Categories’s Interview of Janhavi Sathe [Rank 127, CSE- 2022, 302 Marks in History Optional]’s Interview of Janhavi Sathe [Rank 127, CSE- 2022, 302 Marks in History Optional]

Profile of the Candidate

Name Janhavi Sathe
Rank in Civil Services Exam 2022 127
Roll Number 6702786
Age 22
Total attempts in Civil Services Examination (including present one) 1 (2nd given on 28/05/23)
Optional Subject History
Medium for History Optional English
Marks in History Optional in Present and Earlier Examinations (Mention marks in Paper I and II) 153, 149
Home town/village Thane, Maharashtra
Any past Work-experience NA
Were you preparing full time or working and preparing? Preparing full-time
Your place of preparation Thane, Maharashtra
Details of other success and failure in competitive exams
Details of coaching/ test series/ study material of any coaching used for History Optional 6 tests, 4 sectional, 2 full
Educational Background
Percentage marks in class X 95.4%
Percentage marks in class XII 95.4%
Name of the subject in Graduation course and percentage marks BA History, O grade
Name of college of graduation and place Ramnarain Ruia Autonomous

College, University of Mumbai

Passing out year 2021
Post-graduation if any NA
Did your educational Background help in History Optional? Yes


(1) Tell us something about yourself. 

My name is Janhavi Sathe, I am 22 and this was my first attempt. I am very passionate about history and love reading. I would like for the civil services to be my calling and not only my career and I am very honoured to be serving my nation and its people very soon.

Questions Related to History Optional

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

I have graduated in History and naturally thought I’d have an advantage in a subject I’m passionate about.

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


The syllabus generally overlaps with GS-1, both Mains and Prelims, so it acts as revision. If one has a natural bend towards the subject, it is interesting as well. Formulating a strategy is also easier as there are 4 even breakups in the optional papers with ancient, medieval, modern and world. Source material  is reliable and time-tested for optional.


Can become content-heavy, map work is unique and so can be a barrier to scoring well, compulsory questions in optional papers can definitely be tricky, answer-writing is a crucial art one has to master.

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

Ancient: A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India by Upinder Singh, Old NCERT by RS Sharma (for Prelims focus), Early India by Romila Thapar (selectively for better answer content)

Medieval: A History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra, college notes.

Modern: Plassey to Partition by Shekhar Bandopadhyay, India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra, India after Independence by Bipin Chandra, Spectrum (Prelims focus)

World: Norman Lowe

Also referred to content for topics not covered well in books.

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

Paper I- 2 questions from Part A, 1 from Part B

Paper II – 2 questions from Part A, 1 from Part B

(6) How did you prepare for Map Portion?

I relied on mapping material as well as sites that had been in news, newly discovered or being developed. For eg: in the previous year Kanaganahalli had been in the news, and the site had come for identification.

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

Before prelims, I had covered optional thoroughly and had made notes for ancient and modern respectively. I made it a point to practise previous year questions of the past 6-7 years. After prelims, I relied on revision of my notes and answers, and focussed on writing tests.

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

Answer writing must be practised right from the beginning of the preparation. At least two-three answers from optional daily should do. It helped me immensely as I had a solid base and then post prelims I only had to work on bettering my structure and timing.

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

I joined the SSH test series of 4 sectional and 2 full tests. I focussed more on the sectional papers as they covered more syllabus and helped me understand my strong and weak areas better with regard to attempting/avoiding topics in papers.

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

Notes-making is better in the long run for revision and helps retention. Definitely advisable, especially for areas you want to focus on.

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

Yes, PYQs are instrumental in understanding the nature of questions and the books one needs to read.

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

In my opinion, they have remained consistent.

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

Yes, my interview focussed a lot on my optional, especially on Maratha history, as that had been a subject in college and I belong to Maharashtra. Some of these were:

Difference between Ranade and Ram Mohan Roy’s social reform techniques, similarities between Mahatma Phule and Mahatma Gandhi, difference between Rajput and Maratha states and forts, Maratha military techniques and strategies and the recent changes in NCERT history syllabus.

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

The content was reinforcing, in particular for world and medieval history and map work. The test series were extremely helpful and the checking helped give me direction and vastly improved my content and structure. I credit them immensely with a great optional score.

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

Make sure the subject keeps you engrossed and interested and revise thoroughly with adequate practice.

Click here for Answer Sheets of Janhavi Sathe [Rank 127, 302 Marks in History Optional, IAS CSE 2022]

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