Rahul Sankanur Biography

Rahul Sankanur, AIR 17 in UPSC CSE with the Anthropology as the optional subject. Son of a Government servant SV Sankanur. Rahul hails from Hubli. Karnataka where he graduated as E&C Engineer from R V College, Bangalore. An IT professional who left his high paying job to work for his goal, and eventually prepared for CSE.

Civil Services Journey

  • In UPSC CSE 2015:  Rahul Sankanur cleared Prelims, Mains and gave Interview but was not in the final list.
  • In UPSC CSE 2016: He once again cleared Prelims, Mains and gave Interview but was not in the final list.
  • In UPSC CSE 2017: This time he cleared PRELIMS but failed in clearing MAINS.
  • This time he got a precious gap of 4 months.\
  • In UPSC CSE 2018: He cleared Prelims. Mains and Interview round too. His All India Rank was 17th.

Download: UPSC Prelims Question Paper (2014-2019)

It’s said that winners never quit. Never has the quote been more apparent in a life’s journey than of Rahul Sankanur’s. Deriving inspiration from the simplicity of his father and the egalitarian nature of his mother. Rahul Sankanur achieved a feat for which almost 5 lakh people were competing. His tale of success is the one straight from a movie where the protagonist struggles and struggles until he finally succeeds.

Rahul Sankanur’s Prelims Marksheet, 2018

After clearing CSE 2015 and making it to the personality round, he wasn’t able to make it to the final list. The same fate befell when he appeared for CSE 2016. In CSE 2017, Rahul failed to clear the Mains. But one thing he never did was to quit. He persevered, and as he said in one of his interviews, the gap of 4 months taught him lessons which would never be forgotten. He admits. That he was expecting the different results after making the same mistakes. As it always does, his hard work paid off when he secured AIR 17, in CSE 2018 which could as well have been his last attempt.

Mistakes in previous attempts

Mistakes In Mains

Unenthusiastic approach towards answer writing resulted in a loss of practice resulting in an overall slow handwriting, which became illegible towards the end. His last 3-4 answers in all the Mains were not good due to improper time management.

He always thought that he would be able to write fine quality answers in Mains but in reality, he wasn’t.


Mistakes In Interview

Rahul Sankanur followed the same strategy for Interview round. He used to read current Affairs but never framed his own opinions on different issues.

Lack of practice of facing a panel of experienced men costed Rahul Sankanur 3 attempts. His answer, he admits were monosyllabic and mostly consisted of a single sentence during the interviews.

What went right in this attempt?

Rahul Sankanur’s Mains Marksheet, 2018

In his previous attempts Rahul Sankanur never got much time for self-evaluation. But in his third attempt as he failed in Mains so he got around 4 months in which he tried to realise where he was committing mistakes. 

He started to improve on his answer writing. Rahul Sankanur thought that he would be able to clear Prelims exam within 30-35 days of preparation. So, he focussed on improving his quality of answers and his handwriting too.

Download: UPSC 2019 Mains Paper

He joined a test series and practised to work upon his answer writing. He knew that he scored above average in his Optional Subject but he still tried to improve his Optional answers in hope of securing 10-20 marks more. He used to write 1-2 answer on  online websites and used to evaluate it. This exercise helped him a lot.
He wanted to change his Interview strategy, so after mains he not only prepared for his interview but also travelled with his friends to different places. This helped him in making his mind more composed.

Advice to the future aspirants

Performing under the immense pressure of expectations and responsibilities is what UPSC CSE tests. Rahul stresses on the fact that the strategies of the toppers are exclusively effective. What strategies work for one person might not be equally effective for another person. The journey for this exam is a quest for self-exploration. Every person must personalize their own strategies and work hard with them.

Conceptual clarity is the basic building block for the understanding of the advanced topics which are asked in the CSE. Never discount the importance of answer writing. But the practice of answer writing must begin with the basic questions.

Tips For New Candidates

When you start your preparation your main aim should be to work upon improving your basic concepts. When your base is good, you can easily understand all the topics.

Donot try to attempt answer writing in the first 3-4 months pf your preparation as it will not be of much use for you at that time. But slowly when your concepts get strong, you can start writing.

This journey will be full of twists and turns. Make your goal motivate you when everyone starts doubting you and our abilities.

Read: UPSC 2020 Calendar, Exam Dates, Schedule.

Tips For Veterans

For people already on their multiple attempts, a simple message that Rahul Sankanur conveys is to find something which relaxes the mind even when the walls are closing in. Trying to zero in on the weak points and actively trying to remove them will help.

There will be points when you feel helpless, your frustration level would be high but at those points doing meditation, music , etc can really help you.

There will be various reason behind your failure, maybe low score in essay, Mains or in Interview. Try to find your weak areas now and work upon improving them.

Last advice for you, Be Open to Suggestion from Everyone. Do not let your seniority be a hindrance in blocking inflow of knowledge. Also, if anyone who has not given Civil Services is also giving suggestion then keep it.

Download: NCERT Books

Rahul’s Mantra to clear Prelims:- “Concept Clarity, Limited Sources, MULTIPLE REVISIONS”.
In regards to the personality test, according to Rahul Sankanur , It is more of a personality test than the intellectuality test. Keeping oneself calm and composed while answering questions honestly, might be the key to nailing down the personality test.

His like one of the saying of Swami Vivekanand,”

The greatest sin is to think that your are weak.



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