Category Archives: Civil services
Disclaimer: Let me start off by posting a disclaimer!! The preparation strategy and methods for Public administration varies from person to person. This is my experience with Pubad which gave me 337 in my first attempt without coaching. <Disclaimer ends>
Public Administration is one of the most popular optionals in the civil services exam. It has a very short syllabus and it overlaps with the syllabus for general studies. Also, a good understanding of the topics in paper 2 can help you in essay and interview also.
The preparation strategy and books varies between people, but from what I understood, the focus should be on understanding the basics, supplementing it with recent developments and reports and presenting it properly. Answer writing is a very important part of Pubad preps. Sufficient time should be devoted to this before you go for the mains. Even if you manage to attempt all questions, the quality of answers can stretch the range of your marks between around 280 to 360.
It’s advisable to use as less standard books as possible. Questions in paper 2 and in section B of paper 1 will be general in nature. Make notes on all the topics mentioned in the syllabus and be ready to answer any question that may come from that topic. For eg, The syllabus says ‘Citizen Charter’. The questions on that topics may be ‘How does citizen charter help in reducing corruption’, ‘Has Citizen charter empowered the ordinary citizen vis-a-vis the govt. employee’ etc. Your notes on citizen charter should give you the basic idea to tackle this question while your answer should be spot-on. It should not be a short note on citizen chapter, but a crisp, direct answer to the question.
- Public Administration : Theory and Practice By Sharma & Sadhana
- Administrative Thinkers By Prasad & Prasad
- New Horizons of Public Administration by Mohit Bhatacharya
- Indian Public Administration by Ramesh Arora & Rajani Goyal
- Indian Adminstration by S R Maheswari
- Reports of 2nd ARC
- Other recent reports of administrative reforms committees
I read a few topics which are missing in these books from the BPA material of IGNOU. Check out previous years’ papers to see how questions are asked in every sections.
As the questions asked are mostly general in nature, I thought of using as less text books as possible and write general answers quoting from current affairs and recent reports. The problem with PubAd is that most of the aspirants would have read these books already and thus writing good answers can be a difficult proposition. So try to improve as much as possible.
Paper 1 : Sharma & Sadhana is a fat book that contains almost all the topics of PubAd. There are other fat books like Fadia & Fadia. Please stick to one of these fat books. Read topic wise from these books rather than going cover to cover. Add on to that by reading the relevant sections from Mohit Bhatacharya and IGNOU material. IGNOU material will have good diagrams also. All the chapters of Administrative thinkers have to be studied except for the one on Karl Marx.
Paper 2: A good understanding about the constitution is needed for this paper. This would be already covered if you have read DD Basu. Use Goyal & Arora for studying about Chanakya, Mughul administration and evolution of Indian Administration. For the other topics, read from Goyal & Arora and read the relevant section of 2nd ARC. ARC has given constructive solutions to the major administrative problems that we face. For eg, under the topic, ‘District Administration’, Goyal & Arora will give you an idea about district administration in India and will highlight the major issues. The report of the ARC will give you the solutions for these problems. Hence the report can be a major add-on.
2. Answer writing
- Write crisp introductions. Finish it off in 2-3 sentences for 20 markers. Write a small paragraph for 30 marker and a fairly large paragraph for 60 marker.
- I started off in a paragraph. Then wrote under various sub-headings and then concluded in a paragraph.
- In the body, be precise and to the point. DONT BEAT AROUND THE BUSH.
- Draw some diagram for every question. Even basic block diagrams is fine. After all there is no harm in adding a diagram. You can prepare some diagrams under some topics before hand. Use your imagination and believe me, Google image search will also help.
- Conclude by putting forth your view again to the question asked.
- Use your GS knowledge extensively while writing. Write from an Indian perspective. Quote examples from recent happenings as much as possible.
That is pretty much all that i did. I spent more time on Physics. I did self-evaluation for my answers after K.Biju (IAS, 2006) gave a broad idea about answer writing. I could see my answers improving. You can take professional help at this stage or if confident, go for self-evaluation. All the best!!
A good base in general knowledge is important for clearing the civil services exam and for the career ahead. As i had mentioned in a previous post, this job requires broad-based people with a good understanding of the things happening around them. As far as the exam is considered, 600 marks in the GS papers + 200 in essay + 300 in interview depends on your general knowledge base. And off late, the second paper in Public administration is more like a GS paper 3. Thus around 1100-1400 marks depends directly on your general knowledge base.
Preparation for general studies is composed of two parts:
- Conventional topics.
- General knowledge and current affairs.
- Make notes as you read. It’s impossible to come back to the text books during revision. Notes should be so comprehensive that once you are done, you would not have to take the text-book again.
- The basic approach should be STUDY-REVISE-IMPROVISE.
- Dont use guides, standard preparatory material or NCERT text books.
- Keep on referring to previous years papers to check if you have missed any topic.
- Prepare for the subjective papers ( i.e mains). Note down extra facts for the prelims as you make descriptive notes. Prelims is just a necessary evil.
It is composed of:
1. Indian History :
Pre-modern history (before Europeans) has lost significance. Last year no questions were asked in mains. Besides, it is too bulky and is not worth the effort. One need to have a good understanding of the National movement(1800s-1947).
- India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra is a good book for that. Read it cover to cover.
One also need to study about the expansion and the decline of the other Europeans, the expansion of British empire and the administrative development in India during the British period ( 1650-1857). Try to get some book on Indian History from the library to make short notes. Brief notes will do for this section.
Use NCERT books only for geography. Non- geography optional students don’t have to go in-depth. Read
- Indian Geography ( NCERT class XI)
- Fundamentals of physical geography (NCERT class XI)
Google and make notes on unfamiliar terms you may come across in the newspapers.
Any good book on the constitution is fine. ‘Introduction to the constitution of India‘ by D.D. Basu is the book that i used. Read it also cover to cover.
4. Indian Economy:
One needs to know about some basic terms of economics like repo rate, reverse repo, CRR, SLR etc. These are needed for understanding articles in newspapers also. Just google them when you come across then in the papers and keep a separate note-book. Read one good book on Indian economy. I used Indian economy by Dutt & Sundaram. The book by Uma Kapila is also a good one. In both of these books, each chapter deals with an issue. So make notes keeping in mind the requirements of a 20-30 marker. Download the latest Economic Survey of India and update the stats as you make notes. Also leave some space after each chapter to add new info from newspapers as and when they come.
Also read Chapter 1 and the chapter explaining about the government’s poverty alleviation schemes ( chapter 11 in 2010 survey). Follow the budget. Read some business newspapers at that time and also read the summary of the budget which will be posted in the net.
Make notes on the policies that you come across in the newspapers. But this will not be exhaustive. Use India yearbook published by the Publications division for an exhaustive approach. It’s a huge book with a lot of unnecessary facts and details which should be skipped. Just make short notes on the various programmes ministry-wise. Anay dwivedi ( AIR-5, cse 2009) has this to say about reading the Year book :
If you already read the IYB for prelims, just go through what you underlined and revise your notes. But if you did not, then apart from the GOVERNMENT SCHEMES and agricultural data, read the following chapters from IYB 2010:
Chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 11 (NCES only), 13 (terms like FIPB, FCCB, ECB, ADR/GDR, FDI, etc), 18, 24, 25 and 28.
Note: I have not specified chapters 16, 17, etc as I have assumed that you must have covered all the government schemes such as NRHM, JNNURM, etc irrespective of where they are given in the book.
In Mains 2009 many questions could be answered on the basis of information provided in the IYB, e.g. significance of coastal regions, UMPPs, BSUP, fruit production in India and NNRMS.
6. Science and Technology:
Use wikipedia extensively for this. Find out about new topics as you come across them in the S&T page of The Hindu. Also, make short notes on emerging technologies and recent nobel winning technologies from these pages
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nobel_laureates_in_Physics (and chemistry and medicine)
General knowledge and current affairs:
This is where you have to use newspapers and current affairs magazines. This is perhaps the most important part because if you see the 2010 GS paper, questions are asked about the Palestine crisis, Sudan civil war, Cambodia, CWG etc. I recommend The Hindu and Frontilne. The Hindu has less unwanted news and has a balanced perspective on issues and is pro people. You shouldn’t be an ultra leftist or a right-wing hawk when writing the answers. The editorials and Op-eds present a very balanced picture on issues.
When reading newspapers, go beyond the issue. Use the newspaper as a guide to broaden your GK. So when you come across something you don’t know in the newspaper, google it up and make a comprehensive note on the topic.For eg, if the news item is “Pakistan Prez visits India”, I will google about India-Pak relations and make notes on it with a historical perspective and also leave some space to update future news. If the news is ‘ Jacques Diouf assumes charge as head of FAO’ , I will make notes on FAO and other UN organisations from Wikipedia. The advantage of using wiki is that when you read about one topic, you can move to other topics by clicking on the ‘Related’ links. Follow the references in wiki if you want to go deeper or confirm something.
I had kept two separate category of notebooks. One for noting down the events, date wise and the other for noting down the issues after researching in the net. The advantage of keeping the second type of notebook on issues is that when you revise you will have a complete picture under each heading, i.e, the historical perspective + all the events in the last 2 years. This should be done on a daily basis without any gap until the interview is over. You will need 2-2.5 hours daily for this initially. You can bring down the time as you progress with your prepsReading topics of Indian economy and op-eds from any one of the business newspapers will also help. I used Business line. I had also subscribed EPW after my prelims and read articles selectively.
- India : Development and Participation by Amartya sen and Jean dreze
- India after independence by Bipan chandra
Also make notes on topics that you come across in previous years papers from wiki and net.
- Just exploit the internet. You have all the information you need at your fingertips. The coaching institutes and magazines also make their notes using the information available in the net. Why take secondary info at exorbitant costs when you can get the primary info and the whole picture free of cost.
- There is not strict boundary between conventional topics and GK. You should update your notebooks with new info as and when you come across them in the papers.
People coming from science and engineering background tend to go for Brilliant tutorial material for preparation for civil services due to their familiarity with the same during their preps for entrance exams. Ready reviews about the material is not available in the internet. This is my experience from using their material for my preparation for prelims and mains of CSE-2010.
Science optionals: I had physics as my first optional. The preparation for any optional should be ideally from a mains point of view. Besides, you need to master all the topics for the science optional due to scaling and the ‘almost digital’ marking scheme. Thats were the problem starts with BT material.
1. Not all topics are covered ( This cannot be afforded as each question in the paper will consist of 3 separate questions in a 20×3 format. If you don’t know one sub-question, you can’t completely attempt the question) . I found often repeated topics like Rayleigh scattering, Difference between conductors and insulators by quantum method skipped.
2. The approach for a lot of questions is not the standard one and wont fetch you 20 marks if you attempt.
3. Concepts are not properly defined in the beginning of a proof. Besides, they skip a number of steps in between and bring in unknown concepts without introducing. This is fatal as it will hamper one ability to study and remember the derivations. Conceptual clarity is given good weight during evaluation. One will end up writing bad answers.
4. Glaring mistakes in many solutions.
5. The change in syllabus has not been incorporated. The result: a lot of crap.
The only good thing that BT material gives you is that, appended to every chapter is a question bank of all previous questions from 1990. This is very important in knowing the pattern of questions and to fine tune ones understanding. Although the question papers are available at examrace.com, in the early periods of your preparation, the solved set can be a real boon.
I was studying optics from BT material, found it hard to continue and then found out the wonderful book by Ajoy Ghatak. I studied Electricity and Magnetism from their material, then had to relearn the chapter from textbooks after failing to answer questions asked from the chapter in the previous years.
So what is to be done? Use standard text books alone. Supreet Singh Gulati has written a good writeup on the textbooks in his blog.
Non-science subjects: The material for all non-science optional and GS is a big time mess. The material is completely out of focus and it’s really hard reading through it both for the lack of conceptual clarity and the low quality print. The material is filled with copy-paste kind of material from all possible sources which has no relevance for the exams. They have science section for GS which deals has given the topics studied in plus 2 like thermodynamic, scientific names of all possible organisms and what not. All the model answers given at the end are just general comments which beats around the bush. A conceptual flow and connectivity that’s vital for subject like PubAd is hopelessly absent.
Concluding, if you have a science optional, the question bank can be useful but that doesnt justify the 15,000 rupees one has to pay. But if you are not taking a science optional, subscribing for BT is throwing your 15K down the drain…
The results of the prelims was supposed to come by the end of the first week of august. But it just kept on getting postponed. When upsc conducts an examination, unlike our entrance exams, no date will be published beforehand and you guess on the dates based on previous years’ results and other facts like time for mains, time before the foundation course of previous year starts etc. And you will know they havent put up the results after refreshing the upsc site a 100 times between 5 and 6 in the evening.
And finally it came on the 19th by 6 pm. And the very next moment the site hung up. But i had got the link to the actual result page by searching in google. The link remains same every year and they only update its contents. I accessed with that and entered my roll number. Although i was pretty much confident of clearing the prelims, my heart was obviously beating faster then. After all its a competitive exam, anything can happen and then…..
Congrats…..your roll number figures in the list of successful candidates
And thus i have cleared civil service prelims in my very first attempt. Although i feel that i can take a break tomorrow, i cannot afford to be complacent or lower my concentration. As the marks doesnt carry over to the mains, prelims is nothing but a necessary evil. You make or break in the mains exam. Even interview can only supplement your performance in mains as mains carry 2000 out of the 2300 marks.
My prelims physics paper was the best objective paper i had ever written. Could attempt 117 out of 120. But mains is an entirely different ball game. With scaling that happens with science subjects to make them on par with humanities subjects, one has to score quite high indeed. I should revise again and again to reproduce the answers within the stipulated time. The next three months could very well turn out to be the most important 3 months of my life. Lets see where life takes me.
P.S: For the past two months i didnt have much to say when people asked me : ok gokul, what u doing now??…..now i could atleast say ‘i cleared prelims and am preparing for the mains’
Just a few more days remaining for the most important day in my life atleast until now. The prelims for Civil services exam 2010 is on the 23rd of May 2010. Incidentally, the date marks the first anniversary of me starting studying for the exams. After my mini project presentation on the 18th and a few days in Maulana hospital for my dad’s surgery, it was exactly on the 23rd that I started studying for the marathon exercise called Civil services exam. I started off with Indian polity. The exam in every sense is a marathon. You have to mix long term planning with short term targets and must be ready to pull yourself up from the abyss of failure whenever you meet with it. There are also times when you should sprint like in a 100m race. I think I am currently in that kind of a stage, trying to maximize the number of questions that can be done in 2 hours. But once the prelims is over, I will have to switch once again to the long endurance mode and complete whats remaining in physics and pub ad within two months. That means I will have to complete the syllabus of the mains exam before the results of the prelims come out. So its as much a test of your mind as it is of your knowledge.
Onto the last week of the exams, I am going through my notes over and over again for general studies and taking mock tests for physics. Although UPSC dont release the marks for prelims, a score of 240 is generally deemed to be on the safe side. But you cant write an objective test with a target in your mind. You will only end up getting more negatives if you try too much. I hope to keep my pace for physics. For G.S, I look forward to picking the doable questions alone. I am also giving myself a few more hours of sleep in the night for the last week just to keep myself fitter.
All said, I think it eventually boils down to keeping your cool during the exams. So eagerly waiting for the 23rd so that I will be relieved of the boredom of revising the topics again and again and also because I can start preparing for the mains……