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How to prepare from MAP for IAS Exams

1. Maps play a very crucial role in the preparation of UPSC IAS Prelims, mains and in the interview also. One should know how many countries are there, where they are located, how many countries we have etc. We are all familiar with what a world map looks like but can one tell where a place, lake or countries like Belarus or Borneo etc., is located easily.

2. Therefore, the study of maps provides us with the in-depth information about the different countries, the political boundaries of countries, physical and geographical features of landform etc. Without Maps, one cannot study physical geography.

Tips to study maps effectively for UPSC CSE (IAS) exam

Understanding the Physical geography of India and World

1. Physical Geography, which is considered as the largest study field is a branch of Geography and Earth Sciences.

2. Maps provides us with a detailed spatial characteristics of the different natural phenomena combined with the Earth’s biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere. Apart from this, the physical maps help us to understand topics like Mountains, Rivers, Vegetation, climate, currents, ocean etc.

3. When looking at the map of India always focus on the states and major cities and their neighboring states, coastal states, and position of states with respect to Tropic of Cancer. Not only India but the physical features of the world can also be easily memorized by seeing the map.

Grasping Human geography of India

1. The Human geography is a sub discipline of social sciences which deals with the study of people and cultures, communities economies etc. The maps help you to study and understand these perspectives.

2. It gives you a clear idea about the places, knowledge of where it is located, the capital cities, important cities, transport connectivity, waterways, mineral deposits etc.

3. Apart from this, always tries to grasp as much details as possible and compare states with their specialty food, product, dance, culture etc., for better understanding. Apart from this, always tries to grasp as much details as possible and compare states with their specialty food, product, dance, culture etc., for better understanding.

India and World History

Maps prove very helpful in studying India and world history. It makes it easy to study the history, ancient places, locations of archaeological excavations, importance cultural places of either India or the world

Infrastructure Knowledge

1. The maps can not only help you to study Infrastructure of important monuments but also make us easy to understand the location.

2. For example: The Red Fort is located in Delhi, so we can easily associate the monument with place, similar as Chaar Minar and Humayun Tomb etc.

3. For example: The Red Fort is located in Delhi, so we can easily associate the monument with place, similar as Chaar Minar and Humayun Tomb etc.

4. The maps can also help us to study the several national initiatives like Golden Quadrilateral highway network, river interlinking projects etc. In General Studies Papers one can cite the places by drawing maps. Remember this will help you in scoring more marks.

Understanding International relations:

1. The maps help to enhance your UPSC IAS Mains exam preparation, especially for General studies Paper II. They are useful while studying international relations. Many new developments and projects can be understood clearly when studied and discussed in picture form.

2. Maps are very easy-to-use to memorize the Economic pattern of a country. It’s mode of transport, industries, roadways like National Highways etc. all can traced and linked to the development efforts by the country without any difficulty.

3. Note: Geography and History optional have direct linkage with Map based questions.

Preparations through Map of India:

1. Start with political map of India and form innovative ways to remember the location of all states and Union territories, major cities, which state borders maximum no of states, which states share international borders. Arrange the major cities north to south, east to west, which states have tropic of cancer passing through it etc. For example, which major rivers passing through the major cities or capitals.

2. Note: Practice drawing political map (an outline) of India by hand (Very important for Mains Paper GS I and GS II).

3. Make a note of important cities which were in news recently. You should also be able to identify the eastern, western, northern, southern extents of the states and UTs. For example, whenever a new state is carved out from the existing territory of India, the subsequent changes in the state boundaries must be duly noted.

Latitudes and Longitudes

Check out which important lines pass through India and which of its states. Also, check out which lie in the tropics and subtropics.

India's Neighbouring Countries

1. India is a large country with various physical and political boundaries within it. However, owing to our long coastline, we share borders with just a few countries.

2. So start studying maps to learn about all the India's neighboring countries in each direction then follow it up with the oceans on each side and the islands and land masses we have on those oceans. Give relatively more importance to countries of Indian Subcontinent.

Physical Map of India:

1. After thoroughly going through the political locations move on to the most important part of the map which is the physical map.

2. All physical maps consist of Rivers, Mountains, Glaciers, Lakes, Natural Parks, Natural Vegetation etc.


Note down the Origin, Sources, Flow routes and tributaries of all the rivers in India. Identify left bank and right bank tributaries of major rivers and you should be able to draw a rough diagram on a blank paper for each important river drainage basin.


1. Lakes are important spots of biodiversity and integral to the environment section of your UPSC syllabus. Note famous lakes across the country and their unique features. Make a separate list of such lakes.

2. For Example: Wular Lake (Jammu & Kashmir) is one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia.


India is bordered by the Himalayas in the North and has many more hills across the country which are important both from a security and environmental point of view. Note down extent and important peaks of all the mountain ranges i.e. both - Himalayan and Peninsular. You should be able to draw the full mountain range on a India political map and show the highest peak for it. Study the flora, and fauna unique to them, various gaps/passes, tribes that might inhabit these ranges. Also, know the glaciers which are a source for perennial rivers. Adopt a comparative approach for the Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats mapping.

Natural Vegetation:

India is rich in vegetation covers as well as minerals so the great diversity in the Indian natural vegetation should be studied in context of variation in the climate across India.

National Parks and Biospheres:

You should be able to locate all the important national parks, tiger reserves, wild life sanctuary, biosphere reserves, etc. and also their extent across states. You should have the knowledge of all those National parks in the country as well areas deemed protected under different environmental acts. Especially note those that have been in the news recently.

Important Sites:

Note down all the important places in India, including world heritage sites, nuclear power stations, ports, plateaus, wetlands, mineral rich locations, pilgrimages, etc and also other important physiographic features nearby.


1. Although UPSC focuses mainly on India, it is important to know the unique regions across the world such as deserts, unique rivers, biosphere hubs, etc.

2. Study the Lines on the Maps such as important latitude and longitude lines on the world map (like Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Arctic Circle, Equator). Also, note the countries through which each of the lines pass.

3. Study the International Date Line, Prime Meridian and which countries fall on which side.

4. And finally, keep yourself updated with information from the current affairs magazine for places that are mentioned in news articles, whether in India or around the world.

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