Geography is a popular optional subject in the UPSC civil services exam. Geography is covered in both the General Studies paper in the Prelims and the GS Paper 1 in the UPSC CS(Main) examination. Geography establishes the relevance of human existence, the components that are conducive to life, and the aspects that are not conducive to human life in the UPSC plan of the curriculum. As a result, studying these elements will put you in a better position to protect the elements that are vital for life. This article discusses the significance of geography in the UPSC CSE exam, as well as its benefits and drawbacks.
Why do candidates choose Geography as a subject?
- Candidates do not need to understand a great deal about science.
- Coaching and study materials are readily available.
- The subject has a very high success rate.
- The GS Paper 1 is linked to the topics.
What Makes Optional Geography So Difficult?
- The subject’s adaptability – For the past few years, UPSC has set questions based on current events and theories. Aspirants should not solely rely on books and materials to achieve their goals.
- Unusual Questions in the UPSC Test – Some questions in the UPSC exam go beyond the texts and syllabus. These are some unusual and difficult-to-predict questions.
- The most significant disadvantage of Geography is that it covers such a large portion of the curriculum.
- In comparison to other optional subjects, there is a lot of competition in this one.
- The subjects are too long, and it can be tough to remember a lot of knowledge all at once.
Consider the following tips:
The main paper places a lot of emphasis on models and theories, especially the less well-known ones. This implies you can’t afford to ignore even the most minor theory, resulting in longer study sessions.
The emphasis of Paper II is on regional planning and current concerns. This adds a lot of movement to the paper and broadens its reach significantly. So, the difficult aspect here isn’t so much the content as it is the scope of it.
This subject necessitates a thorough understanding of maps. If the thought of mapping appears to be a difficult undertaking for you, you may wish to avoid it.
Why should you go for geography?
- Takes less time because most of it is already covered in GS. This implies you’ll be reading the same themes over and over again. Reading aloud will help you remember important terminology and concepts.
- There is a wealth of knowledge about Indian and global geography available both online and offline. Because geography is one of the greatest optional courses for the UPSC mains exam, there is a lot of reading material available.
- It’s a fun read that’s also quite high-scoring. When studying geography, there is never a dull moment. It is pretty simple to comprehend, and candidates from both science and the humanities will be able to do so with ease. It’s also high-scoring, despite its primarily technical nature.
- While the majority of the exam’s subjects are interrelated, geography takes the lead. You’ll see that it has some connections to the environment, international relations, current events, ecology, and even economics.
Detailed Pros and Cons of Geography Optional
Pros of geography optional
1. It is a Scoring subject
One of the advantages of this subject is that it is regarded as a scoring subject rather than only a qualifying one. Geography is a high-scoring topic because, unlike history and other humanities disciplines, it does not rely on interpretation. In the exam paper, there is no room for personal opinion. Rather, you can have specific answers that you can write on the exam paper, as well as grade subjects based on the creation of maps and flowcharts. As a result, toppers in geography receive an average grade of more than 250.
2. A well-defined curriculum
Another significant benefit of geography as an optional is that it has a well-defined syllabus that must be followed in order to pass the exam. A well-defined curriculum will provide a clear path for all those attempting to prepare for tests.
3. Books are simple to read.
You have a large number of books to learn geography, all of which are easy to read and feature several diagrams and photos. Because you only need to grasp the concept and any phenomenon, for example, if you want to learn about earthquakes and tsunamis, you only need to comprehend the concept and any phenomenon. Natural disasters of various kinds Instead of reading long paragraphs in a book, you can watch YouTube videos that explain how these happen step by step so you can grasp the concept.
4. Helpful in the interview round
Geography can aid you not only in the prelims and mains tests but also in the UPSC interview phase, which is the final step of the exam. To better understand your thinking pattern, the interviewers may ask you questions on the geography of your hometown, including climate change and disaster management, as well as how you would respond if natural disasters struck your area. You should be aware that they will ask you a series of questions in order to go deeper into your thought process and assess your mindset.
5. A scientific topic
Geography, unlike history and political science, is a scientific topic, so once you grasp the concept behind any phenomenon. You can use your own words to express the concept in the exam paper. To write in the exam, you do not need to read and recall the precise answer from the book. However, unlike mathematics, physics, and chemistry, you do not need to memorize or cram any theorems or formulas, nor do you need to remember as many dates and events as you do in history and other humanities. Because you don’t have to memorize the answers and after you comprehend the concept, which you can achieve by not only reading the book but also viewing several YouTube videos online in addition to reading, you won’t need to memorize the answers. Because geography is a scientific subject, the majority of students with a science background, particularly engineering students, choose geography as their optional subject.
6. Beneficial in other papers
Another compelling reason to study geography is that it can benefit you not just in options but also in other major UPSC exams, particularly the prelims and mains. Environmental ecology, biodiversity, and climate change are all essential subjects in the prelims exam, as are Indian and world geography. Let us now discuss the main examination paper 1 of general studies, which has a total of 250 marks and includes topics such as world geography and sociology. As you can see, having geography as an optional subject not only benefits you in terms of achieving better grades in options, but also in other UPSC exam papers like as prelims and mains, saving you a lot of time during preparation. This is another significant benefit of choosing geography as an optional topic.
Cons of geography optional
1. A competitive environment
The primary disadvantage of geography as an optional subject now is how competitive it is in comparison to other optional courses. For example, according to UPSC test data from 2016-2017, 4000 students chose geography as an optional subject, the biggest number among optional courses, however only 5.8% of them were successful. This demonstrates that the geography optional course has stiff competition, as the majority of students with a science background select for it. When compared to general studies papers, it is not just a scientific subject, but also a scoring one, which helps students balance their effort and achieve good scores.
2. Extensive syllabus
Another significant downside of choosing geography as an optional subject is the extensive syllabus. Even though geography has a set curriculum, it is dense and broad, making it difficult for pupils who are new to the subject to prepare.
NCERT books are the ideal for laying a foundation; begin your preparation with them and then go on to other reference books. It is recommended that students read books from grades 6 to 12. Examine prior year’s question papers to determine which of the most essential themes have been asked regularly throughout time. Typically, the exam will include issues that are in the news throughout the year. Keep up with the newest news and be well-versed on the most popular topics. Make connections between Geography and other subjects such as history, political science, economics, and social science. Geography has a large scope, but with careful planning, you can study it in an organized manner and therefore complete the entire syllabus, so get started as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Why is geography considered an essential subject in the UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE)?
Answer: Geography is crucial in the UPSC CSE as it helps candidates understand various socio-economic, political, and environmental issues. It provides a holistic view of the world, enhancing the analytical and decision-making skills necessary for a career in civil services.
2. How does geography contribute to the comprehensive understanding of current affairs in the UPSC CSE?
Answer: Geography aids in contextualizing current affairs by linking them to geographical locations. It enables aspirants to grasp the geopolitical implications of events, helping them connect historical, economic, and political aspects, which is essential for the UPSC CSE preparation.
3. What role does geography play in the UPSC CSE Preliminary and Mains examinations?
Answer: In the Preliminary examination, geography is a significant component in the General Studies Paper-I, covering topics like physical, human, economic, and environmental geography. In the Mains examination, the optional subject of geography allows candidates to delve deeper into specific areas, demonstrating expertise and enhancing their overall score.
4. How does a strong foundation in geography benefit candidates in the UPSC CSE Interview (Personality Test)?
Answer: A solid understanding of geography aids candidates during the interview as it helps in articulating informed opinions on regional and global issues. It demonstrates the candidate’s awareness of diverse cultures, socio-economic conditions, and geopolitical dynamics, which are valued by the interview panel.
5. Can candidates with a non-geography background excel in the UPSC CSE with geography as an optional subject?
Answer: Yes, candidates from various academic backgrounds can excel in the UPSC CSE with geography as an optional subject. The key lies in a systematic and focused approach to studying geography. Many successful candidates have secured top ranks with geography as their optional subject, showcasing the subject’s versatility and its relevance for diverse aspirants.
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