IAS TOPPER’S INTERVIEW 2014 : Raja Gopal Sunkara, AIR 49
- by IAS Score
IAS Score: Which is the most difficult part of this exam and why? What was your strategy for tackling this difficult part?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: The most difficult part is identifying the right books/material/coaching centre. Identifying the same is
half the job done. This is difficult because not everyone has access to guidance by well-meaning
seniors, mentors and tend to go by hearsay.
There is no strategy as such. I made some mistakes on the way. Just choose your friends and seniors wisely.
IAS Score: How did you manage your time for both Prelims and Mains examinations?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: The results of Mains 2013 (my first attempt) were declared in March 2014. I failed. I was pretty confident about my preparation for Prelims. So, in March 2014, I started off with Mains preparation and continued with the same till around 10th July, 2014. I then started revising for Prelims 2014. After Prelims 2014, I started off from where I had left my Mains preparation on 10th July, 2014.
Having said that, I would like to make a point. Do not compartmentalize your preparation into Prelims and Mains. Some part of the syllabus is common to both exams. What is needed is a change of orientation, not change of preparation.
IAS Score: What was your strategy for covering the lengthy syllabus of General Studies for both Prelims and Mains?
Raja Gopal Sunkara:
The main topics are Economy, Modern India, Culture, Polity, Geography, Environment, S&T. You have to complete revision at least a week before the exam. For the last week, I had made a list of important topics along with my friend. I revised only those topics.
I joined an online test series in March 2014. I planned my preparation in accordance with the test series schedule. This helped me in structuring my preparation. I narrowed down my sources (books, material) to the bare minimum through trial and error. I relied on the sutra (rule) – “less material, more revision”.
IAS Score: Did you integrate your Prelims or Mains preparation or was it separate?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: As I mentioned earlier, preparation is same, orientation is different.
IAS Score: What would be the best strategy to tackle negative marking in Prelims?
In Prelims 2014, I knew the answers for around 35-40 questions. I attempted around 70 questions. So, the additional 30-35 questions were educated guesses. I ended up getting 128 in Paper I.
If your preparation is good, you can go for educated guesses. Otherwise, they’ll backfire. So, concentrate on preparation from the right books, sources.
IAS Score: GS Mains was altogether new, as current pattern is only two years old. How did you prepare for that?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: The change in new pattern hardly matters because it is the same for everyone. I used internet extensively for GS II, III and some books.
IAS Score: Have you completed the GS mains papers?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: I attempted 95% of the questions in most papers. Sometimes, even 100%.
IAS Score: Can you share some idea/strategy about attempting GS paper as it is not easy to write answer of all questions in given time-frame?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: Answer questions in the order given in the paper. Some people answer questions that they know better first and others later. This method didn’t work out for me during the test series. So, I stayed away from it.
The rest is mathematics. If there are 20 questions, you have to answer 6-7 questions per hour and this comes with practice. Don’t leave too many questions to the end. In ethics, answer the case studies first.
IAS Score: What was your style of writing in the exam? How was it distinct from the general writing style? How did you develop this writing style?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: I had written a brief introduction to form a context for what is coming next. It consisted to some facts or some recent news.
The questions, this year, had 3-4 sub-questions. I wrote the keywords in the sub-question as a side-heading. I then wrote 3-4 points to answer the question. I used to underline keywords.
For some questions, I included side headings like Pros, Cons, Way Forward and Measures. For other questions, I used to write a brief conclusion if the question demanded it.
I feel, side-headings give structure to my thought as well as my answer. This makes it distinct from the paragraph form of answering.It also might help the examiner in better comprehending my answer.
I experimented with this style during the test series.
IAS Score: How did you prepared for essay paper.
Raja Gopal Sunkara: I believe that we can never guess the topics. So, making a list of expected topics is futile. Our GS preparation should be more than enough. A friend of mine had taught me a structure which he had learnt in a coaching centre.
Introduction – It could either be a context (some recent news) or a narrative (some anecdote). Introduction should not be more than one sheet.
Body – I would have 4-5 questions regarding the topic. If you have good questions, half the job is done.
For the topic, “Is tourism the next big thing in India?”, I had the following questions:-
- What is the current big thing in India?
- What scope does tourism have to become the next big thing in India?
- What are the obstacles that prevent it from becoming the next big thing in India?
- What are the steps that need to be taken to help tourism become the next big thing in India?
By answering these questions, I would not deviate from the topic.
Conclusion – I didn’t summarise what I had written earlier. It should be different. It should have a long term view or a futuristic perspective.
IAS Score: What were the sources of information for general reading? How did you come to know about the standard sources of reading materials?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: I came to know about the standard sources through seniors as well as trial and error.
IAS Score: What should be the basis of selecting optional?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: I am an Agricultural and Food Engineer who chose Anthropology. Agricultural and Food Engineering is not available as an optional. Agriculture is available but it is more of a science than an engineering subject. So, I went along with the crowd and chose Anthropology. At the same time, I know people who have taken Law, Mathematics and have done exceedingly well. So, to each his own.
IAS Score: Did you follow the myth that only so called popular optional should be opted?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: As I mentioned earlier, I did go with the crowd. But I ended up getting extremely good marks in Anthropology. At the same time, nothing should stop you from going for any optional you like but be the best at it.
IAS Score: How did you plan your optional strategy?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: My strategy was very simple. Stick to one coaching centre material/notes rather than running after many coaching centres. Read the same material again and again. PRACTICE WRITING ANSWERS. Further add value to your answers with diagrams, flowcharts, side headings, underlining, examples, statistics, etc.
Optional and Interview fetched me this rank. So, don’t leave optional preparation to the end. You should have some level of proficiency at least one month before the Mains exam.
IAS Score: How helpful are the notes? What is your advice on notes-making?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: There are two stages in note-making. When you read a text book, you condense it into a shorter version. This is the first stage. The second stage is to further condense it in such a way that you can refer to it in 5 minutes before the exam.
Prepare notes. I believe note-making calls for more concentration that underlining. Greater the concentration, greater the retention.
IAS Score: Civil Services Exam process is quite strenuous. It requires long hours of constant study. How did you maintain your tempo and what did you do to break the monotony of preparation?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: Human brain has its own limitations. During the course of preparation, there would come a day when nothing gets into your head. Take a break. Watch a movie or do whatever interests you. I used to take 1-2 days off every week.
On any given day, I used to have 3-4 things to read – Newspaper, Subject 1, Subject 2. This will help in breaking the monotony.
IAS Score: How helpful is one’s educational background in his/her success?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: Everyone can attempt civil services and achieve success. But if you are from a reputed institution, you can fall back on it in case you fail. My personality was shaped by my family, friends and college. So, that’s how my college helped in my success.
IAS Score: How did you prepare for interview?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: I prepared 5-6 questions on each point in my DAF along with my friends. I tried answering them to myself. Also, my friend and I had daily Q & A sessions. I attended 4-5 mock interviews in Hyderabad and Delhi. I have a habit of twitching my eyebrows while listening intently. One mentor told me that I look tensed when I twitch my eyes. He said I should smile more. I consciously tried to implement these suggestions. I used to watch Rajya Sabha TV Big Picture everyday.
IAS Score: Which types of questions were asked in the interview?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: Questions were from my DAF. They asked about my home state, hobbies, educational background, etc. There was no question from current affairs. There was one question on disarmament which came out of the blue.
IAS Score: What is your advice to the candidates who have failed in this exam?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: I have failed in the exam once. I was low for a couple of days. Then, I found a friend who was in the same situation. We assessed our mistakes. We had no writing practice. We followed some wrong sources. We joined a test series and slowly and steadily, my preparation picked up pace.
So, assess your mistakes and work on them and you’ll fare better.
IAS Score: Can you disclose your marks in detail?
Paper I – 128, Paper II – 123
Total – 251
Essay – 111
GS I, II, III, IV – 97, 79, 76, 101
Optional I, II – 142, 151
Written Total – 757
Interview – 212
Total – 969
IAS Score: What is your suggestion/advice for future aspirants?
Raja Gopal Sunkara: I’ve seen many people who cheat themselves and their parents by staying in Delhi and wiling away their time. Assess yourself. Do not put all eggs in one basket. Work hard, work smart.
- Abhijeet Sinha, IAS Rank 19 CSE 2017 from Bihar & Jharkhand, IAS Toppers Strategy
- Political Science Preparation Strategy by Tushar Gupta Rank 113, CSE 2017
- IAS Toppers Story: Ishwar Kumar Rank 187, CSE 2017
- Pooja Ranawat Rank 258, Highest 319 Marks in Pol Science, Preparation Strategy
- Abhishek Surana IAS Rank 10, CSE 2017, IAS preparation Strategy
- Fear and apprehension can’t stop us: Garima Agrawal, Rank 241, CSE 2017, IAS Toppers Story
- IAS Preparation Strategy by Jagdish Chelani Rank 57, CSE 2017
- Life in ORN (Delhi), Sunita Kumari, Rank 269, CSE 2017, Civil Services a Career or a goal
- Pol Science Preparation Strategy by Jagdish Chelani 57 Rank, 305 Marks
- Youngest topper of CSE 2017, Rank 113 Tushar Gupta, 22 year old, First attempt, pol science optional
- Public Administration Preparation Strategy by Dr. Hasrat Jasmine, AIR 226, CSE 2017
- First serious attempt, Ekta Khatri, Rank 458, Anthropology optional, IAS preparation strategy
- Mayur Suryawanshi Rank 373, 4th attempt, 308 marks in pol science, IAS preparation strategy
- Bhavesh Sharma 502 Rank, 286 Marks in History Optional: Preparation Strategy
- Highest Score in History Optional 316 Marks, History Preparation Strategy by Ishwar Kumar Rank 187
- Public Administration Preparation Strategy by Azar Zia, IAS Rank 97 CSE 2017
- Pub Ad Preparation Strategy, Rank 530 Jitendra Pratap Singh, 301 Marks in Pub Ad
- ‘Be aware of pitfalls’- Abhilash Baranwal, AIR 44, CSE 2017, 4th attempt
- A doctor, a diabetic patient and the message for all: Hasrat Jasmine, AIR 226, CSE 2017d
- Yes, it’s possible, if I can why not you!!! Mamta, IAS Rank 45 in 5th attempt CSE 2017
- Don’t Repeat Mistakes, Pooja Ranawat Rank 258, 5th attempt, without qualifying prelims in 4 attempts
- Ankit Pannu, IAS Rank 31 CSE 2017, Notes Making and Newspaper Reading Strategy
- IAS Toppers Interview, Utsav Gautam, Rank 33, CSE 2017
- Learning from the mistakes, Aparajita IAS Rank 40 CSE 2017, 3rd attempt, History Optional
- IAS Topper Bipasha Kalita CSE 2017 Rank 41, Topper from North-East States
- Holistic Approach of IAS Preparations, Swapneel Paul- IAS Rank 64, from Nagaland
- Managing Resource Effectively, strategy by IAS Topper Rahul Bhat, Rank 68, From J&K
- First and Focused attempt by an ‘average student’ Himanshu Kaushik, Rank 77, IAS topper strategy
- IAS Toppers Interview, Amol Shrivastav Rank 83, Ways to Work Smart
- Strategy of Time Management by Working Professional, Ketan Garg IAS Rank 93, CSE 2017
- IAS Toppers Strategy, Ankita Mishra Rank 105, CSE 2017, 3rd Attempt
- IAS Toppers Strategy, Saurabh Sabhlok, Rank 124, Time Management is Key to Success
- Bounce Back from Low Days, Rao Praveen Singh, Rank 152 CSE 2017, IAS Toppers Strategy
- Chasing goal till 6th and last attempt, Lavanya Gupta, AIR 298 CSE 2017, IAS toppers story
- Thanks to Seniors & Elders, IAS Preparation Strategy by Himanshu, CSE Rank 773
- IAS Topper’s Interview 2016 – 2017: K. Dinesh Kumar IAS Rank 06 with Pol Science Optional
- IAS Toppers Interview: Suman Sourav Mohanty Rank 9 CSE 2016
- IAS Toppers Interview: Sidharth B Rank 15 CSE 2016, Political Science Optional
- IAS Topper Interview 2016-2017: Rank 26 Mallika Sudhir IAS Prepraion Strategy
- IAS Topper’s Interview 2016: Manuj Jindal IAS Rank 53
- IAS Topper’s Interview 2016 – 2017: Shashank Chaudhary IAS Rank 130, First Attempt
- IAS Topper’s Interview 2016 – 2017: Brij Shankar IAS Rank 274, 5th attempt, 4 Interview
- IAS Topper Interview 2016-2017: Rank 306 Shashank Shekher Singh IAS Prepraion Strategy
- IAS Topper’s Interview 2015: Jasmeet Singh Sandhu AIR 03
- IAS Topper’s Interview 2015: Siddharth Jain AIR 13
- IAS Toppers Interview: EESHA PRIYA Rank 75 First Attempt
- IAS Topper’s Interview: IAS Rank 89 Sumant Sahay, 137 Marks in Essay
- IAS Topper’s Interview 2015: Rakesh Kumar Minhas AIR 91
- IAS Topper’s Interview: Jonnalagadda Snehaja Rank 103
- IAS Topper’s Interview: Rank 145 Preeti Yadav, 146 Marks in Essay
- IAS Toppers Interview: Asim Anwar Rank 149 with Management Optional
- IAS Toppers Interview: Amit Suresh Tolani Rank 151
- IAS Topper’s Interview: Dr.Ravindra Goswami Rank 152
- IAS Toppers Interview: RISHAV KUMAR JHA Rank 162
- IAS Toppers Interview: Vakul Jindal Rank 174
- IAS Toppers Interview 2015: Rank 187 Rohan Botre, 113 Marks in Ethics
- IAS Topper’s Interview: Rank 548 Ashish kumar senapati, 109 Marks in Ethics
- IAS Topper’s Strategy: Rank 374 Rahul Narwal, 110 Marks in Ethics (GS Paper 4)
- IAS Toppers Interview: Chandan Kumar Rank 373, Strategy for Ethics and Essay
- IAS Toppers Interview: Ananya Sinha Rank 259, First Attempt
- IAS Topper’s Interview: Shejole Shruti Ramrao Rank 690
- IAS Toppers Interview: Kirodi Lal Meena Rank 248
- IAS Toppers Interview: Anupam Rank 221
- IAS Toppers Interview: Rhea Joshi Rank 425
- IAS Topper’s Interview: Abhinav Agnihotri Rank 302 CSE 2015
- IAS Topper’s Interview 2015: Rahul Gupta Rank 306
- IAS Topper’s Interview 2015: Govind Mohan Rank 245
- IAS Topper’s Interview 2015: Sharat Chandra Pawar AIR 632
- IAS Toppers Interview: Nagender Bhukya Rank 733
- IAS Topper’s Interview 2015: Akhil Goel AIR 251
- IAS TOPPERS INTERVIEW 2014: Shefali Gupta AIR 601
- IAS TOPPERS INTERVIEW 2014: Joginder Singh AIR 419
- IAS Toppers Interview 2014: Shashikant Mehta, AIR 352
- IAS TOPPER’S INTERVIEW 2014 : Sandeep Chaudhary, AIR 148
- IAS TOPPER’S INTERVIEW 2014 : Raja Gopal Sunkara, AIR 49
- IAS Topper’s Interview 2014 : Shruti Pandey, AIR 114
- IAS TOPPER’S INTERVIEW 2014 : Aman Mittal, AIR 20
- Interview : Aman Kumar, IPS
- TOPPERS’ TALK with ISHANI PAUL, IPS
- Interview: Mridul Choudhary, CSE 2013
- IAS Interview Strategy Series – VII
- IAS Interview Strategy Series – V
- IAS Interview Strategy Series-IV
- IAS Interview Strategy Series-III
- IAS Interview Strategy Series-II
- IAS Interview Strategy Series-I