UPSC Mains: How to Prepare Maps in Geography Optional Paper?

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Geography is a very popular optional paper for UPSC Mains and it can give you opportunity to score very high marks if you get success in attempting questions of maps. Map can give you an edge over others. In this article we will discuss what precautions can be taken in questions related to Maps in Geography Optional paper.

UPSC Mains - How to Prepare Maps in Geography Optional Paper

1.  Be Selective:

Very first strategy is to devote time to map practise on daily basis. Prepare your syllabus of UPSC geography in depth but keep map for daily practise.

2. Atlas:

Keep one copy of each Oxford Atlas and Orient Black swan Atlas. Oxford is good for beginners but Orient is comparatively more lucid and crafted as per requirements of UPSC preparation.

3. Note book for Maps:

Maintain a separate notebook for Maps . Draw a diagram on one side and keep the other side for practicing later. Whenever you read books , or see a good diagram or map cut and paste it in this notebook. This will be helpful at the time of revision for UPSC Mains.

4. Drawing the Maps of India and its states:

Practice for free-hand drawing to draw maps. It is not necessary to draw 100% correct map but it should look like the actual shape. Many a times you would be needing to draw maps of states of India in your answer. Though it’s very difficult to learn maps of each state but you can make it by remembering it with association technique i.e make relation between state’s outline and something which is very common. For example- Tamil Nadu (Triangle), Kerala (like a bitter gourd), Andhra (rectangle with one long arm), square (Sikkim, Nagaland, Haryana, HP, Punjab, Uttarakhand) amoeboid (Chattisgarh, MP) , ), rectangle (UP, Bihar), etc.

Drawing World Map

As far as world map is concerned, you will not be asked to draw map of any country rather you will be given world map to mark the place or details asked in question.

If you want to learn anything for long term, use macro to micro strategy. To learn world map first understand boundaries and land form of all the continents. On second stage start locating major countries of the world. Once you get familiar with major countries of the world, you may start locating countries which are in news.

Case Scenario related to maps questions?

UPSC candidates may find following situations. They may following given strategies as per situations in a map:

1. Both the location & the description is known

What else a candidate of geography wants. He was practising hard for this scenario when he get questions of his choice. Enjoy !!!

2. Place is known but you don’t know the exact location on the map

Attempt the question with correct description. Locate the spot where you think the place might be. Don’t worry about marks your exact description will help you to get marks. It’s always better to attempt than to leave.

3. Broad region is known, but not the exact unique detail

When you don’t know the exact detail of the place but have an idea of region to which it belongs to. You should use correlation technique. Mark the region, you think is correct and while writing answer use words carefully which elaborates broader picture. Write things which are common in that region like you can use points like – one of the high peaks of ghats, monsoonal rainfall, tropical evergreen forests, biodiversity hotspot, non-perennial streams, potential for tourism/small hydro etc.

Write tactfully a word or two about each topic in the upsc syllabus (ie whichever is applicable) linking it with the place asked – i.e. Importance/speciality of the place from the point of view of , oceano/biogeography, geomorphic/climatology, settlement, trade, industry, agri & transport etc. Of course, we cannot befool evaluators but we can save ourselves from getting zero marks.

4. Both place and the description are unknown

Depends on your luck, If luck favours you can make correct guesses. I believe fortune favours braves. If you have done your complete paper and time permits, you should your guts and guess.

But, you cannot depend upon on guess work entirely, Do rigorous practise of maps, UPSC does various experiments with maps portion of geography optional paper. You can get a bouncer.

In the end, I would say no strategy works equally for all. To tide over the bouncers you need to sharpen you with proper preparation strategy and your optional subject to be mastered by you.


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