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How to Cover Public Administration Optional for UPSC

  • Categories
    Mains
  • Published
    16th Mar, 2023

No doubt, every year in spite of varying trends, Public administration continues to feature among the top optional of the selected candidates, both in ranks and in numbers. 

“Winners do not do different things, rather they do things differently” 

This needs expert guidance which provides strategy and handholding, though the syllabus is 26 units, an expert can restructure the flow of it into 18-19 units for seamless and effective learning. 

Public Administration or PUB Ad. is a scoring optional subject in UPSC CSE main examination. It is a smart choice for the aspirants as it overlaps a huge chunk of the governance syllabus. Not only this, it can help you score maximum marks in the optional papers if pursued with the right strategy and the right approach. If you also need that boost to your confidence while pursuing this optional then you need to cover this optional through an answer writing approach. 

Why Pub Ad is better than other optional subjects?  

  • A subject which is new, and not taught as a common course at the university level.  
  • Involves eclectic approach  
  • Short and well-defined syllabus  
  • Easy availability of material  
  • Logical and scientific, highly empirical, relatable and can be prepared in a short time  
  • Helps in Essay, GS  Overlap of Paper-2, i.e. Indian Admin., with Polity and Governance of GS paper-2  
  • Pub ad helps make GS answers more effective  
  • Various units help in Essay and Ethics  
  • The subject gives an edge in the interview  
  • Well-integrated and interlink concepts help build a wider picture and easy retention  
  • Helps in better assimilation and analysis of Current Affairs, not just for Optional but for GS as well. 
  •  A Crack Plan for Success in UPSC CSE through Public Administration

In this blog, we will tell you the strategies and tips to study Public Administration for IAS Main Examination. To know more in respect of the Public Administration optional, read on…

Strategy for Public Administration Optional

  • Read the basic books and be familiar with the concepts: This subject like any other optional needs analysis. For a better analysis, one must be familiar with the basic concepts, theories and principles of the syllabus. You cannot think of scoring high marks without conceptual clarity.
  • Learn how to make short notes: You must know how to make good and effective notes while covering your syllabus. The ideal time to start making notes is in the second reading.

  • By the second reading, you would be much more familiar with the syllabus and then club the notes topic-wise later on for example, civil service and personnel management topics can be put together for better revision.
  • In this way, you will gain a thorough understanding of the topics.

  • Give a dedicated slot to your optional: Do not ignore or take a lenient stance with an optional subject like Pub Ad. You need to assign a dedicated daily slot to this optional subject. 
  • Spend 3-4 hours studying, researching or reading about this topic

  • Be familiar with the thinkers & their quotes: This is essential to score maximum in the public administration optional. 
  • Make sure you quote the relevant thinker in an answer. This will fetch you extra marks.
  • Successive candidates highly recommend practising writing answers before taking the test series: The Pub Ad optional test series will help you expand your analyzing skills and gain new knowledge. Aside from that, aspirants will learn time management skills as well. Your preparation for the UPSC IAS Mains examinations will be significantly aided by this.

  • For UPSC exam preparation, go through the previous year's question papers: It is recommended that candidates solve the previous four years' UPSC question papers. 
  • It is important to read a question and frame an answer based on what you read. 
  • Put together the answer using quotes from thinkers and concepts that are relevant to the question. 
  • And lastly, write the answer in a notebook just below the question. 

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Standard books for Pub Ad Optional

Cover the optional Step by step as per this plan by our faculty Abhishiekh Saxena:


  • Getting the basics right
    1. Analyze syllabus thoroughly
    2. Refer to IGNOU Pub Ad material for BA to get familiarised with the subject, basic knowledge of Indian polity helps: Laximant should be a good source
  • Then refer to advanced books
    1. Mohit bhattacharachy
    2. Prasad and Prasad
    3. Selective reading of Nicholas Henry
    4. IIPA journals (Selective)
    5. Arora and Goyal
    6. MA material of IGNOU Pub Ad
  • Once coverage is done, analyze PYQs and Integrate Current affairs and both Paper-1 and 2 with each other

Make sure you follow it religiously to get the maximum out of it.

Abhishiekh Saxena

Faculty of Public Administration

GS SCORE

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