Categories’s interview of Phadke Vikram Dnyandeo (Rank- 530/ CSE-2018) [History Optional Marks: 324]’s interview of Phadke Vikram Dnyandeo (Rank- 505/ CSE-2018) [History Optional Marks: 324]

Profile of the Candidate

passport photo_1

Name Phadke Vikram Dnyandeo
Rank in Civil Services Exam 2018 530
Roll Number 3806810
Age 29
Total attempts in Civil Services Examination (including present one) 8
Optional Subject History
Medium for History Optional English
Marks in History Optional in Earlier Examinations (Mention marks in Paper I and II) 2011=348/600


2014,2015,2016 around 250

2017: Paper 1 =121

Paper 2 =131

2018= 324;  Paper 1-170

Paper 2- 154

Home town/village Pune
Any past Work-experience Working as IRS  Customs and Indirect taxes since 2013.
Were you preparing full time or working and preparing? Working and preparing
Your place of preparation Aurangabad
Details of other success and failure in competitive exams Cleared Civil Service exam 2012 and 2018
Details of coaching/ test series/ study material of any coaching used for History Optional Coaching in Chanakya Mandal Pune (Avinash Dharmadhikari Sir) in 2010-11

Study material of Selfstudy history, specially previous years papers and Map questions

Educational Background
Percentage marks in class X 77
Percentage marks in class XII 79
Name of the subject in Graduation course and percentage marks Mechanical Engineering 59
Name of college of graduation and place PVG Pune
Passing out year  2011
Post-graduation if any NA
Did your educational Background helped in History Optional? NA





Tell us something about yourself. 

I am presently working as Deputy Commissioner IRS (Customs and Indirect Taxes) in Aurangabad. I cleared CSE 2012 in 2nd attempt and after that attempted the exam for getting into IAS. In CSE 2018 I scored(170+154=324 ) marks in history optional.

Questions Related to History Optional

Why did you choose history as your optional subject? 

I chose history mainly because of my interest and curiosity in human past. Also the availability of resource persons in Pune during my preparation days specially Avinash Dharmadhikari Sir and Shreenand Bapat Sir in Chanakya Mandal Pune. I love to visit historic places across the country which has helped me synchronise my studies and my hobby.

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

Positives: Someone having interest in the subject will always enjoy reading about it irrespective of marks. However with proper understanding, resource material and correct approach one can score 300 plus marks. Also it is a subject which will surely fetch you atleast a decent score with basic preparation. Substantial overlap in General Studies in PRELIMS AND MAINS.

Negatives: Vast syllabus to cover; Different perspectives and approaches which can confuse a candidate specially when history is contested for political gains. A dynamic subject which requires updation in facts as well as approaches as the research progresses.

Mention booklist and sources which you followed for History Optional.

Paper 1 

Ancient and Medieval History: Learning the syllabus and questions asked in all previous years by heart is the key after which seek the topics in below mentioned sources.

 1. A.L. Basham Wonder that was India: This book will provide you with basic understanding of subject and enhance your interest in it.

2. A history of Ancient and early medieval India by UPINDER SINGH. This book will give you  multiple perspectives and latest development in the subject.

3.The wonder that was India by S a a Rizvi

4 J. L. Mehta   Selective reading from all 3 volumes

5. Medieval India by Irfan Habib

6. Study material of IGNOU for certain topics of syllabus which are not covered by other  books.

Prepare your own notes using above material. After that for other general topics use standard material like NCERT, NIOS, and Tamil Nadu state text books for remembering, revising and lucid writing.

Reading multiple sources can be highly exhausting and  difficult to recollect therefore you can listen to lectures by eminent historians like Irfan Habib on various topics or Dr Shreenand Bapat on Ancient India available on youtube. This will provide you with deep insights on the subject.

Added to that if you can visit nearby Archaelogical sites, Monuments etc in free time  it will bring the subject alive in your mind.

Paper 2

Modern India :

1) A New Look at Modern Indian History by B L Grover & Alka Mehta

2) Books by Bipin Chandra

3) IGNOU, NCERT And NIOS , Tamil Nadu state textbook material.

Modern World:

  1. Mastering Modern world history by Norman Lowe
  2. A history of modern world by Ranjan Chakrabarti

3) IGNOU, NCERT And NIOS , Tamil Nadu state textbook material.

4) Read questions of previous years to cover areas in which UPSC has special interest and get repeated to some extent.

How did you prepare for Map Portion? 

Entire credit goes to Selfstudyhistory for simplifying the most difficult part of the paper. My score in Paper 1 is mainly due to 17 of 20 questions being correct. Also use of google maps for tracing the routes and remembering the relative location and distances between nearby sites like (Rajgir- Patliputra-Nalanda-Vikramshila- Gaya); (Hastinapura-Ahichhatra) (Rakhigarhi- Bhirrana) etc really helped. I would take the screenshot of these routes and observe it everyday for last 15 days.

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

Because I was working and had considerable responsibilities I could not study consistently. As I have read the subject for so many years the basic understanding was there and the only thing I required was consolidation and revision which I got fortunately this year as there was one weeks gap between GS and Optional papers.

However I would advise the fresh candidates to study the optional consistently for at least 6 months consistently to develop understanding of the subject and then revise it for a month before the mains. Writing practise is highly essential to get a good score.

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

As mentioned above I had no time for it. However a fresh candidate needs to solve the full papers at least 2 to 3 times so as to repeat the performance in the actual exam.

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

I joined Selfstudyhistory this year. It benefited me immensely as I used to read the solutions to the questions which were exhaustive. Also I followed the website of selfstudyhistory regularly for the material on maps and previous year papers.

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

Yes. My notes were divided mainly into 2-  A) Syllabus wise 50 to 100 words on each topic for understanding the subject and  B) Core facts -Sources, Dates, Names, Prominent Historians and their view on specific topic of the syllabus, Maps for Space-time dimension in micro notes form adjoining the syllabus topics which will be useful for revision in last few days.

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

Yes. More than writing I did it mentally by observing the previous years questions and what I needed to write. The structure of the answer on any given topic included

  1. Definition of the term
  2. Sources
  3. Map or a diagram wherever required
  4. Addressing the core of the question
  5. Views of prominent historians so that we do not get biased towards particular way of interpretation.

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

The questions have become dynamic in nature which requires updated knowledge of the subject. The focus has also shifted to historiography for Ancient India.

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

Yes. was immensely helpful. I think basic books and understanding can help a candidate score around 250 to 280 marks but going beyond that to score 324 requires precision in maps and innovation in answer writing which I could get from

Any specific thing you want to share about history optional?

  1. Anyone thinking of opting for history should keep in mind that hard work is the     key and there hardly is any shortcut for this subject.
  2. Devote at least an entire year to understand the subject, syllabus and nature of questions before writing the exam.
  3. Extensive revision and writing for at least 3 months before mains is required
  4. There is no one stop solution as such.. So multiple sources while sticking to syllabus topics and questions asked in previous years is the key.
  5. Only innovation in answer writing can take you beyond 300 marks.

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