UPSC Prelims : Environment and Ecology Analysis

This is a very short post on how to approach environment and ecology section

Environment and ecology + biological sciences form very important part of prelims paper. On average 22 questions are asked from this section (some overlap with geography)

Year wise number of Questions

  • 2015 – 14
  • 2014 – 31
  • 2013 – 22
  • 2012 – 23
  • 2011 – 21

But the most important thing you should know about this portion is that questions are of three kinds.

1. Ridiculous difficult – about 25% – 30% of the questions are ridiculously difficult. You don’t have to chase such questions. Chasing them is a futile exercise.

For instance, consider this question

Consider the following pairs

  1. Dampa Tiger Reserve : Mizoram
  2. Gumti Wildlife Sanctuary : Sikkim
  3. Saramati Peak : Nagaland

Which of the above pairs is /are correctly matched?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
  • Now it’s impossible to remember location of all the 500 sanctuaries plus 100 national parks.
  • Don’t go after such questions. Just keep looking for ones in the news, you may just get lucky

2. Ridiculously easy -20% of the questions are ridiculously easy. You can answer them if you have just even gone through all the portions very superficially. Not being able to answer them is simply a criminal action/ inaction.

Consider this

Which one of the following is associated with the issue of control and phasing out of the use of ozone-depleting substances?

(a) Bretton Woods Conference

(b) Montreal Protocol

(c) Kyoto Protocol

(d) Nagoya Protocol

Not being able to answer this is criminal

3. Conceptual -Rest 50% can be solved with 80% accuracy with decent knowledge and some logic and tikdams <we will try to solve them>

At the cost of sounding repetitive, like every other subject, solving past 15 year question papers help. Topics are repeated. You get the feel of actual paper.

Essential reading –

  • NCERT botany last 4 chapters
  • NIOS environment and ecology pdf
  • prelims titbits – environment and ecology (titbits are of course very selective)
  • civilsdaily environment newscards
  • Civilsdaily environment articles <will create a collection shortly>

Most imp. Topics

  • Fundamentals of ecology – species, population, community, ecosystem, biome, niche, food chain, food web, energy flow, nutrient flow <N, C, P cycle>, pyramids with examples, succession, (just definition)
  • Protected areas – national park (location difficult to remember but keep looking at the map, look around to see the rivers and hills), sanctuary, biosphere reserve (location imp), wetland, Tiger reserve, community reserve
  • Biodiversity loss, hotspots
  • Types of species – keystone species, critical link
  • Species interaction
  • Environmental treaties, international organisations, funding mechanism
  • Climate change, global warming, ozone depletion
  • Pollution – acid rain, smog, photochemical smog
  • Environmental laws of India (understand them with logic)
  • Agriculture and soil conservation related

In these last 10 days –

  • Solve last 15 year question papers
  • Revise your environment notes
  • Read newscards related to environment
  • Read titbits related to environment
  • Open your orient blackswan atlas and just go through the location of protected sites, rivers slowing through them, hills etc

P.S. – We would try to very quickly go through 2011 – 2015 environment and ecology papers and also have a glance at science and tech, art and culture before prelims. <No promises but would try my best>


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By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

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