UPSC IAS Prelims is the first stepping stone towards the final dream of becoming a Civil Servant. It is that essential stage of IAS Exam that you need to clear if you want to attempt the IAS Mains Exam. It is an objective exam and marks secured by a candidate in Prelims are not counted towards the final merit. Out of nearly 9 lakh candidates that apply 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.

Ancient History video Lecture –

Indian History 

Indian History is an important part of both the Preliminary Exam and the Main Examination for  UPSC 2019 Exam preparation. A considerable share of the total questions asked in General Studies for UPSC comes from Indian History. However, in this article, 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
2018 15 6


Preparation Tips and Study Guide for UPSC 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 Sources
  • Time to Prepare
  • Evaluate Yourself
  • Revision

1. Prioritise Topics:

Most of the History questions asked in UPSC 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. AA Shah’s IAS Institute 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.

2. Shortlist Sources & Books:

Having too many books & study resources on one particular subject can do more harm than good when it comes to quick revision later.

AA Shah’s IAS Institute 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. 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 (Specifically for prelims)
  • 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
  • Art and Culture – Nitin Singhania


GS History Lecture in Hindi 


3. Time to 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. 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 yourself:

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. 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 Preliminary exam.

5. Revision:

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 UPSC preparation. To begin with, you can always solve previous years’ question papers. Refer to numerous question banks and solve them and identify your weak points and try to improvise on it.


Why Culture, Heritage & Ethics included in UPSC syllabus? 


Best of Luck!!!



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