IAS Topper 2019 Junaid Ahmad shares his strategy to crack IAS exam

Indian Administrative Services 2022 ( IAS )

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Exam On: 16 Sep '22 - 25 Sep '22

Rachit Kumar
Rachit Kumar Saxena
Updated on Jun 17, 2020 22:45 IST

IAS Topper 2019 Rank 3 Junaid Ahmad shares his strategy to crack IAS exam. Read below for details.


IAS Topper Junaid Ahmad secured the third rank in his fifth attempt. He is an alumnus of Sharda University, Noida. Junaid completed his engineering in 2014 and started the IAS preparation. He cracked the UPSC Civil Service exam in his fourth attempt and was allotted the Indian Revenue Service (IRS).

In 2014, he went to Mumbai for IAS preparation but later come back to Delhi for the preparation. He joined the Jamia residential coaching for the IAS preparation.

In his fifth attempt, he qualified for Indian Administrative Services (IAS). He has plenty of experience because of his failures. He said that the perspective towards the failures is very important. He treated his failures as the error rectification stages and thought the failures improved his personality. He said, “his failures was the best part of his journey”.

Here we are providing the details of Junaid Ahmad’s strategy to qualify in the IAS exam.

Qualities Required

He said that various IAS mentors and IAS toppers of the previous year laid stress on various qualities required for becoming an IAS. But, he stressed that according to him following three qualities are very important to become an IAS.

  • Hard work
  • Patience and
  • Perseverance

If any candidates don’t have these qualities, then he should strive to develop these in his behaviour and attitude.

Reason behind IAS preparation

He stressed that the motive behind the IAS preparation is very important. The reason for preparation should be important enough to provide a sustained motivation throughout the IAS preparation and in the times of failures.


IAS Question Papers

He mentioned that previous year question papers of IAS are very important for the IAS preparation. He said that they provide the direction to the preparation and also the candidates can understand the demand of the exam.

The candidates can also design his strategy based on the important topics asked in the previous year IAS question papers.

IAS Syllabus

Junaid told that the candidates should learn the IAS syllabus and stick to the topics given in that. He said the candidates should be quick enough to relate that topic with the IAS syllabus while reading.

He stressed that the candidates should limit their studies to the IAS syllabus and can limit the IAS preparation to the depth as prescribed by the previous year question papers.
The common saying that “Everything under the Sun is the IAS syllabus” should not be followed.

What UPSC demands?

Junaid stressed that the UPSC demands only a common man understanding on the topics given in the IAS syllabus. But it becomes a common habit of the IAS aspirants to become an expert on all the topics. He said that the candidates should avoid this habit.

In the habit of becoming an expert, the candidates end in wasting the energy and time on a single topic.

Integrated Approach.

He said that the candidates should see the IAS exam as one and do an integrated approach. All the stages of the IAS exam are interrelated and the candidates should plan their preparation accordingly. He said the candidates should reorient their preparation as per the demand of the exam. For prelims, the candidates should give more stress to the factual information related to the topic, but for the mains answer writing is more important.

For the IAS interview, opinion formation is very important. The opinion is the tip of an iceberg which is formed based on the information and knowledge gathered by studying the General Studies topics.

Mistake to Avoid

IAS topper stresses the need for having a complete plan for the IAS preparation. He said that the candidates should design his own IAS exam strategy and change it at a later stage if required. The candidates must plan. He said that the IAS exam is one of the toughest exams in the world and require a well-planned strategy. Random studies will end up in wasting the time of the candidates.

See here: IAS Toppers Stories

IAS preparation timeline

He said a minimum of two years of preparation is required for cracking the IAS exam even if the candidate is qualifying this exam in the first attempt. So he laid down a timeline for preparing for IAS exam. The IAS preparation timeline as chalked out by Junaid Ahmad is as follows.

June- October

The candidates should prepare each topic of the General Studies Syllabus and the optional subject. He stressed that the first reading of NCERT and the reference books should be completed. In the initial time, the candidates should limit their time for the newspaper to half an hour so they can cover the fundamentals first.

October – December

Increase the time for the news-paper and start the second round of reading of the reference books and the subject books.

December – April

After completing the second reading of the NCERT and reference books, start writing the answers. Answer writing is critical for the IAS main exam.

This is the time to start the Ethics paper. Ethic is equally important for the IAS Main, but the candidates should prepare other General Studies papers first and then start the Ethics paper so they can relate it with other subjects.

Junaid Ahmad's IAS Prelims Strategy (March – June)

This is the prime time to focus on the IAS prelims exam. The candidates should more focus on the factual and objective information about the topics. Revision plays a very important role here for the retention of the information.

IAS Prelims preparation requires practising with the mock tests and previous year question papers. The practice is very important for the IAS prelims.

Junaid opted for the elimination strategy for the IAS prelims. He said that one can answer 40 to 45% questions confidently, but for the rest of the question; it is important to eliminate the wrong answers from the options.

Revision of factual information is very important for the IAS prelims exam. He stressed that the candidates need to develop the art of eliminating the wrong answers from the options in the prelims question paper.

See here: Important Topics for IAS Exam 2020

Junaid Ahmad's IAS Main Exam Strategy (June onwards)

The IAS topper stressed that the candidates should not wait for the IAS result. The candidates should start the answer writing practice for the Optional and General Studies topics.
He said that the IAS main exam is more current issue-oriented and to score more in the IAS main exam, the candidates should focus on current affairs.

Importance of notes

He stressed that in his earlier attempts; he did not prepare the notes and which resulted in his failure. He mentioned that making notes for the IAS exam is very important to concise the information in one place.

The candidates are expected to write one hundred or two hundred words in the IAS answers. Notes should include the bullet point related to the topic. These bullet points play a very important role in the IAS main exam.

The candidates should update the notes from the newspaper as and when required. The increasing number of question inclination towards the current affairs makes it imperative to include every aspect of the current event in the answer.

The IAS main is a more issue-oriented exam and the candidate can answer the question by covering the current affairs more effectively.

Periodic Test for the IAS main is very important. It helps in the concise representation of the information and time management for the actual question paper.

Junaid Ahmad Essay Strategy

Junaid Ahmad said that the Essay is a very important component of the IAS main exam and it can improve the score of the candidate significantly. The candidates should stick to his strengths for the essay writing.

He said that time management is very important for the Essay paper. Brainstorming is very important, but it should be limited to twenty minutes only. The candidates should prioritize the ideas flooded during the brainstorming.

The candidates should strive to include the various aspects of the topic such as Political aspect, Economic aspect, Environmental aspects, Ethical aspect, aspects related to the women, children and elderly persons.

He wrote the effective introduction and conclusion before writing the essay. He said that the introduction and conclusion must not have any grammatical error. The flow of the essay is also very important. The flow of the essay should not break so structured presentation of knowledge is very much required in IAS essay.


He said irrespective of the place of preparation, Self-study is the critical factor for the success in the IAS preparation.

IAS Topper's Booklist

Junaid stressed that the candidates should limit his resources. He said, there are a limitless number of books available. The candidate should limit his studies to NCERTs and one or two Standard reference books.

Fewer books more revision” is the mantra of the IAS topper. Following are the book list of the IAS topper.

The candidates should start with the NCERT of General Studies subjects and then go for the standard books.


Indian Express - because of the broad coverage of the information and the dedicated coverage of the specific topics such as Science and Technology.


He laid stress on the Modern History and Ancient History (based on the analysis of the previous year IAS question papers).

  • Old NCERT
  • Vipin Chandra
  • Spectrum for IAS Prelims

Indian Polity

  • Constitution at work
  • Laxmikant
  • Newspaper for the issues of Governance in India

Indian Economy

  • NCERT – Micro and Macro Economy
  • Ramesh Singh


Geography was his optional subject and he covered it in depth from the standard textbooks.

  • Geography NCERTs
  • Goh Cheng Leong

Art and Culture

He said art and culture is a very vast topic and it is very difficult to cover its topics. Moreover, only one or two questions have been asked from it.

Some important reference Material for IAS exam

  • Administrative Reforms Commission reports
  • Economic Survey
  • Budget Document
  • NITI Ayog vision documents and reports

His message for the IAS aspirants is “If I can clear this exam, anyone can clear".

Read More

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About the Author
Rachit Kumar Saxena

With over ten years of experience in the government exam and its preparation domain, Rachit knows the life cycle of almost all government exam and related information. He deeply understands the user requirements and... Read Full Bio

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