How to prepare for the Public Administration Optional for UPSC?

Aug 09, 2021
4 min read
How to prepare for the Public Administration Optional for UPSC?

Public Administration is (Click to Watch: Why Public Administration as an Optional for UPSC?) one of the most chosen optional in Civil Services Examination, and offers textbook knowledge of the administrative skill, required later by the civil servants during their service.  It offers aspirants theoretical insights into public administration and its mechanism. Civil Servants observe the significant relevance of this subject during their service and bring this paper's knowledge into action while performing their duties.  

Every year more than 1500 candidates choose Public Administration as one of their electives during the Mains Examination. As a subject, Public Administration is an amalgamation of core subjects such as sociology, psychology, management, and political science, which broadly fall under humanities. Students from backgrounds other than humanities thus have a major question on their minds, which is "how to prepare for Public Administration." The generalized answer would include forming an efficient strategy and understanding of the syllabus to secure maximum marks in this paper. Below are the key Public Administration Optional Strategy to bank high scores:

Understanding the Syllabus: It is essential to understand the entire elective syllabus to align your preparation for maximum effectiveness. Before students begin their preparation, they should go through the syllabus, and previous years’ questions thoroughly. This will help them stay focused on what is essential and avoid what is not required for the exam. (Click to know more about UPSC ). 

Absolute clarity: Public administration can be exhausting for some students, as it requires students to thoroughly understand various administration related theories and frameworks. In order to write and frame good explanatory answers during the Mains examination aspirants must have a conceptual clarity with these theories and principles. It's thus imperative that without fundamentals, students cannot fetch good marks. Therefore, understanding the basics should be highlighted in public administration strategy.

Handwritten Notes: Taking and having your own handwritten notes might increase your efforts, but it pays off in the latter half of preparation. During the examination, handwritten notes would help students to gain direction in their preparation. Highlighting key concepts and keywords would help to revise during the exams. Personal notes further help build personalised mind maps and thus improves the clarity of the subject and a better understanding of interconnected topics. 

Regular Preparation: Studying regularly should be one of the critical Public Administration Optional Strategy as the course structure is vast and requires the addition of general studies in regular preparation. It's imperative to keep the momentum to avoid getting off track.

Mock Tests: Appear for test series at frequent intervals to rectify your mistakes and have proper command over the subject. Mock tests should be taken up seriously, and the feedback should be acknowledged. Mock tests have always been crucial for any national-level tests as they provide a realistic simulation for an exam day, and it's crucial to get acquainted with the exam.

Solving PYQ's: Along with the mock tests, students should solve Previous year questions and should embed this as their Public Administration Optional Strategy. This would allow them to understand what level of importance should be given to what topics. With the given answers' students should compare and bridge the gap between the requisite answers to gain maximum marks during the exam.

Answer Writing Practice:  Since the Mains Examination requires students to present exquisite answers and portray their understanding through answer writing skills. The pointers mentioned above have been advised to write mock tests and practice PYQ papers to attain fluency while writing answers with proper language usage.

Recommended books for Public Administration Paper I

  • Administrative Thinkers by Prasad and Prasad
  • Public Administration: Administrative Theories and Concepts by Fadia & Fadia
  • Public Administration and Public Affairs 12th Edition – Nicholas Henry
  • Mohit Bhattacharya- New horizons in public administration
  • Mohit Bhattacharya- Pub Ad A new look
  •  Public Administration: Concepts and Theories by Basu Rumki
  • IGNOU Books
  • ARC Reports

Recommended books for Public Administration Paper-II

Public Administration Strategy requires proper channelizing of your efforts into learning the concepts of the subject as the questions that would be appearing in the UPSC Mains Examination would be case-based. With the proper approach, this optional paper can gain you marks. While writing answers, aspirants must provide some good insights and references while attempting the answers to fetch extra scores. Paper- I and Paper – II are mostly integrated and require current affairs preparation to induce them in your solutions. 

Aspirants might even require some mentorship programs to help them get the right guidance about solving case studies. There's no denying that Public Administration is one of the trickiest Mains Exam optional, and candidates in the previous few years have relatively scored less than the average scores of other optionals.  


Aspirants should understand the key concepts and make a habit of reflecting their thoughts and ideas on the answer sheet. There are resources mentioned in the blog from which students can take references and concrete their preparation. While keeping track of current affairs is imperative, students should also visit the government websites and consolidate important facts plus figures to make additions to their knowledge base. In conclusion, students should keep their preparation for this paper dynamic and extract the core essence of Public Administration to get success.

Check out Test Series for practice

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