History for UPSC – How to Prepare History for UPSC?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

History for UPSC opens up a perspective toward society, religion, and culture. History is considered the most significant part of the UPSC syllabus and covers a wide range of topics. There are so many questions asked from the History subject in the General Studies paper of the UPSC Prelims exam and Mains exam. How to Prepare History for UPSC is one of the most essential questions for the candidates when they start preparing for the subject.

In this article, we will discuss the right strategy for preparing history for the UPSC IAS exam. By following this strategy, candidates can answer a maximum number of questions from history and fetch good marks.

History for UPSC

To prepare for history, candidates need to have a strong foundation and understanding of all the topics covered in the History Syllabus. History is basically divided into three major sections for the UPSC Exam Ancient, Medieval, and Modern History.

Below we have provided some basic tips to help the candidates to prepare History for their upcoming IAS Exam.

  • Start with History NCERT Books: To build a solid foundation, candidates need to utilize the NCERT Books. The NCERT books are known as the backbone of CSE Exam preparation. Covering all the topics chronologically helps a lot while reading History.
  • Take the Help of Advanced Books: Candidates must consult advance level history books after finishing all the NCERTs and basic UPSC Books. It would be sufficient to cover the fundamental texts, such as the NCERTs, for the UPSC Prelims, but for UPSC Mains preparation, it is best to prepare with some more advanced textbooks.
  • Check UPSC Previous Year’s Question Papers: To understand the recent trends and important topics, one should go through UPSC Previous Year Question Papers. Candidates will also get a fair amount of idea about the difficulty level of the questions. After analyzing the question papers, candidates will get a clear picture of how they should plan their preparation and divide their time on this subject.
  • Make Short Notes: Making short notes are essential for the history subject. Candidates need to remember all the events chronologically, and how they happened. Making notes would also make the revision process easier, and you can get maximum retention of what you have studied.

History Preparation Strategy for IAS Exam

The history section in the UPSC Syllabus is divided into three parts- Ancient India, Medieval India, and Modern India. These three sections carry a significant amount of weightage in both UPSC Prelims and Mains exams. Indian History, along with art and culture is considered the most important part of the UPSC exam.

Below we have provided some preparation tips that would help you cover these sections efficiently.

How to Prepare Ancient Indian History?

Studying Ancient Indian history will help the candidates during the preparation for the Art and Culture section. Candidates must follow the tips mentioned below for the preparation of Ancient Indian History for UPSC.

How to Study Medieval History for UPSC Exam?

Medieval Indian History covers the mid-8th-18th century AD. Every year 1 to 5 questions are asked from this section. To prepare for this section, candidates can follow some tips mentioned below:

  • Prepare for this topic chronologically, and make notes along with your preparation,
  • Medieval Indian history has many important topics such as the Bhakti Movement, Architecture, Important battles, Special terms, the Sufi movement, and important literature of this period.
  • Focus on the artistic developments and cultural developments during this period.
  • Cover the Maratha Empire, Vijaynagar Empire, Bahamani Empire, etc. carefully.
  • NCERT books Class VII Medieval India (Old), Class XI Medieval India (Old), Class IX Story of Civilization Part-I (Old), and Class X Story of Civilization Part-II (Old) are helpful sources for the basic reading of medieval India.

How to Prepare Modern History for UPSC?

Modern History of India deals with a series of events and happenings. Its syllabus is huge, so to ease the understanding, It can be divided into sub-parts:

  • Early Modern India: Late Mughals and their policies which led to the decline and Emergence of the European Powers; Growth of the regional powers; Economic, social, and cultural policies of the British empire.
  • Mid-Modern India: Revolt of 1857 and its Impacts & Consequences; Awakening due to social and religious reforms and movements; Indian National Congress – approach- Moderates and Extremists.
  • Later Modern India: Beginning of the Indian freedom struggle; Different stages and phases of the Indian National Movement.
  • Independence and After: Challenges; Cabinet, the constituent assembly; First general elections; Indian states; Policies and ideology both internal and external.

Later Modern History of India – Preparation Tips

India’s modern history is thought to have started around 1850. The colonial history of India under British rule takes up the majority of this time period. According to some, the later modern era started around 1905-1910.

  • Read various legislations, laws, and administrative policies of the British. For example, various Indian Councils Acts.
  • British era witnessed a plethora of constitutional and judicial developments with respect to Indian society and its relation with the world. For Example Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms, Press and labor legislation, the evolution of the police and education system, etc.
  • Internal and external policies. For example-Divide and rule, Subsidiary alliance, One-way free trade, keeping European powers at arm’s length, etc. All the measures and their essential impacts on the masses and society as a whole must be analyzed deeply.
  • Commissions set up, for example, the Lee Commission, Woods Commission Etc.
  • With the beginning of the National struggle for freedom, understand the differences in the ideologies of the upcoming leaders and the motive and missions of their organizations.
  • The emergence of Gandhi and the changed outlook of the Indian masses then.
  • Role of women, students, and the intelligentsia, etc. Movements have both an analytical and factual basis. Read accordingly. Example- The civil disobedience movement and also the Round table conferences attached to it.
  • The famous trial of the nationalist period. Overall analysis from its annual INC sessions, demands, decisions, and its opposition from other groups. Importance and contributions with factual analysis of other parties in the freedom movement, etc.

Best Books to Prepare History for UPSC

The list of some of the highly recommended History Books for UPSC list is given below.

  • Class 6th to 12th History NCERT books
  • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
  • A Brief History of Modern by Rajiv Ahir (Spectrum)
  • For Southern Indian History, Tamil Nadu Board History Books  are the best
  • India’s Ancient Past – R.S. Sharma (For Ancient Indian History)
  • History of Medieval India – Satish Chandra (For Medieval Indian History)
  • India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra
  • History of Modern India – Bipan Chandra
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