IAS Exam Preparation: Geography Optional Booklist

UPSC Mains:  Booklist and Strategy for Geography Optional

This article deals with the strategy and booklist required for the preparation of Geography optional for UPSC Mains Exam.

Geography is regarded as one of the popular optional subjects for UPSC Mains Exam and one among the top 10 optional subjects, which is preferred by most of the IAS Aspirants. 

Booklist for Geography Optional

  1. NCERT 11th & 12th Geography Textbooks
  2. Evolution of Geographical Thought by Majid Hussain
  3. Geographic theories by K.Siddartha or Majid Husain
  4. Physical Geography by Savindra Singh
  5. Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Che Leong
  6. Human Geography by Majid Hussain
  7. Indian Geography by Khullar
  8. The Orient Blackswan Atlas
  9. Oxford Atlas
  10. Illustrations and Miscellaneous topics – Spectrum’s Geography Guide 

Booklist for Geography Optional Paper I

  • Geomorphology/Climatology and Oceanography – Physical geography by Savindra Singh
  • Biogeography & ecology part of environmental geography – Rupa Publications along with magazines & newspapers for current affairs
  • World agriculture in economic geography – Models, theories & processes by Siddartha
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong
  • Population –  Human Geography By Majid Husain
  • Settlement– Spectrum’s geography guide
  • Regional Planning
  • Models, theories & laws – Geographic theories by Siddartha and parts from Majid Husain 

Booklist for Geography Optional Paper II  – Indian Geography

  • Regional development & planning
  • Settlements – NCERT & Spectrum’s geography guide
  • Political Geography
  • Contemporary issues –Magazines & newspapers
  • NCERTS & Indian Geography by Khullar 

Strategy for Geography Optional

  • Choose few books over several as there are plenty of study materials available for this subject. Hence candidates should choose books cleverly.
  • Before starting the preparation one should know what to read and what not to read in the books.
  • Prepare own notes and revise regularly.
  • Have a strong hold on the syllabus.
  • Practicing previous year question papers to understand the nature of questions asked and the answer it demands.
  • Should give importance to both analytical and factual study. 

How to read Geography books?

  • One must know the syllabus very well and the nature of questions asked in previous years’ UPSC Mains Exam.
  • Keep with you, a copy of the syllabus, previous years’ question papers, and map while reading these books as it will enhance your analytical ability.
  • One may not understand the topics in the first read, hence it is advisable to read the books for at least 2-3 times. It is not necessary to read each and every chapter from the book. Strictly stick to the syllabus and read accordingly.
  • Once you get a grip on the topics and sub-topics, start making your own notes of at least 150 words
  • Analyse the question papers, correlate the current issues with the syllabus and apply it in your answers accordingly.
  • Include diagrams, graphs and maps in your answers wherever necessary.

Point to remember:

Aspirants should note that just reading these books will not help.They should develop the ability to correlate the issues in news with the UPSC Syllabus and apply this in answer writing. This can be achieved only by practicing answer writing religiously. 

How to write answers for Geography optional paper?

Candidates should ensure that their answers have a proper introduction and conclusion and also suggest reforms if the question demands.

Generally, most candidates will answer the direct questions on earthquakes, cyclones, tides, coral reefs, erosions or landforms. If you want to get an edge over other aspirants and fetch that extra mark then try a different approach in answering the direct questions by presenting your answer in a more appealing way by adding diagrams, highlighting the keywords, and keeping headings followed by bullet points.

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