UPSC (IAS) Prelims 2021: How to Study Modern History Syllabus Effectively?

Modern History is a vital subject in the UPSC Civil Services Prelims Exam. If approached in a correct manner, the subject can help you get through the Prelims cut-off. In this article, check important steps that can be followed while preparing for the Modern History syllabus for UPSC IAS Prelims 2021. 

UPSC IAS (Prelims) 2021: How to Study Modern History Syllabus
UPSC IAS (Prelims) 2021: How to Study Modern History Syllabus

UPSC Civil Services Prelims Exam 2021 has been rescheduled by the Commission for October 4. With a vast prescribed syllabus, aspirants need to strategically utilize this time to revise all the subjects and not panic last minute. Indian History is an important part of the UPSC syllabus for both Prelims and Mains exams. As per the UPSC syllabus, Indian History can be divided into four categories: 

The recent trend shows that at least 15-20% weightage is given to History in the Prelims exam. The key here is to work smart with a tailored strategy for all the categories. An analysis of previous year papers shows that out of total questions asked from History, a total of 45-50% are asked from the Modern History syllabus. In this article, we will discuss effective ways to approach the Modern History syllabus to score well in the prelims exam. 

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Also Check: Topic-wise Important Questions on Modern Indian History

Before beginning with the steps to approach the exam it is necessary to know the syllabus covered under Modern India. The Modern India syllabus has various sub-parts:

The emergence of Europeans.

Regional Kingdoms.

Social-Religious movements.

Governors-General and their reign.

The British administration and Economic policies.

Peasants and Tribal Revolts.

Role of Congress and Freedom struggle

To approach each sub-part it is necessary to understand the syllabus and the type of questions asked in the previous year’s papers. 

UPSC (IAS) Prelims 2021: Subject-wise Study Material for Complete Preparation

Revise NCERT Textbooks Class VI-XII

NCERT textbooks play an important role in understanding and constructing the base for the Modern History subject. The Modern Indian History syllabus can be studied from the NCERT of Class 6th to Class 12th. Also, the aspirants can read the Class 12th Tamil Nadu Board NCERT to better understand the evasion and Impact of Europeans in Southern India. 

How to Study Revolts and Movements in Modern India?

Often aspirants face problems in memorizing the revolts and the events associated with them. It is essential to note that while reading a particular movement or revolt the following key areas should be focused on:

The purpose of movement/revolt

Reasons - why and how the movement began

Consequences - What were the social, economic and political results of the movement

Important personality/Newspaper/Books associated with the movement

This will help in memorizing not just the facts related to the particular revolt but will also help in framing answers for the Mains GS Paper I. 

How to approach Social and Religious Reforms in Modern India?

This is another important section from where both analytical and factual questions have and can be asked in the UPSC Prelims examination.

The area to be focused on in this section are: 

Organizations, their founders, and popular leaders involved.


Important newspapers, books, or any literary work like Samvad Kaumudi by Raja Ram Mohan Roy.

Analysis of their impact on the freedom struggle

Acts and Committees for Modern History

This is a scoring area and a certain target area from where the questions are often asked. All significant acts like Regulating act to act of the Government of India, 1935 must be carefully read. All important committees such as Macaulay's to Hunter committee must be learned by heart.

How to Memorize Chronology of Events in Modern India?

Rather than focusing on each event's year, remember key landmark events and their year to relate the events of preceding and succeeding years. Focus on events' connection (succeeding and proceeding) and connect the dots (implications). For example - Gandhi’s Arrival in India> Champaran > Khilafat Movement > Non-cooperation Movement > Visit by Prince of Wales > Chauri Chaura and so on. 

UPSC Civil Services Exam: Important Topics from Modern History

Important Books to Refer for Modern History for UPSC Prelims 2021

With UPSC's dynamic pattern no single book is enough. The smart strategy act will be to get through with basic static areas and keep track of current issues that could then be mapped to the modern India syllabus. 

Important books to refer other than the NCERTs 

History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra (Not India's Freedom Struggle) or 

'Modern India' by Sumit Sarkar 

Spectrum's 'Modern India'

Workout all the previous questions to give yourself additional knowledge and know the focus area. Repeated Revision is the only key to ace all the areas of Modern History for the UPSC Civil Services Exam. 

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