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Civil Services Exam: Strategies for Preparing Public

Public Administration is one of the most popular Optional papers in UPSC Civil Services exam. In 1987, it was introduced as an Optional subject. Since then, it has gained immense popularity among Civil Services aspirants. The reason behind Public Administration becoming a popular Optional subject is due to its non-technical, interdisciplinary nature, and manageable syllabus. Though, Public Administration is not taught in under-grade programs (in most Indian Universities and Institutes), still it is opted as an Optional subject by many IAS exam aspirants. There are many advantages of taking Public Administration as an Optional paper.

UPSC Public Administration Main

Advantages of Public Administration as an Optional Paper:

  • Easy availability of study materials and coaching options
  • Compact & manageable syllabus content
  • Gives better understanding of our society
  • Similarity with other subjects such as – Sociology, Political Science, Philosophy and Anthropology
  • Scoring subject

Public Administration – Paper I and II

Paper I of Public Administration mainly consists of Administration, Comparative Public Administration, Structure of Public Organizations, Public Policy and Theories of Administration. Whereas Paper II deals with Indian Administration – Evolution of Indian Administration, Constitutional Framework, Union/State Government and Administration, Machinery for Planning, Administration of Law & Order and Welfare Administration. Topics like Financial Administration and Financial Management are common in Paper I and II, which can be studied together.

How to Prepare?

Public Administration is a vast subject and looking into its various aspects and topics is important. Given the limited timeframe, a well-planned study plan is a must for scoring well in the subject. On an average, IAS aspirants gets around 4-7 months for Main’s preparation after the Prelims. However, this entire period cannot be devoted only for an Optional paper. So this crucial time has to be managed with intensive study plan for different papers along with Public Administration, to clear the Main exam.

Depending on the nature of an exam, there can be multiple method of preparation. And no method can be judged as the best! Having said that, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any effective preparation method for a subject or an exam. Without saying any method to be the best, I would like to draw your attention on few time-tested study methods or techniques which are helpful.

Know the Syllabus: Before you even think of buying your Public Administration (PA) books for the UPSC Main, you must know the syllabus first. Why? Because a syllabus gives you an overview of the topics which will be covered in the exam. Hence, knowing the syllabus gives you in-depth idea about the subject. And helps you to sort and prepare critical and non-critical topics accordingly.

Buy Selective Books: Once you get an idea about the syllabus, it’s time to buy books. Here you need to be very selective, because reading multiple books for a single topic won’t help you to score better. Rather it will confuse you and likely to end up learning less. Here are few useful books:

Public Administration Books – Paper I

  1. Public Administration by Laxmikanth
  2. New Horizons of Public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya
  3. Public Administration by S Polinaidu
  4. Administrative Thinkers by Prasad and Prasad
  5. Public Administration and Public Affairs by Nicholas Henry

Public Administration Books – Paper II

  1. Public Administration by Fadia and Fadia
  2. Indian Public Administration by Rajni Goyal
  3. Newspapers – The Hindu, Indian Express etc.
  4. ARC – II (only important topics)

Plus, reading the Indian Constitution and about various Committees is very important.

Study Previous Question Papers: Just before you start with the books, make sure you study and analyze patterns from previous 10 years question papers. You might think this is not essential, but it is as it helps you focus more on critical topics from the start.

Collect Notes: While you go through different topics and newspapers, don’t forget to take down short notes, so that you can refer them later easily.

Practice Writing: In order to score high, you need to practice writing answers. Writing thoughtfully structured answers requires in-depth knowledge on a given topic. Take up an old question paper and practice writing answers as if you are in an actual test. This may look strange in the first instance, but you will be surprised to see its results. It is also imperative to practice writing within the prescribed word limit.

Wish You Good Luck!

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