How to Study History for Civil Services Prelims


Indian history comprises of Ancient, Medieval and Modern India. It forms one of the important sections in the General Studies Preliminary Paper-1. If one scans through the last few years’ papers, one will see that out of 100 questions asked in GS; almost 15 questions were from Indian History. However, now more questions are being asked from Modern India. So, going by the trend, one needs to pay special attention on Modern India especially on the events after 1885, i.e., after the formation of the Congress.

Seeing the number of questions, an aspirant may think of skipping the History questions, but then this will be at high cost. It is because, firstly, an aspirant can be very selective. That is one can solely focus on Modern India. Secondly, the numbers of books to be read are less. An aspirant can just solve the History questions by referring NCERT of 12th Class and Spectrum’s Modern India. Thirdly, the nature of the questions asked is more direct compared to other sections of GS Paper 1.

For example

  1. The people of India agitated against the arrival of Simon Commission because

(a) Indians never wanted the review of the working of the Act of 1919

(b) Simon Commission recommended the abolition of Dyarchy (Diarchy) in the Provinces

(c) There was no Indian member in the Simon Commission

(d) The Simon Commission suggested the partition of the country

  1. Quit India Movement was launched in response to—

(a) Cabinet Mission Plan                               (b) Cripps Proposals

(c) Simon Commission Report                    (d) Wavell Plan

  1. During the Indian Freedom Struggle, who of the following has raised an army called ‘Free Indian Legion’?

(a) Lala Hardayal               (b) Rashbehari Bose       (c) Subhas Chandra Bose              (d) V.D.Savarkar

  1. With reference to Indian freedom struggle, Usha Mehta is well-known for

(a) Running the secret Congress Radio in the wake of Quit India Movement.

(b) Participating in the Second Round Table Conference.

(c) Leading a contingent of Indian National Army.

(d) Assisting in the formation of Interim Government under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

However, some questions are more comprehensive in coverage, more logical and more analytical.

For example:

  1. With reference to the period of colonial rule in India, “Home -Charges” formed an important part of drain of wealth from India. Which of the following funds constituted “Home Charges”?
  2. Funds used to support the India Office in London.
  3. Funds used to pay salaries and pensions of British personnel engaged in India.
  4. Funds used for waging wars outside India by the British.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 only             (b) 1 and 2 only                 (c) 2 and 3 only                  (d) 1, 2 and 3

Nowadays Indian Art, Architecture and Culture have also become integral part of history. In 2013 exam more than 5 Question were related to this segment.

For example:

  1. Some Buddhist rock-cut caves are called Chaityas, while the others are called Viharas. What is the difference between the two?

(a) Vihara is a place of worship, while Chaitya is the dwelling place of the monks

(b) Chitya is a place of worship, while Vihara is the dwelling place of the monks

(c) Chaitya is the stupa at the far end of the cave, while Vihara is the hall axial to it

(d) There is no material difference between the two—

  1. In the context of cultural history of India, a pose in dance and dramatics called ‘Tribhanga’ has been a favourite of Indian artists from ancient times till today. Which one of the following statements best describes this pose?

(a) One leg is bent and the body is slightly but oppositely curved at waist and neck

(b) Facial expressions, hand gestures and makeup are combined to symbolize certain epic or historic characters

(c) Movements of body, face and hands are used to express oneself or to tell a story

(d) A little smile, slightly curved waist and certain hand gestures are emphasized to express the feelings of love or eroticism.

  1. Which of the following statements is/are applicable to Jain doctrine?
  2. The surest way of annihilating Karma is to practice penance.
  3. Every object, even the smallest particle has a soul.
  4. Karma is the bane of the soul and must be ended.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

(a) 1 only                             (b) 2 and 3 only                                 (c) 1 and 3 only                  (d) 1, 2 and 3

  1. With reference to the history of Indian rock-cut architecture, consider the following statements:
  2. The caves at Badami are the oldest surviving rock-cut caves in India.
  3. The Barabar rock-cut caves were originally made for Ajivikas by Emperor Chandragupta Maurya.
  4. At Ellora, caves were made for different faiths.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only                             (b) 2 and 3 only                                                 (c) 3 only                              (d) 1, 2 and 3

  1. With reference to the history of philosophical thought in India, consider the following statements regarding Sankhya school:
  2. Sankhya does not accept the theory of rebirth or transmigration of soul.
  3. Sankhya holds that it is the self-knowledge that leads to liberation and not any exterior influence or agent.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only                             (b) 2 only                             (c) Both 1 and 2                                 (d) neither 1 nor 3


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