IAS Prelims Geography Trend Analysis

The UPSC has released the calendar for 2021 Civil Services Exam and exam dates for prelims and mains exam have been scheduled as mentioned in the UPSC Notification.

Aspirants would have geared up with their preparation as the calendar for UPSC 2020 and 2021 is out and to enhance your preparation here we bring the Geography trend analysis of prelims exam.

This trend analysis will help the aspirants to plan their preparation and prioritise topics in Geography subject accordingly.


Geography Trend Analysis in Prelims


12 questions were asked from geography exceptional in the year 2019 when only 6 questions were asked in 2017. Since the unpredictability in UPSC question papers varies and considering the last year geography question analysis doesn’t mean that spending sufficient time in the subject is a waste. But given the right amount of time and paying attention to particular topics one can fetch good marks in the prelims.


Important basic topics of priority


  • Latitudes and Longitudes
  • Maps (Atlas)
  • Solar system Revolution, rotation and seasons
  • Layers of the atmosphere pressure belts, global atmospheric wind, cyclones
  • Types of rainfall (convection, orographic, frontal)
  • Ocean Currents
  • Jet Streams
  • Monsoons
  • El Nino, La Nina, Modoki, ENSO, Indian Ocean, Dipole, Maiden Jullien Oscillation
  • Rivers and hills, soils (NCERT)
  • India’s physical geography (NCERT Textbooks)
  • Geological History of India (e.g. like mineral resources)
  • Basics of agriculture- (NCERT Textbooks would be sufficient)

Map and Climate


Let us take a look at the geography trend analysis in previous years question papers.

Every year more than 50 per cent of questions are asked from these topics that include Map markings and climate (world climate and basics) especially.

For e.g. A Map-based question

1. The area known as ‘Golan Heights’ sometimes appears in the news in the context of the events related to (UPSC 2015)

a) Central Asia
b) Middle East
c) South-East Asia
d) Central Africa 

2. Which one of the following National Parks has a climate that varies from tropical to subtropical, temperate and arctic? (UPSC 2015)

(a) Khangchendzonga National Park
(b) Nandadevi National Park
(c) Neora Valley National Park
(d) Namdapha National Park 


Nature of questions


After an analysis of UPSC previous years question papers, one could observe that questions are a blend of factual and analytical.

  • The nature of UPSC prelims questions can be majorly divided into two types one is factual and the other being analytical.
  • Factual questions are generally from the books, while analytical questions are based on the current affairs asked directly from the issues in the news or questions which require the application of textbook basics.

 E.g. for factual questions

What explains the eastward flow of the equatorial counter-current? (UPSC 2015)

(a) The Earth’s rotation on its axis

(b) Convergence of the two equatorial currents

(c) Difference in salinity of water

(d) Occurrence of the belt of calm near the equator

Ans. B 

E.g. for Analytical Question

Which one of the following countries of South-West Asia does not open out to the Mediterranean Sea? (UPSC 2015)

(a) Syria

(b) Jordan

(c) Lebanon

(d) Israel

Though the question is map-based, this question was asked as the civil war in Syria and refugees in Jordan were in news frequently.


India and the World


Almost around two-third of the questions are asked from Indian Geography, hence Indian Geography from NCERTs and the current events like river and land disputes should be given priority and not forget the questions on Agriculture which is asked in the first three (2013-2015) years except in UPSC 2016.

Below given is an agriculture-based question asked in UPSC 2013 Prelims.

Consider the following crops:

  1. Cotton
  2. Groundnut
  3. Rice
  4. Wheat

Which of these are Kharif crops?

  1. a) 1 and 4
    b) 2 and 3 only
    c) 1, 2 and 3
    d) 2, 3 and 4

Ans. (C)


This is an analysis of just one part of UPSC Civil Services Prelims General Studies Paper 1 and we will bring other subjects trend analysis as well to aid the candidates in their preparation.

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