Strategy for Geography Optional By Shweta Chauhan, Rank: 8, CSE- 2016

Interview of Shweta Chauhan

Name: Shweta Chauhan
Rank in CSE-2016 8
Roll No. 0559310
Age 25
Total attempts in CSE  3
Optional Subject Geography
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Schooling medium English
College medium English
Home town Ghaziabad
Work-ex IRTS, CSE-2013
IRS (C&CE), CSE-2015


Marksheet of CSE-2016


This short article is in response to the lot of requests I have received about strategy of geography optional preparation for mains. I don’t intend to promote any coaching nor any book, its just about the sources I have referred. I had four years of preparation for geography so I have basically gone through all material available and I would be happy to share what was more relevant. Hope this article be of use to some of you and you don’t have to waste much time in searching for the sources.

General overview of Geography preparation

  1. Read the syllabus thoroughly, nothing would be asked beyond the syllabus.
  2. Try to read topics common to Paper I and Paper II together. Like, if you are reading a topic of population Geography in Paper I, then the Indian population can be read together.
  3.   After completing a topic, I would try to answer the question paper of last 10 years related to that topic. Eg.  If I have completed Geomorphology, I would write questions on that topic before moving to another topic. This increases the confidence and  fills the gap in preparation.
  4. I had diagrams for almost every topic and practiced them regularly.
  5. I prepared notes for the topics which were not given directly in the standard books, otherwise I would underline them in the books itself. And revise from the books number of times possible.
  6. For map practice, I first tried to mark all the places asked in last 20 years. This helped as number of places are repeated. Then I tried to practice at least two places daily from the newspaper.
  7. Indian Geography is more related to GS, thus while preparing current affairs, Geography Paper II should also be kept in mind.
  8. Revision is most important to get used to with geographical terms. This is possible only if you have limited sources and notes prepared.

Book list for Geography Mains

  1. Certificate Physical and Human Geographyby Goh Che Leong
  2. NCERT 11th & 12th geography textbooks (can be downloaded free online from official NCERT website).

Paper I

Physical Geography:

Geomorphology:  Geomorphology by Savinder Singh

Climatology, OceanographyPhysical Geography by Savinder Singh

Biogeography and Environmental Geography: Physical Geography by Savinder Singh, Rupa made simple book on environment, Current events from Shankar  IAS notes , Down to earth magazine and newspaper.

Human Geography

Thoughts : Evolution of Geographical Thought by Majid Husain Geographical thoughts, Geographical Thought: A Contextual History of Ideas by RD Dikshit, Shabbir Sir notes

Economic Geography: Rupa series on economic geography

Population and settlement Geography: Human Geography by Majid Husain

Regional Geography: Shabbir sir notes

Paper II (Indian Geography)

Static portion from D R Khullar (India: A Comprehensive Geography), rest is mostly related to current issues and can be prepared along with GS.

Along with the sources, I have also subscribed to ExamRace channel on You tube. Videos are available on almost all the topics of syllabus and are also very simple to understand. I would suggest to visit the channel.

Another thing is that answer writing practice is must for Geography. I took test series from Shabbir Sir this year. In 2013, I was able to score 66+121 and in 2015 the score was 106+117, and this year it was 171+155.

Answer writing in Exam:

There are two types of questions asked in exam:

Direct: These questions require direct knowledge of geography. So they cannot be answered without revision or without using geographical terms. Edge over others can only be taken if the language is more similar to the geographical language and has more number of relevant diagram.

Open Ended: These questions can be answered mostly based on having more number of dimensions. For example dimensions can be increased by including theoretical portion of Paper I in Indian Geography. Then using current examples can increase the dimensions.

It is important to distinguish between geography answer writing and GS answer writing. Geography’s answer cannot be similar though the questions may seem so. Answer’s in geography according to me should have relevant diagrams, maps, examples to support from world and India, use of thoughts of philosophers, and geographical terminology.

This all things can only become part of answer only by reading, revising and practicing answer writing.

Map Questions: Map questions not only requires pointing out places in the map but also few words on those places. To write those words, few things can be applied like economic, social, environmental or historical importance of that place. It is not necessary that every place is known to everyone but few words can always be written about that place, if one has even bleak idea about it. I may not know where Kudankulum is but if i have read it in newspaper I can write few words on it.  So the point is that when you read about a place in newspaper try to remember it from Geography’s perspective too.

These were the few things I wanted to share. If anything is left and I am capable of answering, I would surely like to help. Please post your queries in the comments below.

Thank you,

Shweta Chauhan

19 thoughts on “Strategy for Geography Optional By Shweta Chauhan, Rank: 8, CSE- 2016”

  1. At first congratulations mam
    Mam I have a one query regarding that how to analysis my self answer of any questions of geography or g.s.

  2. Maam, few set of questions:
    -How did you attempt questions on application of neo-determinism and areal differentiation?
    -And also did you use pencil/multi-color pens for diagrams?
    -Also what additional did you incorporate in presentation part to improve answers particularly in Paper-1? (That made it different from others)

  3. 1.Can you please share sone geography answer script of yours from some test series.

    2. I have written multiple mains with geo but still struggle with speed during the exam leading to deterioration in quality of answers and in turn low scores in geography…can you suggest something that i can work on to improve in this aspect

  4. Mam can u plzz upload ur test series copies of geography .. We will get a better idea about answer writing through it. And we would be thankful if u can also upload ur self made notes and diagrams ..
    Thank you 🙂

  5. Ma’am, can we please get to see your geography answers and you diagrams notebook? I request these because it’s not very clear to me how to use Paper-1’s content in Paper-2. Although, everybody has been suggesting this.
    Also, I don’t have any diagram on most topics. I want to have atleast one diagram on every topic. A look at your diagrams notebook would help me in this regard also.
    Please, please, please help!

  6. Mam firstly congratulation,
    I want to ask u about geography if test are not joined then how d answer writing can be improved ?plz give me ur suggestion

  7. hi mam please suggest how to merge geography optional with gs portion and how to start

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