Geography for UPSC Preparation

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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. 

UPSC Exam Dates 2021

UPSC Exam Notification Release Date March 4, 2021
Exam Registration Date Begins on March 4, 2021
Last Day to Apply for UPSC Exam 2021 March 24, 2021
Release of UPSC Admit Card 2021 September 16, 2021
Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2021  October 10, 2021
Civil Services (Main) Examination, 2021 September 17, 2021- January 07, 2022

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 Systems Himalayan 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 Fauna Rainfall 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 Geography Man, 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 Geography Geomorphology
Environmental Geography
Human Geography Perspectives 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 Setting Neighbouring Countries, Physiographic Regions,
Indian Monsoons, Disaster: Floods, Cyclones,
Climatic Regions etc
Resources Land, Water, Energy, Minerals, Forest,
Wildlife, Conservation etc
Agriculture Infrastructure, Industry, Land, Cropping Patterns,
Green & White Revolution, Agro-climatic Zones etc
Industry History 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 Setting Indian Society, Linguistics, Minorities, Tribes and
Tribal Areas, Cultural Regions, Population &
Demography, etc
Settlements Rural & 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 Aspects History of Reorganisation of States, Inter-state
Issues and Acts, Geo-Politics of South Asia &
Indian Ocean, International Borders, Cross-border
Terrorism, etc
Contemporary Issues Ecological 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: Books Link
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 II Buy 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 Edition Buy Here
Magbook Indian & World Geography 2020 by Arihant Experts Buy Here
Physical, Human and Economic Geography for Civil Services Examination Buy 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
  • Nizagara

[ 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

How to Prepare Geography for UPSC?

Here’s a time-tested strategy to begin your preparation for geography UPSC: 

  1. Prepare from NCERTs: Start your preparation with NCERT books of class 8th to 12th. It will set your base strong. Also, questions straight from NCERT are being asked in the UPSC exam. 
  2. Relevant Books: Books like Certificate Physical and Human Geography by GC Leong and Geography of India by Majid Hussain are some suggested books. 
  3. Previous Year Question Papers: Go for solving questions from previous papers. This will help in identifying vital topics and for revision purposes. 
  4. Mock Tests: Mock tests allow students to assess the preparation and identify the areas of weakness you must work on. 
  5. Current Affairs: Read newspapers and for that matter have online applications of current affairs to keep yourself updated. 

NCERT Notes for Geography for UPSC 

Let’s take a look at some of the important geography NCERT topics for UPSC preparation:

Important Questions for Geography for UPSC 

  • Explain all the challenges faced by newly Independent India. 
  • What are seismic waves? Write in detail.
  • Explain the various kinds of landforms under Karst topography.
  • Discuss in detail about geophysical features of Circum-pacific zone.
  • Explain the concept of geomagnetism.
  • Explain the geological and paleontological evidence of continental drift theory.
  • Write about the major factors responsible for the origin of ocean currents across the globe. 
  • Elucidate the term earthquake swarms and how they differentiate from aftershocks and foreshocks. 
  • What do you mean by tropical cyclones? Also explain how tropical cyclones differ from temperate cyclones.
  • Discuss the statement – Landslides are more than just a natural phenomenon. 
  • What is common to the places known as Aliyar, Isapur, and Kangsabati?
  • Why are dewdrops not formed on a cloudy night?
  • Which of the following has/have shrunk immensely/dried up in the recent past due to human activities?
    • Aral Sea
    • Black Sea
    • Lake Baikal

Important Topics of Geography of India

  • Physical setting
  • Resources
  • Agriculture
  • Industry
  • Transport, Communication, and Trade:
  • Cultural Setting:
  • Settlements
  • Regional Development and Planning:
  • Political aspects of geography
  • Ecological Issues

Previous Year Question Papers 

[BONUS] UPSC Exam Result 2020

On 24th September 2021, the Union Public Service Commission declared the final result of the Civil Services Examination, 2020. A total of 761candidates – 545 men and 216 women – have been recommended for Group A and Group B appointments. A total of 151 candidates have been listed under provision candidature. Here is a list of top rankers for UPSC exam 2020:

  • Shubham Kumar
  • Jagrati Awasthi
  • Ankita Jain
  • Yash Jaluka
  • Mamta Yadav
  • Meera K
  • Praveen Kumar
  • Jivani Kartik Nagjibhai
  • Apala Mishra
  • Satyam Gandhi
  • Devayanu
  • Mithun Premraj
  • Gaurav Budania
  • Karishma Nair
  • Ria Dabi

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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