How to Prepare Geography for UPSC: Geography Strategy for IAS Prelims and Mains

By Balaji

Updated on: February 26th, 2023

How to Prepare Geography for UPSC Exam is one of the most essential questions for the candidates when they start preparing for the UPSC Exam. Geography is an important part of the UPSC Syllabus, both in Prelims, and Mains. It is an interesting subject and is unavoidable since it holds a vital place at all the stages of the IAS Exam.

In this article, we will be sharing the Strategy to Prepare Geography for the UPSC Exam, Trend Analysis of Geography over the years, sources, approaches, and important areas that need to be covered in order to study geography for the UPSC Exam.

Table of content

  • 1. How to Prepare Geography for UPSC? (more)
  • 2. Trend Analysis of Geography in UPSC Prelims (more)
  • 3. How to Study Geography for UPSC? (more)
  • 4. Geography Strategy for UPSC (more)
  • 5. Best Books to Study Geography for UPSC (more)
  • 6. How to Cover Geography – Important Areas (more)
  • 7. Geography UPSC Strategy – Importance of Maps (more)

How to Prepare 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. 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 study Geography for UPSC 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 detailed Geography strategy for UPSC 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. Year Number of Questions Asked
1. 2011 11
2. 2012 12
3. 2013 9
4. 2014 12
5. 2015 14
6. 2016 7
7. 2017 7
8. 2018 8
9. 2019 14
10. 2020 13
11. 2021 10
12. 2022 12

How to Study Geography for UPSC?

It is important to understand that Current Affairs or Environment & Ecology have a direct linkage to Geography and 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:

Topic Source
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
Maps Orient Blackswan or Oxford School Atlas

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

Geography Strategy for UPSC

Even though preparing geography for UPSC Exam is fascinating, some individuals dislike it because there are so many facts and concepts to learn. Many aspects need to be kept in mind while preparing a strategy for Geography.

We offer you a wealth of advice that will enable you to master this subject while having fun!

  • 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 an idea of what kind of questions are being asked by the UPSC on any topics and then do the preparation accordingly.
  • In the second reading of the Geography Books, start making short, crisp notes, along with mnemonics.
  • In the third reading, refer to your Geography 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 to Study Geography for 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 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 the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

How to Cover Geography – Important Areas

The Geography Syllabus 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

Geography UPSC Strategy – Importance of Maps

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
  • IslandsAndaman 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.

UPSC Notes
Drainage System of India Forest Rights Act 2006
Tropical Deciduous Forest Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats
Thermal Power Plant in India Minerals in India
Rabi Crops and Kharif Crops Mountain Passes in India
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