Categories’s Interview of Shailja [Rank 83, CSE- 2021, History Optional]’s Interview of Shailja [Rank 83, CSE- 2021, History Optional]

Profile of the Candidate

Rank in Civil Services Exam 2021 83
Roll Number 1529867
Age 24 YEARS
Total attempts in Civil Services Examination (including present one) 3
Optional Subject History
Medium for History Optional ENGLISH
Marks in History Optional in Present and Earlier Examinations (Mention marks in Paper I and II) PAPER 1- 122

PAPER 2- 158

Home town/village SAHARSA, BIHAR
Any past Work-experience NONE
Were you preparing full time or working and preparing? PREPARING FULL TIME
Your place of preparation SAHARSA, BIHAR
Details of other success and failure in competitive exams APPEARED FOR BPSC


Details of coaching/ test series/ study material of any coaching used for History Optional DID NOT TAKE ANY COACHING FOR HISTORY OPTIONAL



Educational Background
Percentage marks in class X CGPA- 10
Percentage marks in class XII 96.8%
Name of the subject in Graduation course and percentage marks B.A. HONS HISTORY


Name of college of graduation and place ST. STEPHEN’S COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OF DELHI
Passing out year 2018
Post-graduation if any _
Did your educational Background help in History Optional? YES

Marksheet of CSE- 2021:


(1) Tell us something about yourself.

  • Hello everyone, I’m Shailja, AIR 83 in UPSC CSE 2021. I’m a graduate in B.A. hons History from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University. My parents are professors in Saharsa district of Bihar. I’ve done my schooling from Buddha Public School, Saharsa and DPS RK Puram, New Delhi. I was preparing for CSE at my hometown Saharsa since the completion of my graduation.

Questions Related to History Optional

(2) Why did you choose history as your optional subject?

  • I chose history mainly due to interest in the subject along with the fact that it was my graduation subject. I’ve loved reading history since the school days and thus it was a natural choice.

(3) Kindly mention positive and negative about the History Optional for those who what to take history optional.


  1. Huge overlap with GS syllabus in Preliminary exam.
  2. Could be prepared through self study.


  1. Vast syllabus
  2. A good understanding of historiography is needed to write a nuanced answer which at times need extensive readings.

(4) Kindly mention booklist and sources which you followed for History Optional.

  • Ancient India- NCERT, Upinder Singh, Romila Thapar, College notes, Self Study History notes
  • Medieval- NCERT, Satish Chandra, college notes and SSH notes
  • Modern- Bipan Chandra, Shekhar Bandyopadhyay, College notes.
  • World- SSH notes, World Civilization Volume C by Edward Mcnall Burns, college notes.

(5) In Paper I and II, you answered 3 questions from Part A or Part B?

  • In Paper I, I attempted 1 question from Ancient history apart from map question. The rest two were attempted from medieval India part.
  • In Paper II, I attempted two questions from modern India and one from world history.

(6) How did you prepare for Map Portion?

  • I replied on map material of SSH and did daily map practice after prelims.

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

  • Before prelims, I used to devote 4 hours for optional.
  • After prelims, I devoted one month solely for optional and later did optional for 3 hours daily along with weekly tests.

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

  • Before prelims, I used to write few answers daily. But started giving full length tests only after prelims.

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

  • I had joined test series by SSH and GS SCORE
  • Feedback in the tests helped me to understand the requirements. Also, time management is something that improved through test series.

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

  • I made notes for ancient and medieval India and it helped me in organising the information. It was also very helpful in last minute revision. For modern and world history, I solely relied on readings.

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

  • I did not solve previous years questions but went through them. It helped me to understand the demand of the exam and prepared accordingly.

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

  • Yes, there have been changes. The questions have become dynamic and analytical in nature. This demands a lot of thinking and application of reasoning along with the memorization of facts.

(13) Were you asked questions related to History in interview? If yes, kindly mention those.

My interview was very much focused on history as a subject. Some of the questions asked related to history were-

  1. Why should we study history?
  2. What is your view on the rewriting of history?
  3. History remains the same, then what is the use of studying history in present times?
  4. What were the factors responsible for rise of civilizations across the world? Do you think there has been fall of Europe?
  5. Should we change the syllabus of history at the school level? If yes, then what changes should be incorporated?
  6. Was the post independence history mainly focused on left wing historians’ writings?
  7. How should we rewrite history?

(14) How did (SSH) benefitted you in your History Optional Preparation?

  • Self Study History really helped me in the preparation of history optional. The syllabus coverage in SSH notes are really exceptional and I referred to it for last minute revision. Map material also made things much simpler.

(15) Any specific thing you want to share about history optional?

  • History as a subject is very engaging and interesting. It also helps a lot in prelims GS paper. However, it requires certain amount of dedication and time to score good marks. A good understanding of the subject helps in writing a good answer. Answer should be multidimensional along with proper incorporation of historiography. One should surely opt for it if they enjoy reading history.

Click here for Answer Sheet of Shailja [Rank 83, CSE- 2021]

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