History Optional Strategy

Hi, This post is divided into 3 parts..

Part 1
The main purpose of this post is to reblog the history preparation post by Gaurav Gupta (part 3). However, I too had history optional last year (cse 2012) and got 235 marks in it. Gaurav Gupta has given his book list. Additional books referred by me are here:

1. From Plassey to Partition by Shekhar Bandopadhyay (best book, most scholarly work I read)
2. “Bharat Ka Itihaas” (hindi) by Aashirwadi Lal Srivastava
3. “Madhyakaleen Bharat” Part 1 and Part 2 by Harish Chandra Verma
4. Delhi University Compilation for Ancient India, Medieval India and Modern India.
5. Romilla Thapar on Ancient India
6. Europe Since Napoleon by David Thomson
7. For map, I got a book “Indian Historical Places” by Dr. H.C. Jain and also a blackboard and chalk and duster. My father would then take a quiz where he would take the name of the place and I would mark on the board and tell stuff about it. Of course this is no longer the pattern now.
8. A. L. Basham.
9. Satish Chandras for medieval.

Still I found my preparation lacking. There were some questions which were asked out of the blue. Basically in History, historians often debate among themselves on various topics. A question may be asked out of that debate and to get good marks, we have to read those debates and write material discussed there. Although I haven’t read it, I am told the book by BL Grover on modern India which has many such debates.

My notes for history optional can be downloaded from my other post..

Part 2

D. Amarkesh (AIR 217, cse 2012) is one of the strongest history students I know. His notes are available at

Amarkesh Notes

Amarkesh Notes Alternative Site

I will request him to add more.

Part 3

3. I am reblogging here the History optional preparation post by Gaurav Gupta who got 239 marks in it (highest so far heard). Pls direct all queries to him at https://www.facebook.com/gauravg85 or his blog https://abhipraay.wordpress.com.


Abhipraay: The Blog

History as optional –

First of all one should take optional based on his interest as this subject is you would be reading for next 1-2 years or more so you must have zeal to go deeper, read new books by new writers to learn and understand various perspectives. And that is why I took History as optional despite being told by some people that it is not ‘scoring’, or it has ‘large syllabus’. However once I decided, I made sure that I should not get such thoughts. In UPSC all subjects are scoring provided you are answering what is asked.

Other benefits of History as optional (once you have decided that you have interest in it) –

  • I take history as very scientific, analytical and objective subject as you have to frame your answer based on historical evidences/facts and records.
  • I liked to read about how was our past…

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