Wednesday, May 23, 2012

History:- Optional Preparation

By Rugved Thakur IAS:-
The best way to prepare for any optional subject is to start with the basics. We should start by creating a strong foundation and later build on it.

The following is a step-wise guide. 
  1. Familiarisation with our optional subject 
    • For history, we can start our preparation by reading NCERT books of standard 7-8th onwards uptill 12th. Books till standard 10th will give us a feel of the subject.
    • These books need to be read from cover to cover. It will provide a quick overview to the optional subject.
  2. Creating a strong foundation
    • 11th and 12th Standard NCERT books will provide the source material. There are two books for standard 11th - Ancient and medieval. And two books for standard 12th - Modern and World.
    • These books need to be read atleast 2 or 3 times, underline/make notes etc. of what you think is important. I used to underline for prelims but that is no longer required.
    • This will give you a grip on the entire subject. 
  3. Raising the level of our preparation to Graduation level
    • There are basic books for each section - I am just listing a few. There are many more that one can read.
      • Ancient
        • Ancient India - D.N Jha
        • The Wonder That Was India - A.L.Basham
      • Medieval
        • 2 Books (One on sultanate and other on Mughals) written by Satish Chandra
      • Modern
        • India's Struggle For Independence - Bipan Chandra and others
        • A New Look At Modern Indian History - B.L.Grover and S.Grover
      • World
        • History Of The Modern World - Jain and Mathur
    • By reading these books one will have control over atleast 90% of the syllabus. For the remaining 10% we will have to refer to various other sources, which can be done at a later time in our preparation.
    • One has to read these books from cover to cover. Underline/ make notes etc.
  4. Testing our preparation
    • This would be a good time to assess ourself. Try to solve Previous Year Question Papers.
    • Check the answers with solved questions. All solutions available in the market may not be reliable. One can get the answers evaluated from some teachers or seniors.
    • One should self assess one's performance - which questions we could answer easily, which questions we were not very comfortable with, which questions we had no idea etc. Try and find the reasons for the same. The solutions maybe to read the basics again or repeat the standard book reading or to read something new.
  5. Improve on shortcomings.
  6. Quality Improvement
    • To improve the score additional reading is required. Selective reading of various books or certain chapters from various books helps us in getting a different perspective, which is helpful in analytic writing.
    • Another method for quality improvement is question-answer discussion with fellow aspirants.
    • One can also improve the quality of answers by contemplation. Try to visualise the answers to as many questions as possible. 
    • One can just jot down the important points in answers. There is no need to write down all the answers in totality.
  7. Full Test Series
    • One should try to answer the entire paper both paper 1 and 2. This also helps in time management.
    • One should learn the answer writing technique required in Civil Services Examination. It is slightly different from what we are used to in university examinations.
    • This will be the stage to concentrate on our target score - i.e the score that we are aiming for in UPSC Main Examination. 
An approximate time for completion of steps 1 to 5 would be 8 months on a half day basis. The other half day can be utilised for either the other optional subject or for General Studies.

Steps No. 6 and 7 are continuous steps and one has to keep repeating both these steps till one clears the examination along with periodic revision of our notes prepared in steps 1 to 5.

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