam.
  • Reading new topics.
  • Writing Test Series- It is not advisable (because you may feel low) unless you have already covered the subject thoroughly. If you wish, then take only one test for practice.


Tricks to answer correctly with little knowledge: Previously asked questions

1. Consider the following: (2019)

  1. Deification of the Buddha
  2. Treading the path of Bodhisattvas
  3. Image worship and rituals

Which of the above is/ are the feature/ features of Mahayana Buddhism?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Trick1: Clue or Hint / Common sense

  • If you read the statements 1 and 3 clearly, both the statements are closer to each other. Statement 1 i.e. Deification of the Buddha meaning treating Buddha as God. Ultimately worship is natural corollary right. So statement 3 i.e. Image worship and rituals is also correct.
  • If 1 is correct 3 also follows. Hence, both 1 and 3 are correct. Guess, then what would be the answer to this question? Yes, Option (d)
  • Because, there is only one option with 1 and 3 included, i.e. (d) 1, 2 and 3. We don’t even look for the correctness of statement 2.


2. With reference to Swadeshi Movement, consider the following statements : (2019)

  1. It contributed to the revival of the indigenous artisan crafts and industries.
  2. The National Council of Education was established as a part of Swadeshi Movement.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Same Trick 1: Just with common sense, you can answer this. Swadeshi meaning indigenous and national. Hence statement 1 and 2 are correct.


3. Building ‘Kalyana Mandapas’ was a notable feature in the temple construction in the kingdom of (2019)

(a) Chalukya

(b) Chandela

(c) Rashtrakuta

(d) Vijayanagara

Trick2: Elimination

  • This is easy if you know at least the three styles of temple architecture.
  • “Kalyana mandapa” is the notable feature of Dravida Style. Vijayanagara temple style is Dravida. Rastrakutas show some features of Dravida, but Kalyana mandapa is not as notable as in Vijayanagara. Hence answer is Option (d).
  • Or if you see options (a) (b) (c) they either belong to Veesar or Nagar or mix, but not Dravida. Simply eliminate the first three.
  • Or by the area, you come from also you can easily answer this question. If you hail from north or central India, you can eliminate the first two easily. A little guesswork is enough to answer.

4. Kalamkari painting refers to (2015)

(a) a hand-painted cotton textile in South India

(b) a handmade drawing on bamboo handicrafts in North-East India

(c) a block-painted woollen cloth in Western Himalayan region of India

(d) a hand-painted decorative silk cloth in North-Western India

Trick: Common sense and elimination

If you know the terminology kalam meaning pen, Kar means hand. It must be handwoven. Option (c) can be eliminated. By the origin of a word or by the region you hail from also, you can eliminate (b) and (c) also. Kalamkari is of south Indian origin.

5. Quit India Movement was launched in response to: (2013)

(a) Cabinet Mission Plan

(b) Cripps Proposals

(c) Simon Commission Report

(d) Wavell Plan

Trick: Educated Guess/ Hint

If you at least know that Quit India Movement happened in 1942, you will answer this question.

  • You can easily eliminate option (c) Simon Commission Report 1928, which is very far from Quit India Movement 1942.
  • And options (a) Cabinet Mission Plan 1946, and (d) Wavell Plan 1945 were run-up to Independence Act 1947. So eliminate (a) and (d) also.
  • Only (b) is left now i.e., Cripps Proposals 1942. Hence the answer is (b).
  • Chronology is important in History. You will remember many things if you study history through Timeline.

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