Geography Paper – I

Geography Paper – II

Optional Notes


  • How to prepare.
  • How to read books.
  • How to write Answers in Geography (Mains)
  • How to enrich your answers?

Previous Year Question Papers

Sample Toppers Answers

Geography Paper – I


Principles Of Geography Physical Geography:

  • Geomorphology: Factors controlling landform development; endogenetic and exogenetic forces; Origin and evolution of the earth’s crust; Fundamentals of geomagnetism; Physical conditions of the earth’s interior; Geosynclines; Continental drift; Isostasy; Plate tectonics; Recent views on mountain building; Vulcanicity; Earthquakes and Tsunamis; Concepts of geomorphic cycles and Landscape development ; Denudation chronology; Channel morphology; Erosion surfaces; Slope development; Applied Geomorphology : Geohydrology, economic geology and environment.
  • 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 frontogenesis, Temperate and tropical cyclones; Types and distribution of precipitation; Weather and Climate; Koppen’s, Thornthwaite’s and Trewartha’s classification of world climates; Hydrological cycle; Global climatic change and role and response of man in climatic changes, Applied climatology and Urban climate.
  • 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.
  • Biogeography: Genesis of soils; Classification and distribution of soils; Soil profile; Soil erosion, Degradation, and conservation; Factors influencing world distribution of plants and animals; Problems of deforestation and conservation measures; Social forestry; agro-forestry; Wildlife; Major gene pool centers.
  • Environmental Geography: Principle of 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; The Environmental hazards and remedial measures; Environmental education and legislation.

Human Geography:

  • Perspectives in Human Geography: Areal differentiation; regional synthesis; Dichotomy and dualism; Environmentalism; Quantitative revolution and locational analysis; radical, behavioral, human and welfare approaches; Languages, spirituality, and secularisation; Cultural regions of the world; Human development index.
  • 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 nutrition problems; Food security; famine: causes, effects and remedies; World industries: locational patterns and problems; patterns of world trade.
  • Population and Settlement Geography: Growth and distribution of world population; demographic attributes; Causes and consequences of migration; concepts of the 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: Concepts 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.
  • Regional Planning: Concept of a region; Types of regions and methods of regionalization; Growth centers and growth poles; Regional imbalances; regional development strategies; environmental issues in regional planning; Planning for sustainable development.
  • Models, Theories and Laws in Human Geography: Systems 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; Ostrov’s model of stages of growth. Heartland and Rimland theories; Laws of international boundaries and frontiers.


Reference books:

  • Physical Geography – Majid Hussain/ Savindra Singh
  • Modern Physical Geography – Strahler and Strahler  (Optional)
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography – Goh Cheng Leong
  • Physical Geography Made Simple – Rupa Publication
  • Dictionary of Physical Geography – Penguin
  • Evolution of Geographical Thought – Majid Hussain
  • Economic and Social Geography Made Simple – Rupa Publication
  • Models in Geography – Majid Hussain
  • Dictionary of Human Geography
  • Oxford Student Atlas


Geography Syllabus Paper – II


Geography Of India

  1. Physical Setting: Space relationship of India with neighboring 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 groundwater, energy, minerals, biotic and marine resources; Forest and wildlife 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; aquaculture; sericulture, apiculture 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, fertilizer, paper, chemical and pharmaceutical, automobile, cottage and agro-based industries; Industrial houses and complexes including public sector undertakings; Industrial regionalisation; New industrial policies; Multinationals and liberalization; Special Economic Zones; Tourism including eco-tourism.  
  • Transport, Communication and Trade: Road, railway, waterway, airway and pipeline networks 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.
  • 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, intraregional and international) and associated problems; Population problems and policies; Health indicators.
  • 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 associated problems; town planning; Problems of urbanization and remedies.
  • Regional Development and Planning: Experience of regional planning in India; Five Year Plans; Integrated rural development programmes; Panchayati Raj and decentralized 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.
  • Political Aspects: the Geographical basis of Indian federalism; State reorganization; Emergence of new states; Regional consciousness and interstate 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.
  • Contemporary Issues: Ecological issues: Environmental hazards: landslides, earthquakes, Tsunamis, floods and droughts, epidemics; Issues relating 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.


Reference books:

Optional Notes: Available under mentorship program.


How to prepare:

  •  Memorise the Syllabus.
  •  Stick to limited reference books
  •   Before starting preparation, go through previous year qps
  • Use diagrams, maps, flowcharts & other innovative illustrations in your answers.
  • Diagrams simplify the detail & improve the presentation also. thumb-rule of one diagram for a paragraph (i.e. Approx. 1 or 2 figures per page.)
  • Even in questions where the need of a diagram may not be apparent, try to draw at least one.
  • Eg: for a question on world trade pattern,draw a world map with arrows pointing out the nature & flow of commodities between developed & developing nations.
  • For ‘’contemporary issues’’ topic in the syllabus,  one can relay on preparation for GS.
  • Refer  Orient Blackswan Atlas also, as some features are better explained in it than in oxford atlas.

How to read books.

    Indian Geography By Khullar

  • Khullar is mainly a reference book meant to support NCERT.
  • follow the whole book, but there is no need to read line by line, or every page. Some chapters like physical setting, soil, environment, etc. Need in-depth reading in khullar.
  • Others like minerals, agri, industry, transport etc. Only need a cursory reading. But take a good look at the maps & important places. For eg:, one  must know major mines in the important coal belts of india, major national highways etc.

Majid Hussain

  • No need to study the whole of majid husain, but only those topics mentioned in the syllabus.

Physical Geography Savindra Singh

  • Chapters in Physical Geography- Savindra Singh are divided into portions that mirror the mains syllabus (paper 1 section A) like geomorphology, climatology, oceanography & landform development. Take the syllabus & compare the various topics in the former & the book.
  • Then know what to read & what not. Newer editions even have a glossary of terms at the end, which is useful for definitions.
  • New edition .  savindra singh has a portion on sea level change, law of the sea & marine pollution.
  • For marine pollution & sea-level change you can definitely frame points out of GS preparation.

How to write Answers in Geography (Mains)

    • The intro & conclusion differ from question to question, and also based on the marks allotted. Generally there’s no need for long intros for 20 markers. It is the heart of your answer that is most important as it contains “the stuff”.
    • While answering the direct questions try to maintain an edge by introducing new diagrams or presenting your answer in a more appealing manner.
    • For small questions underline just underline one or two keywords. For the long ones you’ll have to underline just the key points.
    • Use  headings (very frequently & only before starting non-intro paras) & points (occassionally, but each point consisting of minimum 2-3 lines each)
    • For open ended qurestions you have to write answers with a geographical perspective in your mind. Moreover, these answers should be as broad as possible in the sense that it should cover a wide range of factors/issues.
    • Practise atleast 10 years upsc question papers.

How to enrich your answers?

  • First rule of presentation: Maps and Diagrams in every question. Sometimes one map or diagram per page. Ensure that the diagrams are relevant, although maps can be drawn in almost all questions where the scope of a diagram is not there.

Example: 1. In the question on religious minorities in border states, draw a map of India shading the border states, UTs and cities in which there are religious minorities.

  1. In characteristics of biological deserts, draw a world map showing deep ocean regions, Artic and Antarctic region.
  2. Intensity of energy crisis varies regionally. Explain. In this question draw a world map with demarcations as Regions of Severe Crisis, Moderate Crisis and Low Crisis.
  • Second rule of presentation: Incorporate both physical and human dimensions in most questions. Except for core questions like Geographical Thought, try to provide a human angle in questions of physical nature.

Example – A question on difference between Himalayan and Peninsular Drainage can be enriched by mentioning the difference in cropping pattern and industrial use of drainage water at the end. This also gives the answer an administrative orientation which is marks fetching. A pure geographical orientation is required in only a few topics. Rest of the paper, especially Paper 2 should be attempted by an administrative – geographical perspective.

  • Third rule of presentation: Write answers along the lines of syllabus such as terrain, drainage (Geomorphology), climate (Climatology), soil or vegetation (Biogeography), environmental issues (Env Geo), Human geography parts such as population and settlement, agriculture and industries (Economic Geography), development and planning etc. Thus you can generate 7-8 points on a general topic. This will not only help in incorporating the human angle but will also provide enough diversity and content in most questions.

Example: Examine the role of small towns in the regional development process.

This question can easily be structured and answered by the above rule. If you start writing without a structure, even such an easy question will not fetch good marks.

Pick the topics of the syllabus to write the role of small towns:

  • Population & Settlement – Small towns can act as counter magnets, reduce the burden on big cities and reverse migration i.e. Small towns as solution to the problems of Urbanisation
  • RDP – Small towns as centres of planning, planned sectors in small towns, small towns for pilot projects, also, you can use growth foci concept of R P Misra.
  • Resources – Small towns aiding in resource conservation.
  • Industries – MSME, footloose industries in small towns, availability of labour for small enterprises in the town itself, relatively cheaper labour (I wrote the example of mini steel plants in small towns for decentralisation of Iron and Steel industry, and found the exact same question in Paper 2.)
  • Agriculture – Small towns as link between big cities and villages, agricultural markets in small towns enable village farmers to sell their produce, food processing etc
  • Political Geography – Panchayati Raj and Political decentralisation in small towns enabling bottom up approach of development
  • Transport and Trade – Access to both raw material (agricultural and industrial) and market through transport, role in road transport complementing rail transport, Trade towns emerging into big cities such as Surat
  • Cultural Setting – Small towns help in building a cohesive society

(Here we have generated some good and some filler points using topics of Paper 2)

From Physical Geo part of Paper 1, write points on Environment (role of small towns in environmental conservation) and Biogeography (Agroforestry and social forestry in small towns).

Thus Rule 2 is also satisfied, as both human and physical dimensions are covered.

Add a map of NCR region showing the small towns in vicinity, draw arrows showing the flow for, say migration, add some specific examples, and the answer will be diverse and comprehensive.

  • There have been some unconventional questions in recent years but those are unconventional for all. Write as much as you know and try to include a rough diagram. You can’t have all the content. Just make sure you write little bit in each question so that the examiner has an opportunity to award you marks. For example in Pseudovulcanism question this year, I wrote on the lines of: Pseudo – fake, thus it would have something to do with flow processes like earthflow, mud flow, creep etc and gave a reference of geysers and hot springs, which are similar to volcanic flow minus the endogenic lava. I didn’t know whether this is right or not, just took an intelligent guess.
  • Even those questions which you don’t know, you need to think logically and write few points. Obviously in those questions, you’ll not get excellent marks, but you’ll not get a zero either. And this approach should be strictly limited to the compulsory questions which seem out of syllabus. Questions where there is a choice such as PAVE Theory of Environmental Management, if you don’t know, attempt another question.

Previous Year Question Papers:





Sample answers :