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A Post-Graduate in Chemistry opted for Public Administration as Optional and secured 14th Rank in CSE 2018

Resounding success of Ankita Choudhary has once again put Public Administration in limelight as she secured 14th rank in Civil Services Examination 2018.

Ankita, M.Sc. (Chemistry) from IIT, Delhi made strategic decision while opting for Optional Subject and decided in favour of Public Administration that contributed a lot in her success.


Few months back I wrote about Public Administration as optional subject making a comeback.

Though, some experts agree with my viewpoint and some sceptical still wish to see its performance before accepting a fresh wave.

Read: Is Public Administration as an optional Subject making a comeback?

For last two-three years, I have been witnessing and probably some results like Ankita Choudhary (AIR 14; CSE 2018) give me lot of confidence that I my thought process is on right track.

It is not only Ankita, there are many other successful candidates with Public Administration as optional subject to prove me right.

After result, when I talked to Ankita about her optional subject choice, she said, “Six years back, when I started thinking about Civil Services Examination, the exam-plan had two optional subjects. I was contemplating with an idea that first optional, I will pick my own subject Chemistry; and the second one, a subject from humanities.

Ankita Choudhary (AIR 14; CSE 2018)

But, when I got eligible to appear, Main Exam pattern changed; and now, we are to pick only ‘ONE’ optional subject.”
At this point, I had a different mind and picked up Public Administration as optional subject over my own subject Chemistry. There were multiple reasons for making an unusual choice:

First, I did not feel very comfortable in Chemistry because being a science subject it is sort of a little distraction because in General Studies you are majorly concerned with some humanities subjects.

So, if you have to give special time to a pure science subject, then I thought I would be out of the league.

Second, I thought if I choose any humanities subject then it could have some overlapping with General Studies papers.
In case of Public Administration, it has maximum overlapping with General Studies Paper II and it also helped me improve my score in General Studies Paper IV.

Third and the most important, if you look through the syllabus of Public Administration (it is basically about what you’ll do when you become a Civil Servant); so, it gives you clear cut definitions of your responsibilities and duties of when you become a Civil Servant.

So, in that way I found Public Administration very helpful.

When I asked her that as the perception rules the Civil Services Exam arena, didn’t you look at current trends that show great performance with Political Science & International Relations as Optional Subject?

Ankita said, "Actually Political Science is a very good subject and it has been scoring very well and has been instrumental in many successes in last 5-6 years; but, Public Administration is very concise and it has a very short syllabus while Political Science has a very lengthy syllabus. So, it is more time consuming."

"Public Administration, I think is a very contemporary subject; while writing answers in Public Administration you can quote examples that you’ve seen in day to day administration very easily. On contrary, it is bit difficult when you are attempting Political Science paper because this is a traditional subject that has very deep roots and you have to quote things as it is" she added.

"While Public Administration is an evolving subject, if you put in efforts, your inputs; then that is very helpful."

That’s okay. But, didn’t recent bad performance of Public Administration as optional deter you? Did you ever think you have taken a wrong decision?

Ankita replied, "I decided that I will go for Public Administration as optional subject; so, I was sure that I will not second guess my decision. If I have chosen something I will stick to it." 

When I was preparing for something big, it is very important for me that I am contented with my choice. There was no scope for determining what is right and wrong; all I needed was to show confidence and full conviction with my decision.

I didn’t even check successes and marks pattern for Public Administration for previous years. I had no idea who topped last year, what was the highest score in the subject, I was just concerned about myself that how I will write or score in the subject.

As it has some specific demands, how did you manage preparation for Public Administration ? 

Candidly accepting the role of guidance Ankita said, "It was a new subject for me and I needed right strategy to prepare it effectively.Yes, I joined Synergy IAS for preparing my optional subject. 

If I have scored 163 marks in Public Administration Paper I, its 90% credit goes to Mohanty sir because he has made everything clear like all the concepts.

He makes sure in the class that you get what he’s trying to teach you. So, I think it helped me a lot because the concept clarity is very basic when you are writing and this is trend now a days that if you have to score good in Public Administration, you have to relate Paper I to Paper II.

So, my concepts in Paper I were clear and I could quote the thinkers from Paper I in Paper II."

Last Update Wednesday 25th March 2020     

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