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Tackling Public Administration – Arpit Sagar, IAS, 163 Marks in Paper 1

ForumIAS Member Arpit Sagar has scored 163 Marks in Public Administration Paper 1 – among the highest marks in Public Administration this year. She shares her strategy below:

Hi Everyone, I am Arpit Sagar. I have cleared the Civil Services Examination Service this year. I would like to share my strategy of Public Administration Optional. I hope some of you find it useful.

The basic books/notes that I referred during my preparation:

  1. Mohit Bhattacharya
  2. Prasad and Prasad for Administrative thought
  3. Fadia and Fadia (only for some of the topics)
  4. Pawan sir’s notes,. Buy Here 
  5. Vajiram notes. Buy Here 
  6. Synopsis of ARC report, Puncchi commission report
  7. The Hindu

Please note that I did my coaching first, and later on supplemented it with the above mentioned books. For some of the chapters like financial administration and Management, Pavan Sir’s notes (Pavan Kumar IAS) were good in bringing about clarity in those topics. I had previously taken coaching from Vajiram & Ravi for earlier attempts. In this attempt, I read Pavan Sir’s notes in particular and revised them. Considering the type of questions being asked in the last few years, it has become essential to understand the questions properly and write the answers in a very simple language.

Suggestions to maximise your score in Public Administration (Paper I):

  1. More focus should be on understanding the topic in the simplest of manners. There is no point in reading myriad books as it would create unnecessary burden and result in a huge wastage of time. Basic book like Mohit Bhattacharya are good for revision. Focus more on the concept rather the content.
  2. Please note that most of the preparation for Pub Ad should be completed in the first attempt itself. In subsequent attempts, you only need to brush-up and revise.
  3. Answer-writing is the most important aspect of the preparation. I joined Pavan sir’s test series. Apart from the regular test series, I also wrote some answers from previous year question papers. (I would be discussing separately on the answer writing techniques)
  4. Chapters like Administrative thought, accountability and control and public policy should not be ignored but understood nicely as they are relatable and easy to score.
  5. You should not be too scared about the question paper. In fact you should treat it as any other test you write during your preparation. Too much anxiety creates pressure on you and it affects your performance during the examination. So, be really calm and cool about this so that you can handle all kinds of questions.
  6. Optional is a very important factor in Mains. It should not be ignored at the expense of GS preparation. Like, my marks in GS papers (81 + 94 + 79 + 100) were average but Pub Ad score increased the Mains tally tremendously.
  7. You should focus on paper 1 and paper 2 of Pub Ad equally and prepare every chapter thoroughly. Do not leave any topic unread.

Do’s and Don’ts for Answer Writing:

  1. I wrote my answers in a mixed format i.e. both paragraph form and point format. It should be decided as per the demand of the question.
  2. Answers should be to the point i.e. as per the requirement of the question, do not answer more than what the question is asking.
  3. I can’t stress enough – it is very important to understand the question. So, one should spend enough time in reading and understanding the question properly during the examination.
  4. Another mistake that I have made in my previous attempts was the use of many Pub Ad related jargons in my answers. In fact, a very simple language should be used to explain the concept which I strictly followed in all my answers this time.
  5. Also, the kinds of questions being asked these days are very general in nature and cover a wide arena. The best way to handle these questions is with utmost clarity. One should also acquire the ability to express himself/herself in a logical manner.
  6. Facts, name of thinkers, Articles from the Constitution etc can be used to substantiate your answer provided it is really fitting-in.
  7. You should take a fair stand on issues explaining it with appropriate arguments.
  8. Last but not the least; you should complete your question paper within the stipulated time.

Confusion on Pub Ad as an optional:

Now let us talk about the people who are at the starting phase of their preparation and are still confused whether to take Public Administration or not, considering the kind of score obtained in Pub Ad these days. You should decide in accordance with the below mentioned steps:

  1. You should first go through the syllabus of Public Administration and try to read some topics from the basic books. Only if you find it interesting, you should go for it. According to me, no subject is easy or difficult. You have to put-in the same amount of effort in all the optionals. The optional that you find interesting keeps you motivated during the preparation.

I was initially inclined towards Public Administration as my sister cleared the exam with Pub Ad as the optional but that is not the right way of choosing your optional. Later on, I found it relatable which made me choose it.

  1. There is nothing to be scared of this optional as it is similar to all the arts based subjects.
  2. Regarding the kind of checking in Pub Ad. It has really fluctuated in the last few years. I have suffered too in my previous attempts because of the marking pattern. Just take the example of the kind of marks I scored in my previous attempts:

2010—350/600 (171+179)

2011—270/600 (Don’t exactly remember the distribution but definitely scored very less in Paper I)

2012—136/600 (55+81)

2013—181/500 (78+120)

2014—278/500 (163+115)

But the same thing happened in other subjects like Psychology (which was my second optional during the previous format), Geography and Philosophy etc. Therefore, I didn’t see any point in changing my optional as it would have required a lot for preparation again from the beginning.

Overall tips:

  1. Always be as calm and composed as possible while writing your examination.
  2. Do not try to guess questions that can be expected in the exam. It only leads to tension and anxiety.
  3. Believe in yourself and especially your preparation. You only need to write good answers and rest will be taken care of.
  4. You should simply try to write your exam with a clear mindset, coherence and comprehensively.

I hope that the above information would help the candidates in their preparation for Public Administration.

All the best!!!

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  • D_cluer

    mam would u plz upload some of ur answer sheets paper 1. if u r not in delhi or ur busy. plz call at the coaching institute where u have given tests to make ur answer sheets available in market. it will help us alot in assessing the quality of our answers. this year i failed again for the second year in a row in mains and i think pub ad again spoiled my chance.

  • Ishita

    Hi, you said “read all the topics”… but some topics like National Police Commission in Law & order chapter are vague as in there are 8 reports of NPC & 2nd ARC recommendations are far more insightful … so, what to do with these topics… Please do reply

  • Thank you mam for your words. Is Pavan Kumar IAS notes available in marcket?

  • arvindnishant

    Will it be possible for you to share your strategy in light of questions being asked so indirectly as was the case last year?

  • satyajeet1999

    Thank you and congratulations fo you amazing success.

  • upsc_lko_11

    mb: mohit bhattacharya

  • tanupriya

    Which notes u bought.?? Vaji o sm other material??

  • nisshants

    Thanks Arpit for your valuable insights, Congrats for getting through! Just wanted to know if Mohanty notes are sufficient or Pawan Sir’s notes are better. If yes, from where can I get them?

  • parveen1

    congratulations arpit………..can u tell me from where i can get pavan sir’s notes and punchhi and arc synposis

  • bullfight

    Hello arpit….congrats…can U please tell any internet source for paper keep d content updated. Thank U!

  • bhagat singh

    Hi Kumar, can you plz give the full name of rb n mb.

  • ArpitSagar

    Yes…definitely….understanding will never be a problem but you should buy the latest notes for better clarity in all the topics.

  • ArpitSagar

    I am sure your friend must be brilliant in pubad. You should really follow his approach. We share here so that others might benefit.As for me the above worked well. Different strategies work for different people… each their own.
    Good luck!

  • Kumar Gaurav

    Will not argue but my friend mayank arora who attempted cse in 2014 after 2010(that year we attempted together) scored 170 in paper 1 and bottom line for paper 1 is just read two books rb n mb n if you are clear with concepts u r thru

  • samarpit

    Thank you.Can I UNDERSTAND pub ad. Without a coaching? Please suggest sir

  • ArpitSagar

    I have no idea about this rumoured leaked syllabus of pub ad.

  • ArpitSagar

    There were some loopholes in my mentioned in my write up,i tried to work on it this time.

  • ArpitSagar

    My answer sheets are not with me at present as i am in my hometown.but would surely try to arrange the same if possible

  • ArpitSagar

    Thanks… notes are quite old…i used the latest notes…bought them from a shop in old rajendra nagar

  • priyajit pattanaik

    thank u for ur valuable sentence….and congratulations….can u plz tell me what is the fee for the pub. add.(only)?

  • divyaprakash


  • divyaprakash


  • divyaprakash


  • boethius

    Congratulations on your score and overall achievement! Valuable tips indeed! 🙂

  • tanupriya

    Thnaku u soo much….n congratulations!!! cn i get ur pubad notes for both d papers??

  • bhootnath

    Congrats 🙂

  • Skbjalalpur

    Thanks a lot for your valuable experience… And congrats for getting selected as pub ad… wishes for your future …

  • swetchasravanthi


  • _ntalk5

    Quantum jump in the marks in the year 2014 is quite impressive and thanks for the useful inputs . All the best in ur cadre allotment madam

  • goldy

    thanks for sharing and congratulation. my optional is also public administration

  • goldy

    thanks for sharing and congratulation

  • ansi10

    Why such fluctuation in Marks? could you find out some possible reason behind it? or it is just marking pattern?

    2011—270/600 (Don’t exactly remember the distribution but definitely scored very less in Paper I)

    2012—136/600 (55+81)

    2013—181/500 (78+120)

    2014—278/500 (163+115)

  • Interstellar124

    Thanks for sharing your approach and strategy. Could you please provide us with some of your sample answers here of both the papers so that we can have more clearer picture on answer writing.
    And did you prepare for the rumoured leaked syllabus of pub ad as many questions seem to have come from it.
    Thanks in advance.