Tips for Geography Optional in UPSC Mains Exam

Geography is a very popular optional in the UPSC civil services mains exam. Its popularity stems from the fact that it can be studied by any student irrespective of his/her academic background. A lot of candidates who take up this optional in fact, would not have studied this for their graduation or post-graduation. In this article, we give you a few valuable tips to score high in the Geography optional paper.

Tip #1

In the mains optional papers, you would have a choice of attempting five questions out of the eight given. Geography papers tend to be lengthy. Hence, you must not take more than five minutes to decide the questions that you would be attempting.

Tip #2

There are generally sub-parts to all the questions. Choose those questions for which you know all the sub-parts. This ensures maximum marks.

Tip #3

Don’t make incomplete maps. Maps are quite scoring and you should ensure that you get the maximum benefit out of these questions. So, prepare well and make complete maps with accurate labelling.

Tip #4

Always try to substantiate your answers with General Studies portions wherever relevant of course. This will give the impression that you are well-updated with current affairs. Geography is an inter-disciplinary subject and so you can involve content from anthropology, economics, ecology, environment, etc.

Tip #5

Always use case studies and other examples and figures to highlight what you are trying to convey through your answers. Provide graphs wherever possible.

Tip #6

Include relevant theories to your answers.

Tip #7

If you are asked about a theory or a model, you can adhere to the following framework while writing your answers:

  • Definition
  • Concept
  • Theory/Model
  • Application
  • Role in contemporary world
  • Criticism

Tip #8

Apart from the standard textbooks, you should read the following magazines:

  • Geography and You
  • Yojana/Kurukshetra

Tip #9

Develop speed while writing through ample test practice.

Tip #10

Cover the Geography syllabus entirely. Don’t miss out on anything.

Tip #11

In some cases, you may have to include historical perspectives to an issue or concept. This will enhance the quality of your answers and give the impression that you are a person with multidimensional knowledge (which is what the UPSC is looking for).


Also Read | Golden Tips on Answer Writing for UPSC Mains

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