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IAS Prelims 2020 Strategy for Geography

Updated On -

May 27, 2020

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Sudeshna Bhar

Exams Prepmaster

UPSC Prelims is already knocking on the doors of every UPSC candidate and without geography, preparation for UPSC Prelims would be incomplete. Geography is a crucial paper of General Studies Paper-I of UPSC Prelims as well as IAS Mains. Most of the candidates find this subject interesting due to its theoretical and practical approach towards the world.

If you are a candidate for UPSC Prelims and don’t find geography very appealing, there is no need to worry about it. Here we are providing a complete guideline which will definitely help you to prepare for Geography in a beneficial way.

Check IAS Prelims 2020 Strategy for History

Highlights of Geography

  • There will be 100 questions in UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper I having 2 marks for each question.
  • Averagely from this section, 11% of questions come each year from Geography.
  • Geography is divided into 2 parts: Indian Geography and World Geography.
  • Proper syllabus plays a vital role in Geography Preparation.
  • Environment and Ecology is a different part of Geography.
  • Geography questions often depend on climate changes and natural calamity also.
  • Relate your geography preparation with Environment and Ecology.
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Step-by-step Strategies to Prepare Geography for UPSC Prelims 2020

No matter you are a student of technical subjects or non-technical subjects, Geography is such a subject that every candidate can relate to. Do not hop into studying whatever you find on geography. UPSC Prelims is one of the toughest exams, so you must be careful while taking any step.

Check IAS Prelims 2020 Strategy for GS Economics

Why Geography is an important Section UPSC Prelims Exam?

Aspirants sometimes think that environment and Geography is the same thing, but if you ask a professional about it, they always deny. Geography should be the first step before preparing for the environment or ecology. Here is a table which will show you the weightage of geography in each UPSC Prelims Exam of the past 5 years:

Years Marks
2019 28
2018 8
2017 14
2016 14
2015 24
2014 20

Syllabus of Geography for UPSC Prelims 2020

Read the syllabus thoroughly and remember all the topics. It is like the light-house of your preparation boat. Basically the Syllabus of Geography for UPSC Prelims is divided into two parts: World Geography and Indian Geography. These two can also be divided into 3 other components:

  1. World Geography - Physical, Social and Economic Geography
  2. Indian Geography - Physical, Social and Economic Geography

It is important to know the essential sub-categories also to get a complete understanding of the total syllabus as well as answer the questions of UPSC Prelims General Studies Paper - 1. It is hard to find out the proper syllabus of Geography of the Prelims Exam. That’s why we are providing a full syllabus to you for better preparation:

Must Read: How to read a newspaper for IAS exam

Category Sub-Category Important Topics
Indian Geography Basics of India
  • Location, latitude, longitude, time zone, etc.
  • Neighbors of India
  • Important straits
  • States and their position
  • States with international boundaries
Physical features
  • The Himalayas – geological formation, climate, vegetation, soil, biodiversity, physiographic divisions, major passes, significance
  • The Great North Indian Plains – geological formation, physiographic divisions, climate, vegetation, soil, biodiversity, significance
  • Peninsular Plateau – geological formation, Central Highlands, Deccan Plateau, Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats
  • Indian Desert
  • Coastal plains and islands
River systems Himalayan rivers, Peninsular rivers, River basins, Regional development and planning, Hydropower projects, major dams, West-flowing and east-flowing rivers, Interlinking of rivers
  • Monsoons – driving mechanism, El Nino, La Nina
  • Seasons
  • Cyclones
Minerals and industries Mineral distribution, industrial policies, location
Agriculture Land utilization, Types of agricultural practices, Green revolution, Soils and Crops, Irrigation, Land reforms, Animal husbandry, Government schemes
Natural vegetation and fauna Classification of natural vegetation, Rainfall distribution, Biosphere reserves, national parks, etc., Red-listed species
Economic infrastructure Transportation (highways, inland waterways, etc.) Power and energy sector, Conventional and non-conventional sources of energy, Energy conservation
Human Geography
  • Demographics
  • Recent census
World Geography Major natural regions
  • Regional geography of developed countries
  • Regional geography of developing countries
  • Regional geography of South Asia
Physical Geography
  • Geomorphology: Origin of the earth, Interior of the earth, Types and characteristics of rocks, Folding and Faulting, Volcanoes, earthquakes, Interior of the earth, Weathering, Landforms formed by fluvial, aeolian and glacial actions.
  • Climatology: Atmosphere – structure and composition, Temperature, Pressure belts, Wind systems, Clouds and types of rainfall, Cyclones and anticyclones, Major climatic types
  • Oceanography: Ocean relief, Temperature, salinity, Ocean deposits, Ocean currents, El Nino and La Nina, Waves and tides. 
  • Biogeography: Soil – origin and types, Major biomes of the world, Ecosystem, food chain, Environmental degradation and conservation
Human Geography
  • Man & environment; relationship, growth and development of human geography; determinism and possibilism
  • Population, tribes, migration
  • Economic activities – agriculture, manufacturing, industries, tertiary activities
  • Settlements, urbanisation, functional classification of towns, million-cities and megacities

Check IAS Prelims 2020 Strategy for Environment and Biodiversity

Source of Study for UPSC Prelims Geography

The following list of books is for all type of candidates from beginners to advanced candidates. No matter what stage you are, we will help you to prepare in a better way:

NCERT Books for Beginners:

  • Class IX NCERT: Contemporary India Part-I
  • Class X NCERT: Contemporary India Part-II
  • Class XI NCERT: Fundamentals of Physical Geography
  • Class XI NCERT: Indian Physical Environment
  • Class XII NCERT: Fundamentals of Human Geography
  • Class XII NCERT: India, People and Economy

Advanced Books:

  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography - Goh Cheng Leong
  • Geography of India - Majid Husain
  • Geography of Population: Concepts, Determinants and Patterns - RC Chandna
  • World Geography - Majid Hussain
  • Physical, Human and Economic Geography for Civil Services Examination - D R Khullar

Source of Current Affairs

  • Newspapers: The Hindu, The Indian Express, the Hindustan, The Economic Times, The Times of India.
  • Magazines: Economic And Political Weekly, Down To Earth
  • Internet and Television.

Steps to Approach for UPSC Prelims Geography

Though UPSC Prelims the first stage of the selection process, it is one of the difficult exams of government. So, no matter how hard you read it will not be fruitful unless you work smartly. The vast amount of syllabus of each section always diverts you and geography is no exception. For that reason, here are some advantageous strategies especially for UPSC Prelims candidates :

Choosing NCERT books is a very brilliant decision. They are very basic and the language is also lucid which will help you to kick off your preparation for Geography. Read any topic at most from 2- 3 sources and then revise it a few times until you feel like you have the concept into your hand and can deal with any questions from this topic.

After you have completed a unit from the given syllabus, analyse the previous years’ question papers and try to frame the answers. This way will be able to focus on the topics of the examiners and solving questions will help you to give the idea of your growth of preparation.

  • How to Prioritize:

It is frequently advised that you should prepare World geography before Indian geography. This will allow you to get a grasp on the essentials of geography before you target Indian geography. A good understanding of physical geography reduces the time consumption to understand concepts under Indian geography and you will be able to relate the World geography with the Indian parts.

  • Relate Geography to history, economics and other topics:

The history, culture, economy, industrialization, socio-political turmoils - all very closely related to geography. For example, to know which are the oil-producing countries and regions and which country owns which oil mines - such news are very important and already read in your source of study. So, whenever you come across such news or affairs, related them with your study. Geography is related to anthropology also. For instance, the culture, clothes, customs, etc. of a place are direct consequences of its climatic conditions.

  • Make your own notes:

It is always advisable that making your own notes will definitely help you to understand better in the exam times and will help you later to revise. But do not make notes for every topic. It is really time-consuming. Try to make notes online or in digital format so that you can edit it later as per your requirements. Writing in old-school format will consume more time than usual.

  • Practising Maps:

For Geography, most of the questions are directly or indirectly linked with maps and after looking at the previous years’ questions, it is very much notable that the importance of maps will remain as it is. Therefore, Thorough knowledge of maps (India and World) location, important cities, physical features, river system, passes and peaks could be and should be studied from maps.

  • Link with Current Affairs:

Most of the static topics from this subjects are dynamically linked with contemporary issues and current affairs both nationally and internationally. In such cases reading current affairs are a must. This is very important for UPSC Mains candidates who have chosen Geography as their Optional subject of UPSC Mains.

  • Time for General Tips:

    • Find shortcut on your own to remember the name of states and countries with the capitals.
    • Note the current climate changes and important economical problems.
    • Note the new rules implemented for geographical and economical balance worldwide.
    • While preparing your notes, make a separate section of important locations that have been popping up in the news frequently.
    • Maintain separate notes for current social and geographical issues impacting the polity and the economy of India as well as the world.
    • try to complete the geography section within 2-3 months
    • Take the mock tests on a regular basis to speed up.

We genuinely hope that the above-mentioned strategies and advice will help to walk the path to qualify UPSC Prelims. Try to form your study schedules and targets keeping the vastness of geography in mind. Your plan should be according to your comfort level and nearly 3 months on your schedule will be accumulated by Geography. And if you have any doubts, do not hesitate, feel free to reach out to us.

FAQs related to Geography of UPSC Prelims 2020

Ques. Is NCERT enough for the geography of UPSC Prelims?

Ans. It can be said that NCERT is almost enough for geography. But make sure to take reference from other sources as well as take reference from Atlas too. This allows you to study geography easily as you can picturise the facts and data.

Ques. Is World Geography is important for UPSC Prelims?

Ans. World Geography is important for the Prelims exam due to the fact that almost 5-6 questions are asked every year from this section in the exam. NCERT books are the best source for preparation of World Geography.

Ques. How many hours should I study for UPSC?

Ans. Ideally, for UPSC Prelims, an aspirant should study for 9 - 11 hours around 6 - 8 months intensifying it to 12 - 13 hours for the 2 months at least. More important is to maintain the constancy and regularity of the flow of study.

Ques. Is one year sufficient for UPSC preparation?

Ans. Yes, 1 year is more than sufficient for UPSC Prelims Preparation, even for the self-study. During the period, one has to invest 8 hours at least daily to prepare smartly. If you are going to invest 1 year, then treat it as a full-time job and divided it into 3 phase so that you can intensify it with the course of time.

Ques. How can I start my geography preparation for UPSC Prelims at home?

Ans. Starting geography at home is a very wise choice. Do not jump int the topics as your books shows. Read the syllabus properly. Have the basic ideas from the syllabus. Then clear the concept of from the NCERT books with 2-3 sources as references and also make your own notes for revision. This way you will be able to complete all the topics and try to complete the geography section within 2 months.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.