Geography Strategy & Studyplan


Geography can be a good optional subject from the civil services preparation point of view. During the last few years it comes out to be one of the favorite optional subject for aspirants of Civil Services  Exams.
The basic coverage for geography starts when we start with study of NCERT books.
Benefits of Choosing Geography As Optional :

  1. It is very much popular among Science, Engineering and medical students as the basics of Geography is in close proximity with the basic science.
  2. It covers directly for GS Paper-1 and also covers indirectly in many areas of GS Paper-3
  3. Sufficient material is available in the form of books by Indian Authors and online as well.
  4. It provides an added advantage in PRE too, as it covers some basic aspects of topics like geography, environment, ecology and science.

GS Paper 2 is totally based on India and the questions are generally open ended. Hardly any questions would be directly asked. There is not any single material which can be referred to as source. As they are application oriented, understanding of concepts is the most important thing in this subject. Reading extensively will be necessary. Everybody knows the answer of the simple questions, but keep in mind that making answers geographically, drawing maps, diagrams and referring to locations are most important. Yojana and Kurukshtra magazines may help. That will make the difference between a simply written answer and a proper answer.

The most important approach to study geography is reading it through maps. One can study weather, rainfall, soils, vegetation, agriculture etc. Make sure you study them properly and make them understood with the help of maps. Try to overlap them and understand how they are all connected. Put up large maps on your room’s wall and whatever you study mark them on it. This approach will help you to understand the subject in a much better way.

Starting Your Preparation Now :

Start preparing one year before the prelims. Make a strategy to complete the syllabus topic wise.  Thorough study the basic concepts of each topic. Be clear on every topic. Try to incorporate maximum figures in your answers. Geography is the subject where one can make answers crisp and attractive by figures. Wherever map is required as per the question don’t hesitate to draw it. Choose to answer the question in which chances of drawing figure are more. The most important fact is that one should keep in his mind, in geography the time management is important. Each aspirant feels lack of time in attempting all the questions. The best way to tackle it is by daily writing practice.

Booklist and Suggested Readings

Paper I:

  1. Geomorphology: Savindra singh and Strahler & Strahler
  2. Climatology: D.S.Lal
  3. Oceanography: Vatal and Sharma
  4. Biogeography: Savindra Singh, Rupa made simple
  5. Environment: ICSE books of 9th and 10th class
  6. Human and population Geography: Rupa made simple, Leong and Morgan

Paper II:

  1. India Physical: Khullar, Majid Hussain
  2. For other parts one can consult Rupa made simple
  3. Geography and You’ magazine is best solution for applied form of second paper

How to read geography

Once a basic idea of the subject has been clear, the reading of the subject should be done as follows:

  • Paper 1 Part A: This is the most time-consuming portion. It is also the portion from which the examiners are exploring new areas. Thus this portion has to be read in detail.
  • For Paper 1 Part A, reading a little extra than is required (i.e. going beyond  past year questions) would help answer new questions emerging from this portion. Rupa Made Simple Physical Geography is a book that gives a little information about  a wide range of areas. The book has Britain as its focus so the portions that talk of local conditions of Britain should not be read. Rest all portions can be extremely helpful in giving a little idea about everything in physical geography thus helping answer the questions from new areas.
  • Before a chapter is started, one must look at past years questions on that chapter. Identify the questions that are asked for each sub point under a chapter and prepare that sub topic in the manner to be able to answer those questions. Try to find the answers to past year questions if  the reading matter doesn’t explicitly cover them.
  • There are certain subtopics in each chapter on which questions have hardly been asked or on which no question have been asked. With the nature of the geography paper becoming challenging year by year, prepare a short note on each of these subtopics also.

How to write good answers in Geography

Comprehensiveness, specificity and visibility is the key to a good answer. Do follow certain geography specific tips given below:

  • On reading a question,  identify keywords & think of the answer in terms of diagrams and maps. In fact that can be the first thought on reading a question. Thinking of structure and points is important and would certainly follow, but if one thinks of the answer in terms of diagrams,  it’s almost sure each answer will contain one. One can think of a map and then develop the structure of the answer around it. It is also a good way to remember content. Say a question comes on Ocean Bottom Relief of Atlantic Ocean. First thing that comes to the mind on reading this is the bottom relief map.  Draw the map on the first page of answer itself.  And then recall and build up the answer around the details presented in the map and write the portions not explicit in the map.
  • While thinking of diagrams/maps, a word of caution is that superfluous diagrams are not going to give one marks.  So the illustration must cater to the requirements of the question.
  • Diagram/map can be put in a box and mentioned in the text
  • The answer can be supplemented with data facts. In human geography portion specifically, census figures should be remembered (census 2011) for demographic attributes.
  • When drawing maps for India showing distribution, say for human geography portion for population density, literacy etc.; data is usually represented state-wise but when making maps in answers, they need not be shown so as drawing state borders is a cumbersome job. Therefore the maps given in books can be simplified so that it is easier and faster to draw in the examination.
  • Examples can be added in Paper 2 and they improve the value of the answer. They provide originality to the answer, show that one has understood the concept and is able to apply that is why could state an example and act as a support to one’s argument.

Good Luck!

Feel free to share your doubts in the comment section.


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