Selfstudyhistory.com’s Interview of Lakshay Anand [Rank 101, CSE- 2021, History Optional]
Profile of the Candidate
|Rank in Civil Services Exam 2021||101|
|Total attempts in Civil Services Examination (including present one)||2|
|Medium for History Optional||English|
|Marks in History Optional in Present and Earlier Examinations (Mention marks in Paper I and II)||Paper I : 136
Paper II : 155
|Any past Work-experience||NA|
|Were you preparing full time or working and preparing?||Working and Preparing|
|Your place of preparation||Delhi|
|Details of other success and failure in competitive exams||Cleared SSC CGL (2019), UPSC CDS (2020), UGC JRF (2021)|
|Details of coaching/ test series/ study material of any coaching used for History Optional||Did not take any coaching, test series or study material from any institute except PYQ from SSH (selfstudyhistory.com).|
|Percentage marks in class X||91.20 %|
|Percentage marks in class XII||87.20%|
|Name of the subject in Graduation course and percentage marks||B. Tech Electrical Engineering, 62.5%|
|Name of college of graduation and place|
|Passing out year||2019|
|Post-graduation if any||M. A. History (Medieval India Specialization), Delhi University|
|Did your educational Background help in History Optional?||Yes|
Marksheet of CSE- 2021:
Tell us something about yourself.
- Hi! I’m Lakshay. An engineer by education, I’m a huge history lover! My hobbies include writing letters and poems, reading literature and learning new languages. My first preference is Indian Foreign Services.
Questions Related to History Optional
Why did you choose history as your optional subject?
- Since childhood, I was an avid history fan. History is a subject that I can study for hours without getting bored. Moreover, it was part of my strategy to score good in optional as well. Although the syllabus is extremely vast, it is quite predictable and static. Therefore, I thought why not the subject I love so much and hence, History.
Kindly mention positive and negative about the History Optional for those who want to take history optional.
- History, as an optional subject is surrounded by many myths. One of them is that it’s low scoring due to its subjectivity. Another one is its gigantic syllabus which is by far, the largest among all the subjects. However, as a history lover, I won’t call them “negatives” but challenges.
- The biggest positive of history is its predictability. The pattern of paper is same with repetition of questions. Further, it is static hence, less changing. The map question is objective and can boost your score, if prepared well.
Kindly mention booklist and sources which you followed for History Optional.
- Paper I : For the Map, I made map on my own using google and other internet sources. For the Ancient and Medieval India, I compiled the answers of all PYQs using SSH material chronologically.
- Paper II : Used PYQs of SSH to make notes. Read Bipin Chandra for Modern India and used internet for World History themes. I added historiography using my MA History notes for all both the papers.
In Paper I and II, you answered 3 questions from Part A or Part B?
- In Paper I, I attempted 3 questions from Part A that is, Ancient Indian History and in Paper II, I attempted 3 questions from Part A that is, Modern Indian History.
How did you prepare for Map Portion?
- It was the hardest to prepare for me. I bought blank graphs and filled around 30 of them using internet and books like RS Sharma and PYQ papers sites. One graph for each type of site. For example, one for all the paleolithic sites, one for all mesolithic and so on. Then I used to revise them every day for 1 hour chronologically. I added the content using standard history old NCERT books. I practiced around 25 maps before the actual exam and I felt confident after that.
How much time per day you used to give the history optional during your preparation (both before and after prelims)?
- I didn’t start history optional before prelims though I had already made notes to be read after prelims. After the prelims, I used to study history around 5 hours every day till the mains.
Did you do answer writing regularly? If yes, what amount of time you devoted to it and how did it help you?
- Yes, I used to write history answers every day for 2 hours for three months after the prelims. I couldn’t buy a test series due to financial problems but I had them checked with my MA professor. It helped me in forming and structuring my answers in a peculiar way. It also increased my handwriting speed. I could spot and identify sites on the map quite easily after practicing. Therefore, I suggest continuous and rigorous answer writing to every aspirant.
Did you join any test series? If yes, kindly name it? How did it benefit you?
- No, I didn’t join any test series.
Did you maintain self-notes? If yes, how did it help you?
- Yes, I did maintain self notes. They were my last minute harbour to revise all the important stuff especially the historiography when there was time crunch and pressure of other papers. They also helped me to retain things in a rhythmic manner and prevented so much content to mix up in my brain.
Have you solved previous years papers of history optional? Did it help you in the examination?
- Yes, I solved all the previous years questions of last 40 years. It indeed helped in the actual exam. In fact, almost half of the paper was a direct or indirect repetition of the previous year questions.
In your views, how the nature of questions asked in history optional changed in recent years?
- While we speak of Map, it’s continuously evolving. UPSC is asking newer type of sites such as Mosque, Monastary, Ivory sites, etc. each year. The way of asking is also changing, for instance, they can ask “Sohagura” as either an inscription or a PGW or a Neolithic site and the answer will remain the same.
- On the other hand, other questions are more or less similar with the way of asking them (language of the question) is changing. In this light, caring of the crucial words such as ‘critically analyse’, ‘explain’, etc. and to-the-point answers after understanding the ‘actual’ demand of the question is suggested.
Were you asked questions related to History in interview? If yes, kindly mention those.
Yes, I was asked many questions related to History by most of the board members. They are as follow :
- It’s often said that History repeats itself. Do you think that the current situation in Ukraine will be a repetition of World War II and how?
- As a student of history, do you think liberalism is dying in the world? If yes/no, then how? Give examples.
- Recently, there was large scale demolition of monuments across the globe so as to keep the good past and delete the bad past. As a history student, do you support such actions?
- Why was the UN created? Has it been successful in its goals?
- You can be a good historian one day then why do you want to be an IFS?
How did selfstudyhistory.com (SSH) benefitted you in your History Optional Preparation?
- SSH PYQ modules are the best I could find. They are compiled and structured beautifully. I memorized all the PYQs with solutions from SSH and they helped me to write answers to even those questions which I was unaware of.
Any specific thing you want to share about history optional?
- Yes. I want to say that it’s a HUGE MYTH that history is not scoring optional. If you love this subject, don’t think twice, choose it. If I can score good in history despite having a non-history background, anyone certainly can! All the very best.