IAS Prelims 2014:How to prepare Ancient History

IAS Prelims 2014 exam is going to be conducted on 24 August, 2014.

Created On: Feb 24, 2014 18:10 IST

IAS Prelims 2014 Exam is going to be conducted on 24 August, 2014. The process for this year’s IAS examination will start with the notification by UPSC for the Prelims Exam on 17 May, 2014. This means that barely 6 months are left for the exam and the candidates have to gear up in order to complete the Syllabus in time. The exam consists of two papers: General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II, popularly known as CSAT.

Ancient History forms a very integral component of the GS Paper I within the Indian History Section. This is because 5-6 questions are regularly asked in the exam from this section which makes it very essential to prepare it very well. The candidates frequently find some problems while preparing this section. First problem is the initial inertia that they experience for studying Ancient History. This is because of two major reasons. First, the candidates think that as only 4-5 questions would be asked from Ancient History, it is not indispensable to cover it for the exam. Second, many candidates find the section highly boring and cannot understand why they should study it for becoming a Civil Servant.

This is for the candidates’ information that 4-5 questions can make a lot of difference in the exam and hence the section can’t be neglected. And studying the Ancient History section is very important to become a Civil Servant as you can’t understand the problems and prospects of an area without understanding the History of that area.
Another major problem is that the candidates find the details of this section very hard to memorise and remember.

Let us see how to prepare for the Ancient History section.

  • First of all, the candidate needs to know which books should be studied for this section. The candidate must read NCERT class VI (Our Pasts-I) and old History NCERT class XI or new NCERT Class XII book for Ancient History. This should be sufficient for the Ancient History section.
  • To get a point wise illustration of various events and details, you can refer  standard books.
  • Take a thorough look at the previous years’ questions in order to get an idea of what types of questions are asked in the exam. As you read a chapter for the first time, mark the important and hard-to-remember points.
  • To remember the things better, make your own notes in a point-wise manner simultaneously while reading any topic. Also try to incorporate tables and flowcharts in your notes in order to make them interesting and facilitate easy and quick revision.
  • The candidates should keep their focus on the areas that are frequently asked in the exam like Indus Valley Civilisation, Pre history that includes Stone age, Copper Age and Bronze age, Buddhism, Jainism, only to name a few.
  • As you might find the Ancient History part a little monotonous and boring, try to make a picture in your mind and understand the things in the form of a story. This would also help you retain the details for a longer time.

As you are done with making notes from all the topics under the section, try to do at least two to three revisions of your notes before taking the Civil Services Preliminary examination. As you are done with all this, you will be able to tackle almost all the questions from Ancient History section.

Some previous year Questions and their Answer.


Q 1. In the context of cultural history of India, a pose in dance and dramatics called 'Tribhanga' has been a favourite of Indian artists from ancient times till today. Which one of the following statements best describes this pose?

(a) One leg is bent and the body is slightly but oppositely curved at waist and neck
(b) Facial expressions, hand gestures and make-up are combined to symbolize certain epic or historic characters
(c) Movements of body, face and hands are used to express oneself or to tell a story
(d) A little smile, slightly curved waist and certain hand gestures are emphasized to express the feelings of love or eroticism


Q 2. With reference to the history of philosophical thought in India, consider the following statements regarding Sankhya school:
1. Sankhya does not accept the theory of rebirth or transmigration of soul.
2. Sankhya holds that it is the self-knowledge that leads to liberation and not any exterior influence or agent.

Which of the statements given above is /are correct?
(a) 1only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q 3. Some Buddhist rock-cut caves are called Chaityas, while the others are called Viharas. What is the difference between the two?

(a)Vihara is a place of worship, while Chaitya is the dwelling place of the monks
(b)Chaitya is a place of worship, while Vihara is the dwelling place of the monks
(c) Chaitya is the stupa at the far end of the cave, while Vihara is the hall axial to it
(d) There is no material difference between the two


Q 4. With reference to the guilds (Shreni) of ancient India that played a very important role in the country's economy, which of the following statements is/are correct?
1. Every guild was registered with the central authority of the State and the king was the chief Administrative authority on them.
2. The wages, rules of work, standards and prices were fixed by the guild.
3. The guild had judicial powers over its own members.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below :
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3



Q 1. With reference to the history of ancient India, which of the following was/were common to both Buddhism and Jainism?

1. Avoidance of extremities of penance and enjoyment
2. Indifference to the authority of the Vedas
3. Denial of efficacy of rituals
Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3


Q 2. The Nagara, the Dravida and the Vesara are the

(a) three main racial groups of the Indian subcontinent
(b) three main linguistic divisions into which the languages of India can be classified
(c) three main styles of Indian temple architecture
(d) three main musical Gharanas prevalent in India


Q 3. Lord Buddha's image is sometimes shown with the hand gesture called' Bhumisparsha Mudra'. It symbolizes

(a) Buddha's calling of the Earth to watch over Mara and to prevent Mara from disturbing his meditation
(b) Buddha's calling of the Earth to witness his purity and chastity despite the temptations of Mara
(c) Buddha's reminder to his followers that they all arise from the earth and family dissolve into the Earth, and thus this life is transitory
(d) Both the statement (a) and (b) are correct in this context


Q 4. The religion of early Vedic Aryans was primarily of

(a) Bhakti
(b) image worship and Yajnas
(c) worship of nature and Yajnas
(d) worship of nature and Bhakti



Q 1. India maintained its early cultural contacts and trade links with Southeast Asia across the Bay of Bengal. For this pre-eminence of early maritime history of Bay of Bengal, which of the following could be the most convincing explanation/explanations?

(a) As compared to other countries, India had a better strip-building technology in ancient and medieval times
(b) The rulers of southern India always patronized traders, Brahmin priests and Buddhist monks in this context
(c) Monsoon winds across the Bay of Bengal facilitated the Sea Voyages
(d) Both (a) and (b) are convincing explanations in this context

Answer. d

Q 2. The Jain philosophy holds that the world is ‘created 'and maintained by

(a) Universal Law
(b) Universal Truth
(c) Universal Faith
(d) Universal Soul

Answer. a

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