Pros and Cons of Taking Geography Optional for UPSC Exam

Geography is one of the most popular optional subjects in the UPSC civil services exam. There have been toppers with this optional in the previous years. The most famous topper is Ira Singhal who topped the civil services exam in 2015. Also, in the 2016 UPSC exam, rank 4 holder Saumya Pandey had taken Geography as her optional subject. While many aspirants swear by Geography as their optional, many others don’t regard this as the ideal optional for them. This article talks about the pros and cons of taking Geography optional for UPSC exam, and will give candidates an answer to the question, is geography a good optional for IAS.

Selecting the optional subject for the UPSC civil service mains exam is a personal decision. Every individual has unique strengths and weaknesses; they also have different educational and professional backgrounds. A candidate must weigh the pros and cons of a particular optional subject and if the pros outweigh the cons, he/she can zero in on that subject.

Pros of Geography optional

  • Geography is a scientific subject (unlike traditional science; here we learn topics varying from the universe to physical topography). Due to this, it is preferred by many aspirants from science, medical and engineering backgrounds.
  • There is not much mugging up required. Only concepts need to be understood.
  • There is no dearth of material available for Geography.
  • It has tremendous overlap with General Studies both in prelims and the mains.
  • With the questions becoming more dynamic and less static, Geography also has a lot of overlap with subjects like economics, environment, ecology and conservation.
  • Candidates can also use what they learn in Geography in their essay paper on various topics.
  • Even in the UPSC personality test, Geography will be useful as the board can ask questions on the local geography of a candidate’s home town like soil, vegetation, minerals, etc.
  • Geography is a scoring subject because unlike humanities subjects, there is not much scope for interpretation. Also, diagrams, flowchart, etc. can be used to get more marks.
  • The map-based questions are also scoring.

Cons of Geography optional

Also, See | Pros and Cons of Taking Public Administration Optional in the UPSC Mains Exam

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Frequently Asked Questions on Geography optional

Q 1. Is geography a good optional for UPSC?

Ans. Choosing geography as optional for UPSC Mains can be beneficial for the candidates as it is overlapping with the GS Paper 1 and at times useful for the essay paper also. But, studying geography as an optional subject involves great effort because of the vast syllabus and complexity of the subject. But it is claimed as the most preferred optional subject by the UPSC candidates.

Q 2. How do you get good marks in Geography optional?

Ans. The first tip for the candidate who has chosen geography as an optional subject is to practise freehand flow drawing of maps. This will help in better presentation of answers in the UPSC Mains. The second tip is to make precise notes of all the facts and keep revising them as good answers in geography can be written with better facts.

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