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PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION: Strategy by Mukul Kumar Gupta, Rank 87, CSE – 2015

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION:  Strategy by Mukul Kumar Gupta, Rank 87, CSE – 2015

Hello Friends,

I would like to share my strategy regarding public administration optional for civil services examination in this post. But before I start I want to share the facts based on which I chose it.

I have also given details about the various mistakes I had committed in my Pub Ad preparation.

Why did I choose Pub Ad as my optional?

  1. I did my graduation (B.Tech in computer science) and as the subjects offered by UPSC had no correlation with it, I chose the most famous subject (I must admit that it was not a well thought, analyzed decision).
  2. But when I started studying Pub Ad, I found it very interesting (particularly Paper 2).  
  3. I also realized the fact that it is going to help a lot in GS paper II and GS paper IV.

My Past performance:

 2013: Paper1- 55, Paper2- 86     Total- 141

                        Result: Couldn’t clear Mains

2014: Paper1- 76, Paper2- 113   Total- 189

                        Result: Couldn’t get the final selection

2015: Paper1 – 110, Paper2- 127 Total- 237

                       Result: AIR 87  🙂

As you can see, I got 96 marks more in 2015 compared to my 1st attempt, so I want to tell you the mistakes I had committed in my previous 2 attempts (I think many of us commit similar mistakes) and what I did to improve my performance.


All of us know the fact that optional papers play the most important role in selection in CSE.I had missed selection in CSE 2014 just by 5 marks (it became 2 marks after announcement of reserved list) only because of very poor marks in optional paper1.


1st Attempt:

Books (Marks)

Paper1 (55) Paper2 (86)
·      Public Administration by Laxmikanth

·      Prasad and Prasad For Thinkers

·      Previous Year Questions    

·      Fadia and Fadia

·      Previous Year Questions



Reasons for low marks:

  1. Studied Pub Ad only for One and Half months.(Wasted a lot of time after prelims doing Nothing)
  2. Didn’t Attend any Test Series and Discussion.
  3. My booklist was not comprehensive.
  4. Made a huge mistake in paper 1 (didn’t read the instruction carefully and started attempting all the questions L resulting into poor answer quality and left 90 marks.)
  5. Many other reasons discussed in other attempts J

2nd Attempt:


Paper1 (76) Paper2 (113)
·      Pavan Sir’s Class Notes

·      Prasad and Prasad For Thinkers

·      Previous Year Questions  

·      Economic Survey (for financial administration)


·      Fadia and Fadia

·      Summary of 2nd ARC Report

·      Previous Year Questions

·      Examples from Newspaper (Important Newspaper articles  given by Pavan Sir)

Reasons for improvement in marks:

  1. Studied class notes thoroughly.
  2. Reading Prasad and Prasad in 1st attempt was not very helpful as thinkers are not discussed in right order (if you have not taken coaching classes it is really difficult to understand). So I read class notes first then read this book.
  3. Attended Test Series and Discussion of Pavan Sir. He made the concepts very simple and that really helped me to write answer to any question.
  4. 2nd ARC – It is a must for Pub Ad. It gives a lot of new ideas to improve your answers by giving examples and suggestions.
  5. Didn’t repeat last year’s blunder. 🙂

Reasons for getting poor marks in Paper1:

  1. One more blunder: I wrote tests for Paper1 after attending the discussion classes (as “The Winter Had Arrived”… courtesy Game of Thrones for the novices…see, I continued to have my share of entertainment :D). Also I had joined the test series late and had timing issues. It created a wrong perception in me that “ I have conquered the Paper1 fortress” (was getting very good marks J in tests)…..which proved fatal.
  2. I was not at all able to understand the very first question (same case was with many of my friends) and lost my confidence. This resulted into poor answers for few other questions also.
  3. Didn’t follow Pavan Sir’s advice on answer writing fully.


3rd Attempt:


Paper1 (110) Paper2 (127)
·      Pavan Sir’s Class Notes

·      Prasad and Prasad For Thinkers

·      Previous Year Questions  

·      Economic Survey (for financial administration)

·      Mohit Bhattacharya(MB) – New Horizons

·      Made Short Notes for quick revision

· helpful blog


·       Fadia and Fadia

·       Summary of 2nd ARC Report

·       Previous Year Questions

·       Examples from Newspaper (Important Newspaper articles  given by Pavan Sir)

·       Magazines Yojana and kuruketra

·       Synopsis of Punchhi Commission report given by Pavan Sir 

Reasons for improvement in marks:

  1. Worked on all the mistakes mentioned above in previous 2 attempts.
  2. Joined test series just after prelims.
  3. Wrote answers in examination kind of situation at home also.
  4. Listened to Pavan Sir’s advice very carefully and tried to follow each and every word.
  5. Attended seminar at Pavan Sir’s coaching taken by Mr. Prabhat Malik Sir, AIR 68, CSE 2014.He suggested to use Constitution Articles everywhere and it is possible along with many more guidelines.
  6. Met a very nice Pub AD guy and became friends with him. We discussed a lot about Pub Ad and other papers, made new strategies, discussed our mistakes, did lot of discussion for Personality Test and finally both of us got into the “divine” final pdf.  🙂
  7. Reading Mohit Bhattacharya (MB) helped me to get better conceptual clarity and also provided “Beautiful Lines” to improve my answers.

Lesson Learnt from Two failures and One grand success  (though this success is momentary since a lot remains to be achieved )

  1. We must believe in our guide/mentors. (Pavan sir in my case – Failure in 2nd attempt made me realize it)
  2. Choosing an optional is the most important decision for CSE, so choose wisely. Spend ample amount of time, discuss with your mentor, seniors and most importantly analyze your own strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Use of current examples is must for getting good marks in all the papers.

Hope you guys are not yet Bored” 😀

The secret of success for writing good answers in Public Administration lies in understanding the questions. Most of us fail to write good answers simply because of our failure to understand the questions. In the last three 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.

So as far as Public Administration is concerned, the following steps can be followed by candidates:

  • In recent times, UPSC has increased the difficulty levels of paper one. Scoring well in paper one has become highly unpredictable and any amount of preparation cannot guarantee safe score. One must concentrate more on Indian Administration to get good score in Public Administration.
  • Indian Administration also helps us in our Polity & Governance Paper in General Studies. I focused more on Indian Administration and it helped me a lot in overall score in Public Administration.
  • I shall provide you (in my next article) some tips for Indian Administration. I have already provided the list of books and other material.

 Answer Writing Techniques:  I would like to share here some of the tips regarding answer writing in Public Administration which I successfully used in General Studies also: 

  1. There is always confusion among the candidates regarding whether they should write in point format or in paragraphs. I followed both formats based on the requirement of question.
  2. Write answers in as simple a manner as possible. You can check some of the answers written by me. You may find them ridiculously simple and think that they don’t deserve marks at all. But this is how you should be writing answers. There is no point in using difficult language and complicated jargons as it becomes difficult for the examiner to understand what you are writing.
  3. Remember the golden principle about writing. Whatever you write, it should be understood by even a tenth class student. Your answers should be so simple that anyone with absolutely no background in Public Administration should be able to understand what you are writing.
  4. 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.
  5. Always start with the ‘WHY’ aspect of the question. We must try to go into examiner’s mind and then write the answer. Also we should give 1 or 2 suggestions if possible as conclusion.
  6. Next comes is the ability of the candidate to link concepts in Paper – I with the examples from Indian Administration.
  7. Similarly while writing answers in Indian Administration, you are expected to relate them to thinkers in Paper – I.
  8. As far as examples are concerned, you will find them in newspapers and more importantly in Second Administrative Reforms Commission Reports and Punchhi Commission and other government documents.
  9. One must have good writing speed as you can get marks only when you write answers to questions (so you must practice a lot in examination kind of situation).
  10. I strongly suggest making short notes for Pub Ad, particularly for paper1. I had made short notes and would soon be uploading the scanned copies for your reference but I think you must do it on your own for maximum benefit.

I sincerely hope that the above information should help the candidates regarding preparation for Public Administration and am more than willing to help those candidates who have doubts regarding their preparation.

They can write to me ( and I shall reply to their queries as soon as possible.