There are a lot of clever people out there topping some of the top exams and institutions. But what makes them different from anyone else? Its the ability to think in a different manner to others. The level of verbal and logical ability is higher. Often the simplest and most obvious explanations are the correct ones (Occam’s Razor). People generally tend to over think things. People perceive every question and problem as having some elaborate complex solution.

I recently got forwarded an email with some simple questions but with some simple answers. Some of these are from the IAS/UPSC examinations. (Indian Administrative Services/Union Public Service Commission).

Q. How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it?
A. Concrete floors are very hard to crack! (UPSC Topper)

Q. If it took eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it?
A. No time at all it is already built. (UPSC 23rd Rank Opted for IFS)

Q. If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in the other hand, what would you have?
A. Very large hands. (Good one) (UPSC 11 Rank Opted for IPS)

Q. How can you lift an elephant with one hand?
A. you will never find an elephant with one hand. (UPSC Rank 14 Opted for IES)

Q. How can a man go eight days without sleep?
A. No Probs, He sleeps at night. (UPSC IAS Rank 98)

Q. If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what it will become?
A. It will Wet or Sink as simple as that. (UPSC IAS Rank 2)

Q. What looks like half apple ?
A: The other half. (UPSC – IAS Topper )

Q. What can you never eat for breakfast?
A: Dinner.

Q. Bay of Bengal is in which state?
A: Liquid (UPSC 33 Rank)

One of the most well known examples is from a University of Oxford Philosophy exam from 1987.

Q: What is courage? (50 marks)

Usually, this kind of question would require pages and pages of essay writing with evidence from source material, quotes and analytical reasoning. However, this particular candidate wrote the following, demonstrating exactly what the question was asking.

A: This is courage.

These kinds of simple yet powerful answers are not restricted to examinations, but roll over into interviews. Have a look at the example below: (interview for admission to IIM, Indian Institute of Management)

Interviewer said “I shall either ask you ten easy questions or one really difficult question. Think well before you make up your mind!”

The boy thought for a while and said, “my choice is one really difficult question.”

“Well, good luck to you, you have made your own choice! Now tell me this. What comes first, Day or Night?”
The boy was jolted into reality as his admission depends on the correctness of his answer, but he thought for a while and said, “It’s
the DAY sir!”

“How?” the interviewer asked.
“Sorry sir, you promised me that you will not ask me a SECOND difficult question!”

This kind of on the spot thinking and being aware of the situation and reacting accordingly is what sets these toppers apart from anyone else.

An ending note and Thought for the day:

Technical Skill is mastery of complexity, while Creativity is master of presence of mind.


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