Geography is a very popular choice of optional paper among IAS Aspirants-specifically among those who are from a science or engineering background. This is one of those subjects which is scoring and at the same time have different technical aspects which appeal to candidates with a science background. Moreover, the syllabus for optional geography, prelims, and the Mains coincide thus making it easier to plan your study schedule. IAS exam has a huge syllabus- this is especially true when you have to study each and every section in-depth for the optional paper. But smart studying instead of rigorously studying will pay off more and help you to stand a better chance in securing a position in the final merit list.
The success rate of taking geography optional has been observed to be 7.2-5.8 % since 2012. There are four toppers within the top 60 in 2017 who had geography optional, 4 from 2016 and 2014 as well. It can be concluded that geography has helped many aspirants secure an extraordinary rank in the IAS exam and hence, considered one of the most scoring subjects to be chosen.
Every topic in geography optional is covered in the following books. For basic reading and clearing the concepts, you can always rely on the NCERT books. But for more in-depth preparation, you will need to invest in at least 3-4 of the books and notes provided in the table below:
|Physical Geography||Savindra Singh|
|Environmental Geography||Savindra Singh|
|NCERT Class 11 and 12||NCERT|
|Regional Planning in India||Chand and Puri|
|Climatology||D S Lal|
|Models and Theories||Majid Hussain|
|Fundamentals of Geographical Thought||Sudipta Adhikari|
|Cities, Urbanisation & Urban Systems||K Siddhartha|
|Human Geography||Majid Hussain|
|Classnotes and Test Series||Shabbir Sir|
|India A Comprehensive Geography||D R Khullar|
|500+ notes||Himanshu Sir|
To begin the preparation, NCERT is an excellent source. They are easy to read and particularly helpful to aspirants who are completely new to the subject and have taken it as optional since it is considered scoring.
First and foremost, divide the syllabus for both the papers such that you can cover it thoroughly and in-depth in 4-months’ time. This means, your optional paper preparation has to begin right before the prelims start and should be in parallel to your prelims preparation.
Dedicate the first month to the most important topics from physical geography. The following are the topics to cover during this time and also the methods that you can follow:
Prepare only the topics which are specifically mentioned in the syllabus. Pay maximum attention to concepts of geomorphic cycles and landscape development. Also study the slope development, erosion, and its causes. You will find numerous diagrams depicting these topics pictorially which you must practice as they can be very substantial for making your answers richer.
There are very limited topics from this section that come for the exam and hence focusing on the material you find in online notes will be sufficient. For climatology specifically, refer the book by D S Lal which is very detail-oriented and hence have enough materials for preparing commendable notes.
While preparing topics from this section, specifically focus on preparing topics related to ecology is details. You will get a number of questions that are based on the current affairs related to social forestry and environmental management. Use the internet to make important points and stay updated with the latest information on these topics as well as get in-depth of the basic concepts.
Understand the chronology of the evolution of geographical thoughts. Prepare the theories, definitions, terminologies, along with a number of examples. Memorize relevant original quotes by Hartshorne, Fevre, and Semple along with their theories. Topics like regional languages, religion, cultural regions and HDI are essential and you have to understand how they can be linked with the geographical thought to acquire maximum marks in this paper.
The NCERT class 11 and 12 books are particularly useful for preparing these sections. While preparing notes and answers, make it a habit to site the world map and examples in support of your perspective. For this, you must have a thorough understanding of the world map.
This topic is very scoring and hence a crucial one that should be attentively studied. Prepare the definitions and have a thorough understanding of terms like conurbation, metropolitan region, slums, satellite towns, etc. Also, research to find relevant statistics that are updated and can be used in your answers. Population as social capital, social well-being and quality of life should be specifically prepared with utmost care.
For IAS, the answers should be substantial and demonstrate your conceptual understanding of geographical theories and its implementation for the betterment of the country. The following tips will help you to write better answers for the exam and also ensure it is more scoring:
Geography has a vast expanse but with smart planning, you can study it in an organized manner and hence complete the entire syllabus thoroughly. The key is to start studying at the earliest. We hope, by following the tips shared above, you can easily ace this exam and qualify IAS with flying colors in your optional paper.
*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.