How To Prepare Geography For UPSC Mains Examination

How To Prepare Geography For UPSC Mains Examination. Among all the general studies papers that are included within the syllabus of the  UPSC Civil Services Examination, Geography arguably has the most important syllabus. It also has great overlap with other subjects of the exam.

How To Prepare Geography For UPSC Mains Examination

Hence, to cover a geography becomes a challenge for the many aspirants. In such a scenario, it is easy to go off at a tangent and study something that may not be required in the exam. Also, since nearly one-fifth of the paper has questions associated with geography and environment, the weightage of the topic is certainly high. So all the UPSC aspirants require a coherent strategy to be able to cover all the topics given in the syllabus.For this, we have analysed the subject in very detail. Here is what we recommend that you do:

What is given in a geography syllabus? 

Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social and Economic Geography of India and the World. So there are two parts-

  • World Geography – Physical, Social and Economic
  • Indian Geography – Physical, Social and Economic

World Geography


Physical Geography



  • Earth in the Solar system
  • Latitude, Longitude and Time Zones
  • Structure of the Interior of the Earth
  • Continental Drift
  • Plate Tectonics – Plates
  • Pacific Rim of Fire
  • Volcanic and Earthquake belts of the World
  • Landforms – Mountains (Block and Fold)
  • Landforms – Plateaus
  • Landforms – Plains
  • Major Drainage basins


  • Features of ocean bottom reliefs
  • Oceans, inland lakes and seas
  • Temperature and salinity of water bodies
  • Ocean currents of the Atlantic Ocean
  • Ocean currents of the Pacific Ocean
  • Ocean currents of the Indian Ocean (Winter and Summer)
  • Ocean bottom resources – Polymetallic nodules, Ferromanganese crusts
  • Tides and related affects
  • Coral reefs
  • Marine Pollution


  • Structure of the atmosphere
  • Heat budget
  • Meridional circulation
  • Planetary and Local winds
  • Rainfall types
  • Fronts and temperate cyclones
  • Tropical cyclones
  • El Nino, La Nina, Walker circulation, Southern oscillation
  • Climatic regions of the world

In the syllabus of UPSC IAS Examination Environment and biodiversity are separate topics  under Environmental geography and Biogeography are best covered under those subheadings. For this all the aspirants are advised to  cover current affairs in detail as well.

Indian Geography

  • Physiographic divisions of India
  • Drainage systems
  • Climate of India (including climatic regions)
  • Vegetation
  • Soils
  • Disasters and Geophysical phenomenon like Earthquakes and Tsunamis
  • Population : distribution, demographics, major tribal groups (focus on current affairs)
  • Agricultural resources – food crops, non food crops, cattle and other biological resources
  • Mineral resources of India (with mapping)
  • Energy resources of India (with maps)
  • Major Industries and industrial regions
  • Transport: Road, rail, air, water (major routes and projects)

Details given above is the breakup of the geography syllabus. Now understand how to approach the syllabus for a better understanding of geography.

1- All the aspirants should start geography from the NCERT books. NCERT books are very important for developing an understanding of subjects. So it is advised to all the aspirants that not to directly jump in any standard book.

2- It is advised to all aspirants to prioritise your preparation. So start with the basics of physical geography, world geography followed by Indian Geography. Better understanding of physical geography reduced the time required to understand the concepts of World and Indian Geography.

3- After one or two readings of the subject make your own notes. Notes are very essential for the last minute revision of the important concepts .

4- Mapping is a very important aspect of Geography. Always have any atlas in your hand while reading geography for better understanding . In this exam they may ask directly map based questions.

5- Last and very important suggestion is to practice mock tests as much as you can for both preliminary and mains examination. In recent years UPSC has asked a question that was a combination of fact and concept.

So for better clarity practice mock tests.

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