Categories’s interview of Vikram Grewal (Rank- 51/ CSE-2018) [History Optional]’s interview of Vikram Grewal (Rank- 51/ CSE-2018) [History Optional]

Profile of the Candidate

Vikram Grewal

Name Vikram Grewal
Rank in Civil Services Exam 2018 51
Roll Number 0822066
Age 22
Total attempts in Civil Services Examination (including present one) 1
Optional Subject History
Medium for History Optional English
Marks in History Optional in Earlier Examinations (Mention marks in Paper I and II)
Home town/village Kurukshetra
Any past Work-experience No
Were you preparing full time or working and preparing? Full time
Your place of preparation Delhi and Kupwara
Details of other success and failure in competitive exams Only UPSC CSE
Details of coaching/ test series/ study material of any coaching used for History Optional Only test series

(from Self-Study

History and GS Score)

No Coaching.

Educational Background
Percentage marks in class X 10 CGPA
Percentage marks in class XII 97 %
Name of the subject in Graduation course and percentage marks History- 69 %
Name of college of graduation and place St Stephen’s College, Delhi
Passing out year 2017
Post-graduation if any None
Did your educational Background helped in History Optional? Yes. Graduation was in History.


Tell us something about yourself. 

My name is Vikram Grewal, a BA (Hons) History Graduate from DU. I presently stay in Delhi with my mother and sister while my father is posted in Kashmir. I love travelling, reading, creative writing, watching and reviewing films and music. I aspire to become a good civil servant of our country.

Questions Related to History Optional

Why did you choose history as your optional subject?

It was same as my graduation subject. Covered all GS papers as well as Essay. I already had a deep interest in the discipline since school days.

Mention positive and negative about the History Optional for those who what to take history optional.

Positives: It gives you a comprehensive viewpoint. Makes you a critical thinker and objective observer which is what the UPSC is looking for. Along with that, Prelims and Mains require a good understanding of the nation’s history. Helps in the Essay paper where you have to give examples and ethics paper as well.

Negatives: Syllabus might look huge but it is very planned and detailed. A lot of books can be read but stick to minimum sources and maximum revision.

Mention booklist and sources which you followed for History Optional.

My history list was- 6-12th NCERTs. Ancient India: D N Jha, Ranabir Chakravarti, Romila Thapar, Upinder Singh.

Medieval India: Satish Chandra, IGNOU notes.

Modern: Shekhar Bandopadhyay, BL Grover, Bipan Chandra.

World History: Google, Wikipedia, David Mason, Norman Lowe.

How did you prepare for Map Portion?

ONLY and ONLY Self-Study Map Practice. Most effective and most beautiful.

How much time per day you used to give the history optional during your preparation (both before and after prelims)?

Didn’t give it a daily input. But did a rigorous note-making session for 2 months when prelims were half-year away. After that, only revised 1-2 hours in a week and gave mock tests.

Did you do answer writing regularly? If yes, what amount of time you devoted to it and how did it help you?

YES! Most important part. Not answer writing per se. But 3 hour exam condition mock tests at home. 2 history mocks in a week usually. It improved my speed and presentation.

Did you join any test series? If yes, kindly name it? How did it benefit you?

I joined 2 test series: Self-Study History and GS Score. Both online. It improved by mental frame and armed me with systematic answer giving techniques in intro-body-conclusion format.

Did you maintain self-notes? If yes, how did it help you?

I only squeezed the sources down in a separate register. After doing so I didn’t touch the sources. Only revised and re-revised notes.

Have you solved previous years papers of history optional? Did it help you in the examination?

Did not solve. But analyzed them carefully. They were helpful in knowing that UPSC never asks out of syllabus questions.

In your views, how the nature of questions asked in history optional changed in recent years?

They are now shorter and more insightful and analytical rather than factual and rote-based.

Did you take any help from If yes, upto what extent it helped you.

Ofcourse yes. I used the Map practice and Mock Tests a lot. Did not use the elaborate notes/content part though.

Any specific thing you want to share about history optional?

History must not be read as subject about kings, revolutions and dates alone. It is not about people, it is about processes. It is the study of change and scientific corroboration of facts. Candidates must keep that in mind and adopt a comprehensive multi-dimensional approach. They should look at the bigger picture rather than minor details.

Click here for Answer Sheet (History Optional) of Vikram Grewal [Rank- 51/ CSE-2018] 

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