Over the past few years, the UPSC has placed higher weightage on the subject of Environment, Ecology and Biodiversity in its examination syllabus. Questions regarding the correct method to prepare the environment for UPSC exams are rampant.

Environment and ecology as subjects are ever-changing in nature, and there is no one source you can refer to for holistic knowledge on this subject. The absence of concrete study material and the probability of unpredictability in questions asked can put any aspirant in an uncomfortable position.

To put such doubts to rest, in this article we have penned down The Best Approach And Tips For Your Perfect Environment Exam Preparation.

How to Prepare an Environment Paper for the UPSC Exam?

The UPSC Civil Services Exam has undergone significant changes in recent years. The one noticeable change is that the subject of Ecology, Environment, and Biodiversity has been given more weight in the examination syllabus. 

The ecology as an optional subject is inherently dynamic. As a result, there is a scarcity of appropriate resources and books on the subject in the market. The lack of concrete study materials and the possibility of unpredictability in the questions asked can make any aspirant feel uneasy.

Should You Seriously Prepare the Environment for UPSC?

Yes, you must.  Ecology is an important topic from the perspective of both the IAS Prelims syllabus and the IAS mains.

Questions from this subject constitute approximately 25-30 percent of the general studies, paper 1. In the IAS prelims, a significant number of questions, precisely between 15 and 20 are asked every year.

It won’t be a wise decision to take preparation for the environment lightly.

Also Read: Environment Notes For UPSC: How To Prepare For Environment UPSC?

Let Us Review the Syllabus

The list mentioned below will help you understand the topics to study and segments you must strictly concentrate on:

Environmental Ecology and its General Issues

You must study the environmental impact assessment for UPSC. Gather knowledge on ecological terms like ecotone, the ecological ecosystem, the food chain in the ecosystem., environmental deterioration and its effects on human beings.

Biodiversity (Part of Geography)

Study International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), why biodiversity is important for human survival,  Red Data Book and Biodiversity Hotspots.


Cover Acid rain, Greenhouse Gases (GHG’s), Photochemical smog, algal bloom, and the Ozone hole.

Sustainable Development

Cover Biotechnology (bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides), renewable energy, Biomass gasification.

Climate Change

Study the mitigation measures taken at the national and international level (Kyoto protocol, Montreal protocol) as well as recent climate change summits held and the objectives of the summits.


Cover National Parks, Wildlife conservation, Biosphere Reserves, Conservation of natural resources, internationally recognized Wetlands and Biosphere Reserves of India.

Make Environment Notes for UPSC from Topics Like

Ecologically sensitive areas

Western Ghats, Himalayas

Laws, Regulatory Bodies and Policies at the national and international level

Cover the Forest Right Act, National Biodiversity Authority, Environment Protection Act, Protocols and Summits like Nagoya Protocol, Cartagena Protocol, and Lima Conference etc.

Organisations like UNEP, FAO, UNESCO etc.

Intergovernmental Organizations, Treaties And Conventions Related To Climate Change, Biodiversity

Cover the Montreux Record, The three Rio Conventions—Convention on Biological Diversity(CoB), Ramsar Convention, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification – from the 1992 Earth Summit) etc.

Also Read: Environment and Ecology for UPSC: How to Start Preparing for UPSC?

Effective Tips to Start Preparing for Environment & Ecology for UPSC

Before we get to the perfect method to prepare, here are a few effective tips to get you started:-

You must read the newspapers regularly

When reading the newspaper, you must be able to pick out and study only the relevant issues

Try to form a conceptual knowledge base regarding crucial environment-related news you read

For example,  for a news article about the ‘Central Pollution Control Board’, you must read up on this body

Do not be surprised to see questions that technically fall under biology/ zoology/ geography be asked under this section

A simple approach for environment-related topics is a good mix of the static and dynamic portions.

Best Resources to Prepare for UPSC!

Let us now explore the best environment book for UPSC to refer to for this crucial subject:

The NCERT Textbooks

The NCERT textbooks are your go-to reference guide to understand the basics. The language used in these books is simple with the right amount of technical jargon that will introduce you to the foundational terminology.

Class VI To Class XI – Ncert Geography

Class VII And Class X – Ncert Science

Class XII – Ncert Chemistry

Class XII – Ncert Biology

Environmental Ecology Biodiversity & Climate Change –Pratiyogita Darpan

Ecology and Environment by P. D. Sharma


Besides the above-mentioned reference textbooks, you must also refer to the Science Reporter, Down To Earth, and pratiyogita darpan magazine.

The Newspaper

As with the preparation of any other subject, Environment also demands the regular reading of The Hindu to keep abreast with all current issues dealing with the topic.

#The Official Website Of The Environment Ministry

The Environment Ministry is responsible for all the laws, practices, problem identification and rectification regarding the environment in India.

Also Read: Environment and Sustainable Development: Everything You Need to Know for the UPSC Exam

Must-take Approach to Prepare Environment for UPSC

Your aim must be to create the perfect mix of the static and dynamic portion.

You must make it a point to strategically place the above-mentioned sources in your daily study hours. This will help you tackle questions from this section in the prelims.

You must start building your basics with the NCERT books of general science and geography as given above.

You must be selective while reading from NCERT books and pick chapters strictly relevant to Ecology, Environment, Biodiversity and Climate Change.

The NCERT books will help build a strong foundation but as a novice, you’ll largely be unaware of the terminology and multiple concepts.

This gap can be bridged by taking up a strong reference book.

Some More

We strongly suggest Ecology and Environment by P.D. Sharma. The book is the go-to preparatory book for all UPSC aspirants for this subject. The book encompasses all crucial topics and is written in an easy to understand simple language.

Certain information including the terms like publication reports, organizations, issues, treaties, etc. related to Environment must be paid attention to.

You must make a note on information surrounding the above-mentioned terminologies by collecting relevant information and current issues related to it.

You must analyze the nature of questions from the previous years’ papers to prepare accordingly.

Practice multiple-choice questions. It will help you review your knowledge and revise whatever you’ve studied.

You must stay updated with all current issues of national and international environmental importance.

How to Prepare the Environment for UPSC Prelims and Mains?

The problem with UPSC’s ecology section is that, unlike history or geography, there is no set syllabus. Another issue is that there are no tried-and-true books like there are for traditional subjects. Because of the strong connection to current events, it is prudent for you to scan the daily newspapers and then correlate any topic in the prescribed books. 

Going over previous years’ question papers and analysing the environment questions is a good way to start studying the UPSC.

There is a lot of overlap in the syllabus between Geography, Science and Technology, and current events. As a result, if you thoroughly cover the environment and ecology section of the syllabus, you will undoubtedly gain an advantage in the other subjects as well. The following is the strategy for getting ready: 

Also Read: Environment Vs Development Initiative: One of the Most Common Topics in UPSC Exams

Read the Syllabus 

Read the following sections of the syllabus: Go over the syllabus for the subject and try to memorise it so you can map out the topics in your head. You’ll be able to filter out irrelevant study material and keep your preparation focused if you do it this way.

Examine and Read NCERTs

Examine PYQs: PYQs will provide you with a basic understanding of the level of the questions that are asked, allowing you to choose your resources more wisely. 

Read Biology NCERT Class XII: The last four chapters of this book concisely cover all of the basic and foundational concepts. As a result, reading them will familiarise you with some terms that may appear on the exam. 

Current Affairs

Current Affairs: Another important area to consider when it comes to environmental and ecology issues is current affairs. Prepare notes from editorials in the Hindu and articles in monthly magazines like Kurukshetra and Yojana. Then, to ensure that the concepts are retained, keep revising them.

Climate change, ecosystem, natural disasters, sustainable development, and other related terms are frequently mentioned in the news. 

Topics in ecology can be linked to core concepts in other subjects such as zoology, geography, botany, biology, and economics. 

Many government schemes are linked to the conservation of flora and fauna, preserving natural resources and the environment, and pollution reduction, among other things, so the environment can overlap with policy and governance.


Just follow these tips religiously and referring only to the above-mentioned sources of study will help you prepare the Environment for UPSC. To gain the required knowledge, retain relevant information and write expected answers on your d-day, you must make these tips a daily practice.

Good luck!

Also Read: Environment and Ecology Books for UPSC: Here’s the Syllabus & the Best Books to Refer

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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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