(Getting Started) Clearing UPSC With Geography Optional Strategy By Om Kant Thakur AIR-52
Hailing from a small village of Bihar, Om Kant Thakur is a story of what not giving up can help you achieve. UPSC CSE 2019 was his 4th attempt and succeeded in securing a top all India rank of 52 in this attempt. Being an engineering student from NIT, Patna, UPSC was a little removed from his graduation course. Moreover, being from a Hindi medium background and attempting interviews in English, Om Kant felt he was at a disadvantage, but he never gave up.
How To Study Geography Optional
The key to Om Kant’s optional strategy is the sources he used. Om Kant divides up Geography Optional into 3 main parts –
Start with NCERTs. The 11th and 12th books are mostly sufficient. Use them for definitions, diagrams, etc. and make notes. For Physical Geography, Savinder Singh is a great book. Geomorphology can be covered by P. Dayal. But read it selectively. Geography made simple - 1 by Rupa publication covers full physical geography and is a very good book that should be read cover to cover.
For Bio-Geography and the ALS booklet, Shankar IAS, Current Affairs, along with Rupa’s Made Simple series is a lifesaver. Use G.C. Leong for more insight into Physical Geography and related diagrams. Use any good Atlas for maps. Om Kant also used some scanned pages of Strahler for diagrams and definitions, as well as selective pages from Critchfield for Climatology. And finally, Penguin India’s Physical Geography Dictionary was always kept at hand for looking up words and definitions.
Om Kant read Models in from selective reading of Majid Hussain, choosing chapters as per the topics in the UPSC syllabus. For Economic Geography he used the ALS booklet, NCERTs of 11th & 12th on Economic Geography, both new and old. He enriched his knowledge with Current Affairs. He also practiced the world map with economic resources, agriculture, industries, ports, trade routes, etc. and practiced trend analysis with the help of maps.
For Perspective Geography he again used ALS class notes, a book by Sudipta Adhikari, and picked up some diagrams and additional topics from Majid Hussain. The population geography part is covered very well in Majid Hussain and he kept updating his notes from current affairs. And once again, Rupa’s Geography Made Simple - 2 helped him complete Human Geography.
Once again for Settlement Geography, he chose the ALS booklet, and read the topics mentioned in the syllabus selectively from K Siddhartha for urban settlements. Regional Planning was again covered from the ALS Booklet and Current Affairs. The glossary section in Dictionary in Human geography completed his preparation.
D R Khullar is the most important source for Geography optional paper-II. All chapters in the book are as per the UPSC syllabus It is the bible for Indian Geography. He also recommends practicing Indian map pointing using the ALS classroom technique and pointing out places mentioned in the news on maps. And to make the best impact, use current affairs as an example throughout the paper.
Make your own notes, read each source at least thrice, and keep practicing answer writing – this is the best advice Om Kant has for you.
He wishes you all the best.
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