Learning Through Maps for UPSC Civil Services Examination | How to Study Maps for UPSC | Career Launcher

Every year at least 3-5 questions are asked in the UPSC Prelims exam. It is enough to understand the importance of learning through maps for the UPSC Civil Services Examination. Moreover, detailing your answers with the help of Maps in UPSC Mains is a sure-shot way of getting more marks. Additionally, there are map-based questions as well as questions that you can attempt only if you’ve sound knowledge of maps in the UPSC exam.
Maps are surely one of the pain-points for UPSC aspirants. Most students often find themselves at sea when it comes to learning through maps for UPSC. Hence, in this article, we have discussed how to study maps for UPSC. We’ll also talk at length about which other subjects can be prepared through maps other than geography. Let’s get started!

What Should You Cover To Prepare Maps For UPSC?

After how to study maps for UPSC, this is one of the most important and frequently asked questions among the UPSC aspirants. Hence, here is the list of areas you should cover to prepare maps for UPSC:


You should practice drawing the map of India by India. It will be of great importance especially in UPSC Mains in General Studies-I and II. Here is a list of areas that should be thoroughly prepared through maps:

  1. Neighboring countries and their locations, states with whom they share the boundaries with, rivers that flow in and out of India, the oceanic region around coastal states, countries near to island territories of India.
  2. Important longitude and latitude lines such as Tropic of Cancer, standard meridian, and the states and important cities that fall on these lines.
  3. The geographical location of all the states along with their neighboring states and important cities in the states. You should be able to plot the important cities on the map.
  4. Keep a tab on the cities in the news. For example, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Kasargod were in news recently due to various reasons. So, you should know about their geographical location.
  5. Rivers: Origin, flow routes, and tributaries of all the major rivers in India should be practiced well. Also, identify the left bank and right bank tributaries of the rivers and practice by plotting them on map.
  6. Other than that, you should be able to plot mountains, important lakes, natural vegetation, monsoon cycle, climate, national parks, and heritage sites on the map.

World Map

You should have a rough idea of the position of all the important countries vis-a-vis India. Here’s an exhaustive list of all the important areas to cover from the world map:

  1. Important Lines: Keep a note of the countries and their location on map that are located on important lines such as tropic of cancer, tropic of Capricorn, Equator, Greenwich Meridian line.
  2. Trade Hotspots: Canals and sea-routes are extremely important to understand international relations. Hence, always remember the geographical locations of important channels and canals.
  3. Current affairs: You should be able to plot the countries that were in news lately on the world map.

Using Maps For Understanding International Relations & History

First and foremost, you should understand that learning through maps for UPSC is not limited to Geography solely. There are other subjects like International Relations, World History, and Indian History, Art & Culture that require a decent hold of maps in order to fully understand the topic. Let’s discuss what all subjects should be covered while learning maps for UPSC other than geography:

  1. International Relations: Study of news reports such as presidents’ visits, prime-ministers’ visits to other countries is incomplete if you do not know the geopolitical importance of that visit. Hence, whenever you study such a report, it is important that you couple it with studying the location of the country vis-a-vis India. Plot the country on the map and revise it multiple times to retain its location. Moreover, to understand the relations between the different countries, it is important to have an understanding of their geographical locations.
  2. World History: The events in world history would only make sense if you couple it with the geographical location of the countries. For example, when we study the Old Silk Route, it is important to know the geographical locations of the countries involved to understand the importance of such trade networks.
  3. Indian History: The geopolitical conditions have always been at the center of historic events. Moreover, the choice of route for the foreign invaders has largely been north-west if they came via land route and coastal regions if they came via sea route. With map-practice it would be easy to understand the factors that govern such scenarios. Hence, you can use the atlas to understand Indian history in a better way.
  4. Current Affairs: Another important area that should be covered is current affairs. You should know the location of whichever country is in the news on the world map.

Check out this article for learning maps for the UPSC Prelims exam!

So, here’s an exhaustive list of how you should learn maps for UPSC preparation. We also have a dedicated course on maps that you must enroll in if you find learning maps challenging. Get in touch with our course counselors on more details about this course.

Introduction to UPSC MAP

Current Affairs analysis