A:IAS Main 2013:Answer Writing Tips for General Studies Paper I-Geography

Newly Revised Syllabus of General Studies has given Geography  a defining edge in G.S. preparations, as 250-300 marks questions shall be drawn from Geographical topics.

Newly Revised Syllabus of General Studies has given Geography  a defining edge in G.S. preparations, as 250-300 marks questions shall be drawn from Geographical topics. Climatology, World physical Geog., Ecology and environment and Economic Geography with resource development aspects sway largely over the syllabus. Agriculture & Industrial Geography with contemporary & relevant issues need to be focused. Aspects of Indian Economy have more of geographical content. For example irrigation system, cropping pattern, localization of Industries resource development, hunger, poverty, famine etc. have inseparable linkages with the geographical factors. Disaster & disaster management is not based on policy framework alone, it requires structural analysis of disasters, and their types like cyclones, floods, tsunami, earthquakes etc., and destructive mechanism.
To address these themes effectively, Civil Services Main Examination requires a two-pronged strategy to hit the target - Content and Writing Skills. We will take up both these components in detail in particular to addressing geography questions and other topics in general.
Content involves the following:
(a)  Understanding of Concepts.
(b) Facts.
(c) Use of the facts.
(d) Something refreshing, in terms of knowledge base or interlinking various aspects or visual representation like use of diagrams, charts, tables.
Conceptual understanding
 Conceptual understanding of the subject is the base and is most critical aspect. Write a lucid   interpretation of the concepts and associate it with illustrations to have long-term memory. Facts speak for itself and provide objectivity and as such strengthen the argument as they are treated synonymous to truth.
Thus the second step is memorizing the important facts. For instance few important theories like plate tectonics are to be memorized to address any question related with volcanism, earthquake, sea floor spreading and their spatial analysis.
 Further integrating the facts (use of facts) with conceptual understanding of the Geographical processes and its impact to the climate, physiographic, and cultural settings is critical for writing an effective answer.
Something New – In terms of diagrams, tables, charts, refreshing ideas, updated content, latest reports, interlinking of phenomena etc. However, caution has to be taken care of i.e., a balance needs to be maintained and the views expressed will not be too radical. Besides it should be well integrated with the answer.
Writing Skill:
•    Be specific and precise.
•    Writing should be legible and clear.
•    Grammatical errors should be avoided.
•    Lucid language.
•    Use of Diagrams, charts, tables and maps, whenever required to give sharpness and objectivity to your answer.
Writing skills and content both are complementary and supplementary to each other. Writing skill has its foundation in content and content needs effective writing skill to be well expressed. Further, the content and writing skill is supplemented with effective presentation, it includes 8 principles -
•    Highlight the key words.
•    Highlight the latest updates that you have incorporated in your answer.
•    Draw some lucid diagrams, flow charts to make your presentation effective. But remember that they should justify the contextual need.
•    Further, the diagrams and flow charts needs to be explained and should not be left unexplained.
•    Each theme has some key words and the examiner expects this from you.
•    In Geography particularly, try to write as much as you can in paragraph form and not in points. Further, there should be logical progression of thought from one paragraph to another and separate paragraphs may be made for representing separate ideas.
•    Make endeavor to integrate the statement of the question, somewhere in you answer. This makes your answer focused and well knit.
•    Last, but not the least, just before your examination gives your precious three to four hours to the dynamic aspects of the subject. It includes the current updates, reports, diagrams etc. Even glancing over these at the last moment makes them alive and fresh in your memory (provided you have read them earlier) and they can be reproduced more authentically in the examination. This will handsomely make the Difference.

These are GOLDEN RULES for fetching marks in Geography. These are not only to be memorized but also to be applied in writing answers. Remember "It is not wide reading but useful reading that tends to excellence".

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