[Strategy and Motivation] How I scored 479 in GS Mains and 299 in Public Administration? UPSC IAS Topper Rank 9 Detailed GS and Public Administration Strategy : UPSC IAS Topper Suman Sourav Mohanty, Odia guy, Rank – 9, CSE – 2016


Suman Sourav Mohanty

Rank – 9, CSE – 2016


Suman Sourav Mohanty


B.tech : Mechanical Engineering, KIIT university

Attempt: 4th, Public Administration Optional

Work experience: Reliance industries 4 yrs, Consultant state government of Odisha urban governance, Odisha administrative service dy collector, Indian Revenue Service: Customs, Central Excise.


Sometimes you feel destiny decides everything for you.

When I started my journey in 2014, I never thought I would reach this far.

It is a surreal experience. The best part of this exam is the journey and the worst part is that not many people know the true secret of success. There are many false stories propagated by people who have never experienced the preparation and thereby create confusion and negativity among the students. This is just an exam and people must consider it to not make UPSC your life.

Secondly, if you are failing in the exam you must reconsider your strategy and reform your mistakes otherwise attempts would increase and you would not taste success.

Third, have conviction in your goal and do not think of anything else. For example, when I left my job as a consultant and also had an offer from Odisha power generation corporation to focus on IAS, I had no plan b and because of my conviction, I could resist any pressure. Finally, just cut off myself from social media and had friends only who were serious about preparation as UPSC is like a penance, if you devote your entire energy to this exam – it would reward you your family throughout your life through the happiness you get by serving people, but there are many distractions also who can divert your mind from this noble goal.

Finally, the motivation why you want to be an IAS officer focussed on preparing from Bhubaneswar by using the online medium. My motivation was to serve the pure and needy and serve as a change medium for the betterment of society which this service can provide. if you are having this kind of positive motivation obviously you would succeed, and you won’t lose focus. But, any other fascination like power money, crave for authority are negative motivators and won’t make u stronger in the long run. Also, faith in almighty and his blessings are also very important.

Attempts and Mistakes 

First two attempts, I was not serious and had given just for the experience. But later on, when I resigned from service and this was my only way out I became serious. For my third attempt not having conceptual clarity and not having enough grip over pub ad and arc reports cost me dear as I got 209.

In this attempt, I reread pub ad from scratch and from fewer sources and additional case studies and examples from the 12th plan, ministries, economic survey. Also, I had a standard operating procedure that I followed for answer writing such as introduction, body, facts and figures, examples/case studies and a futuristic solution. I also lacked conceptual clarity which I really got through gs courses of Pawan sir and pub ad through online portals.


I come from Odisha: a state with a lot of potential but lagging behind in social indicators. Since childhood, being the son of a bureaucrat I had an exposure to the rural areas of Odisha, the potential for community development and the power of an IAS officer to bring about change in the lives of people.

While working as a consultant for state government, I saw the value of networking that is forging a “coalition of actors model” for good governance administration, civil society, media: all this I wanted to continue forward being an IAS officer.

Personal Strategy 

Prelims :

Pretty intensive, focus on all the aspects, and give multiple test series, conceptual clarity with multiple revision is very important.


For mains, extensive reading with multiple revisions is the key. Have writing practice and focus on every answer rather being choosy about best answers. Read ARC and 12th plan with a pro-con approach for every current affairs such as CAG  pros: it helps in administrative accountability cons it would lead to policy paralysis also. Secondly, practice two essays per week.


For the interview, concentrate on your DAF and current affairs. Second, be prepared for situation-based questions such as if you are DM and there is a disaster situation how would you solve. Secondly, be true to yourself and the interview board as they are likely to uncover if you are appearing different from the real you. For example, if you are not a book reader and have put book reading as a hobby you are likely to fall into trouble with the board. Third, be calm and have a positive attitude and dress properly.

How was ForumIAS helpful in my preparation?

ForumIAS helped me by getting updated with various facets of UPSC preparation, optional books reading source, test series and notes guidance.

Optional & strategy – Score Card

Public administration Score :



Again, PubAd has been scoring a lot less than expected and the major reason is students are unable to cope with the level of questions and the answers demanded by UPSC.

Till 2012, PubAd had very straightforward questions which a person by mugging could score easily. But, after 2012, the questions have been tough and students did not write expected answers. Hence, scoring went down. After my last attempt, I rehearsed my strategy. Reread public administration from scratch and cleared my concepts, solved the toughest questions from PubAd of the last 10 years and had a standard operating procedure for my answers.

1. Use of thinkers such as Herbert Simon and decision making in RTI as information is key to decision making and good governance.

2. Use of facts and figures such as PSU losses, disinvestment target, no of puss operating in profit, RTI percentage of awareness, etc

3. Use of ARC and multiple committees such as Mani Shankar Ayer on Panchayati raj, judge Ahluwalia on urban reforms and their recommendations

4. Relevant examples, such as RTI on wheels campaign by Gujarat govt.

5. Have positive and futuristic solution in paper 2.

6. Focus on writing constitutional article in paper 2

I joined pavan sir test series for pub ad and found the questions were simple and got confidence after writing test series with case studies and examples provided by sir.

My advice to students please do not go for statistics as to which optional is good or bad. Hence, for pub ad go to a test series where u find it easy to understand and u feel the answers discussed are better than yours and not complicated than yours. UPSC wants you to be simple and to the point and not unnecessarily complicate matters and pub ad is one subject which has direct linkages with gs 2 and 4.

Scores – Prelims, Mains & Interview

Prelims – 140

Mains – 917

Interview – 168

General motivation 

Friends, my journey must inspire you to do it as two years ago, to this date I had no idea that I would reach here. First remember: your hard work would pay off. Focus on rest and studies in this crucial period.

Be focused and avoid friends who are cynical and negative. If you are doing test series, focus on time management and score improvement rather than just sitting and writing and thinking all improvement would come in the exam.

Also, please have a fixed plan and especially the last 15 days of your revision cycle, you would feel depressed and negative. But, remember it would take you bit farther from the goal rather than towards it. Also remember: we all who are preparing for UPSC are all winners as we have forsaken the comforts of a safe job, good life, enjoyment and are toiling mercilessly for the betterment of the nation and be an agent of positive social change while being selfless.

Keep this in mind and regularly chat with your parents and positive minded friends to keep motivated.

Finally, my secret to keeping myself really motivated was a tight hug to my mother after a hard day’s work. Please remember: success is around the corner and we are a stone’s throw away from it. Keep working hard and stay blessed.

After results, how did I feel?

When I saw the results, I just could not believe I secured 9th rank all India.

It took a lot of time to sink in then when there were congratulatory calls and especially my mother for whom I achieved it was the happiest of them and her tears made me feel the magnitude of the achievement. The most special part of the achievement was going to DoPT meeting: the honble minister for felicitation and his warm behavior and meeting the honble finance minister. Second, by being honored in my own state by the honble CM and the Maharaj of Puri whom we consider the living embodiment of Lord Sri Jagannath.

Finally, the sense of relief at finally being an IAS officer which I dreamy since childhood. Also, this time the pressure was really intense because last time I was in an insulated atmosphere in my home but this time I was preparing with my fellow colleagues in Indian revenue service and seeing the level of talented people within the IRS fraternity I had real doubts about my own ability and performance. Somehow after the results have come out I feel its a bigger challenge to remain in IAS and work for bringing about social change and development while being within the confines of law and rules.

What would I like to do as an IAS officer?

Focus on basics such as education, health, infrastructure, employment creation, and skill development. Then, focus on ancillary services such as grievance redressal, delivery of public services, make government more accountable to the people and participatory governance with a coalition of actors model such as NGO, civil society, media coming together for development.

Message for ForumIAS

Continue the good work. All the best.


Suman Sourav Mohanty 

(Rank – 9, CSE – 2016)


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