How to Prepare & score good marks in Geography Optional for UPSC Mains

If you want to score good marks in Geography in UPSC mains then you have you should have a scientific approach to your preparation. As geography subject comprises of locations, climate, and theories and mostly about the topographies, so you have a good understanding of these concepts.

It is advised not to choose this subject if you don’t like and just want to select this subject for scoring good marks.

There are two papers, first paper comprises of World Geography and the second paper comprises of Geography of India. The first paper deals with the theories and different process and the second paper concerns about the application of the theories and processes of the first paper concerning India.

For knowing and getting your basics clear you can consult NCERT books Class XI and Class XII, and if you require them to know more then you can consult NCERT books from Class VI – X.

The syllabus is huge and all the topics require in-depth knowledge about them.

Spectrum Geography by Rajiv Ahir IPS can be followed for few topics.

Structure of paper I and paper II:

Paper I:

There have been lots of changes in the syllabus over the time. So the candidate has to study the whole syllabus and also put emphasis on making short notes. So the candidate should at least have an idea about all the topics though in-depth knowledge can be focused on selected topics. Once you have the idea about the topic then it’s easy to frame the answer, at least it’s better than completely getting zero. Afterall, something is better than nothing.

Paper II:

There is no direct questions asked in this paper, but all the questions are asked based on India.

As the answers are detailed, analytical so the candidate should possess good understanding about the topics. Everyone will know the answer, but to have an upper hand than others it’s important that the answers should be accompanied with diagrams, maps etc.

You can follow Kurukshetra and Yojana as these will guide you how to write geography answers.

Inculcate a habit of drawing maps with free hand and start marking the different attributes like- soils, rainfall, agriculture, weather etc with different colored pens, once you are familiar with this , the t=you can easily draw the map along with your answers.

Put maps in your study rooms, and try to build in the relation between the different topics so that you get a clear concept of your syllabus.

Books and References:

Paper I:

  • Geomorphology: Savindra Singh and Strahler & Strahler
  • Climatology: D.S.Lal
  • Oceanography: Vatal and Sharma
  • Biogeography: Savindra Singh, Rupa made simple
  • Environment: ICSE books of 9th and 10th Class
  • Human and population Geography: Rupa made simple, Leong and Morgan

Paper II:

  • Physical Geography – Savindra Singh
  • Human Geography – Majid Hussain
  • Models and Theories – Majid Hussain (best book for diagrams)
  • Indian Geography – Khullar (Unit 1- study thoroughly. Unit 2 -avoid. Unit 3 read chapters-water resources, multipurpose projects)
  • Dictionary by K Sidhartha
  • case studies
  • Newspapers and Yojana


How to prepare:

If you want to seriously crack UPSC, you have to start your preparations before one year from the date of the commencement of the prelims. The first step is to prepare the strategy which has to be followed to complete the syllabus in time. Concentrate on the topics and gets the concept clear so that you can easily write the answers in your own words.

While writing your answers, you can write short answers but these should be complemented with related diagrams and maps.

Always choose the question which have more diagrams rather than content, because there are chances that you will get more marks in the answers with maximum diagrams. The answers are long and detailed so do practice to write answers while preparing for this subject.

Calculate the time allotted and be sure that you complete the full paper in the stipulated timings. You have to answer the paper in 3 hours so you get 9 minutes for 15 marks question.

To prepare the  answer writing part, you can pick up any question from the previous year question paper and start answering it and then see in how much time you can complete the answer, but remember in hurry to complete the answer in time don’t lower the quality of your answer.

If you make a habit of writing 3-4 answers daily then you will see that you can write good quality answer in less time, this answer writing habit will not only help you in scoring good marks in geography but also will help to fetch you good marks in other GS papers.

You also have to master the mapping questions and so follow the above trend in this also and fragment your timing alteast one hour to practice to draw maps with different bifurcations for ex-River, climate, agriculture, locations etc.

If you practice daily then you will master it.

One you are starting to prepare for the second paper is more conscious as you have to be aware of the current affairs and surely prepare the topics which are relating the daily scenarios which are relevant with your syllabus topics.

Read the newspaper daily and start jotting down the topics which you think are important and related to geography. Start making notes on them by researching the internet.


Hope this article will be helpful for all the UPSC aspirants.


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