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Geology Optional Preparation Strategy for UPSC Exam

Geology subject is not popular in India. However, it is one of the 48 optional subjects offered by UPSC for the main civil services exam. Unlike other optional subjects, it is a highly specialized subject, so very few students end up taking it.

According to statistics from UPSC, less than 50 students take Geology optional exams in a year. Its scientific nature discourages many students from taking it. Nonetheless, if you prepare well, you will find it easy to understand and score for the civil services exam.

Do you have interests in Geology Preparation Strategy for UPSC? If you do, you will find this article helpful to you. Here we will give you a few tips that will help you prepare adequately and, in-turn, score high in your Geology optional exam.

Know Geology syllabus for UPSC

The Geology optional consists of two exams each with 250 marks. Each of the exams is further divided into sections A and B.

Geology Paper 1 covers all the basic concepts on the formation, evolution, and history of the earth.

Its focus is on general geology, geomorphology, remote sensing, structure geology, paleontology, Indian stratigraphy, hydrogeology, and engineering geology. It would be best to focus on each topic for a better and deeper understanding of the earth.

On the other hand, minerals, magmas, metamorphism, sedimentary textures, and the natural hazards caused by pollution are a focus for Geology Paper 11.

This paper’s main topics are; mineralogy, igneous, Metamorphic Petrology, sedimentary petrology, Economic Geology, Mining Geology, Geochemistry, and Environmental Geology.

While preparing for this subject, you should start your preparation with thorough reading of the syllabus without leaving any section.

Select best books for the UPSC Geology

If you will prepare adequately for the UPSC Geology optional exam, you will have to use the right and recommended reference books.

You will find plenty of materials available for preparing yourself for the Geology option. It would help if you relied on its standard materials to clear the concepts.

Standard books list for the geology option

  1. Trends in objective Geology by Aussif Sayeed
  2. Textbook of Geology- P.K Mukherjee
  3. Geology: An introduction- Kronaris and Krambine
  4. Mineral and Crystal Science- V.C Jesh
  5. Sedimentary Rocks- Petti John
  6. Underground Hydrology- David Keith Toad
  7. Geology and Evolution of the Indian plate( from Hadean-Holocene- 4Ga to 4Ka)/ Naqvi, sm-2015
  8. Current Affairs by Pearson Publishers
  9. Current Affairs by Arihant publishers
  10. Soil Mineralogy- I.E. Grim

Prepare a study plan

Geology is a specialized subject, and extensive. You will require a lot of time to prepare and understand the basics.

Therefore, you need prior conceptual clarity to understand the syllabus’s topics before you can handle any exam. It would be best if you devote proper time to prepare. Do your reading from the standard books for Geology optional and make your notes for each topic.

It will be beneficial if you revise your notes more often. Though there is little current affairs linkage with Geology optional, you should keep reading newspapers for current affairs related to Geology to be well equipped.

With the Geology option, cover the whole syllabus in its entirety, leaving no topic uncovered.

Ideally, if you are a serious candidate, you will require only 3-4 months covering the Geology syllabus to prepare for your UPSC exam.

Try solving UPSC Geology optional previous years’ exam papers

As a serious candidate, you should go through previous exams to extract an idea about the Geology exam patterns and trends. With this, you will master compulsory and most common areas that are tested regularly.

Besides, Solving past year exams will give an idea of what questions might be repeated. Moreover, you will know what questions you can solve, and areas that you need more practice.

With Geology, Most of the questions are repeated. So, practising UPSC previous year papers will put you a step closer to high scores.

Practice a good answer writing strategy

It has essay-type questions. When writing your answers, ensure you include relevant figures and facts. Your essays are required to be very short and yet hold all the necessary details. You should therefore write down key points and clarify them briefly.

Just focus on what is asked and give your answer in a precise format instead of making stories.

Where you are required to write long answers, start your answer with a direct introduction by adequately defining the topic. Your definitions should be exact and to the point.

When explaining your topic, try to relate it to the real world by giving examples with a link to the world but remain focused on the topic.

Moreover, it would help if you drew diagrams where necessary to complement your answers. Train yourself to always end your responses with a positive thought. You can write solutions to problems in your responses, and give examples if needed.

Lastly, write your answers in a mixture of points and paragraphs.


As you know, the optional paper marks are crucial to deciding your ranking in the final list. Therefore, you have to perform exceptionally well in the Geology optional paper. Unlike other optional subjects, the geology option is self-explanatory and easy to understand. If you work smart, nobody can stop you from achieving the highest rank in your UPSC exam.

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