Geography for UPSC – How to Prepare Geography for UPSC Prelims and Mains?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Geography for UPSC can be beneficial for aspirants preparing for the IAS exam as it overlaps with the GS Syllabus. One of the most popular optional subjects for the Civil Services exam is Geography. It is necessary to thoroughly study it because the knowledge of Geography is tested at all three levels of the exam – Prelims, Mains, and Interview. To prepare Geography for the UPSC Exam, one must first go through the complete syllabus of the subject.

In this article, we will be sharing the strategy to prepare Geography for UPSC 2023 Prelims and Mains, trend analysis of questions over the years, sources, approaches, and important areas that need to be covered in order to study Geography for UPSC exam.

Geography for UPSC

Geography is one of the most famous subjects of the UPSC Exam. The subject has its relevance at all three stages of CSE. Candidates preparing for the upcoming exam must revise each and every topic mentioned in the Geography Syllabus to easily answer all the questions.

The most important topics that one should cover while preparing for Geography for UPSC Prelims and Mains are:

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 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 Prepare Geography for UPSC Prelims and Mains, one needs to have an integrated understanding of the Prelims and 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 complete strategy to prepare Geography for the UPSC Civil Services exam including study material, best books, trend analysis, etc.

Why Choose Geography Optional for UPSC Exam?

It is up to each individual to decide which optional subject to choose for the Civil services exam. In addition to having distinct both academic and professional experiences, each person has particular strengths and shortcomings. A candidate must assess the advantages and disadvantages of each optional subject, and if the positives outweigh the negative aspects, he or she may choose that subject.

Geography is viewed as the best optional subject for the UPSC Exam. The topics under the Geography section include maps, diagrams, and mnemonics, which are easy to understand and memorize.

5 Pros of Taking Geography for UPSC

In both the UPSC Prelims and Mains, geography and general studies share a great deal of content. The pros of taking Geography Optional for UPSC are:

  • Not a lot of mugging is necessary. Since geography is a scientific subject, just conceptual understanding is required.
  • Geography also includes a lot of crossover with topics like environment, ecology, economics, and conservation due to the concerns being more dynamic and less static.
  • Understanding Geography can also help a lot in other GS papers, as well as the Essay Paper of the exam.
  • Geography is a topic that gets high marks since, in contrast to humanities courses, there is little room for interpretation.
  • Additionally, you may utilize diagrams, flowcharts, etc. to gain better marks.

Cons of Taking Geography Optional for UPSC Mains

One of the foundational and crucial subjects for UPSC CSE preparation is geography. It is necessary to thoroughly study it because it will be questioned in each of the three parts of the exam. Prelims and Mains topics frequently overlap, thus it’s crucial to study everything thoroughly. The cons of taking Geography Optional for UPSC are:

  • The most significant drawback of geography is its extensive syllabus.
  • In comparison to several other optional subjects of UPSC, there is fierce competition in Geography Optional.
  • The content needs to be frequently updated with the latest happenings and Current Affairs.

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

Study Material for Geography UPSC

It is important to understand that Current Affairs or Environment & Ecology are directly linked to Geography and geographical concepts. Seeing the UPSC Exam Pattern, it can be said that the Union Public Service Commission 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 Sources to Study Geography for UPSC
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 and other NCERT Books.

Geography Strategy for UPSC

Even though reading 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 Geography Syllabus in their entirety and stick to them.
  • Refer to UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to get an idea of what kind of questions are being asked on 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 short notes and this should be used for your further revisions.
  • Solve practice papers, and attempt IAS mock Tests 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 the UPSC exam must be supplemented with the atlas and current affairs topics 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

Important Areas to Cover in UPSC Geography

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 Preparation for UPSC Prelims

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, significant 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.

Success Rate of Geography Optional for UPSC

Geography is the most popular subject among the applicants’ optional subjects according to data on the UPSC website. According to patterns from recent years, more than 3,000 applicants choose geography as an optional subject each year.

In the 2017 UPSC Exam, Pratham Kaushik received the highest marks in the geography optional. The Geography Optional Topper received 327 out of 500 marks. Junaid Ahmed (AIR-3) came in second with the highest marks in Geography Optional in the 2018 Examination.

Every year, the success rate of Geography Optional is increasing. This is so because there is no dearth of material for preparation and candidates, with the help of Current Affairs topics, present more dynamic answers.

UPSC Articles
Difference Between Physical and Human Geography Geography Optional Books for UPSC
History for UPSC Current Affairs for UPSC
UPSC Zoology Syllabus Psychology Optional UPSC Mains
Economics for UPSC World History for UPSC
Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium