prepare History for UPSC Prelims

How should we prepare History for UPSC Prelims?  

Although History is quite an interesting subject it is also tedious. It opens up a perspective towards society, culture, and religion. This is the reason that History has been a part of primary and secondary education for years. We learn a lot from the mistakes and achievements of the past. That is why it has been said that "Mistakes are our greatest teachers". 

It is assumed that one can make a better decision based on the lessons taken from the past. Along with the other three important subjects Geography, Economics and Political Science, History is also a very necessary subject for clearing UPSC exams. Students often find History a boring subject, so, this article is written for all the UPSC aspirants on How to prepare history for the UPSC exam. 

Let's get started - 

The subject of history accounts for around 20% of the total questions asked in the paper of general studies. It is divided into various parts like art, culture, independence movements, post-independence, and world history. 

How To Prepare History For UPSC Exam? 

UPSC, in one of its notifications, has clarified that the nature of preparation needed for qualifying general studies paper is very general that anyone with general knowledge can answer it. If a person has concentrated in his studies from 10th to 12th standard, he would be able to write exams well. One can go through the past examinations question paper for more analysis. Let us discuss this in detail. 


According to the UPSC’s eligibility criteria, a candidate must hold a graduation degree for appearing in UPSC exams. This means the level of knowledge required for history subject is that of graduation level but you have to be very proficient in how you relate and analyze past events and happenings in history. 

Write As Much As You Read 

Only reading will not help you. You have to practice writing as much as you read. Reading is essential for collecting more information and increase knowledge but writing is equally important to develop the skill of explaining what you read. 

For writing practice, candidates can try solving previous years' question papers. This helps them to know what kind of history questions are asked in UPSC exams. For beginners, it is a very useful technique to prepare for the subject of history. Apart from that, you may also write essays and mock test series for improving your writing skills. 

Learn To Remember Dates  

Whichever part of history you take, it is full of dates and timelines. For writing effective answers, it is very impressive that candidates should write dates and names in their answers. Be it modern history or history of independent India, dates, names, and timeline is important. So, if you want to score good marks in history, learn dates. 

To do that, you can learn the timelines because it helps in remembering dates and years easily say, when did the battle of Plassey happen and between whom was it fought? Such questions could be easily answered when you are good at remembering dates. You may relate the year or date with any of your personal incidents or with decades or with any other event that happened before or after those dates. 

Don’t Ever Try To Memorize 

If you think that learning word to word answers from books will help you, you are absolutely wrong. Memorizing answers will give you limited ability to write in the exam and you can be unlucky if those questions are not asked in the exam. So it is a better idea to read and learn more from books. Understand what you are reading and how it can be written nicely in the examination if any question related to that topic comes. 

Make Notes 

Making short notes will really help you in quick revision of bulky chapters of history. While you are reading the chapters, make a note of important events, dates, and names, so that whenever you want to recall, you don't have to turn the whole book. Instead, it will be available to you in a handy way. 

Make Use of Standard Terms While Writing the Answers 

History involves many terms and terminologies. If it is ancient history, names of places, kings, etc become important. This terminology should be used in the same way as mentioned in the books or sources. Yes, candidates should write the answers on their own but having used some typical terms to make the answer effective. 

In-all, for preparing the history subject for UPSC, candidates should adopt a practical approach. I hope this article on How to Prepare History for UPSC Exam helps you in UPSC preparation.