[AnswerKey] UPSC Prelims-2020: Geography MCQs Solved with Explanation for All Sets & Strategy for 2021


  1. Trend Analysis of the Geography MCQs in UPSC prelim exams?
  2. Answerkey: Physical Geography MCQs in Prelims-2020
  3. Answerkey: Indian geography MCQs in Prelims-2020
  4. Answerkey: World Geography MCQs in Prelims-2020

Trend Analysis of the Geography MCQs in UPSC prelim exams?

UPSC Prelims-2020: Geography MCQs Solved with Explanation

Except the Volga river and jet streams, others MCQs are asking such details, which are not directly solvable from the routine books.

Therefore, majority of the questions are medium to tough categories.

Geography in 2015 to 2019 Prelim Papers 2020 Prelims: Continuity and change in the Geography questions
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 5 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.
-Low profile tributaries of famous rivers asked e.g. Godavari, Bramhaputra, Teesta in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.

-In 2019 UPSC examination gone crazier than usual: 2 MCQs on Indian rivers.

Nothing from Indian rivers but asked from world rivers
– 2019: Glacier vs river pair question asked. One question about Glacier map location
There had been a trend of asking about particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) every few years. Not seen in this time
– 2019: 5 out of 7 Geography MCQs are based on maps. – 2 out of 5 Geography MCQs Based on maps
– 2019: An MCQ on Minor and major minerals with regards to regulatory powers of the Union and State Government – Asked about the classification of the minor and major minerals.
Physical geography questions in 2019 paper were relatively easier. asked technical things about Ocean Mean Temperature (OMT) lifted from the Hindu Article 2 years ago. So physical geography relatively difficult than last year

Anyways, when barely 5 questions are asked, there is not much left to compare and contrast and analyse and strategize in comparison with past year.

Geography Strategy for Prelims-2021

[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.


Geography Strategy for Mains-2021 & previous GSM1 Papers

Covered in a separate article Mains GS Paper-1- including topicwise previous papers!

Answerkey: Physical Geography MCQs in Prelims-2020

(Pre’20-SetB) Q.53. With reference to Ocean Mean Temperature (OMT), which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. OMT is measured up to a depth of 26°C isotherm which is 129 meters in the south-western Indian Ocean during January – March.
  2. OMT collected during January March can be used in assessing whether the amount of rainfall in monsoon will be less or more than a certain long-term mean.

Select the correct answer using the code given below

[a) 1 only

[b) 2 only

[c) Both 1 and 2

[d) Neither 1 nor 2

Difficulty : Tough ? this much information is not available in routine books. It seems to be lifted from of random The Hindu article published 2 years ago

Type: Theory ?


  • In contrast, OMT, which is measured up to a depth of 26 degree C isotherm. During January–March, the mean 26 degree C isotherm depth in the Southwestern Indian Ocean is 59 metres. So, #1 is wrong.
  • Sea surface temperature (SST) is routinely used for predicting whether the total amount of rainfall that India receives during the monsoon season will be less or more than the long-term mean. However, ocean mean temperature (OMT) has better ability to predict this, than SST. So, #2 is correct.

Answer Sources:

  • 2018-September’s Thehindu Article. But it is unlikely that a candidate may have read and remembered such an old information therefore I have classified it under “random source”.

? GuessMaster-GiriTM: ?Partially Possible If you believe in the rule#2 that GM-Rule#2: Dates, Years & figures are always wrong in statement → Then first statement should be wrong because they contains data related to temperature and depth, so, we are We are 50:50 between B or D.

(Pre’20-SetB) Q.59. Consider the following statements:

  1. Jet streams occur in the Northern Hemisphere only.
  2. Only some cyclones develop an eye.
  3. The temperature inside the eye of a cyclone is nearly 10 C lesser than that of the surroundings.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct:

[a) 1 only

[b) 2 and 3 only

[c) 2 only

[d) 1 and 3 only

Difficulty : Medium ?  Requires knowledge over multiple statements.

Type: Theory ?


  • As per Tamil Nadu Class11 Geography Book:
  • Jet streams are high altitude westerly wind system blows at a height of 6 to 14 km, with very high speed up to 450 km/hr in wavy form at both hemispheres. → #1 is wrong.
  • Centre of the cyclone is called the Eye. The eye is a Calm region with no rainfall and experiences highest temperature and lowest pressure within the cyclonic system. →  #3 is wrong. So, by elimination, Answer is C.
  • For more on these concepts, Ref: Rajtanil’s geography Youtube lecture series.
  • Explained Jet stream – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOTKISPGyqA
  • Explained – Cyclone – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3Dseym4Le8

? GuessMaster-GiriTM: ?Fully Possible.

  • If you believe in the rule#1 that extreme worded statements are always wrong → Then first statement#1 should be wrong because contains extreme words “only”
  • If you believe in the rule#2 that GM-Rule#2: Dates, Years & figures are always wrong in statement → Then statement#3 should be wrong because contains a figure “10C”.
  • Thus by elimination, we get answer C, #without-studying-anything.

Answerkey: Indian geography MCQs in Prelims-2020

(Pre’20-SetB) Q.52. Consider the following minerals:

  1. Bentonite
  2. Chromite
  3. Kyanite
  4. Sillimanite

In India, which of the above is/are officially designated as major minerals?

[a) 1 and 2 only

[b) 4 only

[c) 1 and 3 only

[d) 2, 3 and 4 only

Difficulty : Tough ? These are lesser known minerals.

Type: Contemporary ?


  • Chromite(#2) is a metallic mineral and metallic mineral are mostly in the major mineral category. So, We are 50:50 between A or D.
  • According to official sites of the ministry of mines 2,3 and 4 are listed as major minerals. → Correct answer is D

Answer Sources:

(Pre’20-SetB) Q.56. Siachen Glacier is situated to the

[a) East of Aksai Chin

[b) East of Leh

[c) North of Gilgit

[d) North of Nubra Valley

Difficulty : Tough ? Difficult to memorize and recall the relative locations of all the glaciers. साला इतने डिटेल मे कौन पढ़ता है?  

Type: Theory ?


  • 2019: The Defence Minister announced the Siachen area will be opened for tourists. It is situated to the north of Nubra Valley so the correct answer is “D”.

Answer Sources:

Answerkey: World Geography MCQs in Prelims-2020

(Pre’20-SetB) Q.78. Consider the following pairs

River – Flows into

  1. Mekong — Andaman Sea
  2. Thames — Irish Sea
  3. Volga — Caspian Sea
  4. Zambezi — Indian Ocean

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

[a) 1 and 2 only

[b) 3 only

[c) 3 and 4 only

[d) 1, 2 and 4 only

Difficulty : Medium ?  Volga-Caspian Sea pair is given in NCERT. Others require command over the world map. 

Type: Theory ?


  • Volga is one of the most important rivers of Russia. It provides a navigable waterway of 11,200 km and drains into the Caspian Sea. → #3 is right, We are 50:50 between  B or C.
  • Zambezi either crosses or forms the boundaries of six countries—Angola, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique and finally drains in Indian Ocean.
  • Mekong forms part of the international border between Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, as well as between Laos and Thailand. The river then flows through Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam before draining into the South China Sea. So, #1 is wrong.
  • Thames River drains into North sea So, #2 is wrong.

Answer Sources:

  • NCERT Fundamentals of Human Geography Page 76- Mentions about the Volga so helps arriving at 50:50 between B or C. Then you have to check world map for the other rivers!
  • Rajtanil’s World geography Youtube lecture series  Lecture Ref1: @ 42 Volga
  • Lecture Ref2 @4:00 African Rivers
  • School Atlas.


  • Next we will see the Environment Questions asked in Prelims-2020.
  • Any errors? let me know in the comment section!
  • Also my thanks to Shri Brijesh Patel (Faculty, SPIPA, Ahmedabad) for his assistance in preparation of this answer key.
  • Stay Tuned for the Detailed Answerkeys with Explanations at Mrunal.org/prelims

    Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak