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!!
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…