Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Geology Strategy

Due to common preliminary of CSE and IFS, lot of people are considering IFS these days (of course it’s a very good choice and a great service). Unlike CSE which is now dependent more on GS, IFS examination depends to a greater measure on optional subjects. 

While choosing on of the optionals as Forestry or Agriculture (both can’t be taken together), Geology is the next most opted optional subject. This is due the fact that large number of candidates have CSE optional background in geography and a few others think its easy; which it certainly is not (one will realize when one starts preparation). 

Still other (like me) have no other option but Geology due to abject unfamiliarity with the remaining subjects in the list. 

So, I am writing my personal experience while preparing Geology for IFS exam. 

I am not an expert in Geology and blindly following the instructions may be disastrous. Having said that, I feel that some of my experiences could be helpful to other aspirants. These would provide an insight on how to start your prepration in Geology .

Problems :
  • No proper guidance as very few serious aspirants take it  (I found it very difficult to get any info about books and how to prepare).
  • No readymade material  (there is one in delhi market by brilliant).
  • No coaching (as very few write).
  • No test series.

Advantages :
  • Limited syllabus (but lengthy).
  • Lot of repeating questions.

Common Suggestion for Paper-1 and Paper-2

I started my preparation by first writing down all the questions from previous ten years of CSE and IFS examination question papers of all chapters (divided them chapter wise) and kept this as reference throughout my preparations. There may be some questions out of the topics in the syllabus, prepare for these new topics also  as these repeat regularly.

For Paper 1   
                    Sec A  - General geology
                                  Geomorphology and remote sensing
                                  Structural geology
                    Sec B - Paleontology
                                 Hydrogeology and engineering geology

As you maybe aware, the pattern of the question paper is that Three questions from one section and Two from the second has to be answered, with the first and fifth questions being compulsory.

With geography as my background in CSE, I decided to write three questions from section-A as first two chapters are almost covered by geography and structural is a bit easy to study. But one needs to cover the complete syllabus and be ready for every topic from these three chapters.

And with hydrogeology and engineering geology covering the eighth question, you are left with only compulsory question i.e, the fifth, which is covered by all three chapters of section-B

As Paleontology and Stratigraphy are little difficult and too lengthy to cover, I only studied last ten years questions from these chapters.

By this way one can almost cover 80-90% of syllabus and be sure of attending minimum of 180-190 marks.

For Paper 2

                 Sec A  -  Minerology
                 Sec B -   Economic geology
                               Mining geology
                               Geochemistry and environmental geology

Section-A is very vast, difficult and technically deep, it is very difficult and time consuming to study it in it's entirety; therefore I would recommend a selective approach.

Minerology is very important and also covers almost two questions (out of which one being compulsory) it is very important to study it .

Sedimentology is very small and easy out of the three, so do it completely. Study questions from last ten years question papers for petrography (as its too big, difficult and doesn’t recur as much as mineralogy in the exam)

Section-B is simple, limited and scoring. With economic and mining geology being compact and interlinked they are easy to study and will also give good dividends in exam (do study these topics at all costs). 

Economic geology (especially processes) may seem lengthy but these are the ones recur most often in exam.

And  finally, Geochemistry and Environmental geology is a mix of little theoretical Geochemistry and current affairs. One can feel that Geochemistry is little too tedious, but studing it is very helpful in exam. (Consider it as a backup if you don’t know some questions from Economic Geology in exam)

NOTE : Don’t just be prepared for Five questions, because as last year all questions were jumbled and there was no differentiation between Section-A and B.  So prepare for at least six of seven questions and don’t leave any chapter, if due to some reason you feel like skipping a chapter, do ensure that you go through the question papers of the last deacade and study the questions that have came from here .

Wishing Everyone the Very Best

Deepak M, IFS


NOTE: If someone needs to complete the syllabus in a month just read Bangar, Mukherjee and Brilliant material along with previous years questions.

For basic study 

1) General geology & Geomorphology & Remote sensing - Savindra Singh and also some topics can be studied from internet

3) Paleontology  - P K Mukerjee and some topics from internet

5) Hydrogeology

8) Sedimentology
11) Geochemistry and environmental geology – Internet and current affairs (environmental issues).


  1. Sir did u study all these books...? If i do only from bangar, mukherjee nd brilliant, wont it suffice as we dnt hv much time for forest mains.. nd just starting geology (geography backgrnd for civil services)

    1. If ur other optional is strong and u r taking geology as 2nd optional then its enough to read bangar,mukherjee and brilliant , otherwise its better to read textbooks . Also if less time and can't read all the books do read structural , hydrogeology((pdf) and economic geology , rest can be managed . Don't forget to study previous years questions.


  2. Hi Mr.Deepak,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts on Geology optional subject. Its very helpful.
    I have a request, If its not much to ask, please post the book names. When I click on say Economic geology - the link takes me to flipkart page of search results, so I'm not sure which book you are pointing to.

    Thanks in Advance.
    Best Wishes

  3. Dear Mr. Deepak,
    I have been watching IFS aspirants preparing for Geology optional papers (since about a month). I appreciate your efforts and kindness towards the aspirants by providing sources of notes for them to prepare in short time available to them. You are right that it is impossible to read book and make notes. Further, it is time consuming to browse the internet and make notes related to the syllabus. Recently, I found that one of the coaching academies covering syllabus through chalk and talk! How can the aspirants cover the syllabus through this age old method. I read the opinion of one of the toppers Mr. Avinash and he is like you in helping the aspirants with good notes. As a retired teacher in Geology, I collected notes from the internet and arranged them in an order as per the Paper-II syllabus. Tell me how I can send the details to enable you to update your references for the benefit of the aspirants. With best wishes, Nijagunappa