Praveen Kumar Nigam Biography, UPSC Marksheet, Age, Rank, Family, Caste

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Praveen Kumar Nigam UPSC

Hello,
I managed to get into CSE 22 list on 443rd rank. Having appeared for multiple attempts, i always faced a challenge of improving mains score, both GS and Optional (Pub Ad). Having missed the final cut-off by as close as one mark and two marks (CSE 2020,2021), I always felt it was incremental improvement that was needed in mains and those I consulted suggested the same.

However, I later realised I needed a thorough overhaul of my strategy to actually be able to score better. This ground-up revision made it possible for me to get through the exam.
Through this channel, I’d be happy if I could help if you find yourself in similar situation.

Public Administration Optional Preparation Strategy by Praveen Kumar Nigam

My Strategy for Pub Ad

In past few years, Pub Ad optional cannot be termed as a particularly scoring paper in CSE. Optionals like Sociology, Anthropology and PSIR have come to dominate the high scoring arena. Though one can say that Pub Ad syllabus is manageable and can be covered in two-three chunky notes of one or the other coaching, to be able to score well takes a few attempts for most people.


Through this post, I intend to explain how my experience has been with Pub Ad and how I was able to re-gain confidence with the subject after a phase of frustration. I strongly feel each candidate would have very specific issues and therefore would be able to best judge them him/herself.

As such, there are numerous well meaning and well intentioned suggestions/advices from coachings and toppers, but not all of those advices may be exactly useful to each one, i.e., one size cannot fit all.

Therefore, one has to be wise in adopting the most relevant advice for oneself. I hope you could find relevant lessons from my experience and improve your score.

My experience with Pub Ad:
I switched over to Pub Ad from Physics after joining the Indian Forest Service. Due to lack of overlap between Physics and GS, I realised that preparing both would be much more tedious and cumbersome with the hectic schedule at IGNFA.

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In choosing Pub Ad, I was a bit confident since I had studied it for UP PCS and found it scoring also. I was under the belief that my interest, in the optional, overlap with GS and bit of enthusiasm for a new optional would help me fetch better marks in Pub Ad than I did in Physics, which was around 220-230.


In the first two attempts with Pub Ad, in 2018 & 2019, I could only manage to complete the syllabus, and largely missed out on answer writing practice, resulting in mediocre score. I tried to concentrate my labours on answer writing practice in the Corona year which afforded me some time.

Also, I had to attend the Special Foundation Course that year which brought me come in contact with many people from other service who had good record with Pub Ad. Thus, test series was the obvious next step.

The problem of stagnant score:
One would assume that completing the syllabus and diligently writing answers in test series would result in steadily rising score. But it was not the case with me. In test series too (both Lukmaan and Pavan Kumar), I struggled to go past the 120 marks in each paper.

I tried to consult with the faculty of both these coachings, and I got patient hearing from both Pavan Kumar Sir and Ansari Sir and got valuable suggestions from both. With enough inspection, I could figure out the following issues with my answers:
i. Not being able to interpret questions so as to exactly address the demand
ii. Structuring my answer poorly
iii. Writing wordy answers and not adhering to word limit
iv. Too much explaining in each point in the answer
v. Not being able to complete the paper

The frustration:
In spite of the diagnosis, I was not able to actually implement the remedies in my answers. This may be because of paucity of time since I got District posting meanwhile, or may be because I had practiced too much with wrong structure and techniques which required significant un-learning and re-learning, or may be I was not smart enough to figure out how to exactly go about it.

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With subsequent efforts not resulting in significant improvement, I began losing the initial confidence in the Optional. Optional-wise, I bracketed myself as mediocre candidate.

The Solution:
 A good scoring answer has two prerequisites: good content and good structure. In order to have good content, one needs to have a good body of notes and not solely rely on coaching notes. 

Once basic notes are duly compiled (I’ll post the sources which I used later), they are to be continuously updated with current affairs from newspapers or monthly magazines. Notes of Sumit Rai (AIR 54, CSE 2018) and YoYo Choti Singh (AIR 104 CSE 2018) are inspirational.


The second aspect of how to structure your answer is equally important. The first thing to do is to go through model answers of various coachings. This first step will give one an insight about the basic structure and components of an answer as well as how to address each aspect of the question effectively.

This helps in going one step further than the “Intro-Body-Conclusion” breakdown of an answer. In fact, going through model answers during the 5 day break in Mains exam helps one a lot in getting the framework right.
Thereafter, going through as many toppers copies as possible and learn how is the next step. Model answers give us the “perfect” template and cannot be exactly replicated in the exam.

The practical and “real” way of presenting the answer in the exam has to be learnt by observing how good scorers did.  One has to learn how to present the answer most succinctly, without being wordy, without being too “dry” and monotonous for the examiner. For instance,  going through the copies I realised that my efforts to fit in more information in each answer generally proved to be counterproductive. Instead, it is easier to draw some flow-chart/diagram for presenting additional info.

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Also, over time, many of these charts/ diagrams should be incorporated into your own notes and thereafter practiced in test series. As such, I am grateful to Yo Yo Choti Singh for his notes and snippets of answers which he posted on his blog, which helped me improve the presentation of my answers.


Lastly, one needs to practice the techniques learnt through the above two sources enough so as to be able to attempt all questions in the Mains exam, since I feel Pub Ad papers over the last years have become more and more lengthy.

Since it is thought to be a “simple” subject, many a times the simplicity of preparation strategy gets confused with either sub-par content or in sub-optimal effort. I hope the info given above helps you de-clutter and streamline your strategy for Pub Ad. In due course, I’ll share my notes in pdf, hopefully they may be of use to some.