IAS / UPSC Preparation: Public Administration Optional – IAS Prem Ranjan Singh (Rank 62, CSE 2013)

This post has been written in entirety by IAS Prem Ranjan Singh ji (Rank 62, CSE 2013). My role is just to host it.
Public administration has become very tricky to score in UPSC. Fortunately I have been able to score good marks in this subject… 2010- 340; 2011 – 330 ; 2012- 210 (good by any standards as pub ad was butchered that year); 2013- 228 ..

Some of the things which we must remember/follow/understand in pub-ad..
• The most important thing in pud-ad is conceptual clarity. Unfortunately most of us rely completely on coaching notes and end up having only superficial knowledge which is very dangerous in present setup of UPSC exam and especially in pub-ad.
• Untill n unless u have conceptual clarity you won’t be able to understand the question in the first place.
• All of us write answers in pub-ad and feel that we have written it well but the problem is most of us interpret questions differently and end up writing different answers. The correct interpretation of question will only happen if ur concepts are clear.

I know you may think that what is so new in that but I tell you very honestly that this is the reason why most of us are not able to score good marks in pub-ad (apart from UPSC recent break-up n hate for pub-ad).

Rahul Pandey (rank-52) who scored 230 this year has written on his blog: – “The secret of success for writing good answers in Public Administration lies in understanding the questions. Most of the students fail to write good answers simply because of their failure to understand the questions. In the last two years, UPSC has deliberately increased the difficulty levels of question paper as they are more interested in those students who have conceptual clarity and ability to write those concepts in a simple manner.”

• I am not against any coaching notes but you need to study some basic books so that you develop good understanding of the subject. Books can vary from person to person.. there are many books on pub-ad .. all of them are equally good but whichever book you are studying , study it well .. study it multiple times.
• Answer writing is very important in pub-ad. You must write some answers before mains and show it your pub-ad trainer or to someone like me. you can scan and send it me. It would be great if you share it with someone scoring good marks .
• I have always tried to write answers in point format as much as possible so that I can stuff more content in few lines. And also your answers will be more concise and to the point which will be helpful for the examiner to evaluate.
• Use as simple language as possible. Strict no to flowery language without any content. This is not semester exam of B.Tech/ MBA. They will punish you if you start faking answers by using flowery language. Since my command over English language is very limited, I did not have such issues  .
• One of the very important thing which we must follow while writing answers is our ability to interlink Paper-1 and Paper-2. For this u must remember syllabus completely. Read the syllabus everyday for 5 minutes. Close your eyes and try to interlink them.

I will again quote Rahul (Rank-52) here “Another important aspect about answer writing is your ability to interlink the concepts. If we take a closer look at the questions that were asked in the previous two years, one thing is very much clear. UPSC wants us to have conceptual clarity and more importantly have in depth knowledge about inter linkages among the theories and thinkers. For example in this year’s exam, there was question regarding Simon and Bernard’s views regarding decision making. Next comes the ability of the candidate to link concepts in Paper – I with the examples from Indian Administration. Again the trend in the last few years is that there is not much of difference in the questions that were asked in Paper – I and Indian Administration. Candidates are expected to give examples from Indian Administration while explaining the concepts in Paper – I.”

I will give you chapter –wise detail of study material which “I followed”. U need not follow this. Just follow your own study material but pls follow the basic instructions mentioned above.

1. Introduction: – Vajiram class notes of Gupta sir (best for this chapter), Paradigms of Public Administration by Nicholas Henry(only few pages), New Horizons of Public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya . Restructuring Public Administration A New Look by Mohit Bhattacharya
2. Administrative Thought :- Prasad & Prasad, New Horizons of Public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya .
3. Administrative Behaviour :- Prasad & Prasad, New Horizons of Public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya . Organization Behaviour by Stephen robbins.
5. Accountability and control :- New Horizons of Public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya, 2nd ARC report. Fadia & Fadia Paper-1
6. Administrative Law :- Fadia & Fadia Paper-1
7. Comparative Public Administration :- Prasad and Prasad (Riggs) ,CPA by Ramesh K Arora, Fadia & Fadia Paper-1
8. Development Dynamics :- Social Theory and Development Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya, Fadia &Fadia Paper-1
9. Personnel Administration :– New Horizons of Public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya, 2nd ARC
10. Public Policy: – Vajiram class notes of Gupta sir, Mohit Bhattacharya, Prasad n Prasad (Dror) ,
11. Techniques of Administrative Improvement:- Fadia & Fadia, Mohit Bhattacharya
12. Financial Administration :- Vajiram class notes , 2nd ARC

Paper- II :- For this paper 2nd ARC is the most important study source. Aaprt from that Economic survey is also very good for collection of datas. And news related to administrative problems and reforms are also very very useful.
1. Evolution of Indian Administration- Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh K Arora.
2. Philosophical and Constitutional framework of government- Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh K Arora.
3. Public Sector Undertakings- Vajiram class notes.
4. Union Government and Administration- Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh K Arora. 2nd ARC.
5. Plans and Priorities– Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh K Arora. 12th plan approach paper of Planning Commission .
6. State Government and Administration- Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh K Arora. Punchi commission report, 2nd ARC Report.
7. District Administration since Independence- Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh K Arora , Punchi commission report, 2nd ARC Report.
8. Civil Services- Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh K Arora, 2nd ARC Report.
9. Financial Management- Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh K Arora, 2nd ARC Report.
10. Administrative Reforms since Independence- Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh K Arora. Punchi commission report, 2nd ARC Report.
11. Rural Development- Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh K Arora, 2nd ARC Report.
12. Urban Local Government- Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh K Arora. 2nd ARC Report.
13. Law and Order Administration :- 2nd ARC and Punchi Commission report.
14. Significant issues in Indian Administration- 2nd ARC , Internet , Current affairs.
These are the things which I followed , u can follow your own study material. As far as coachings are concerned, I have observed that Vajiram, synergy and Pawan kumar are relevant to some extent for this optional. Others are just making money.

Its very difficult to explain everything here.. if you have any other query related to pub ad, u can contact me on my fb page :- https://www.facebook.com/Prem.Ranjan.Singh.1985
My email id where you can send me your scanned or typed answers:- prem.gkp.mnnit@gmail.com


  1. very nice article, if possible plz upload strategy and source for Anthropology as well…I will be giving mains this year with it..got really really bad marks in it in 2013…thank you :)


    • Hi Ranchan,
      thr r many blogs by Toppers like Kshitij Tyagi, Tanvi Sundrayal for sociology. You can search by their name…they have covered all aspects very comprehensively…hope it helps


    • Dude – I also have sociology as optional, but I am really confused, I wrote very well paper 2 and got only 89 marks and wrote really poor in paper 1 and got 107.

      Figured out, paper 2 is the hardest part as questions are very generic and same gyan given for Pub Ad is applicable there also.

      I am looking forward to some group study and in touch with couple of other serious people. Send me a pm


  2. Thank you sir for writing this post. Apart from 2nd ARC, do we need to study Punchhi Commission report on Center-State relations also?
    Also, thanks to Gaurav sir for publishing this post :-)


  3. Sir could you please invite some one with similar tips for Maithili Literature as an optional. Aspirants would be grateful.


  4. Gaurav bhai pls perlims ke liye bhi tips de dijiye aur geography optional ke liye bhi aapke anmol vachan bataiye ji.


    • I’m also want to take geography as an optional. Please suggest me which Coaching institute is best for preparation. I did my Engineering with Computer Science recently. I’ve no idea how to begin.


  5. Hi Gaurav!

    I’m not sure if this reaches to you however I would like to seek some guidance on geography here.

    Thanks in advance! Niraj


  6. Dear gaurav sir , as u had history as an optional in yr first attempt , so kindly elaborate the strategy nd other preparatory aspects for this subject also .


  7. Hello Gauravji
    I don’t know where to put this other than this blog: Can you also ask someone from 2013 batch to post about his/her Sociology strategy? It will be of great help.


  8. Hi gaurav, can you pls tell how important is plassey to partion for mains gs i do bipan chandra but qustns are not from that book anymore


  9. Gaurav sir, it would be very helpful if do the samething for history.. this year history paper 1 was tough.. so I would like to know toppers strategy for history optional.


  10. “copy pasting the same comment bcoz of no answer”
    sir, congratulation on your success! you have guided us in a very detailed manner, so no doubt about the ‘how to prepare’. i am preparing on my own from jamshedpur. i got derailed from my course of preparation which i stared from march this yr, i dont think that there is any tym left so that i can clear this yr exam,2014. but for next yr can i go for any correspondence? or its useless?
    what is the appropriate tym frame to clear this exam? (if any body starts from now 1july for cse2015 is it best or if someone starts from dec/jan… then also he can compete?).
    sir, i know it might be a silly question but its always bothering my head.
    pls advice.


  11. Sir mujhe pata ni chal raha hai ki mai kya padu or kya ni , mujhe jab kuch new milta hai to mai wo padne lagta hu purana wala chhod ke. aap please bata sakte hai ki kya kya padna chahiye.kal aapne DD NEWS par kaha tha ki apko pata hona chahiye ki apko padna kya hai. Mujhe pata ni chal raha hai


  12. Hi Gaurav…Do u know anyone who had Political Science as an optional? I never took coaching in GS and out of insecurity joined an institute in Delhi and left midway. Political Science without any guidance has been an area I am very worried about … as GS is going on pretty well with following the instincts and digging of topics on my own. It would be really kind of you if you or your fellow mates could provide any information about how to deal with this optional. I took it out of interest and everyone tells me that its too late to do optional etc. and its a bad choice to take this subject and I’m going to score very low if I go ahead. I don’t want to get demoralized more. Thank you…


  13. hello Mr Gaurav Congratulations for this achievement. being a Jaipurite i am so proud to see you holding Rank 1.
    I am an MBA worked for 3 years now thinking of appearing for cse 15. little confused whether to opt for Public Ad or Management for Optional subject. i have been studying Pub ad since a week and able to understand it.


  14. which subject is good as optional political science or law? fully confused kindly give me your suggestion ………and which subject is more scorable and Plz help in this regard and suggest some good coaching centre. I will b highly thankful!

    pls help me gaurav sir !!


  15. Gaurav ji ,

    I would like to seek guidance on anthropology . It would of great help if you Could request anyone of ur batch mates with this optional to share their success strategy.



  16. Respected sir., Sir please share some elixir point’s which is favourable for specially hindi medium students. Because thr have shortages of study materials too. Give ur views on that sir. Regards Ankit


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