In terms of the UPSC civil services examination, geography is an essential topic. The UPSC prelims and mains examinations include it. Geography is another optional topic given by the commission, and it is a hugely popular choice in terms of numbers.

It is extremely popular among applicants with both scientific and artistic backgrounds due to its logical character and scoring abilities. Even if you don’t choose it as an optional subject, you can’t avoid studying it if you want to pass the IAS test.

In this article, we have answered your query is the NCERT Geography book sufficient for UPSC preparation? along with other necessary details,

UPSC Prelims Geography Syllabus

The first step is to check out the syllabus of Geography. Go through the sections below to understand the syllabus.

Indian Geography

Basics of India

Location, latitude, longitude, time zone, etc.


Important straits

States and their position

States with international boundaries

Physical Features

The Himalayas – geological formation, climate, vegetation, soil, biodiversity, physiographic divisions, major passes, significance

The Great North Indian Plains – geological formation, physiographic divisions, climate, vegetation, soil, biodiversity, significance

Peninsular Plateau – geological formation, Central Highlands, Deccan Plateau, Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats

Indian Desert

Coastal plains and islands

River systems

Himalayan rivers

Peninsular rivers

River basins

Regional development and planning

Hydropower projects, major dams

West-flowing and east-flowing rivers

Interlinking of rivers

Also Read : Daily GK Current Affairs July 2021: Know the July Current Affairs Sources, MCQs & Preparation Tips


Monsoons – driving mechanism, El Nino, La Nina



Minerals and Industries

Mineral distribution, industrial policies, location


Land utilisation

Types of agricultural practices

Green revolution

Soils and crops


Land reforms

Animal husbandry

Government schemes

Natural Vegetation and Fauna

Classification of natural vegetation

Rainfall distribution

Biosphere reserves, national parks, etc.

Red-listed species

Economic Infrastructure

Transportation (highways, inland waterways, etc.)

Power and energy sector

Conventional and non-conventional sources of energy

Energy conservation

Human Geography


Recent census

World Geography

Major natural regions

Regional geography of developed countries

Regional geography of developing countries

Regional geography of South Asia

Physical Geography


Origin of the earth

Interior of the earth

Types and characteristics of rocks

Folding and Faulting

Volcanoes, earthquakes

Interior of the earth


Landforms formed by fluvial, aeolian and glacial actions


Atmosphere – structure and composition


Pressure belts

Wind systems

Clouds and types of rainfall

Cyclones and anticyclones

Major climatic types


Ocean relief

Temperature, salinity

Ocean deposits

Ocean currents

El Nino and La Nina

Waves and tides


Soil – origin and types

Major biomes of the world

Ecosystem, food chain

Environmental degradation and conservation

Human Geography

Man & environment; relationship, growth and development of human geography; determinism and possibilism

Population, tribes, migration

Economic activities – agriculture, manufacturing, industries, tertiary activities

Settlements, urbanisation, functional classification of towns, million-cities and megacities

Also Read : Environment Questions in UPSC Prelims 2020: Here’re the Prelims Questions with Detailed Answers

UPSC Mains Geography Syllabus

Distribution of key natural resources across the world including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent; factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world including India

Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclones etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes

Salient features of the world’s physical geography (geomorphology, climatology, oceanography, biogeography and environmental geography)


The interior of the earth, tectonics, physical phenomenon, mountain building, volcanoes, earthquakes, weathering & erosion, rocks, landforms


Atmosphere, temperature distribution, jet streams, pressure & wind systems, air masses, fronts, cyclones, humidity, precipitation, geographical phenomenon, climatic regions of the world


Ocean relief, temperature distribution, ocean currents, salinity, coral bleaching, marine pollution, sea level change, UN laws, etc.


Soil profile, degradation, conservation), biotic regions, deforestation and conservation of forests, changes in critical geographical features, environmental pollution

Is the NCERT Geography Book Sufficient or UPSC Preparation?

Is Geography NCERT enough for UPSC mains? The answer is NO! NCERT Geography books are sufficient for IAS preparation since they cover the fundamental ideas and terminology of geography. However, because these study resources include a lot of information, aspirants must be selective when studying for the IAS Prelims Exam.

Geography NCERT Books for UPSC

Do you have this query which Geography NCERT for UPSC? Well, here is a list of NCERT books that you can study for the UPSC exam:

Class Book
Class 6 The Earth Our Habitat
Class 8 Resource And Development
Class 9 Contemporary India
Class 10 Contemporary India
Class 11 Fundamental of Physical Geography
Class 11 Practical Work In Geography
Class 11 India Physical Environment
Class 12 Fundamentals Of Human Geography
Class 12 Practical Work In Geography II
Class 12 India-People and Economy 

Also Read : Prelims Question Paper of UPSC: Checkout These Previous Years Papers & Boost-up Your Preparation

How to Read Geography NCERT for UPSC?

You may select whatever option best matches your capabilities and strategy. However, the best way to complete NCERTs is to:

# In the first reading, underline the key topics.

# In the second reading, read and improve the underlined material.

# Make clear notes of NCERTs in the last reading and, from now on, forget about the books and depend only on your notes.

# Review them regularly, and after 4 to 5 iterations, you should be able to revise the whole NCERT books in about 4-5 hours.

# Always remember that it is not about studying and completing books, but about remembering such concepts and information so that you can recollect them in the prelims and recreate them in the mains test.

Is Geography a Good Optional Subject?

According to data available on the UPSC portal, Geography is the most popular optional subject among applicants. According to past year patterns, around 3500 students choose it as their optional subject in UPSC CSE each year.

The choice of optional subjects for the UPSC civil service mains test is a personal one. Every person has distinct talents and limitations, as well as diverse academic and employment backgrounds.

An applicant must balance the benefits and drawbacks of each optional subject, and if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, he or she can choose that subject.


# This subject is a field of science. As a result, many applicants from scientific, medical, and engineering fields choose it.

# There isn’t much faking necessary. Only concepts must be grasped.

# There is no shortage of resources.

# It has a lot of overlap with GS in both preliminaries and mains.

# Aspirants can also use what they have learned in this subject to write their essay papers on a variety of themes.

# The map-based questions have a score as well.


# The most significant disadvantage is its extensive syllabus.

# When contrasted to other topics, competition in this optional course is fierce.


If one has selected Geography as an optional subject for the UPSC Mains, one should fully prepare for it by studying prior years’ exams as well as reading appropriate books.

Mapping topics should always be included in preparation because they are a continual element of the question paper format. IAS candidates may ensure success by combining their preparation with practice for General Studies in preliminaries and mains exams.

Better up your UPSC preparation with well-planned courses from UPSC Pathshala because here, you not only get the perfect courses but you also get customized study strategies developed by expert mentors according to your preparation need. Don’t believe what you read? Book a Free Demo and check it out yourself.

Also Read: UPSC Exam Syllabus 2021: Know all the Insights about Prelims, Mains and Interview Round

Content Protection by
Article Name
How to Read Geography NCERT for UPSC? List of Geography Books for UPSC 2021
Is the NCERT Geography book sufficient for UPSC preparation? We know you have this query in your mind if you have chosen Geography as your optional. Click here to find the answers.
Publisher Name
UPSC Pathshala
Publisher Logo

About the Author

Madhurjya Chowdhury

Madhurjya Chowdhury, a web content writer in Ufaber EduTech has a very strong passion for writing and alluring the readers. You can find him writing articles for the betterment of exam aspirants and children. With immense interest in research-based content writing and copywriting, he likes to reach out to more and more people with his creative writing style. On the other side, he is an Electronics and Communication Engineer from LPU, Jalandhar. In his leisure time, he likes to play badminton or read about space discoveries. Apart from this, he is a pro gamer on PC, PS and Mobile gaming platforms.

View All Articles