IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2021 Preparation Strategy for Geography

Updated On -

Mar 22, 2021

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Exams Prepmaster

Geography is a crucial paper of General Studies Paper-I of IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims as well as IAS Mains. It is scoring and has an average of 18-25 marks weightage in the prelims exam every year. it is easy to grasp and interesting- making it a great choice as optional and easy to prepare. In IAS, the primary focus is on every aspect of Indian Geography but questions from world geography are quite common too. in prelims, this is limited to questions on countries and capitals, national parks, famous locations and reason behind its fame, endangered flora and fauna, international organizations related to the subject, to name a few. As per the latest updates, IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2021 will be conducted on June 27, 2021 and the notification will be released soon.

Check IAS Prelims 2021 Strategy for History

Prelims Highlights

IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims Highlights for 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.
Study Approach

IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2021 Geography- How to Approach?

Given the syllabus of geography is closely related to CBSE Geography, candidates will find many topics familiar enough. Brushing up your school-level knowledge of the subject will be useful in acing questions from this subject in the Prelims.

Check IAS Prelims 2021 Strategy for GS Economics

Marks-weightage of Geography in IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims

Here is a table which will show you the weightage of geography in each UPSC Prelims Exam of the past 6 years:

Years Marks
2020 10
2019 28
2018 8
2017 14
2016 14
2015 24
2014 20

Syllabus of Geography IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims

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

There are further sub-topics under these two categories. Study previous year question papers and their analysis to find out which of these topics are most frequented in the questions to create a smart study plan. if needed you can even skip a few topics which rarely come in the exam. Check Geography Syllabus in details here

Must Read: How to read a newspaper for IAS exam

Preparation tips

IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims Geography- Preparation Strategy

NCERT Reading

IAS Prelims and Mains syllabus is majorly inspired by the CBSE curriculum which is why the NCERT books are good choice for basic preparation and familiarizing yourselves with the topics. Apart from these books, for in-depth studies, refer 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.

Topic-wise Progress Analysis

After you have completed a unit from the syllabus, analyse the previous years’ question papers and try to frame the answers. This way, you can assess your progress at every stage and solving questions will help you to give the idea of the question papers.

Prioritizing topics

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 required to understand concepts under Indian geography and you will be able to relate the World geography with the Indian counterparts.

Cross-subject relevance and interconnecting the topics

The history, culture, economy, industrialization, socio-political turmoils - all very closely related to geography. So, whenever you come across any news or events, which may not be directly a topic of geography but has geographical impact- related them with your study. The ability to recognize such pattern while studying also helps to develop your analytical skill that will be necessary in descriptive papers during the Mains. 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

Write your own notes to understand the concepts better in and it will help you later to revise.  It is really time-consuming so recognize the topics which are really important and such habit will help you improve your understanding. Try to make notes online or in digital format so that you can edit it later as per your requirements. 

Practising Maps

For Geography, most of the questions are directly or indirectly linked with maps if you follow 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.

General Tips for IAS(UPSC CSE) Prelims Geography

  • Memorize the states and countries with the respective 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.
  • Also brush up your knowledge of currency for each country- at least the major and powerful ones and neighbours of India and Asian Sub-continent.
Reference Books

Reference Books for IAS (UPSC CSE) 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.

FAQs related to Geography of IAS (UPSC CSE) Prelims 2021

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.