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TOPPER’s STRATEGY: Rank 81, From 155 in CSE’14 to 306 in CSE’16 in PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION.



From 155 in CSE’14 to 306 in CSE’16 in PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

Hello everyone. I am Rajarshi Shah, AIR 81 in CSE’16. I had completed my graduation from IIT Kanpur in civil engineering in 2013.Inspied by a civil servant and IITK alumnus I pursued my dream of becoming IAS. Here, I would like to share my strategy of public administration.

My previous scores:

  • CSE’14- 155(55,100)
  • CSE’15-213(102,111)
  • CSE’16-306(150,156)

What went wrong in CSE’14?

  1. Preparation Stage
    • Heavy Reliance on coaching notes ( Vajiram and Ravi).
    • Didn’t make notes of books which I read.
    • Excessive focus on few important chapters of Paper 1, thus neglecting other topics which are more scoring like regulatory bodies, techniques of administrative improvement, personnel and financial administration.
    • Not much writing practice.
  2. Mains Stage
    • Wrong selection of optional questions- attempted difficult questions related to administrative thinkers.
    • No linkage between paper 1 and paper 2 while writing answers.
    • Jargonistic language was used with very few diagrams.




  1. New Horizons- Mohit Bhattacharya
  2. Administrative thinkers- Prasad and Prasad
  3. Nicholas Henry- Selective reading of chapters like Paradigms in Public Admin, Budget, Public Policy.
  4. Radhabinod Aribam- holistic coverage of all chapters.
  5. IGNOU- MPA 011- State, society and public Administration.
  6. Mohit Bhattacharya- Social theory and development administration- for development administration topics like anti-development thesis, bureaucracy and development etc.


  1. Rajni Goyal and arora
  2. 2nd ARC reports- incorporating recommendations in answers will fetch good marks. So, one must at least go through summary provided by pavan sir or vision ias.
  3. Kiran Sir notes.
  4. Government documents like Economic Survey, Yojana, Kurukshetra for facts and case studies.
  5. Best practices related to e-Governance, civil services from department of admin reforms website.
  6. Reports in news like 14th Finance Commission, NITI Aayog reports related to cooperative federalism- Summary and analysis will be sufficient.

Lessons Learnt and Improvements made in CSE’15 & CSE’16

  1. Read and took out the copy of syllabus carefully so that I didn’t miss out easy and scoring topics.
  2. Making notes from different sources which I read. This is very important for last minute revision.
  3. Answer writing and Test series- I joined Pavan Sir test series during these two attempts and tried to incorporate his suggestions regarding the structure of answer, linking paper 1 and paper 2, writing in simple language and yet incorporating jargons in between etc.
  4. Improving the presentation of answer by making diagrams, flowcharts wherever possible. Shubra Saxena book has good collection of these. One can easily incorporate the art by studying through shubra mam book.
  5. Solving previous year question papers. This is quite helpful as questions get repeated many times.


The big question- What is the perfect structure of answer and how to do linkages between paper 1 and paper 2 while writing answers?


Structure of Answer (I wrote in combination of paragraph and points)

  • Start with why- the context and background. Example if there is a question on NPA (New public administration), begin with why npa came into being (highlight the background in the USA- ethnic riots, unemployment, costly and prolonged Vietnam War etc.).
  • Try to highlight both sides of any topic in the body of answer- do a critical analysis.
  • In the end come out with solutions. (Here incorporate recommendations from 2nd ARC, case studies etc.)

Linking Paper 1 and Paper 2

  • In Paper 1, substantiate your points by writing examples from Indian Administration. Example- in NPM (New public Management) related question, Minimum Government- Maximum Governance reforms can be quoted.
  • Similarly in Paper 2, I tried to incorporate thinkers while writing answers. Example- for budget as political instrument (Railway budget and its merger), one can quote Aaron Wildavsky statement on how budget is all about political populism.
  • I tried to focus on these linkages while studying and making notes which in turn were also reflected in my answers.

Though no strategy is perfect, I hope the strategy adopted by me is helpful to all those having public administration as optional. I would be happy to help those aspirants having doubts regarding their preparation.

Public Administration resurgence has just begun!!

My best wishes to all.