• A general idea about configuration of Ocean Floor – Continental Shelf, Slope, Rise, Abyssal Plan, Trenches.
  • Straits and Isthmuses- differences between them; Locate the famous Straits and Isthmuses on Atlas. Example: Strait of Gibraltar, Isthmus of Panama.
  • Fresh water found on the Earth’s surface. Ice caps, Glaciers and ground Water, Lakes, atmosphere
  • Ocean Currents (More Emphasis should be given)
  • Factors influencing the Movement of the Ocean Currents- Planetary Winds, Temperatures, Salinity, Earth’s Rotation, Land mass
  • Types- Warm and Cold Currents
  • What are Warm and Cold Currents, why are they called so?
  • Characteristics of the Currents
  • Identify the Warm and Cold Currents and their direction of flow in Northern and Southern Hemisphere. Example: Peru Cold current, in the Southern Hemisphere flows in the Anti-Clockwise direction
  • How do these currents influence the climate and vegetation across the world?
  • Benefits of these currents, Example: Confluence of Warm and Cold currents is region rich in fisheries. Disadvantages – Example: They make navigation difficult for the sailors

Example (2013 Prelims Questions Paper):


On the planet earth, most of the freshwater exists as ice caps and glaciers. Out of the remaining freshwater, the largest proportion

(a) is found in atmosphere as moisture and clouds

(b) is found in freshwater lakes and rivers

(c) exists as groundwater

(d) exists as soil moisture

Solution (c)


The most important fishing grounds of the world are found in the regions where:(2013)

(a) warm and cold atmospheric currents meet

(b) rivers drain out large amounts of fresh water into the sea

(c) warm and cold oceanic currents meet

(d) continental shelf is undulating

Solution (c)


Different Climatic types


  • Have a basic idea about major Climatic Types – Tropical, Desert, Mediterranean, Taiga, Arctic (or Polar type)
  • Distribution or regions found (a general awareness)
  • Climate – temperature, rainfall (not exact numbers, just the range is enough)
  • Natural Vegetation, Forests:
  • Tropical (Forests, Grasslands, Deserts)
  • Mediterranean
  • Temperate ( Forests, Grasslands, Deserts)
  • Polar Tundra
  • Importance of the region and other activities carried out
  • Example: The Arctic or Polar Climate- they are found mainly in the north of the Arctic circle in the Northern Hemisphere. Temperature- ranges from 10 C to -37 C, Winters are long and very severe whereas summers are cool and brief. Precipitation is in the form of snow. Tundra Vegetation. It has gained importance due to discovery of minerals.
  • How do all these phenomenon influence Indian climate and vegetation
  • For better understanding refer these pages in the ‘The Orient BlackSwan School Atlas’
  • Atlas: Page No. 84 ‘Natural Vegetation’ and Page No. 85 ‘Climatic Regions’

Note: These pointers might be boring or difficult to remember. But using an Atlas, while studying these aspects of Geography, will make your preparation process enjoyable. You don’t believe us. Then, pick up an Atlas and experience it yourself J

Note: Though Topics like Ecosystems, Biomes, Biogeochemical cycles (Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen), Biodiversity and Conservation come under Geography they are covered under Environment Section

Example (2011 Prelims Questions Paper):

What could be the main reason/reasons for the formation of African and Eurasian desert belt?

1. It is located in the sub-tropical high pressure cells.

2. It is under the influence of warm ocean currents.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct in this context?

(a.) 1 only

(b.) 2 only

(c.) Both 1 and 2

(d.) Neither 1 nor 2

Solution (a)

Example (2012 Prelims Questions Paper):

Which one of the following is the characteristic climate of the Tropical Savannah Region? (2012)

(a) Rainfall throughout the year

(b) Rainfall in winter only

(c) An extremely short dry season

(d) A definite dry and wet season

Solution (d)

Example (2013 Prelims Questions Paper):

“Climate is extreme, rainfall is scanty and the people used to be nomadic herders.” The above statement best describes which of the following regions?

(a) African Savannah

(b) Central Asian Steppe

(c) North American Prairie

(d) Siberian Tundra

Solution (b)


Last but not the Least – Map-based questions have been frequently asked in UPSC prelims

Check out a few of them (from 2014 Question paper alone, 6 Questions had come). That is why, in the beginning itself, we had advised you to always keep an Atlas by your side while preparing for Geography

Though UPSC keeps changing its pattern of questions every year, atleast one can accept minimum 2 questions from Maps alone.

So, the next question would be- how to study/read Maps?

Studying maps alone is not advised and it is impossibleJ . While studying Geography or when you are reading Daily Newspaper, supplement it with an Atlas. When you read about a ‘place’ that is in news, look out for it in the Atlas; and also be aware of the nearby places.

Map-based Questions

Few Examples from 2014 Prelims Questions Paper

Which one of the following pairs of islands is separated from each other by the ‘Ten Degree Channel’?

A.      Andaman and Nicobar

B.      Nicobar and Sumatra

C.      Maldives and Lakshadweep

D.     Sumatra and Java

Solution (a)


Turkey is located between

A.     Black Sea and Caspian Sea

B.     Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea

C.     Gulf of Suez and Mediterranean Sea

D.     Gulf of Aqaba and Dead Sea

Solution (b)


What is the correct sequence of occurrence of the following cities in South-East Asia as one proceeds from south to north?





Select the correct answer using the code given below.

A.     4-2-1-3

B.     3-2-4-1

C.     3-4-1-2

D.     4-3-2-1

Solution (c)


Consider the following pairs

Region often in news                         Country

1. Chechnya                                   Russian Federation

2. Darfur                                                     Mali

3. Swat Valley                                           Iraq

Which of the above pairs is/are correctly matched?

a. 1 only

b. 2 and 3 only

c. 1 and 3 only

d. 1, 2 and 3

Solution (a)


Consider the following rivers:

1. Barak

2. Lohit

3. Subansiri

Which of the above flows / flow through Arunachal Pradesh?

A. 1 only

B. 2 and 3 only

C. 1 and 3 only

D. 1, 2 and 3

Solution (b) 

Consider these pairs

1. Cardamom Hills                           Coromandel Coast

2. Kaimur Hills                                  Konkan Coast

3. Mahadeo Hills                              Central India

4. Mikir Hills                                     North-East India

Which of the above pairs are correctly matched?

A. 1 and 2

B. 2 and 3

C. 3 and 4

D. 2 and 4

Solution (c)


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