[Strategy] How I increased my Geography Optional Marks from 214 to 295 Marks? UPSC IAS Topper Rank-72 Abhishek Chourasiya, Strategy and Booklist for Geography Optional (295 Marks), Tips on Answer Writing [Part 2]

Abhishek Chourasiya, Rank-72, CSE-2016

Geography Optional Strategy (295 Marks)

Click Here to Read Abhishek’s General Studies Strategy (445 Marks) 

I’m thankful to God, my parents, my family, ForumIAS and my well wishers without whose support, the journey would not have been possible.

  • Name: Abhishek Chourasiya
  • Roll No: 0007343
  • Optional Subject: Geography
  • Hometown: Jaipur, Rajasthan

In my first attempt back in 2014, I secured 214 marks which increased to 295 marks in 2016. I consider that selective reading of text books, continuous revision of short notes and structured way of answer writing are some of the major reasons for this improvement.


marksheet upsc ias topper


I’ve followed limited text books which are as follows:

  • Physical Geography by Savindra Singh
  • Human Geography by Majid Husain
  • Evolution of Geographical Thought by Majid Husain
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong
  • NCERT Books (especially Class XI and XII)

The standard text books are important as many of the questions are coming directly from them e.g. questions on life expectancy pattern in world, drumlins etc were asked in 2016 which are very well mentioned in these text books.

I read GC Leong and NCERT books word by word and borrowed many important diagrams from them. Both of these are very helpful in preliminary examination and GS Paper I as well.

Physical Geography by Savindra Singh and Human Geography by Majid Husain are good books to build up basic understanding. They too are full of important diagrams and charts that can directly be drawn during examination.

For ‘Geographical Thought’, I made Shabbir Sir’s notes as the base and then referred Evolution of Geographical Thought by Majid Husain. I read the text book for an overall understanding of how various thinkers contributed.

For mapping, I followed:

  • OBS School Atlas
  • Geography with Maps

While attempting questions on maps, try to give diverse information about the location like its climate, vegetation, any topographic specialty, economic status etc.


  • Short notes have been very important part of my preparation strategy. Since I did not attend any classroom coaching for Geography I purchased class notes from the market and made my own version of short notes out of them. I further appended them with Shabbir Sir’s notes during his test series.
  • Further, I maintained list of important diagrams and maps which I continuously revised and used while attempting mock tests.
  • For topics like agriculture, industries, energy etc I included latest statistics from Economic Survey, Newspaper reports etc in my short notes. Research topics from internet especially for Paper II e.g. have some latest data on status of Indian agriculture particularly horticulture, dairy farming, fisheries etc.
  • One critical point should always be kept in mind while making these short notes: Append and enrich notes ONLY with relevant information that one can retain and actually reproduce during the examination.
  • Gathering lots of facts and not memorizing or using them in the answers is of no use.


  • Structured answer shows structured thought process. Moreover, examiner too can understand what exactly candidate wants to convey.
  • Try to structure answers under appropriate sub headings. E.g. if there is some answer related to impacts of global warming (PI Q 2(c), CSE 2016), one can have subheadings: hemisphere, latitude, region.
  • While writing the answers, keep in mind that it is an optional paper and not general studies which it might appear on a quick reading.
  • Always give geographical perspective and technical aspects that a scholar of Geography is expected to know.
  • Drawing diagrams and maps, providing trends through graph, representing latest statistics through various charts etc would be of much help in this context.
  • Also, in the answer sheet, there is very limited space in which candidates are supposed to write the answers. This calls for judicious and smart utilization of the space.
  • Again, making diagrams, maps and charts helps. Further devote words and space to various parts of the question in proportion to the marks alloted.
  • Try to learn names of the geographers and scholars and mention them in the answer. Try to do it at least for models and theories. Ensure that you write correct spelling of their names!
  • I drew all maps and diagrams with pencil. Though one can also use pens of other colors as well.
  • It is advised to use column format while differentiating between two concepts.
  • Practice answer writing; practice making diagrams and maps.


Be positive, confident and happy!

Preparing for civil services is a journey full of ups and downs. One should be consistent and should maintain the focus throughout.

– Abhishek Chourasiya, Rank-72, CSE-2016

ForumIAS Test Series Student


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