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How to Prepare UPSC Mains Geography Paper 2019

Today we are providing UPSC Civil Services  Geography Paper preparation tips & strategies. We had already provided  Now we will teach you strategy of “How to Prepare UPSC Civil Services Geography Paper 2019″. This post is aimed to help you in forming your strategy for Geography optional for Civil Services Exam, considering its various aspects.

How to Prepare UPSC Mains Geography Paper 2019

UPSC Mains Geography is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, the features, the inhabitants, and the phenomena of Earth. Geography is an all-encompassing discipline that seeks an understanding of the Earth and its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but how they have changed and come to be. It is often defined in terms of the two branches of human geography and physical geography.

To Prepare UPSC Civil Services Geography Paper for 2019, you need to follow below given steps.

Step 1 : Know the Syllabus – Geography Paper

UPSC MAINS GEOGRAPHY SYLLABUS 2019. Get UPSC Mains Geography Syllabus, Paper structure & Applicable Topics covered in UPSC Mains Geography Syllabus. Earlier we’ve provided UPSC Mains Exam Pattern & Structure for 2018 & 2019 exams .

Read : UPSC Civil Services Geography Syllabus 2019

Step 2 : Select the Best Reference Books for Geography Paper


Civil Services Geography part (As part of GS or as optional) requires vast but focused reading. Apart from the IAS Books for Geography – Civil Services Prelims Exam, the below mentioned books can help.

Recommended Books for Geography – Civil Services Books – Mains Exam

Physical geography

  • Physical Geography By Savinder Singh
  • Physical Geography By Stahler
  • Physical Geography Made Simple Books
  • Geography Through Maps by K. Siddhartha

Geo-morphology : Geomorphology by Savindra Singh

Climatology :

  • Climatology by D. S. Lal
  • Atmosphere, Weather and Climate – K.Siddhartha

Human Geography

  • Human Geography By Majid Hussain
  • Urbanization and Urban Systems in India

Indian Geography

  • India – A comprehensive Geography
  • Regional Planning in India – Chand and Puri
  • Oxford School Atlas
  • Environmental Geography
  • Indian Economy

Step 3 : Prepare Important Topics

The preparation for Mains must be over before you start with Preliminary preparation, as the Main exam syllabus covers nearly 75% of the requirements of the Preliminary examination.

If a student has not done graduation with Geography, the suggested strategy would be as follows.

(1) Surveying the syllabus of Geography carefully and identifying the completely unfamiliar areas.

(2)  Going through at least 2 basic books with a purpose to acquaint yourself with the unfamiliar areas.

You can consider the following books:(a) The NCERT Text Books for geography–Std. XI and XII

(b) Geography for Degree Students

(3)  Doing a careful survey of the past 5 years’ Main Examination Question Papers and identifying the areas of significance.

(4)  Identifying the most fruitful areas:

(5)  If we see the Main Examination paper of last few years, then it is obvious that the UPSC can ask even a short note on a topic which is otherwise quite long in coverage.

How to Study Geography for IAS Mains

Study approach for Geography

This optional is meant for Patience and Calmness. We need to make different strategies for both paper.

There may be some questions out of the topics in the syllabus, prepare for these new topics also as these repeat regularly.

For Paper 1

As you maybe aware, the pattern of the question paper is that Three questions from one section and Two from the second has to be answered, with the first and fifth questions being compulsory.

And with hydrogeology and engineering geology covering the eighth question, you are left with only compulsory question i.e, the fifth, which is covered by all three chapters of section-B

As Palaeontology and Stratigraphy are little difficult and too lengthy to cover, But Still I covered both the topics in fine manner but due to paucity of time ,wasn’t able to revise.

By this way one can almost cover 80-90% of syllabus and be sure of attending minimum of 180-190 marks.

For Paper 2

Section-A is very vast, difficult and technically deep, it is very difficult and time consuming to study it in it’s entirety; therefore I would recommend a selective approach.

Mineralogy is very important and also covers almost two questions (out of which one being compulsory) it is very important to study it. I bought J.D Dana ,but didn’t read it.My single most important source for examination was K.M Bangar and it rescued me for this topic also. I thoroughly read Tulane Notes also.

Sedimentology is very small and easy out of the three, so do it completely. Study questions from last ten years question papers for petrography (as its too big, difficult and doesn’t recur as much as mineralogy in the exam).Prepare topics by looking at questions also, as  these topics are itself branches of subjects and you might be overwhelmed by content available online.(Mind you material in market would be negligible as for Shopkeepers Geology is Geography only)

Section-B is simple, limited and scoring. With economic and mining geology being compact and interlinked they are easy to study and will also give good dividends in exam (do study these topics at all costs).

Economic geology (especially processes) may seem lengthy but these are the ones recur most often in exam.

And  finally, Geochemistry and Environmental geology is a mix of little theoretical Geochemistry and current affairs. One can feel that Geochemistry is little too tedious, but studYing it is very helpful in exam. (Consider it as a backup if you don’t know some questions from Economic Geology in exam)

NOTE : Don’t just be prepared for Five questions, because as last year all questions were jumbled and there was no differentiation between Section-A and B.  So prepare for at least six of seven questions and don’t leave any chapter, if due to some reason you feel like skipping a chapter, do ensure that you go through the question papers of the last decade and study the questions that have came from here .

Problems & Advantages of Geography Paper

Problems :

  • No proper guidance as very few serious aspirants take it (I found it very difficult to get any info about books and how to prepare).
  • No readymade material (there is one in Delhi market by brilliant,I didn’t use that as well as got feedback from people that it is haphazardly prepared and print quality is poor).
  • No coaching (as very few write).
  • No test series.

Advantages :

  • Limited syllabus (but lengthy).
  • Lot of repeating questions.
  • Some Overlap with Geography (paper 1,part A)

Answer writing

  1. For Long answers-Introduction can be either indirect through some lines or quotes or direct with general explanation followed by exact definition.
  2. Thereafter topic need to be explained in short followed by establishing links with other chapters and focusing on the question again. Here give a pause,read the question again & think again. Diagrams can be used effectively.
  3. Ending of the answers should always be visionary/positive and solution based with example if needed or with some lines.
  4. There should be mixed use of paras and points. Examples should be quoted wherever possible but refrain from using one enterprise again & again.
  5. For short answers, write the basic definition and then directly hit the core.
  6. Ending should be solution based. For merit/demerit/feature use diagram or points.
  7. Test series can be joined for practice.

Step 4 : Prepare Previous Question papers

How much time it takes to prepare?

4-5 months, if you study Geography 12-15 hours per week. This should be enough. Also, it depends on how much can you recall your graduation concepts.