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Geography is the only subject that is semi scientific in nature and suits the psyche and aptitude of science students most. Moreover, this is the only subject in the ‘Social’ segment that has the potential of scoring 350-395 marks in it. The science students, therefore, do not really have to get disheartened that they have to leave their subjects which had a potential of 350-395 marks.

As a result of the recent changes, the subject of Geography has become very scoring. This is because of:

  • The contents of the new syllabus are too theoretical, the questions therefore, will be straightforward.
  • Since one question has to be answered in each paper from the mapping section, it is theoretically possible to score 50 out of 60 in at least one question in each paper. And this mapping section save time for other questions to deal much more patiently.
  • The students will have a greater choice of picking up topics that are more marks fetching since there are greater number of topic that are theoretical.

Less Effort Required

The students will be required to answer three full answers (in all probability) from ten subjects. There will be many sections which the students can safely leave. For example, if the students intensively prepare geomorphology, climatology, niogeography in section A and population and settlement, economic and model and theory in section B, they can easily answer three full answers out of six subjects. The same will apply for the IInd paper as well.

Help in General Studies

The greatest advantages of the newly framed syllabus is the help it gives to the students, In any case, the student is not generally required to prepare Indian geography section of GS, but there is such a close correspondence between the Contemporary issues in the IInd paper geography and the new Current Affairs section of GS that the student is bound to get a leverage of 50 bonus marks additionally.

Labour will not go unrewarded

Some subjects are not so safe in the sense the even if the examination performance is very good, the candidate does not score good marks. This is not going to be so with geography because to prepare for the subject called geography one has to beat around the bush to collect material and once it has been done, then putting it on the examination paper will definitely call for appreciation from the examiner and consequently, one world get good marks.




Section – A

Physical Geography :

  1. GEOMORPHOLOGY : Factors controlling landform development; endogenetic and exogenetic forces; Origin and evolution of the earth’s crusts; Fundamentals of geomagnetism; Physical conditions of the earth’s interior; Geosynclines; Continental drift; Isostasy; Plate tectonics; Recent views on mountain building; Volcanicity; Earthquakes and Tsunamis; Concepts of geomorphic cycles and Land scape development; Denudation chronology; Channel morphology; Erosion surfaces; Slope development; Applied Geomorphology; Geomorphology, economic geology and environment.
  2. Climatology : Temperature and pressure belts of the world; Heat budget of the earth; Atmospheric circulation; Atmospheric stability and instability. Planetary and local winds; Monsoons and jet streams; Air masses and fronto; Temperate and tropical cyclones; Types and distribution of precipitation; Weather and Climate; Koppen’s Thornthwaite’s and Trewar Tha’s classification of world climate; Hydrological cycle; Global climatic change, and role and response of man in climatic changes Applied climatology and Urban climate.
  3. Oceanography : Bottom topography of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans; Temperature and salinity of the oceans; Heat and salt budgets, Ocean deposits; Waves, currents and tides; Marine resources; biotic, mineral and energy resources; Coral reefs coral bleaching; Sea-level changes; Law of the sea and marine pollution.
  4. Biogeography : Genesis of soils; Classification and distribution of soils; Soil profile; Soil erosion, Degrada-tion and conservation; Factors influencing world distribution of plants and animals; Problems of deforestation and conservation measures; Social forestry, agro-forestry; Wild life; Major gene pool centres.
  5. Environmental Geography : Principle ecology; Human ecological adaptations; Influence of man on ecology and environment; Global and regional ecological changes and imbalances; Ecosystem their management and conservation; Environmental degradation, management and conservation; Biodiversity and sustainable development; Environmental policy; Environmental hazards and remedial measures; Environmental education and legislation.

Section – B

Human Geography :

  1. Perspectives in Human Geography : Areal differentiation; Regional synthesis; Dichotomy and dualism; Environmentalism; Quantitative revolution and locational analysis; Radical, behavioural, human and welfare approaches; Languages, religions and secularisation; Cultural regions of the world; Human development indix.
  2. Economic Geography : World economic development: measurement and problems; World resources and their distribution; Energy crisis; the limits to growth; World agriculture: typology of agricultural regions; Agricultural inputs and productivity; Food and nutritions problems; Food security; famine: causes, effects and remedies; World industries: location patterns and problems; Patterns of world trade.
  3. Population and Settlement Geography : Growth and distribution of world population; Demographic attributes; Causes and consequences of migration; Concepts of over-under-and optimum population; Population theories, world population problems and policies, Social well-being and quality of life; Population as social capital.

        Types and patterns of rural settlements; Environmental issues in rural settlements; Hierarchy of urban settlements; Urban morphology; Concept of primate city and rank-size rule; Functional classification of towns; Sphere of urban influence; Rural-urban fringe; Satellite towns; Problems and remedies of urbanization; Sustainable development of cities.

  1. Regional Planning : Concept of a region; Types of regions and methods of regionalisation; Growth centres and growth poles; Regional imbalances; Regional development strategies; Environmental issues in regional planning; Planning for sustainable development.
  2. Models, Theories and Laws in Human Geography : System analysis in Human geography; Malthusian, Marxian and demographic transition models; Central Place theories of Christaller and Losch; Perroux and Boudeville; Von Thunen’s model of agricultural location; Weber’s model of industrial location; Ostov’s model of stages of growth. Heart-land and Rimland theories; Laws of international boundaries and frontiers.



Section – B

  1. Physical Setting : Space relationship of India with neighbouring countries; Structure and relief; Drainage system and watersheds; Physiographic regions; Mechanism of Indian monsoons and rainfall patterns; Tropical cyclones and western disturbances; Floods and droughts; Climatic regions; Natural vegetation, Soil types and their distributions.
  2. Resources : Land, surface and ground water, energy, minerals, biotic and marine resources, Forest and wild life resources and their conservation; Energy crisis.
  3. Agriculture : Infrastructure: irrigation, seeds, fertilizers, power; Institutional factors; land holdings, land tenure and land reforms; Cropping pattern, agricultural productivity, agricultural intensity, crop combination, land capability; Agro and social-forestry; Green revolution and its socio-economic and ecological implications; Significance of dry farming; Livestock resources and white revolution; Aqua-culture; Sericulture, Agriculture and poultry; Agricultural regionalisation; Agro-climatic zones; Agro-ecological regions.
  4. Industry : Evolution of industries; Locational factors of cotton, jute, textile, iron and steel, aluminium, fertiliser, paper, chemical and pharmaceutical, automobile, cottage and ago-based industries; Industrial houses and complexes including public sector underkings; Industrial regionalisation; New industrial policy; Multinationals and liberalisation; Special Economic Zones; Tourism including ecotourism.
  5. Transport, Communication and Trade : Road, railway, waterway, airway and pipeline net works and their complementary roles in regional development; Growing importance of ports on national and foreign trade; Trade balance; Trade Policy;Export processing zones; Developments in communication and information technology and their impacts on economy and society; Indian space programme.


  1. Cultural Setting : Historical Perspective of Indian Society; Racial linguistic and ethnic diversities; religious minorities; Major tribes, tribal areas and their problems; Cultural regions; Growth, distribution and density of population; Demographic attributes: sex-ratio, age structure, literacy rate, work-force, dependency ratio, longevity; migration (inter-regional, interaregional and international) and associated problems; Population problems and policies; Health indicators.
  2. Settlements : Types, patterns and morphology of rural settlements; Urban developments; Morphology of Indian cities; Functional classification of Indian cities; Conurbations and metropolitan regions; Urban sprawl; Slums and asssociated problems; Town planning; Problems of urbanisation and remedies.
  3. Regional Development and Planning: Experience of regional planning in India; Five Year Plans; Integrated rural development programmes; Panchayati Raj and decentralised planning; Command area development; Watershed management; Planning for backward area, desert, drought-prone, hill tribal area development; Multi-level planning; Regional planning and development of island territories.
  4. Political Aspects : Geographical basis of Indian federalism; State reorganisation; Emergence of new states; Regional consciousness and inter-state issues; International boundary of India and related issues; Cross-border terrorism; India’s role in world affairs; Geopolitics of South Asia and Indian Ocean realm.
  5. Contemporary Issues : Ecological issues: Environmental hazards: landslides, earthquakes, Tsunamis, floods and droughts, epidemics; Issues related to environmental pollution; Changes in patterns of land use; Principles of environmental impact assessment and environmental management; Population explosion and food security; Environmental degradation; Deforestation, desertification and soil erosion; Problems of agrarian and industrial unrest; Regional disparities in economic development; Concept of sustainable growth and development; Environmental awareness; Linkage of rivers; Globalisation and Indian economy.

NOTE : Candidates will be required to answer one compulsory map question pertinent to subjects covered by this paper.

Syllabus Analysis

Candidate will have to answer five questions in all Q. No. 1 and 2 will be compulsory while the candidates will be required to answer three question choosing not more then two questions from either section.

Compulsory Questions :

  1. Locational Aspects – Words – 50 marks.
  2. Short Notes – 50 marks.
    A. Section
  3. Geomorphology – 50 marks.
  4. Climatology – 50 marks.
  5. Biogeography – 50 marks.
    B. Section
  6. Perspectives in Human Geography – 50 marks.
  7. Economic Geography – 50 marks.
  8. Models and theories – 50 marks.


        The Paper-II will also reflect these changes. The typical setting of questions paper in the IInd paper will be :

Compulsory Questions.

  1. Locational Aspects on India – 50 marks.
  2. Short notes – 50 marks
    Optional questions-three questions are to be answered. Maximum of two to be chosen from each section.

A. Section

  1. Physical setting
  2. Resource
  3. Agriculture

B. Section

  1. Cultural setting
  2. Political Aspects
  3. Contemporary issues

How to prepare for Geography Syllabus

Since Geography is a conceptual, factual as well as analytical subject its preparation can be done by the students of science, social science as well as literature. Self-study is the best way to prepare for this examination. Although it is not simple, rather arduous process, it has many advantages. Self-study can be divided into various segments.

  1. Getting to know about the topic
  2. Getting concept and knowledge of topic
  3. Writing answers.

The preparation, actually, begins with getting to know about the topic. In Geography, this is a peculiar problem because of its multidisciplinary nature. Temperature my mean something else in physics but in geography its meaning will be very different. Similarly, biotic succession, tides, corals, economic development, human evolution, slums all will have different meaning in their respective subjects but will have an entirely different meaning in geography. Thus, a candidate has to know the limits within which one has to define the topic.

The second stage of preparation concerns itself with mastering the topic. This involves developing a concept and obtaining information. In this regard, nothing helps as much as reading good books. The essential ingredient of a good book is systematic analysis of topics, organized and structured representation, greater emphasis on illustrations, a geographical language and to the point dealing. Avoid any book that has lot of redundancy.

Your first step for self-preparation is the choice of books. The choice of books in a sense reflects the personality of candidate. Book of foreign authors are to costly and written in an analytical manner, but without Indian examples. There are many Indian authors who have tried to incorporate Indian examples with valuable information the their applied part in Indian context. Therefore, the students should be on the look out for any new and updated publication which would enrich their answers and depend not only on the traditions books.

Trend of questions asked

In Paper-I, two compulsory questions will be asked :

  1. Locational Aspects of World
  2. Short notes

The four short notes that are asked are drawn almost equally from physical and human geography sections.

Out of three full answers, one has to answer questions drawn from physical and human geography sections, i.e., geomorphology, climatology, oceanography, biogeography, environmental geography population and settlement, economic Geography, Models and Theories and perspective on human geography. To be on the safer side of the preparation, one has to pick up these five sections (out of ten) and prepare them comprehensively. The five sections can be in any other combination as well.

In the second paper, the two compulsory questions will be on the locational aspects of India and a short note. For the long answers in the second paper, physical setting resources and agriculture and industry can be considered as one section and the rest of its as the second section. Here, questions will be equally asked from these two sections.

More important than these two aspects, however, is writing answers. There are three types of answers required in Civil Services-one for the short notes, one for the long answer in the first paper and an entirely different approach in the second paper.

Preparing short notes for the first paper

In the first paper, the short notes are put exactly in the same manner as they are in the syllabus. For example sea floor spreading, jet stream, ocean bottoms relief, demographic transition, limits to growth, rank size rule, etc. When short note are asked in this manner one should put everything. The topic should be composed of in an organized manner. The contents and the structure are what the examiner will be looking for in the answer. If you have been asked a short note on sea floor spreading then the components and organization will be in the following manner :

  • Concept
  • Mechanism of sea floor spreading
  • Evidence of sea floor spreading
  • Problems related to sea floor spreading concept

Similarly a short note on earth quakes will comprise of :

  • definition
  • basic concepts
  • types of earthquakes
  • occurrence of earthquakes
  • causes of earthquakes
  • intensity of earthquakes
  • magnitude of earthquake
  • effect of earthquakes
  • control and prediction of earthquakes initially, it may seem difficult to put so many things in one short note but it is not impossible. You only need some practice to achieve this.

How to write long answers

There are three things the examiner is looking for in your answer.

  • You knowledge
  • Your concept and illustration and
  • How organized your thinking is

The greatest emphasis is given on the organization of thinking. The heart of the matter is that the more organised your thing is the better concepts you have. Knowledge is least significant in this respect and last in the priority. How organized your thinking is best reflected in how well structured your answer is.

How to answer questions for the second paper

The second paper is completely a different ball game than the first paper. This is because of many reasons. They are :

  • Knowledge of topic is even less significant than it is in the first paper.
  • Language plays a key role and a much more important role than it plays in the first paper. A lucid language more than makes up for lack of information.
  • Analysis is the key to scoring marks. There will be many places where the students will be required to give his or her own view. This view must be the outcome of a logical conclusion which is analysis. The view many students carry that if one incorporates more data into answers then they will fetch better marks, is completely erroneous. It is the analysis of the data that is any day more significant.

Since the questions asked in the second paper are not always from a single topic, the preparation also requires a different strategy. The best way to prepare the second paper is writing short notes on each and every topic. This will have two advantages.

  1. Students will be acquainted with all the topics.
  2. This will enable students to achieve a greater degree of corelationship between the topics.

This correlationship will lead to a better analysis and will enable students to make better conclusion.

Deciphering meaning of questions

You must specifically know what all you are being asked.

  • ‘Describe’, ‘outline’, Give account of, ‘Writing a geographical essay on’, each of these asks for a fairly straightforward, usually factual essay, which needs an orderly, logical presentation of information.
  • ‘Explain’, ‘Examine’, ‘Analyse’, ‘Assess’, each of these demand an answer that puts forward arguments, critical comment and evidence, which is judged and evaluated. The reasons both for and against a particular phenomena should be covered and, normally, a well argued conclusion is required.
  • ‘Compare’, ‘Contrast’, both of these ask for the constant comparison of two or more geographical features. The candidate must not write separate descriptions and compare only at the end of the essay. Similarities as well as difference should be considered in every paragraph.

How to mark location on the map

  • Marking the locations on the map is one of the most difficult things if it has not been practiced very well. Although it is not within the realm of this article to discuss or represent the concept, certain things must be looked after. The map can be attempted by dividing it into grids or looking for certain coordinates which will help localize the places. Grid approach is more safe in the sense the locations can be near to perfect. But it has certain problems-it is cumbersome, it is very time taking and it can be rendered unworkable if the scale of the map changes. The use of coordinates is a much better mode of representing the locations since it is less time taking and even if the scale of the map changes the method can be still very effective. A careful choice of coordinate can help locate 35-40 locations.

How to choose a good book

There are certain things you should look for in a good book :

  • The contents whether it conforms to the syllabus or not.
  • The organisation of the topic, its structuring. In general, many books having a very analytical presentation can be avoided in the beginning. Books, which represent facts in a clear and marked manner, are most suitable.
  • Number of illustrations and their clarity.

It is remarkable that not many foreign authors and their books have been mentioned. Most of these books published in North America and Europe cater to the needs of the students in their own countries rather that in India. These books, therefore, fail to give any orientation to the students as far as civil services examination is concerned.

Some books written by Indian authors may not also fulfil these requirements. Most books are oriented toward the university examination. The pattern of these examinations is completely different and most of the times opposite to that of civil services examination. Essentially you have to prepare answers from these books.

Writing stereotyped answers with obsolete information and rudimentary illustrations will only spoil your attempt. To stands apart from the crowd your answer has to be novel (not radical), with a contemporary perspective (not traditional) and an approach that is multidimensional (not geographical). Thus, you should go for books written not only by geographers but also by environmentalist, economists and rationalists.

A word of caution

It must be noted that students who prepare for the civil services examination in some coaching institutes may not find that these titles in the list of books recommended by the institutes. Most of the institutes do not the best books available because they themselves teach from these books and suggesting those books would amount to losing their so-called exclusivity. Do not show haste in buying books. Go step by step.

Beginning the study of Books

The best way to begin the subject is start reading the books one had studied in IX and X standard in school. Although many people do not realize its importance but this alone can make a great difference in comprehending the subject. In the second stage, one should acquaint oneself with some locational aspects in the world and India. Then the students should begin systematically with the syllabus, starting in the following sequence : Human geography-economic geography-settlement geography-political geography-geomorphology-climatology oceanography-soils and vegetation-ecosystem and geographical thought. For Indian geography, follow the topics exactly in the manner given in the syllabus.

General Topics and Their Source


New Topics

The best available source


Factors controlling land-form development

The Earth’s Dynamic Surface by K. Siddhartha


Applied Geomorphology

Geomorphology by W.D. Thornbury


Climatic change

Atmosphere, Weather and Climate by K. Siddhartha


Sea-level changes

Oceanography A brief Introduction by K. Siddhartha


Factors influencing world distribution of plants and animals

Themes in Biogeography by A.J. Taylor


Problems of deforestation and conservation measures

The Global Ecology Handbook


Global warming

The Global Ecology Handbook


Reduction in bio-diversity

The Global Ecology Handbook


Areal differentiation

Geography its History and Concepts : Arild Holt Jensen.


Regional synthesis

Geography its History and Concepts : Arild Holt Jensen.


Dichotomy and dualism

Geography its History and Concepts : Arild Holt Jensen.



Evolution of Geographical Thought by Majid Hussain.


Locational analysis

Geography its History and Concepts : Arild Holt Jensen.


Radical approaches

Perspectives in Geography Harvey and Holley.


Behavioural approaches

Geography for Preliminary Examination, Volume I, By K. Siddhartha.


Human approaches

Perspectives in Geography Harvey and Holley.


Welfare approach

Perspectives in Geography Harvey and Holley.


Human development indicators

World Development Report (UN)


Urban sprawl

Principles of Population Studies by Bhende and Kanitkar.

  • ‘Account for’, asks the candidate to give reasons for geographical phenomena : why something/s exist/s or occur/s. Often this instruction is followed by ‘The importance of, or ‘the significance’, of in which case the writer must consider the result and effects of the subject in hand. These can be both long-term and short term effects, and both direct and indirect.
  • ‘Discuss’, term usually asks for a wide, all embracing answer which gives an exchange of opinions, Judgements reasoned comments and a general discussion of the subject from all angles. Often this would follow a quotation. The candidate need not necessarily agree with the comments or opinions contained in a quotation the essay writer can agree, disagree or modify the comments, but must always support his/her answer with well informed evidence.

Suggested Reading List

  1. Physical :  Dr. Sanindra Singh,
    Geography – A.N. Strahler
  1. Geomorphology : Dr. Sanindra Singh, Thornbury, P. Dayal
  2. Climatology : Dr. D.S. Lal
  3. Oceanography :  Sharma and Vatal
  4. Environmental : Dr. Sanindra Singh
  5. Economic : Leong and Morgan
  1. Geographical Thought : Majid Hussain
  2. Population Geography : R.C. Chandana
  3. Urban Geography : Om Prakash Singh
  4. Urbanisation and : R. Ramchandran
    Urban System in India
  1. Political Geography :  S. Adhikari
  2. India-A comprehensive : Dr. Khullur
    Regional Geography
  1. Regional Planning in India : Chand and Puri
  2. Penguin Dictionary for Geography
  3. Vajirao & Reddy Institute’s studies material.

Some Dos

  • Express in your own language to give impression of originality.
  • Confine your 50 marks answer within 700
  • Practise writing answers and get them evaluated either by your teacher or an experienced senior who has secured good marks.
  • Write short introduction and a very good logical conclusion.
  • Make your writing as legible as possible.

Some Don’ts

  • Do not make extreme statements. Be moderate in your answer.
  • Do not show biasness in your answer.
  • Do not use ornamental, complicated and vague language.
  • Do not quote views, opinions, etc. anywhere except in Geographical Thought.
  • Do not exceed the world limit 150 words means 150
  • Do not use long sentences, paragraphs.

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