Strategy to Prepare Geography for UPSC

By K Balaji|Updated : September 14th, 2022

Strategy to Prepare Geography for UPSC is essential when the candidate is preparing for UPSC Exam with full dedication. Geography is an important part of the UPSC Syllabus, both Prelims, and Mains. It is an interesting subject and is unavoidable since it holds a vital place at all the stages of the UPSC Exam.

In this article, we will be sharing the Strategy to Prepare Geography for IAS Exam, Trend Analysis of Geography in UPSC, Sources, Approach, and Important areas that need to be covered in order to prepare Geography.

Table of Content

Geography for UPSC

Geography is an important part of the UPSC Syllabus and each year a considerable number of questions are asked both in UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains Exam. Geography as a subject has a direct linkage with other subjects like Environment and Ecology, Disaster & Management, Agriculture, etc. Thus it becomes even more important to have a good understanding of the subject. To cover Geography for Prelims and Mains, one needs to have an integrated understanding of the UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus 

Many aspirants find geography difficult due to its vast nature, facts and figures, and sometimes the monotonous approach. In this article, we are providing you with a Strategy to Prepare Geography for UPSC and important areas to be focused on while preparing Geography for the IAS Exam.

Trend Analysis of Geography in UPSC Prelims

From the trend analysis concluded through the UPSC Exam Analysis, it is clear that each year a considerable number of questions are asked from Geography in UPSC Prelims.

S. No.


Number of Questions Asked





































Sources to Study Geography for UPSC 

It is important to understand that Current Affairs or Environment & Ecology have a direct linkage to Geography and the geographical concepts. Seeing the UPSC Exam Pattern, it can be said that UPSC has this habit of combining concepts of different subjects to frame a question to check the applied knowledge of the candidate.

To cover Geography for UPSC Exam, a candidate must go through the following resources:



Physical Geography

Class XI NCERT (Fundamentals of Physical Geography)

Certificate Physical and Human Geography, GC Leong

Indian Geography

Class IX and X: Contemporary India- Part I & II

Class XI: India Physical Environment

Human Geography

NCERT Class XII: Fundamentals of Human Geography

NCERT Class XII: India – People and Economy


Orient Blackswan or Oxford School Atlas

These sources should be complemented with the basic UPSC Books, along with the NCERT Books for UPSC.

Approach to Cover Geography for IAS Exam

  • Read the UPSC Syllabus thoroughly and understand it.
  • Shortlist the books that cover the syllabus in their entirety and stick to them.
  • Refer to UPSC Previous Year Questions to get the idea of what kind of questions are being asked by UPSC on any topics and then do the preparation accordingly.
  • In the second reading of the Geography Books for UPSC, start making short, crisp notes.
  • In the third reading, refer to your short notes and this should be used for your further revisions.
  • Solve practice papers, and attempt mocks to access your level of preparation for the Prelims.

Best Books for Geography UPSC

Geography Books for UPSC are used for the entire selection process for the IAS Exam as every stage includes Geography topics. Geography is a major part of the GS Paper 1 of the CSE Prelims and for IAS Mains, it is covered under the GS Paper 1 Syllabus. Every geography book for UPSC must be supplemented with the atlas and current events to present your understanding of a concept.

The basic books that one needs to cover are:

  • Go Cheng Leong – Certificate Physical & Human Geography Indian geography.

  • School Atlas – Orient Black Swan.

  • Physical Geography by Savindra Singh

  • Geomorphology by Savindra Singh

  • Physical Geography - Made Simple, Rupa Publisher

  • Geography of India By Majid Husain

  • Human Geography by Majid Husain

  • India Year Book, published by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

Important Areas in Geography for UPSC Mains

The Geography for Mains can be divided into Physical, Human, and Indian Geography. These can be further divided into subtopics. Here’s a detailed list of sub-topics covered under the three broad topics.

Physical Geography for UPSC 

Physical Geography is an important part of the UPSC Exam. Every year, many questions are asked in this section. The topics included in this section are:

  • Geomorphology
  • Climatology
  • Oceanography
  • Biogeography
  • Environmental Geography

Human Geography for UPSC 

Human Geography is an essential part of the UPSC Mains. Every year, many questions are asked from this section, either directly or indirectly. The topics included in this section are:

  • Perspectives in Human Geography
  • Economic Geography
  • Population and Settlement Geography
  • Regional Planning
  • Models, theories, and laws in Human geography

Indian Geography for UPSC

Indian Geography is very essential. Understanding the Geography of India will help the candidate, after selection to understand his/her work field better and formulate policies accordingly. The topics included in this section are:

  • Physical Setting
  • Resources
  • River System
  • Industry: Evolution of industries
  • Transport, Communication, and Trade
  • Cultural Setting: Historical Perspective of Indian Society
  • Settlements
  • Regional Development and Planning
  • Political Aspects 
  • Contemporary Issues

>> Read the detailed Geography Notes for UPSC here

Importance of Maps for UPSC Exam

Seeing the past trends, it can be concluded that maps do occupy an essential role in the Geography section of the curriculum. Questions are asked from static, dynamic, and Current Affairs parts.

Static Topics for Maps:

  • Rivers and their tributaries - right and left bank, major cities, dams, national parks on these rivers, glaciers, states that rivers flow through, etc.
  • Natural vegetation and Minerals - types of vegetation, soil, rainfall, etc
  • Mountain ranges and Passes - the Himalayas, Western ghats, eastern ghats, Northeast rang, etc
  • Islands - Andaman and Nicobar, Channels, etc
  • Neighbors - countries with which we share a border in order of length, areas of border disputes, like Lipulekh, Galwan valley, etc
  • States and Lines like Tropic of Cancer - know which states shares border with which states

Current Affairs:

For Current Affairs, along with the newspaper, one should keep the Atlas to mark places in the news are interlink them with the static and dynamic portion of the syllabus.

☛ Check:- Best YouTube Channel to Prepare Current Affairs


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FAQs about Strategy to Prepare Geography for UPSC

  • To prepare for Geography for UPSC Prelims, one should first refer to the UPSC Syllabus to understand the demand of the UPSC Prelims. Post this, resources should be referred such as the UPSC Books, Geography Books for UPSC and the NCERT Books for UPSC. This will form a solid base for further strengthening the concepts.

  • Geography for UPSC is an important topic for the UPSC Exam. To cover Geography extensively, one should refer to the NCERT Books for UPSC on Geography, along with G.C. Leong, complimented with any standard Atlas. These resources are more than sufficient for studying Geography for UPSC.

  • The important topics of Geography in IAS Exam are basically from three different portions, namely- Physical Geography, Human Geography and Indian Geography.

  • Yes, indeed. The NCERT Books for UPSC on Geography are enough for UPSC Mains if one prepares through them diligently. The preparation should be complemented with solving mocks and practicing Previous Year Questions simultaneously. Map practice is also very important.

  • Yes, world geography is an essential part of the Prelims 2022 and of UPSC Prelims in general. For preparation for World Geography, it should be done in accordance with the topics of Current Affairs.

  • The 11 and 12 NCERT cover UPSC Geography in depth. But, to form a solid foundation, it is always suggested to start with the class 6 Ncert and then move further. It will help in understanding the topics better and getting conceptual clarity. If one wants, they can refer to books written by G.C. Leong and Majid Hussain to understand topics better. Otherwise, NCERTs are sufficient for Geography.

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