1. Prelims-2019-GS: Overall Observations
  2. Geography in Prelims-19: Observation / Analysis about

Prelims-2019-GS: Overall Observations

Before we solve the Geography MCQs, let’s look at the overall picture of Prelims-2019 Paper1.

Length 2017 2018 2019
Direct Four Options (A,B,C,D) 42 41 49
2 Statements True/False (2TF) 22 17 11
3TF 32 30 27
4TF 4 8 11
5TF 0 2 2
6TF 0 1 0
7TF 0 1 0
Total 100 100 100

Less Time Consuming than Previous Exams

  • To make the paper lengthier, UPSC Examiner had gotten into the habit of asking multi-statement questions. Multi-statement questions eat up more time in reading the statements, pausing, thinking and reflecting.
  • In 2018, Examiner’s enthusiasm went all the way upto 6-7 statement based true/false questions.
  • In comparison, 2019’s paper is less lengthy than 2017 and 2018, because it has more number of questions with direct four options (A,B,C,D). So, less time would have been gone in reading them.

Lowest Current Affairs from (D-1) Year

Span 2017 2018 2019
Theory 60 51 43
Current Affairs from (D-1) Year 16 13 9
Contemporary 24 36 48
Total 100 100 100
  • In last three papers, each year the current affairs questions from (D-1) year are declining. (that from the first january of previous calendar year)
  • Although, this vacuum is not filled by theory questions. In Fact, theory questions too are declining each year. And the vacuum is being filled by Contemporary Affairs questions.
  • So, perhaps those who excessively fear or obsess with the (D-1) current affairs (and their PDF compilations) of last one year- should revamp their strategies accordingly.
  • Out of the 48 questions from contemporary affairs, SEVEN questions find their traces directly in the news-articles of 2017. Which indicates the examiner has used question bank from (D-2) year at some places.
  • PIB is overrated: While candidates unnecessarily lose sleep over ‘PIB’ and its ‘compilations’ but hardly any question in Prelims-2019 required referring to the PIB news items.

However, UPSC examiner has remained consistent / predictable in two areas:

  • As usual avoided the Hot-Topics: As such, the number of CA questions are few. And even among them, hot topics (those who’re in too much news) are almost avoided whether it’s General Election 2019, or RBI’s Dividend / NPA / Feb21 Circular, or ISRO’s satellites.
  • As usual avoided ‘Persons in News’ (PIN), Sports, Books-Authors, Awards, Appointments etc..

2019’s Paper was less tough than 2018

Toughness 2017 2018 2019
Easy 42 32 31
Medium 23 22 33
Tough 35 46 36 (Less number of Tough Qs than 2018)
Total 100 100 100

2018 is indisputably the toughest paper in recent history, both in terms of number of questions and corresponding cutoffs.

  • When we compare only the easy questions, both 2018 and 2019 have about ~30 Easy questions, so neither of them was easier than 2017, (or 2016- which was a dream paper for the Guessmasters and mercurial elements.)
  • But when comparing the level of medium and tough questions, it’s evident that 2019’s paper had less of tough questions and more of medium questions than 2018.

Unknown Facts about familiar Topics

  • This time to make the paper tough, UPSC examiner has asked unknown facts about known topics where students are familiar with the basic gist but don’t know the advanced details / salient features asked in the questions.
  • Examples: LTE-VolTE, Agriculture Soil emission, digital signature, drug resistance, Maternity benefit Act, Patent Act, Five Year Plans, FCI’s operations, Poverty Line, Remote Sensing, PVTG, Forest right, Augmented Reality (AR) etc.

Solve Old Papers Topicwise

Solve old question papers in topicwise manner, because questions / topics are sometimes recycled. This is true both for prelims as well as Mains. Observe:

  • Prelim-2018: CAS9 given as one of the wrong option in a physics question.
  • Prelim-2019: Asked what is CAS9?

Here’s another one:

  • Prelims-2015: Which of the following country doesn’t open out to the Mediterranean Sea?
  • Prelims-2017: Mediterranean Sea is a border of which of the following countries?
  • Prelim-2018: 5 Seas and adjoining nations asked including Mediterranean

Similarly in Mains

  • Mains-2015: What are the economic significances of discovery of oil in Arctic Sea and its possible environmental consequences?
  • Mains-2018: Why is India taking keen interest in resources of Arctic Region?

Due to paucity of time and space I am not giving all examples, but suffice to say it helps at least in 50:50 elimination in Prelims and assembling a rag-tag answer in Mains.

2019’s paper has less opportunities for Guessmasters

Guessmastergiri 2019 2018 2017
Possible to arrive at right answer #without-studying-anything 7 16 20
Anti-GM Questions 8 9 13
Not Applicable 85 75 67

Compared to previous papers, 2019’s paper offered very few opportunities to apply the rules of Guessmaster-giri.

  • So, it appears that UPSC-examiner has taken cognizance of this matter (either through my Sustained Campaign about this matter in the last 3 years or because of the चंचल तत्व (mercurial elements) who were bragging about such shortcuts/cheats/hacks through their clickbait channels on Youtube).
  • Either way, UPSC has improved the quality of framing statements, so Guessmaster-giri’s days are almost over.
  • There is no shortcut or even springboard that can help you clear prelims without hardwork.

So, those were the observations about overall GS paper. As such, I’m done publishing Answerkey for all subjects except one, Geography- that i’ll finish here now:

Geography in Prelims-19: Observation / Analysis about

UPSC Answerkey 2019 Geography

  • UPSC conducted civil services IAS/IPS preliminary exam on 2nd June 2019.
  • Total 7 out of 100 questions in General Studies Paper-1 were devoted to Geography
Geography in Prelim 2018 and before Prelim-2019: Continuity and Change
– The number of MCQs from Geography reduced from two-digit to single digit to make space for Environment and Agriculture.
– Since Prelims-2016, Geography has been receiving alternate weightage of 4MCQ-7MCQ-4MCQ-7MCQs.
Pattern continued, this year 7 MCQ. Although in Mains GS Paper-1, 100+ marks worth Geography is asked so it’s not like UPSC is showing ‘disrespect’ to the subject.
Map based complex questions
● 2017: If you travel by road from Kohima to Kottayam, how many states you’ve to cross?
● 2017: Which of the following is geographically closest to Great Nicobar?
● 2018: Which of the following cities lies on a longitude closest to Delhi?
Sadism has continued:
– 5 out of 6 MCQs are based on maps.
– To make the map based questions Complex this time- they asked 3-5 places asked in every individual question. So, to get one answer correct, you needed much more information than before.
Low profile tributaries of famous rivers asked e.g. Godavari, Bramhaputra, Teesta in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. Sadism re-emerged with two questions on low-profile rivers.
Before 2016, there was a trend of asking about tribal group vs. state where they live, especially PVTGs. Re-emerged with a question on PVTGs.
2015 and 2017 asked Map based question on Mediterranean Sea. Expanded beyond just Mediterranean and asked about five different seas in a single MCQ.
2018’s World Geography was centred around current / contemporary affairs places such Mosul and outbreak of famine in “x” country. Straight forward school atlas based question in world geography.

Anyways, when barely 4-7 questions are asked, there is not much space left to compare and contrast with past year.

Geography Strategy for Prelims-2020

[accordion id=”strategy-geography”][accordion_item title=”Click to Expand to read about Geography strategy for 2020″ parent_id=”strategy-geography”]

  1. Base Material: Rajtanil’s Geography Lecture series at Youtube.
  2. (Must read) NCERT Class 11 and 12 Geography. They are even useful at the Mains stage, Some of the chapters are indeed quite cumbersome- particularly those related to landforms and river shapes. You may downplay them because at Prelims, the “technical / advanced physical geography” MCQs are less prominent in Civil services, unlike the CDS and CAPF exams. IGNORE the “GIST OF NCERT” type books available in the market. Because in GIST preparation, the author would mention or skip the things which he considers important, whereas UPSC examiner -when lifting MCQ- will go for the original raw content of NCERT.
  3. Selective Study of NCERT Class 7 to 10. As such in last few years, UPSC examiner had stopped asking thing from here because they were too simplistic for UPSC standards, but with 2019’s Summer Solstice question, seems his affection has rekindled.
  4. (When it’s published) India Yearbook 2020 by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Read Ch1. (If time Permits) you may go for Ch.30 which has information on individual state /UT for your interviews.
  5. Selective Study of Certificate in Physical Geography by Goh Cheng Leong. Too much technical physical geography is not required in civil services, unlike CDS and CAPF. Some senior players would even recommend Physical Geography by Savindra Singh | हिंदी में भी उपलब्ध because in past some MCQs could be solved verbatim from there, but that much effort in mastering physical geography will give diminishing rate of return to those not having geography optional.
  6. Selective Study any one “base-book” on Indian Geography: Majid Husain | हिंदी में भी उपलब्ध OR DR Khullar. Problem with both the authors is that they’ve also written other titles containing khichdi of Indian-physical-world geography targeted towards mass-exams. But those “khichdi” books have almost NIL utility in UPSC. You’ve to be very clear in your head- what and how much you’ve to prepare in each segment. For example, World Geography at Mains is mainly focused at Asia and African region, and that too at resource distribution and disasters at a ‘macro’ level. They don’t ask trivial GK like which country has which type of mineral, capital and currency. So, don’t waste time in Khichdi books. Go for “Indian Geography” because it has better utility at prelims and mains- in terms of Physical India (associated disasters), resource distribution, Industrial and Human geography of India.
  7. Mains GS1 has a syllabus subtopic “Industrial Location Factors”. Go through my notes at http://Mrunal.org/geography
  8. School Atlas. You should cultivate the habit of finding the places in the school atlas, rather than doing Google map search. Because, Google Maps search will directly lead you to the exact place e.g. “Syria”, Whereas, if you manually search it on school atlas, then because of the trial-and-error- you’ll also come across additional information about its surrounding places, And thus your command over the map will improve.



(Pre19-SetA) Q20. On 21st June the sun
(a) Does not set below the horizon at the Arctic circle
(b) Does not set below the horizon at Antarctic circle
(c) Shines vertically overhead at noon on the Equator
(d) Shines vertically overhead at the tropic of Capricorn
Difficulty: Easy. Basic concept asked from NCERT.
ANS: NCERT Class 6 ch3 page 20

  • on 21st June, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun. The rays of the sun fall directly on the Tropic of Cancer. So, C and D are wrong.
  • Places beyond the Arctic Circle experience continuous daylight for about six months. So A is correct.

GuessmastergiriTM: Not Applicable.

(Pre19-SetA) Q44. Why are dewdrops not formed on a cloudy night?
(a) Clouds absorb the radiation released from the Earth’s surface.
(b) Clouds reflect back the Earth’s radiation.
(c) The Earth’s surface would have low temperature on cloudy nights.
(d) Clouds deflect the blowing wind to ground level.
Difficulty: Medium to Tough. While NCERT mentions that clear sky is necessary for dew formation but it doesn’t help why / how clouds will not let dew form. So, you’ve to interpret & apply the theory.

  • The favorable weather elements for dew include clear skies, light wind, decent soil moisture. ….Clear skies allow for the maximum release of longwave radiation to space. Cloudy skies will reflect and absorb while re-emitting longwave radiation back to the surface and that prevents as much cooling from occurring, says this US Government website. So B is the most appropriate reason.

GuessmastergiriTM: Not Applicable.

Geography: India

(Pre19-SetA) Q23. Consider the following pairs :
Famous place: River

  1. Pandharpur : Chandrabhaga
  2. Tiruchirapalli : Cauvery
  3. Hampi : Malaprabha

Which of the pair given above are correctly matched
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Difficulty: Tough. Who can memorize so many low-profile rivers?

  • The Chandrabhaga (Bhima) river flows through the Pandharpur. Ref: their official district website. So #1 is right.
  • Tiruchirappalli, situated on the banks of the river Cauvery is the fourth largest city in Tamil Nadu. Ref: their official district website. So #2 is right.
  • Hampi, the 14th century capital of one of the greatest empires of medieval India called the Vijayanagar Empire, lies in the state of Karnataka protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra. Ref: Government website ‘KnowIndia’. So #3 is wrong.

GuessmastergiriTM: Not Applicable.

(Pre19-SetA) Q38. Consider the following Pairs :
Glacier: River

  1. Bandarpunch : Yamuna
  2. Bara Shigri : Chenab
  3. Milam : Mandakini
  4. Siachen : Nubra
  5. Zemu : Manas

Which of the following pairs given above are correctly matched?
(a) 1,2 and 4
(b) 1,3 and 4
(c) 2 and 5
(d) 3 and 5
Difficulty: Tough. Who prepares in this much detail- 5 glaciers and 5 rivers!?

  • Siachen Glacier, one of the world’s longest mountain glaciers, lying in the Karakoram Range system of Kashmir. It is the source for Nubra River, says Majid page 16.23 and Encyclopedia Britannica. #4 is right, this eliminates C and D.
  • In both A and B, #1 is common so we’ve to accept Bandarpunch: Yamuna as correct. Now everything boils down to #2 and #3, but their glaciar origin names not given in Majid.
  • River Mandakini actually originates from the springs fed by melting snow of Charabari glacier about one km above Kedarnath temple. Says Rudraprayag district website. Whereas, The Sarda or Saryu river rises in the Milam glacier in the Nepal Himalayas says NCERT Class11 India: Physical page 26 . So, #3 is wrong, we are left with answer A.
  • Just to cross check, Bara Shigri is the largest glacier located in Lahaul Spiti region in Chandra Valley, Himachal Pradesh. It is a 30-km long glacier, the second longest glacier in the Himalayas after Gangotri. It flows northwards and feeds the Chenab river, says com

GuessmastergiriTM: Not Applicable.

(Pre19-SetA) Q42. Which is common to the places known as Aliyar, Isapur and Kangsabati?
(a) Recently discovered uranium deposits
(b) Tropical rain forests
(c) Underground cave systems
(d) Water reservoirs
Difficulty: Tough. These places not available in NCERT or Majid or IYB.
ANS: Aliyar (Tamilnadu), Isapur (Maharashtra) and Kangsabati (W.Bengal) are water Reservoirs as per this Government PDF.
GuessmastergiriTM: Not Applicable.

(Pre19-SetA) Q51. Consider the following statements about particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in India:

  1. PVTGs reside in 18 states and one union Territory.
  2. A stagnant or declining population is one of the criteria for determining PVTG status.
  3. There are 92 PVTGs officially notified in the country so far.
  4. Irular and Konda Reddi tribes are included in the list of PVTGs.

Which of the statements given above are correct?
(a) 1,2 and 3
(b) 2,3 and 4
(c) 1, 2 and 4
(d) 1,3 and 4
Difficulty: Tough. Statement 1 and 3 are absolute GK, which are not easily available in routine prep sources.

  • 75 tribal groups have been categorized categorized by Ministry of Home Affairs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)s. PVTGs reside in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands. Says Tribal Ministry website. So, #1 is right but #3 is wrong. This eliminates all options except C.
  • Btw, Konda Reddi reside in Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana) and Irular reside in Tamilnadu.

!gm Because gm-rule#2 all dates, numbers and figures are wrong but here statement#1 and #3 contain numbers but even if you believe them to be wrong, there is no option without either statement#1 or #3.

Geography: World

(Pre19-SetA) Q36. Consider the following pairs :
Sea: Bordering country

  1. Adriatic Sea: Albania
  2. Black Sea: Croatia
  3. Caspian Sea: Kazakhstan
  4. Mediterranean Sea: Morocco
  5. Red Sea: Syria

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched?
(a) 1,2 and 4 only
(b) 1,3 and 4 only
(c) 2 and 5 only
(d) 1,2,3,4 and 5
Difficulty: Medium to Tough depending on your mastery over School Atlas.
ANS: Go through School Atlas:
UPSC Answerkey World Geography School Atlas

  • #3 Caspian Sea: Kazakhstan is correct. So A and C are eliminated.
  • #5: Syria touches Mediterranean sea and not Black Sea. So, #5 is wrong, this eliminates D.
  • Thus, we are left with answer B.

GuessmastergiriTM: Not Applicable.
This concludes the article series on the answer key for prelim 2019. you can access all the articles at: http://Mrunal.org/Prelims