If there is one intriguing aspect of the Geography optional, it is its popularity, which attracts a huge number of Civil Services candidates, since this choice has helped many UPSC toppers succeed.

Candidates who chose Geography as an optional subject have an abundance of the following:

#A wide range of study materials is available (Both online and offline)

#There is a variety of coaching alternatives to pick from.

#To learn from topper’s techniques.

As a result, if you have a science background, you will not be disappointed if you choose geography as your optional. It is critical to study with a well-structured study strategy throughout UPSC exam preparation to effectively cover the geography optional subject.

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Strategy to Prepare for Geography Optional for UPSC

We’ve collected a list of Civil Service toppers who studied had the optional. This optional is a magical subject, as evidenced by the extensive list of toppers.

Name Year Rank
Junaid Ahmad 2018 3
Ayush Sinha 2017 7
Saad Miya Khan 2017 25
Saumya Pandey 2016 4
Shweta Chauhan 2016 8
Sibi Adhithya Senthil Kumar 2015 72
Ira Singhal 2014 1

How Do Prepare for Geography Optional?

Start with NCERTs

The NCERTs will help you lay a strong foundation and clear your basics by explaining subjects in simple, easy-to-understand language. Once you’ve mastered the essentials, you can go on to more complex versions of books for preparation, such as Physical Geography by Savindra Singh.

Refer to Atlas

Without consulting an atlas, geography preparation is insufficient. It is critical to have an atlas with you at all times to be properly prepared. It will not only assist you in better understanding the concepts, but it will also assist you in retaining them for a longer period. Orient Blackswan Atlas and Oxford Atlas are two well-known Atlases on the market. You are free to utilise and learn from any of them.

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Interlink with Current Affairs

While studying for the static section, concentrate on current events relevant to geography. The days of the UPSC merely asking questions from the Static section are long gone. Times have changed, and it is now common to encounter questions about current events.

As a result, it’s best to concentrate on current events while studying for the Static section. Kurukshetra, Yojana, and Down to Earth magazine are all good resources for this.

Focus on Maps and Statistics

Maps are powerful magnets that can attract high grades if properly planned and rehearsed during the preparation process. Consider using textbooks to create region-specific maps that cover themes such as physical features, agriculture, soil, rivers, geography, monsoons, drainage, and so on.

Instead of writing GS type replies, be sure to include maps, diagrams, and all necessary data in your answers to make them more optional oriented.

To make your preparation and strategy more productive, focus on an integrated timetable and preparation. You can use the appropriate concepts/models learnt in Paper-I to make your replies more appealing when composing answers for Paper-II. Integrated preparation will offer you a leg up on the competition when it comes to exam preparation.

Making Notes

Making notes and consulting previous year’s questions is an unavoidable aspect of UPSC exam preparation. While self-prepared notes will act as your ultimate guide and help you save time during revision, previous year’s questions will assist you to understand the types of questions that will be asked on the exam.

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Why Choose Geography Optional?

#The subject is a scientific field of study (unlike traditional science; here we learn topics varying from the universe to physical topography). As a result, many aspirants with medical, science, and engineering backgrounds prefer it.

#There isn’t a lot of rehearsing required. Only notions must be comprehended.

#There is no shortage of resources for the subject.

#Both in the prelims and the mains, it has a lot of overlap with General Studies.

#The subject has a lot of overlap with areas like environment, ecology, economics, and conservation as the questions become more dynamic and less static.

#Aspirants can also use what they’ve learned in the subject in their essays on a variety of topics.

Some More

#The subject will be important even in the UPSC personality test, as the board may ask questions about the local subject of a candidate’s home town, such as soil, plants, minerals, and so on.

#The subject is a high-scoring topic because, unlike other humanities courses, it does not allow for much interpretation. Diagrams, flowcharts, maps and other visual aids can also be employed to boost your grade.

#The questions that are based on maps are also scored.

UPSC Exam Preparation

For Paper I

#Certificate Physical and Human Geography by GC Leong

#Human Geography by Majid Hussain

#Physical Geography by Savindra Singh

#Physical Geography by Rupa Publications

#Models in Geography by Majid Hussain

#Geographical Thought by RD Dikshit

For Paper-II

#Geography of India by Majid Hussain

#India A Comprehensive Geography by Khullar

#Current affairs magazines, blogs, websites, newspapers (The Hindu/The Indian Express)

#Class XI and XII NCERTs

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Types of Questions

These are direct questions from the syllabus and pattern, such as what the differences are between temperate and tropical cyclones. Because everyone writes the same thing in these situations, it’s critical to convey your response engagingly. Make your response neat and accurate. Wherever possible, use diagrams.

There is more leeway to include positive and negative elements of concepts in these queries. You should additionally address other aspects of the problem or concept raised in the question. If at all possible, include map locations and drawings.

Practice the map-based questions in the IAS mains for the past 20 years. Daily practice will help you internalise crucial markings, locations, and other details.


It is a personal decision to choose an optional subject for the UPSC civil service mains exam. Every person is different in terms of their talents and weaknesses, as well as their educational and professional backgrounds.

An aspirant must assess the benefits and drawbacks of each optional subject, and if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, he or she can choose that subject. The UPSC Civil Services test necessitates the support and guidance of expert brains, and we have India’s best UPSC teachers at UPSC Pathshala.

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How do prepare for Geography optional? Why choose Geography as optional? What will be the preparation strategy for optional? Click here to know the tips and preparation tips for UPSC.
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