One of the most common questions that boggle the mind of the UPSC Aspirants is “What should I study in public administration for the UPSC exam?” Many of the aspirants lack guidance and they are never able to find the answer to this question.

Till now it has remained an unanswered question. But now it is being answered with an accurate answer. If you follow the guideline below, you will get the direction to work towards. You will get to know about the strategy that you should follow to prepare well for the UPSC examination.

UPSC examination is considered to be one of the toughest examinations. To prepare for it a candidate needs to switch all his/ her focus towards the examination.

 How to Start the UPSC Preparation?

To start with the UPSC preparation, you have to make a note of the syllabus and the Examination structure. Until and unless you know the examination structure, you cannot move forward. After knowing the structure you need to write down the syllabus on a long piece of paper and paste it on the cupboard that you can easily look up to. UPSC examination syllabus is very vast and it becomes difficult for a candidate to complete it all in the time frame. Hence it is suggested that you should keep the syllabus of each subject handy to make sure that you cover all the important topics properly and can just revise through the not-so-important topics.

 Structure of the UPSC Examination

UPSC examination is conducted in 3 phases: Prelims, Mains, and interview. Once a candidate clears a prelims examination he/she moves to the mains examination and then the interview, at the end, the total score of the mains examination is calculated to rank the candidate and distribute the cadre. Check out the public administration UPSC examination pattern below:-

 Also Read:- UPSC Seats & Vacancies 2021: All You Need to Know about it – Category Wise

1. Prelims

The prelims stage has two papers that are conducted on the same day. This type of multiple-choice questions. Marks obtained in the stage are not counted in the final merit list but it is the filtering stage where the candidates who fail to clear the examination cannot move on to give the mains examination. The prelims stage has two paper:- General Studies I and General Studies II (CSAT) –

Paper Marks No. of questions Duration Negative marks
General Studies I 200 100 2 hours Yes
General Studies II (CSAT) 200 80 2 hours Yes

Prelims examination is GK driven hence a candidate has to be acquainted with all the happenings all around the world. He/she needs to know about the economy, politics, social, environmental news at the local, national, and international levels.

 2. Mains Examination

The main examination is conducted to evaluate the academic learning of the individual. MAins examination has 9 papers among which 2 are language papers. Each paper has a different weightage and different duration to complete. Check the mains paper details below:-

Paper Subject Duration Total marks
Paper A Compulsory Indian language 3 hours 300
Paper B English 3 hours 300
Paper I Essay 3 hours 250
Paper II General Studies I 3 hours 250
Paper III General Studies II 3 hours 250
Paper IV General Studies III 3 hours 250
Paper V General Studies IV 3 hours 250
Paper VI Optional I 3 hours 250
Paper VII Optional II 3 hours 250

Here Paper A and B are qualifying papers that do not have a share in the final marks counting. The candidate has to achieve a minimum of 25 %. PAper A is not compulsory for the candidates coming from Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Sikkim, or the candidates that have a hearing impairment. They can provide acceptance from the concerned board or university to get exempted. Each paper has its own syllabus so don’t forget to note it down and work with it.

 3. UPSC Interview

The final stage of the UPSC examination is the UPSC interview. Here, a candidate is evaluated to see if he/ she is suitable for civil services or not. Whether they will be able to carry out their responsibilities with a righteous attitude. The candidate’s mental and social traits are being judged by asking questions particular to his/ her journey or general questions.

Other qualities that are being assessed during the interview are – critical powers, logical thinking, confidence, presence of mind, style of handling the situation, motivation to become an IAS officer, leadership quality, intellectual and moral integrity.

Make sure you don’t leave behind the preparation of the Interview. You should check out the questions being asked in the interview and prepare for it accordingly. Preparation before any interview yields good results.

 Also Read:- What are the Links to the Notes of the UPSC Toppers? What is the Suggested UPSC Booklist by Toppers?

What should I Study in Public Administration for the UPSC Exam?

Civil service aspirants have to choose one optional subject for the mains examination. The optional subject has two papers of 200 marks each. Paper is descriptive and not MCQs that the candidate requires to write the answer to the question given. Check out the list of public administration subjects that you can choose from:-

S. No List of Public Administration Optional Subjects
1 Agriculture
2 Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
3 Anthropology
4 Botany
5 Chemistry
6 Civil Engineering
7 Commerce & Accountancy
8 Economics
9 Electrical Engineering
10 Geography
11 Geology
12 History
13 Law
14 Management
15 Mathematics
16 Mechanical Engineering
17 Medical Science
18 Philosophy
19 Physics
20 Political Science & International Relations
21 Psychology
22 Public Administration
23 Sociology
24 Statistics
25 Zoology

Make sure that you choose your optional subject wisely. And it is advised that you should choose an optional subject that you are good at, you should never choose a subject that is not known to you.

How to Prepare for UPSC Examination?

For the UPSC examination you have to follow a few mantras given below, make sure that you follow them with all your dedication, and remain consistent throughout your preparation.

1. Time Table

Many UPSC aspirants, remove relaxing time from their schedule. They take so much pressure that a second they waste on something else seems unbearable to them. But mental health is as important as preparation. Fix your hobby time at least for 20 minutes in your timetable so you feel relaxed.

 2. Guidance

Guidance plays a very important role in one’s life, if you don’t have proper guidance you may find yourself in the middle of a sea where you cannot see your direction anymore. So to have a mentor you can enrol yourself into offline coaching or for a more convenient option you can enrol yourself in online coaching.

 3. Don’t Quit Books

In the digitalized era where everything is available on the internet, people tend to ignore books, but it is not an advised practice. Books have knowledge that can sometimes be missed by articles and online resources. So make sure you get a hold of the right books for your preparation.

Also Read:– What is the Civil Service Aptitude Test? How to Prepare for the CSAT to Clear in the First Attempt? 


UPSC preparation is a tough one, many aspirants sometimes feel like they are lost or they are not going in the right direction. If it happened to you then you should take a look at the information given above that will help you clear all the doubts from your head. And for even better preparation, do not forget to check out the amazing courses offered by UPSC Pathshala.

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What should I Study in Public Administration for the UPSC Exam? Here’s Your Answer
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What should I Study in Public Administration for the UPSC Exam? Here’s Your Answer
UPSC Aspirants go through mixed emotions of confusion and confidence. We are here to help them find the answer to what should I study in public administration for the UPSC exam?
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Kirti Kumar

Kirti is a passionate content writer. With psychology and an MBA degree, she presents a complete persona of an empowered lady. She is an explorer who takes up a new journey, every time she takes a new turn. She has agility in her attitude with versatility in her action. She is a creative person who loves to unfurl the beauty of life through writing. She has a deep interest in dance and art & craft. She has developed a positive persona through her exciting and vast life voyage. Kirti is a person who is closely fused to her people and a hearty person open to building on new memories to cherish.

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