How to Practice Maps For UPSC

Practice Maps For UPSC

How to Practice Maps For UPSC- Every year, the UPSC CSE Prelims examination includes a number of map-based questions. For aspiring candidates, it can be challenging to know where to begin with map preparation. This article provides some guidance on how to effectively practice maps skills in order to tackle the map-based questions in the UPSC examination.

India – Political

International Borders

  • Take note of the neighboring countries of India.
  • Identify the Indian states that share a border with these countries and keep track of specific details.
  • For example, determine the number of international borders a particular state shares and which state shares the longest international land border with a particular country.
  • Identify the eastern, western, northern, and southern extents of India.


  • Take note of the states that share boundaries with each other and record how many states share a boundary.
  • Familiarize yourself with the major cities in each state and important details about them, such as if they are located along a riverbank.
  • Arrange the important cities from East to West and North to South.
  • Keep track of cities and regions that have recently been in the news. For example, Rajasthan’s Bhilwara was in the news during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Latitudes and Longitudes

  • Observe the latitudes and longitudes passing through India and make note of the states through which the Tropic of Cancer or the Standard Time Meridian passes.
  • Pay attention to the various cities and water bodies in terms of the latitudes and longitudes that pass close to them.

India – Physical

Mountain Ranges

  • Study the important peaks and mountains of India based on various regions, such as the Himalayan Mountains and ranges in the greater Himalayas, lesser Himalayas, and Shiwaliks.
  • Create a list of important glaciers in the Himalayan region.
  • Study the mountain ranges in North-East India, Central India, and the Peninsular region, including the Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats.
  • Locate important peaks like Doddabeta, Anaimudi, and Kanchenjunga.
  • Take note of important mountain passes such as Nathu La, Shipki La, Bomdi La, and Lipu Lekh.
  • Observe the various passes and gaps within these mountain ranges.


  • To study a river, note down its source/origin, course of flow, tributaries, distributaries, and where it meets the sea.
  • Study rivers in three major divisions: Himalayan Rivers, Rivers of North-East India, and Peninsular Rivers.
  • Use mnemonics to remember the left and right bank tributaries of rivers and whether they are east-flowing or west-flowing.
  • Focus on rivers that are in the news.
  • Take note of important falls and the rivers they are associated with.
  • Understand the north-south and east-west chronology of rivers.


  • Study the major plateaus of Central and Peninsular India, such as the Central Highland, Bundelkhand Upland, Malwa Plateau, Baghelkhand, Chotanagpur Plateau, Meghalaya Plateau, and Deccan Plateau.
  • Arrange the plateaus from West to East and North to South.
  • Determine whether a particular plateau is the source of a river.

Soils and Rainfall

  • Identify the group of states that represent the various categories of soils in India.
  • Classify states into groups based on the rainfall they receive.
  • Observe isotherms and their position on India’s map.


  • Make a state-wise list of important lakes in India and locate them on a map.
  • Arrange them in chronological order and take note of any unique features or lakes that are in the news.

Natural Vegetation

  • Locate the various forests in India based on their spatial distribution on the map.
  • Take note of the important flora and fauna of each region.

Other Important Locations

  • Identify the locations of important wetlands, Ramsar sites, nuclear power stations, minerals like iron ore and coal, world heritage sites, pilgrimage sites, ports, and national parks.
  • Locate the islands in India, such as the Andaman and Lakshadweep Islands, and take note of the various lines and channels in these regions.


Latitude and Longitudes

  • Note the countries that the lines of latitudes and longitudes pass through, such as the Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Arctic Circle, and Equator.
  • Observe the International Date Line and Prime Meridian and take note of the countries that fall on either side of these lines.
  • Locate various lines, such as the Nine-dash line used by China and Taiwan for their claims in the South China Sea and the 38th parallel north that formed the border between North and South Korea prior to the Korean War.


  • Prepare for each continent separately.
  • Identify the countries in the news and determine whether they are landlocked, which countries they share borders with, and the water bodies they share borders with.

Physical Features

  • Identify and locate important physical features mentioned in your NCERTs, geography, history, economy books, and current affairs. These may include mountain ranges, seas, lakes, rivers, volcanoes, plateaus, climatic regions, transport links, waterways, mineral resource regions, and flora and fauna.

Oceans and Water Bodies

  • Use mnemonics to remember the names of the countries that share borders with specific water bodies.
  • Take note of the various divisions of oceans.

Current Affairs and Map

  • Keep track of locations and physical features mentioned in recent news articles and locate them on a map.
  • For example, if Iraq is in the news, you should be able to identify the countries that share borders with it in West Asia.

Remember to practice drawing rough sketches of maps for UPSC and try to locate important places and features on them. This will be helpful during the GS Mains papers. Treat practising maps as a recreational activity during free time and breaks rather than an extra burden. Don’t try to memorize everything on the world map, but instead, make calculated and smart choices based on current affairs and the static portion of the syllabus. Use map-making as a strength in your GS papers.

Happy learning!

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