History Optional – Why you should choose history optional in UPSC mains examination.?


History Optional | The syllabus of UPSC underwent a drastic change on the basis of the notification, 2013. GS got double weightage, while the number of optional subjects was reduced from two to one. Now in the new syllabus, GS covers 1000 marks while the optional subject weights for 500 marks.

So, GS would definitely have a greater role in success of candidates but in spite of that one should not downplay the role of the optional subject in his or her success. Obviously, out of the total 1750 marks, even 500 marks is not a small incentive.

The optional subject can help a candidate scale the highest peak of success but simultaneously it can throw him or her out of the race.

Moreover, we should keep one more thing in our mind: while the mastery of optional subject requires specialized knowledge, GS calls for proficiency in generalized knowledge. In the notification, it has been clearly mentioned that in General Studies “the questions are likely to test candidate’s basic understanding of all the relevant issues and ability to analyses and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goat, objectives and demands”.

On the other hand, it has been mentioned fir optional paper that “the syllabus of optional papers for the examination is broadly of the honors degree level i.e. a level higher than the Bachelor’s Degree and lower than the Master’s Degree.”

So, the candidates are supposed to ponder over two prominent questions:

  • What should be the basis for the selection of optional subjects?
  • What should be a strategy for the preparation of the subjects?

In reply to the first question we can say the following criteria should be given primacy in the selection of an optional subject:

  • Subject should make a major contribution to General Studies.
  • The subject should be scoring.
  • Syllabus of the subject should be lucid and clear.
  • There should be proper study materials for the subject
  • Standard guidelines should be available on the subject.

If We Evaluate History Subject From The Perspective Of The Above Criteria, It Should Come Out As A Preferable Choice For The candidates. The reasons are:

  • In the changed UPSC Syllabus History makes a major contribution to General Studies. Along with history and culture, even world history forms part of GS paper. Furthermore, one interesting aspect of History is that although even some other optional subjects have made a contribution to GS it is for the first time that the contemporary history of India and world history also have become the major parts of GS.
  • History Optional is a scoring subject. Every year among successful students a large number of students are those who have History as an optional paper.
  • The syllabus of history is definitely lucid and clear. In its syllabus, every topic has been defined very clearly along with the major topic. Even the minor topics have been mentioned clearly. So sometimes students mistakenly develop the impression that the syllabus is quite large. When we compare History with some other subjects, we find that in the case of other subject’s outer form of the syllabus is so misleading that in course of the preparation the syllabus turns out to be a Pandora’s box, since topics start getting multiplied in number. Furthermore, in history candidates need only four to five books to cover the whole syllabus in contrast to other optional subjects for the standard preparation of which every one or two topics need a separate text.
  • In History the topics of the syllabus have been mentioned clearly and even the study materials on each topic is clearly available in the market. Furthermore, on each topic, one can find a number of choices. But in some other optional the first challenge before the student is to define the boundary of the topic and then the second challenge is to look for appropriate study materials on the topic.
  • Even on the basis of available guidelines, the students of History can excel on others. They can be trained under well-reputed HariMohan Kaushik which has proved to be a path-breaker in the preparation of History. He has developed a new style of teaching which turned out to be much effective. Under the guidance of HariMohan Kaushik, a number of students have qualified in Civil Services Exams and State Services Exams since 2013. Moreover, a substantial number of students qualifies UGC/NET every year because sir access to his guidance.
  • Furthermore, History Optional has some hidden advantages as well. It is such a subject which does not favor those students who come from a specific background rather students from all curriculums—Science, Engineering, and Commerce are equally comfortable in the subject.

Now let us go over to the second question regarding the strategy of the preparation for History. In reply to this question we can say that Mr.HariMohan Kaushik has developed a scientific method of preparation. This method consists of four stages. If someone is going to adopt this method rigorously, he is sure to secure good marks in the subject. Different stages in this method are as follows:

  • To underline the elements of changes in the course of study of Indian history as well as world history.
  • To develop basic understanding of historiography i.e. to develop different approaches to the study of history.
  • To use the understanding of contemporary development in the interpretation of history.
  • To develop a well-built structure in writing i.e. thesis-based writing.

How To Prepare For History Optional?

Study of History requires an ability to underline the continuity and changes in political, economic, social and cultural spheres. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a scientific view towards this subject. In the teaching of History, Mr.HariMohan Kaushik has made an indelible mark. First of all, we could find out the limitation of the system of teaching and studying history. On minute observation the following limitations were seen:

  • Students are keen to get maximum marks but they have no depth of knowledge of the subject matter. They do not know that it is an essential process to reach the depth to obtain maximum marks.
  • Teachers have a keen desire to finish the courses of study at the earliest.
  • Students do not get standard materials during preparations.
  • Most of the students are not conversant with the writing skill in spite of the fact that they study history. So, they cannot write sound answers to many standard questions.
  • The main thrust is on collecting information. Though the knowledge of facts is necessary for standard writing, the presentation of facts is also very important in this regard. In other words, it is necessary that the students have an analytical outlook
  • Writing skill is ignored both at the levels of teaching and study.

Therefore, Mr.HariMohan Kaushik has devised a strategy of preparation in view of the above limitations. On the process of preparation of history, faculty puts stress on the following facts:

  • Separate classes are held for Preliminary and Mains Examinations.
  • First of all, our concentration is on infusing interest among the students.
  • Special stress is given on timely test and examination in preparation for Preliminary as well as Mains Examinations.
  • The preparation for Mains Examination is done in three stages. In the first step, students are acquainted with the complete syllabus and during this we go through the extensive process of study. In the second step, students are taught selected topics and the skill of writing history. After that in the third step, regular practice is enforced for cultivating the habit of standard writing.
  • World history is the most difficult and important part of history but most of the students do not have a good grasp of the subject and consequently, they do not obtain good marks. So, we put special stress on developing a better view of world history. In view of the problems of students regarding the section on world history, particularly the short notes, we have prepared a study material starting from the Renaissance up to the Second World War. The study material, which takes into account both the continuity and the changes, enables the students to deal with the questions on short notes.
  • For short essay type questions, students are provided model answers along with regular practices
  • Special classes are held for writing answers and model answers are provided to students on the questions of the last 10 years.
  • To solve the map related questions in a better way, practice is enforced every seven days.

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