Geography: As an optional Subject

Geography is the ground on which we stand, use it for your stand in UPSC.

Although selecting the optional subject for the UPSC civil service mains exam is a personal decision but that decision must have some logical ground.  The decision related to optional subjects must be based on one’s educational and professional background as well as strengths and weaknesses. Apart from this, a candidate must weigh the pros and cons of a particular optional subject and if the pros outweigh the cons, he should go with it.

In this article I will talk about Geography as an optional subject, and will give candidates an answer to the question, why is geography a good optional for UPSC CSE.

What attracts aspirants towards geography?

  • Geography is a blend of science and humanities. Due to this, it is preferred by many aspirants from science, medical and engineering as well as humanities backgrounds.
  • Geography also has a lot of overlap with subjects like economics, environment, ecology and conservation which makes it more interesting, relevant, and dynamic.
  • Geography is a scoring subject because unlike pure humanities subjects, there is not much requirement for mugging up and interpretation. Only concepts need to be understood. Also, diagrams, flowcharts, etc. can be used to get more marks. The map-based questions are also scoring.
  • The definite syllabus of Geography and availability of standard books and study materials make it easy for the candidates and encourages them to go for it.
  • Success Rate of the subject is very high. There have been toppers with this optional in the previous years. The most famous topper is Ira Singhal who topped the civil services exam in 2015. Also, in the 2016 UPSC exam, rank 4 holder Soumya Pandayhad taken Geography as her optional subject.

An analysis of success rate:


No. of candidate appeared in mains 

Finally Recommended













  • It has tremendous overlap with General Studies both in prelims and the mains. Candidates can also use what they learn in Geography in their essay paper on various topics. Even in the UPSC personality test, Geography will be useful as the board can ask questions on the local geography of a candidate’s home town like soil, vegetation, minerals, environmental issues, geopolitics, climate change
  • Contribution of geography at different level of exam.

How to maximize score?

  • Geography has a lot of overlap with subjects like economics, environment, ecology and conservation.Interlinking of these subjects will help in fetching good marks.
  • Use of geographical languages, use of maps and diagrams and substantiating the answer with examples will also maximize

RICE IAS Institute is here to guide you and make you ready to tackle any challenges that may come up. We have well planned and scientifically designed course and study materials along with periodic tests, sectional as well as comprehensive. The process which we follow here will keep you in resonance with the evolving pattern and difficulty level of the exam and will ensure your success in UPSC CSE exam.