[Studyplan] Best Strategy, Studyplan, Tips & Books for Public Administration Optional UPSC by Topper Prem Ranjan Singh (Rank 62, UPSC CSE 2013)

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 
Public Administration Optional UPSC  :

• 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 J .

• 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 - 1 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 - 1 and Indian Administration. Candidates are expected to give examples from Indian Administration while explaining the concepts in Paper - 1.”

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.


Necessary Booklist for Public Administration Optional :


Paper - 1 :
1. Introduction: – Vajiram class notes of Gupta sir (best for this chapter),
2. Administrative Thought -
3. Administrative Behaviour -
4. Accountability and control -
5. Administrative Law -
6. Comparative Public Administration -
7. Development Dynamics -
8. Personnel Administration -
9. Public Policy -
10. Techniques of Administrative Improvement -
11. Financial Administration -
  • Vajiram class notes , 
  • 2nd ARC Reports

Paper - 2 :


For this paper 2nd ARC is the most important study source. Apart from that Economic Survey / Here 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 -
2. Philosophical and Constitutional framework of government -
3. Public Sector Undertakings -
  • Vajiram class notes.
4. Union Government and Administration -
  • Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh K Arora. 
  • 2nd ARC Reports
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 
  • Punchi Commission report.
14. Significant issues in Indian Administration -
  • 2nd ARC, 
  • Internet, 
  • Current affairs.
These are the things which I followed , you 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.

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