Pros of Taking History Optional in UPSC Mains

Pros of Taking History Optional in UPSC Mains


History Optional is a subject offered in the UPSC Mains exam. It is a popular optional subject among candidates as it allows them to showcase their knowledge and understanding of the subject. The main advantages of taking History Optional in UPSC Mains are:

1. It gives candidates an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the subject in depth. History Optional covers a wide range of topics, from ancient to modern history, so candidates can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in a variety of areas.

2. It is a subject that can be tailored to the candidate’s interests and strengths. Candidates can choose to focus on the topics that they are most knowledgeable about, allowing them to showcase their strengths.

3. It opens up the possibility of a career in the field of history. Taking History Optional in UPSC Mains can open up career opportunities in the field of history, such as teaching, research, and archiving.

4. It can help candidates stand out from the competition. By taking History Optional in UPSC Mains, candidates can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the subject, helping them to stand out from other candidates.


  • History is an All-weather optional. With considerable preparation, at least an average score is ensured despite the difficulty level.
  • It is a foundational subject for UPSC preparation. It means
    • It is useful in Prelims exams.
    • It is useful for writing better answers in the Mains exam.
    • History provides case studies for Essay writing.
  • In interviews also it is helpful. A strong Historical knowledge helps put a better viewpoint to the interview panel.
  • Most importantly, direct sources are available for most parts of the syllabus. A student need not waste time searching the sources provided they get the best guidance.

In Prelims:

  • History is one of the core subjects of the Prelims exam.
  • It helps students to get good scores in the History portion as well as the Art and Culture portion of the Prelims.

In Mains Exam:

GS Paper I

  • GS Paper I syllabus includes Indian History, World History and Art and Culture.
  • Reading History subject becomes unavoidable for getting good scores in GS Paper I.
  • Nearly 40-45% of weightage is allocated to the History subject.
  • It shows that studying history optional helps and also saves time for preparing General Studies Paper I.
  • Society syllabus is also a part of GS Paper I. Good command of History is helpful in studying and writing answers to questions about Indian Society.


  • It provides a basic understanding of the economy, socio-politics, ethical aspects etc. These areas are useful in giving better answers in GS-II, III and IV.

Useful in Essay:

  • Full understanding of Historical developments becomes handy in writing Essays.
  • History books provide ample case studies for providing a historical perspective for almost any essay.

Other Advantages:

Improve Reading Habit:

  • History is an interesting subject.
  • It is interesting to read and understand like a story. A student can develop a good reading habits as well.
  • Knowing history is always fun as it does not require any complex formulae or principles to understand. Simple analysis and logic are enough to read with fun.
  • This reading habit increases the possibility of a student in gather a lot of knowledge in the process of UPSC preparation.
  • History can be understood in chronological order. It enhances the brain’s capacity to interlink various dimensions in other subjects as well.

Easily Measurable targets:

  • It is more static in nature. The syllabus is clearly defined.
  • Once the syllabus is covered, it will give a sense of completion in preparation.
  • In general studies papers, writing about the things gives depth to your arguments. Here, history preparation can help.



  • Interest to study History is the main factor in handling the subject. If a student is not inclined to study past development, it becomes a challenge to handle the subject.
  • Need to improve Writing skills to provide a better presentation and get a good score.
  • Though it is a safe option to get the minimum score, it requires more effort to get very high scores compared to optionals like maths and sciences.
  • Sometimes marks may vary from expectations due to various historical interpretations.
  • Popular belief is that elephantine memory is required for dates and names of all historical events. No doubt, it is important to remember the facts. However, some important facts are remembered with ease while reading History in story format.
  • A general belief is that the UPSC syllabus for history is vast and takes a lot of time to complete. However, in reality, the syllabus of history is elaborately defined.


In conclusion, taking History optional in UPSC Mains can provide a number of benefits to the student such as an in-depth understanding of the subject, an opportunity to show their knowledge and skills, and the ability to develop a unique perspective on the subject. However, it is important to remember that taking History optional in UPSC Mains is not for everyone and should only be done if the student is confident in their knowledge and skills.

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