Geography for UPSC Preparation

Geography for UPSC

Topics on Geography are found as a staple portion in not only UPSC exams but also in a range of government recruitment and entrance examinations such as NEST exam, AILET exam, MPPSC exam, SSC CGL, AIEED exam and SCRA exam, amongst others. Geography for UPSC forms a part of the Prelims, by means of Paper I as well as in Mains, General Studies-I and as an Optional Paper. These exams are considered not only amongst the toughest exams in India but are also frequently named as one of the toughest exams in the world. This blog focuses specifically on providing you with a preparation guide on the section of Geography for UPSC across several exam levels. 

Geography for UPSC Prelims

The Prelims section of UPSC exam tests a candidate’s foundational understanding and knowledge of geographical features and regions of India as well as the world. While the official UPSC syllabus for geography prescribes studying “Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India & the World”, to tackle the range of questions asked in the prelims section, one needs to develop a solid overview of salient geography-related characteristics and peculiarities around the world. Some of the topics considered essential for Geography for UPSC are:

Indian Geography 

Basics of India Location, Neighbours, States, etc 
Physical Features The Himalayas, The Great North Indian Plains, Peninsular Plateau, etc
River SystemsHimalayan Rivers, Regional Development and Planning, Interlinking of Rivers, etc 
Climate Monsoons, Seasons, Cyclones, etc 
Agriculture Land Utilisation, Green Revolution, Animal Husbandry, etc
Natural Vegetation and FaunaRainfall Distribution, Red-Listed Species, Biosphere Reserves, etc
Economic Infrastructure Power and Energy Sector, Energy Conservation, Transportation, etc
Human Geography Demographic, Recent Issues, etc

Physical Geography 

Geomorphology Origin of the Earth, Weathering, Landforms, etc
Climatology Atmosphere, Pressure Belts, Major Climate Types, etc
Oceanography Ocean Reliefs, Waves and Tides, Ocean Currents, etc
Biogeography Ecosystem, Food Chain, Soil, etc
Section Topic 
World Geography Major Natural Regions, Regional Geography of Developing Countries, Regional Geography of South Asia, etc 
Human GeographyMan, Population, Settlements, Economic Activities, etc 
Geography for UPSC Preparation

Related Article: Government Exams after 12th Science

Geography for UPSC Mains

In the mains portion for Geography for UPSC, knowledge of advanced topics and in-depth understanding is tested. Further, the subjective nature of the test makes it highly complex and demanding. Major themes have been given a rundown below:

Natural Resources Across Continents [India & South Asia]:
River Systems, Plains,
Vegetation, Soil, The Himalayas, Deserts, Western Ghats, Indian Desert, Climate,
Distribution of Agriculture, etc.
World Geography:
Regions, South East Asian Geography, Developing and
Developed Country Geographical Features, etc.
Factors of Emergence of Industries:
Primary, Secondary and Tertiary in Specific Locations of India and Across the World, etc.
Geographical Features:
Water Bodies, Icecaps, Flora, Fauna, etc and their Location Shifts, Earth & its Formation, Climatology, Oceanography and Biogeography, etc.
Human Geography:
Population, Demographics and Census, Tribes, Migration, settlements, etc.

Related Article: IFS Exam Pattern

Geography for UPSC Optional Subject for Mains Exam 

Geography is one amongst the 48 optional subjects that students have to choose for the mains exam. It is one of the most favourite subjects for the optional paper. The syllabus of Geography for UPSC for optional paper would focus on the human and physical geography of India along with the economic aspects of it. As the optional paper consists of 2 exams, mentioned below is the distinct syllabus-

Optional Paper I: Principles of Geography

The topics covered under the Optional Geography Paper-I for UPSC have been tabulated below:

Physical GeographyGeomorphology
Environmental Geography
Human GeographyPerspectives in Human Geography
Economic Geography
Population & Settlement Geography
Regional Planning
Models, Theories and Law in Human Geography

Also Read: UPSC Syllabus

Optional Paper II: Geography of India

Paper-II for Geography for UPSC can be said to be slightly more comprehensive though the difficulty level does not vary. Broad concepts tested are:

Physical SettingNeighbouring Countries, Physiographic Regions,
Indian Monsoons, Disaster: Floods, Cyclones,
Climatic Regions etc
ResourcesLand, Water, Energy, Minerals, Forest,
Wildlife, Conservation etc
AgricultureInfrastructure, Industry, Land, Cropping Patterns,
Green & White Revolution, Agro-climatic Zones etc
IndustryHistory of Industries, New Industrial Policy,
Special Economic Zones, Factors of Occurrence of Jute,
Cotton, Paper, Fertiliser, Textile, Iron, Cottage, Agricultural
Industries, etc.
Transport, Communication
& Trade
Roadways, Railways, Waterways, Ports,
Export Processing Zones, Contemporary Roles
in Regional Development, Indian Space Program, etc
Cultural SettingIndian Society, Linguistics, Minorities, Tribes and
Tribal Areas, Cultural Regions, Population &
Demography, etc
SettlementsRural & Urban Developments, Slums,
Town Planning, Urbanisation etc
Regional Development &
History of Planning, Five Year Plans, Rural
Development Programmes, Panchayati Raj,
Decentralised Planning, Regional Planning, etc
Political AspectsHistory of Reorganisation of States, Inter-state
Issues and Acts, Geo-Politics of South Asia &
Indian Ocean, International Borders, Cross-border
Terrorism, etc
Contemporary IssuesEcological Issues, Environment Impact & Assessment,
Food Security, Sustainable Growth,
Globalisation & Indian Economy, etc

Also Read: Political Science Syllabus

Geography for UPSC: Books

To ease your research for preparations, we have curated a list of important books you must have on your table while preparing for Geography for UPSC.

Geography for UPSC: BooksLink
NCERT Class XI Fundamentals of Physical Geography
NCERT Class XI India-Physical Environment
Buy Here
Buy Here
NCERT Class XII Fundamentals of Human Geography
NCERT Class XII India-People and Economy
Buy Here
Buy Here
NCERT Class X Contemporary India IIBuy Here
Geography of India by Majid Hussain [McGrawHill]Buy Here
India and World Geography by Majid Hussain [McGrawHill]Buy Here
Certificate Physical And Human Geography; Indian Edition by
Goh Cheng Leong
Buy Here
Oxford Student Atlas for India – Third EditionBuy Here
Magbook Indian & World Geography 2020 by Arihant ExpertsBuy Here
Physical, Human and Economic Geography for Civil Services ExaminationBuy Here
Geography Question Bank (For Civil Services Preliminary Examination)Buy Here

You can also read our blog on NCERT Books For UPSC Exams.

Tips to Study Geography for UPSC Exams

Here are some tips to cover entire Geography syllabus for UPSC exams 2021:

  • NCERT books are considered the best to build a base. Therefore, start your preparation journey with them and then move to other reference books. It is advised to study class 6-12th books.
  • Go through the previous year question papers to know which are the most important topics asked repeatedly over the years.
  • Usually, the topics which are in news throughout the year are asked in the exam. Keep a tab on the latest news and have a thorough knowledge of the trending topics.
  • Relate Geography with other subjects like History, Political Science, Economics, Social Science etc. For example, if you want to understand the crux of any geographical location, you need to evaluate that region from different lenses.

Tricks to Memorize Geography Better

Geography requires remembering names of cities, countries and continents. Here is a learning hack for you to do this in a fun way:

My Great Big Elephant Has No CRitical Problems
[ Countries lying between North and South America – Together, they form the shape of an elephant’s trunk]

  • Mexico
  • Guatemala
  • Belize
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Costa Rica
  • Panama

Kal (Z)Jana Padega Desh Se
[ Himalayan ranges from top to bottom ]

  • Karakoram
  • Zaskar
  • Pirpanjal
  • Dauladhar
  • Shiwalik

[ Oceans from largest to the smallest ]

  • Pacific Ocean
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Indian Ocean
  • Southern Ocean
  • Arctic Ocean

[ Countries through which the Prime Meridian passes ]

  • Burkina Faso
  • Spain, 
  • France
  • Ghana, 
  • Algeria
  • Mali, 
  • England
  • Nigera Toto

Hence, we hope that this blog has helped you comprehend the key topics as well as study material that you need if you are choosing your optional paper as Geography for UPSC. For any competitive exam, it is important to have a well-planned approach and strategy in place. Consult the experts at Leverage Edu by registering for a 30-minute free career counselling session and let us guide you with the essential tips and tricks to ace your exam.

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