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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Preparing Geography for UPSC/IAS Prelims

Geography is a subject taken mostly by geography students and science students. I did my engineering in IIT Madras with electrical optional but was not very good in electrical and so I had to change my optional and I felt the most scientific subject among social studies was geography. After 3 years of preparation I can tell you that geography is a very good optional. The subject has a scientific flavour and is objective and analytical. It is this scientific nature of the subject which has made geography a very popular optional. Many people feel it is very factual but I sincerely feel it is very conceptual and understanding of concepts will make this optional very easy and interesting , so get your basics right. To get your basics right I would suggest you to thoroughly go through all NCERT’s and G C Leong(certificate physical and human geography).Once u do this, then u can start preparing it more exhaustively. The following books would help you in this direction. Before that I would suggest you to complete the whole portion at least once by march end, so as to revise it at least twice . Chart out your own timetable and study the subject daily and not in discontinuous spurts. The subject is also very scoring in Mains as it is not subjective and questions asked are direct and also the mapping carries 120 marks which if practiced daily will get you good scores. Mapping is also very important in prelims so practice it regularly. The pattern of prelims appears to have changed recently by asking of conceptual question and also more questions from ‘thought’ and ‘cartography’ so concentrate on these areas.

In my first attempt I blindly followed some guides like volume I and 2 of Siddhartha and tried to mug up facts without understanding the concepts and hence failed in my first attempt to clear prelims. I changed my strategy completely and cleared both prelims and mains the next time, but scored very low in interview in both my second and third attempt and was unable to get any service and awaiting my results this time and hope to get moksha. So I would sincerely advise you all not to mug up guides and read different text books which are good on that particular topic. Selective reading of topics is therefore important. For example, geomorphology ,climatology and oceanography are dealt well in Savindra Singh but biogeography is not dealt well in it, and Rupa Series should be read for biogeography, so keep your prelims portion in front of you and deal with different subtopics from different sources which are as follows:

(1)Physical Geography:
geomorphology , climatology and oceanography can be covered from physical geography by Savindra Singh but bio geography part should be covered either from Rupa Series orTtata Mcgraw Hill. G C Leong 1-14th chapter should also be covered.
(2)Human Geography:
Man and environment relationship from geographical thought by Majid
Population from geography of population by R C Chandana
Economic activities would be covered in world geography so need not
prepare it seperately
Settlements from Rupa Series and Ramachandran
G C Leong 15th to 25th chapter and the last chapter i.e “The
First People” from human geography by Majid Hussein should be
(3)Geography of the World :
From Darshan Singh Manku or Tikka. Manku has recent data i.e of 2001
so manku is better. Don’t try to remember all places remember only
very important places for example mexico is famous for silver and
therefore need you need not worry about coal and iron industries in
mexico. I have seen many people unnecessarily getting tensed and
confused trying to remember all places and rankings in production
which is quite unnecessary.
(4)Geographical Thought :
From Majid Hussein and Adhikari. Recent pattern shows that thought
has become very crucial in prelims and they are asking questions in
depth so study both these books thoroughly and read in between lines.
(5)Techniques of Geographical Analysis :
From 11th qnd 12th NCERT books and
R L Singh and classnotes of either SK Manocha or Interactions.
Do this topic thoroughly as the questions asked in this topic have
increased over the years. Don’t just mug up projections rather try to understand how they are derived.
(6)Indian Geography :
From Khuller would suffice.
(7)Map Pointing :
From Oxford and Orient Longman.

I will definitely try to mail some useful information for prelims which are not available in these text books to my friend abhishek so that he can post it here.

“Luck is what you have left over after you give 100 percent. All of us have bad luck and good luck. The man who persists through the bad luck -- who keeps right on going -- is the man who is there when the good luck comes -- and is ready to receive it.”
Best of luck!!


Bindu@Hyderabad said...

Dear Abhishek,

Thanks a lot for this post. I was in the same boat as yours. I did BE in Electrical and electronics, but did it with great difficulty ;-).. finally rounded Geography as optional, so that I can take management as second option in Mains.. I did MBA after B.E.

Was really clueless about what to read.. I did start with NCERT.. And a friend of mine suggested Savindra Singh..

Thanks a lot for the detailed post about reference books.


Abhishek said...

@ Bindu ... well i m glad that u liked this post ,credit goes to my friend S.B. for sharing his experience and tips ... all d best !!!

Bindu@Hyderabad said...

Yes Abhishek, This post was like an oasis for me.. with no time to join Coaching classes as I have a 1 year old daughter!..

Yes Thanks to your friend.. I later realised it is posted by your friend.

Abhishek said...

@ Bibdu ... u r most welcome :)

Anonymous said...

hi!!! Abhishek,
Thanx a lot for this post.I have completed my BE in Electronics & Telecom,and have intense desire to crack civil services,your post guided me well wid the selection of optionals.
Thanks a lot for the detailed post about reference books.


Gagan said...

hi can anyone plz tell me which are good books for Geography for both prelims and main

sreekanth choudry said...

hi SB,

It was indeed a very nice post. were you successful this time?


Unknown said...

Dear Abhishek,
I am post graduate in physics.I will be appearing in I.C.S exam next year with physics(1st) and geography(2nd) as my optional subjects.I do not want to join classroom coaching.
Please give me detailed strategy for preparing geography for Mains exam(although this blog is for prelims).Also tell me whether joining correspondence course (like D.E.P. by Ensemble) for geography would be helpful or not.


Manohar said...

Hi Abhishek,

I am ur junior from IITM. I also did my B.Tech and M.Tech in electrical engg. I have also decided to choose geography as one of my optionals. However, I was looking at the previous years prelims and mains electrical engg papers and I felt that with a little more preparation I can do really well. Also, geography mains paper seemed to stress more on concepts than facts whereas geography prelims was all about FACTS. So I think kepping geoagraphy for mains(not prelims) will
1) enable the preparation to be more focussed
2) help is GS too

Do u agree with my thoughts ?

Anonymous said...

hii Abhi
I m also a lectrical student frm IIT D and now preparing for IAS .

CAn u plz tell me wats ur other optional .......i choose Pub aDD and GEo ...i have confusionin PUB ADD . If u have any suggestion related to other optional plz give some imp tips.

Chetan said...

Hi Sir,
Thanks for such an elaborate post on prelims preparation.
Sir can u also post something related to Geography mains preparation specially the Map.

Thanks a lot.


Anonymous said...

hey its manoj
form mumbai
i keep reading your posts but can i know that for geography which grade book i suppose to start
my email-manoj_2032@yahoo.com
i hope you will guide me
well thanks man for this good post

pavan said...

hey guys, im in the process of choosing my subjects. i went with geo for prelims and mains. and as my second optional im thinking english. any inputs for me wrt english.

GUFRAN said...

Hi Abhishek,
I have been following your advice on the books and have bought most of the books referred by you.
I have already studied geomorphology and oceanography from Savindar Singh satisfactorily. But I have little concerns regarding few topics from mains point of view.
1. Please mention specifically what books should be referred for Environmental Geography for mains. Will Made simple series be good as the topic is covered with the soils chapter?

Yours comments-

2. I faced difficulty while tracing syllabus from RC Chandana(Population Geography).Can you please tell me that if I have to skip few sections or I have to study all the chapters in the book from mains as well as prelims point of view?

Yours comments-

3. Which book shall I refer for

• Perspective in Human Geography
• Regional Planning
• Models, Theories and Laws in Human geography.
Currently I have two books for Human Geography
a) Human and Economic Geography by Leong and Morgan
b) Made simple
Yours comments-

4. I need your advice on how to prepare for cartography. I have RL Singh and NCERT part 1 and part 2 on mapping. The question asked in PT is 3-4 and the book is huge.

Your Comments-
5. I have analyzed previous ten years question paper and have to come to conclusion that I should rigorously study following chapters for mains point of view(for the 3 question in Paper 1).
a) Climatology
b) Oceanography
c) Biogeography
d) Populations and Settlement
e) Regional Planning
f) Models, Theories and Laws in Human Geography
g) Selective topics from all the chapters from short notes
h) Mapping from DS Manku.
Yours comments-
6.) Will you please like to suggest any thing for Indian Geography (Paper 2) as I have not charted any strategy for it?
Yours comments-
I honestly request your guidance on my struggle to crack mother of all exams.

Anonymous said...

hi abishek and SB thaks alot for giving as detailed report on prelims geo
Will u please post us the strategy for geography in mains.

Unknown said...

Hi Abhishek..

First of all you rock! I appreciate your nature in trying to help IAS aspirants. Can you tell me if you analysis of Geography prelims strategy holds good for 2010 too? Need you advice on the books as the syllabus is changed for 2010 prelims.


shh..... said...

hello everyone

pls tell me if the syllabus for geography (pre) 2010 has been changed or is it the same as before..

Unknown said...

hi abhishekh,

i m b.tech metallurgy in 8th semester.i m 4m srinagar J&K,we dont hv any quality coaching institute in this part of world.neither do we hv any proper guidance mechanism.
i m thinking abt choosing geography as an optional.
thank u for ur post, i will look forward for the suggested books,let us hope i will find them here.

shivam kumar said...

Hi friends i am keen to start civil services examination but i am confused with the optional subject. In my graduation subject was a foreign language which i can't take as an optional subject so i am thinking that one subject would be Public administration and 2nd would be Geography but for the 2nd suject option i am not very sure. could you suggest that Geography is good for opational.

Anonymous said...

hello , i am a second yr law student and i hve a lot of interest in geography . can i strt my prep fr upsc frm now or should i wait fr some time? thnx

madhu said...

Hai,I am a BE Holder,presently working in MNC.During my studies i applied for UPSC(IAS)exam,i got hall ticket aslo but I didnt attend exam.so whether it will be considered as my 1st attempt or not,so that it will be helpfull for future...pls reply as soon as possible

Advance thanx

GUFRAN said...

Hey Madhu,

It wont be counted as an attempt unless you sign the attendance sheet in the examination hall.

madhu said...

Thank you Gufran,
can you suggest me the text books to prepare for prelims as per the new scheme

seemapukhrambam said...

Hi All,

I am B.tech degree holder in Computer science. I really want to crack for UPSC IAS. however there is no option for computer in it.

Could you please suggest any good optional subjects for me?

I am really helpless and clueless.


Poshak Choudhary said...

Hii abhishek
Can u pls guide us for mains, pls share ur experience on how to write mains...thanx

Poshak Choudhary said...

Hii seems,
U can very well choose optional frm popular optional like
Pub ad,geography,sociology,anthropology,polity based on ur own intrest, as these has been proved ad most scoring sub in recent years and u can also go wid literature subjects as dey are also doing well..

Anonymous said...

Your post is informative....
Could you please tell me india map would be given or world map....Is it mentioned in the syllabus or not??? Places from world map or from india are asked???
thanks in advance.....:)

Unknown said...

Abhishek i would really say uv done a commendable job by putting up points one needs together for everyone :)

Rizzi i really like the course u mentioned in you comments and apart from that i took this course http://www.wiziq.com/course/7109-upsc-civil-services-general-studies-prelims-cum-mains-exam-preparation for coaching for ias general studies mains in hindi... It was really usefull... Thanku :)

Anonymous said...

can anyone help me giving guidelines in doing map pointing. do we need to demarcate states while doing it .