50 Simple Yet Difficult IAS Questions. How Many Can You Answer?

One of the toughest competitive exams in India, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) only selects from the best of the best. Lakhs take the exam each year, one of the main reasons behind it being so “tough” to crack is that it actually tests your wit, humour, creativity, and presence of mind.

Unlike your boards where you get some “cliché” questions and just put down whatever you mugged up, the IAS exam isn’t that easy. The exam comprises two stages: a written examination and an interview session.

During the course of both sessions, a candidate invariably faces some tricky questions — some out of the box questions that check your wit and your presence of mind. Your answer to these IAS questions determines how you actually react in stressful situations and whether you are able to handle them or not. Here is a compilation of 50 IAS questions that will leave you scratching your head for a solution!


Jamie looked at his reflection in the window mirror of the 45th floor. Driven by an irrational impulse, he made a leap through the window on the other side. Yet Jamie did not encounter even a single bruise. How can this be possible if he neither landed on a soft surface nor used a parachute?


() + () + () + () + () = 30

This is what you have for the equation. The following are the numbers that you can use to fill in the brackets: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15. You can repeat the numbers if required. The resulting sum should be 30.


What will you do if I run away with your sister?


What looks like half apple?



How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it?


A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven’t eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him?


This is an unusual paragraph. I’m curious as to just how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so ordinary and plain that you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is highly unusual though. Study it and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out. Try to do so without any coaching!


Can you name three consecutive days without using the words Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday?


Twins (Adarsh and Anupam) were born in May but their birthday is in June. How’s this possible?



What if one morning you woke up and found that you were pregnant?


A cat had three kittens: January, March and May. What was the mother’s name?

Blue-cream-and-white Persian-cross female cat, Thomasina, and two of her kittens


If two’s company and three’s a crowd, then what is four and five?


If it took eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it?


James bond was pushed out of an airplane without any parachute. He survived. How?



Where would Lord Rama have celebrated his “First Diwali”?


The Bay of Bengal is in which state?


How can a man go eight days without sleep?


By using only one straight line, can you make the equation correct? 5+5+5=550


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?


How can you lift an elephant with one hand?

Leadership concept


If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what it will become?


You are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night, it’s raining heavily, when suddenly you pass by a bus stop, and you see three people waiting for a bus: An old lady who looks as if she is about to die. An old friend who once saved your life. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about. Which one would you choose to offer a ride to, knowing very well that there could only be one passenger in your car? This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application.
* You could pick up the old lady because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first;
* or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back.
* However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.


What can you never eat for breakfast?


A thief is running after stealing two gold bars from an ancient and sacred temple. The villagers see him running and run after him. While running, he comes across a rope bridge. There is a warning board on the start of the bridge stating that the rope can only accommodate a weight of 130 pounds. Now, the thief weighs 100 pounds and the gold bars weigh 20 pounds each. But ignoring the warning he just crosses the bridge with both gold bars. He manages to cross safely. How?


What happened when the wheel was invented?


Michael buys a new car. He is habitual of eating either donut or brownie while going to the office. Whenever he stops to buy a brownie, he doesn’t face any problem with respect to his car but whenever he stops to buy a donut, the car starts giving trouble. This is seen as a coincidence by him at first but when the same problem persists, he drives in the company showroom and tells his bizarre problem to them. The mechanic checks the car but finds no problem at all. The next day, when he stops to buy donut again, he faces the same problem with the car. He drives into the showroom again but the mechanic finds no problem at all. The next day goes by fine as he stops by to buy a brownie. But on the following day, when he stops by to buy a donut, the car gives trouble again. Can you find the possible reason behind this problem?


Birbal is a witty trader who trades in a mystical fruit grown far in the north. He travels from one place to another with three sacks which can hold 30 fruits each. None of the sacks can hold more than 30 fruits. On his way, he has to pass through thirty checkpoints and at each checkpoint, he has to give one fruit for each sack to the authorities. How many mystical fruits remain after he goes through all the thirty checkpoints?


Rohan was in an interview. The interviewer told him that this was his last question and then he asked him to point at the exact centre of the table on which his resume was kept. He gave an answer after which he was selected. Can you think of what happened inside the interview room?



A man is sitting in a pub feeling rather poor. He sees the man next to him pull a wad of £50 notes out of his wallet. He turns to the rich man and says to him, ‘I have an amazing talent; I know almost every song that has ever existed.’ The rich man laughs. The poor man says, ‘I am willing to bet you all the money you have in your wallet that I can sing a genuine song with a lady’s name of your choice in it.’ The rich man laughs again and says, ‘OK, how about my daughter’s name, Joanna Armstrong-Miller?’ The rich man goes home poor. The poor man goes home rich. What song did he sing?


Interviewer: He ordered a cup of coffee for the candidate. Coffee arrived kept before the candidate, then he asked what is before you? Candidate: Instantly replied “Tea”.  He got selected. You know how and why did he say “TEA” when he knows very well that coffee was kept before?


What is the opposite of Nag Panchmi?



I purchased perfume from a store and gave him a thousand rupee note. The perfume’s cost was Rs.300. Since the store person had no change, he got the change from the next shop and returned me 800 rupees. After a while, the next shopkeeper came and told the 1st shopkeeper that the note is a fraud and took his money back. How much loss did the 1st shopkeeper have to bear?


Assuming I have an infinite supply of coins, what is the fewest number of coins would be required in order to make sure each and every coin touched exactly three other coins.


On a magical-intellectual land of puzzles, all the animals are rational (real smart). There are six leopards and one sheep. Leopard can eat sheep but since as the land is magical, the leopards who eats the sheep, turns into sheep and then can be eaten by the remaining leopard(s). If we leave them for some time then how many sheep and leopard will be there, when we come back?


Four people need to cross a dark river at night.
* They have only one torch and the river is too risky to cross without the torch.
* If all people cross simultaneously then torch light won’t be sufficient.
* Speed of each person of crossing the river is different. Cross time for each person is 1 min, 2 minutes, 7 minutes and 10 minutes.


There are two glasses in front of you. One of the glasses is full of coke and the other glass is full of lemonade. You take a spoonful of coke and mix it into the glass of lemonade. Now, the lemonade glass has a mixture of coke and lemonade. You take a spoonful of that mixture and mix it inside the coke glass. Now, what do you think? The glass with coke has more quantity of lemonade or the glass with lemonade have more quantity of coke mixed with it?


A guy claims to do the following thing. He puts a coin in a glass bottle. Then, he shuts the mouth of the bottle with the help of a cork. Now he manages to remove the coin out from the bottle without taking out the cork or breaking the glass bottle. Do you know how he can do it?


A claustrophobic person boards a train that is just about to enter a tunnel. Which place will be the best for him to sit?


If in a cricket one-day match, there were no wide balls, no extras and no overthrows. What is the maximum number of runs that a batsman can score in an ideal case scenario?



A homicide detective is called to a crime scene. He finds that a body is lying on the ground in front of a multi-storey building. By all the means, it looks like a simple suicide case. But there are doubts in his mind. He goes to the first floor and moves into the room facing the direction of the body. He opens the window in that direction and looks down towards his team. Then, he goes to the second floor and again moves into the room facing that direction, opens the window and looks down at his team. He continues with the same process till the top floor. After that, he returns back to where his team is standing. He tells them that it is not a suicide. How did he come to such a conclusion?


Three men are living in a desert namely – Alex, Brian and Chris. Alex hates Chris and thus he decides to kill him. To succeed in his evil intentions, he poisons the water supply of Chris. Since they are living in a desert, he will have to drink water or he will die of thirst. Brian is not aware of the actions of Alex and he plans to kill Chris as well. To do this, he killed the water supply of Chris. Chris dies due to his thirst. Who killed him?


An international IQ test is held on knockout terms in November 2013. The final contestants are from Britain and America respectively. Both of them are handed over the final test paper which they have to fill for evaluation. They have to write their names and date on the paper. When the evaluators are handed over the sheets, they find out that both the guys have the same name. In no manner can they identify which sheet belongs to whom. Can you identify the date on which the competition was held?


After teaching his class all about roman numerals (X = 10, IX=9 and so on) the teacher asked his class to draw a single continuous line and turn IX into 6. The only stipulation the teacher made was that the pen could not be lifted from the paper until the line was complete.


If you multiply all the numbers on your mobile phone, what is the answer?


You were hanging out in the New York City when a man in a suit approached you. He said that he was ready to bet a hundred bucks to the fact that there are at least two people (excluding the bald people) in the City with the same number of hairs. Seeking the impossibility of the case, you thought of accepting the bet. After the discussion of two minutes, you realized that you had lost the bet. What did he say to prove his point?


Prashant holidaying abroad fell off a yacht into deep water. He could not swim and he was not wearing anything to keep him afloat. It took 30 minutes for the people on the yacht to realize someone was missing. The missing man was rescued two hours later. Why didn’t he drown?


Do you know a way (correct) by which adding 4 to 10 will give 2?


Ramanujan found out that 1729 is a magical number. What so magical about it?


The peacock is a bird that does not lay eggs. How do they get baby peacocks?


The manhole covers in Baker Street usually fell inside. However, the covers never fell down on Crawford Street.

How many could you answer from this list of tricky IAS questions? Scroll down for the answers.


1) Jamie is a window cleaner who was tired after cleaning the windows on the 45th floor and thus leaped inside the building.

2) There is no mention if you can use sign or not and thus the only possible way to get this is as follows: (15 – 9) + (13 – 7) + (7 – 1) + (9 – 1) + (13 – 9). If you solve inside the brackets, you will get the following equation 6 + 6 + 6 + 8 + 4. Adding all these numbers will give you 30.

3) The candidate who was selected answered, “I will not get a better match for my sister than you sir.”

4) The other half.

5) Concrete floors are very hard to crack!

6) The third room. Lions that haven’t eaten in three years are dead.

7) The letter ‘e’, which is the most common letter used in the English language, does not appear even once in the paragraph.

8) Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

9) May is the name of the town.

10) Girl -“I will be very excited and take an off, to celebrate with my husband.”

11) What. It stated ‘WHAT’ was the mother’s name.

12) Nine.

13) No time at all it is already built.

14) The plane was on the runway.

15) Diwali was a celebrated as a mark of Lord Krishna killing Narakasura. In Dusavataar, Krishnavathaar comes after Raamavathaar. So, Lord Rama would not have celebrated Diwali at all!

16) Liquid State.

17) By sleeping at night.

18) By converting a “+” sign into “4” by inserting the straight line obliquely. Or by cutting through the “=” sign to make it an “unequal” sign.

19) Very large hands.

20) You will never find an elephant with one hand, so no question of lifting it.

21) It will become wet and drown.

22) I would let my old friend to drive my car and take the old lady with him, and would wait for the bus with my perfect partner.

23) Lunch and dinner.

24) You must be aware of the fact that the standard weighing system is Imperial system. This is how we weigh things or ourselves and thus the warning must be for 130 pounds according to the Imperial system. But gold is weighed in the Troy system. In Troy system, 12 ounces makes one pound whereas in Imperial system, 16 ounces make one pound. Thus 40 pounds (20+20) of gold bars will be 30 pounds in imperial system. The weight of thief is 100 pounds. Thus, the total is 130 pounds which can be accommodated on the rope and thus he was able to cross safely.

25) It caused a revolution.

26) This is because the queue for buying a donut is extremely long due to which the car engine becomes cool and gives trouble. While the queue for buying brownie is pretty small and thus the car gives no trouble at all.

27) 25 Fruits
Remember, we told you that Birbal is a witty trader. So his sole motive is to get rid of the sacks as fast as he can.
For the first sack:
He must be able to fill fruits from one sack to other two sacks. Assume that he is able to do that after M check points. Now to find M,
(Space in first sack) M + (Space in second sack) M = (Remaining fruits in Third Sack) 30 – M
M = 10
Thus after 10 checkpoints, Birbal will be left with only 2 sacks containing 30 fruits each.
Now he must get rid of the second sack.
For that, he must fill the fruits from second sack to the first sack. Assume that he manages to do that after N checkpoints.
(Space in First Sack) N = (Remaining fruits in second sack) 30 – N
N = 15
Thus after he has crossed 25 checkpoints, he will be left be one sack with 30 fruits in it. He has to pass five more checkpoints where he will have to give five fruits and he will be left with twenty five fruits once he has crossed all thirty check points.

28) Rohan kept his finger in the centre of the table (not the exact centre). The interviewer asked him how he was so sure that this was the exact centre. He told the interviewer that according to the interviewer, his last question had already been asked.

29) The ‘Happy Birthday’ song.

30) Since “T” comes before “U”.

31) Nag did not punch me.

32) Rupees 1000.

33) Four
three placed flat on the table in a triangle (touching each other) and put the fourth one on top of them in the middle.

34) 5 leopards and one sheep
Since all animals are rational, once 1st leopard eats the sheep all the rest of leopard would know about this.

35) 1 and 2 go cross
2 comes back
7 and 10 go across
1 comes back
1 and 2 go across (done)
Total time = 2 + 2 + 10 + 1 + 2 = 17 minutes.

36) Be it any quantity that was present in the beginning and any liquid as well. We know that we have taken a spoonful from one glass and put it into another. Then, we have taken a spoonful from the other glass and put it into the first glass. So, at the end of it, the quantity of liquid in either glass remains same as it was in the beginning. Therefore, we can conclude the fact that any amount of coke that is missing in the glass with coke will be present in the lemonade glass. Also, the same quantity of lemonade will be missing from the lemonade glass and will be present in the coke glass.

37) He pushes the cork inside the bottle and then takes out the coin.

38) It is best if the person sits on the back of the train. After the stop, the train will be accelerating as it goes into the tunnel. Thus the train will be much master when the back of the train enters the tunnel. In this way, he will have to spend much less time in the tunnel.

39) For an ideal case, the batsman will hit a six on each ball. But if he hits six on the last ball of the over, the strike will change in the next over. Thus, the best he can do in the last ball is run 3 runs so that he retains the strike even in the next over. Thus the total runs that he can score in each over:6 * 5 + 3 = 33
But this will have to go like it only till the 49th over. In the last over, he can hit a six in the last ball as well as that will be the last ball of the match.
Thus runs for the last over will be 6 * 6 = 36.
Hence the maximum runs = 33 * 49 + 36 = 1653.

40) At every floor, the detective had to open the window himself. If the man had committed suicide, then at least one of the windows must have been open. A person who is committing suicide won’t close the window behind him. Thus he knows that someone pushed him off the edge and closed the window afterwards.

41) The action of Brian directly led to the result which is the death of Chris. Thus he murdered Chris. In a sense, Chris died due to the lack of water. It is the circumstances that ultimately led to his death.

42) The competition was held on 11 November 2013. The logic is simple. In America, the dates are mentioned as Month/Day/Year and in Britain, dates are written as Day/Month/Year. But on 11 November 2013, the date and month will be the same. And thus both will write in the same manner i.e. 11/11/2013. If it would have been any other date, the evaluators would have been able to identify it.

43) Drawing an “S” in front of the “IX” would solve the matter.

44) Zero. The numpad contains the number zero.

45) The total population of New York City is about nine millions. Let us assume that 1 million among them are bald which leaves us with eight millions of people that are required to have different number of hairs on their head. Now as per the surveys, on an average, people have 100, 000 hairs on their head. Since all must have different numbers, we start with one. Let us say someone has one hair strand, someone has two, and someone has three and so on. After 100, 000 people, we are left with 7, 900, 000 people left. Since all of them are needed to have different number of hair strands, we will move up from 100, 000.In such case, at the end, you will be having a person with 8, 000, 000 hairs which is clearly impossible (even having 1, 000, 000 hairs on someone’s head is impossible). Therefore, there must be two people who have same number of hairs on their head.

46) Because it was the Dead Sea.

47) Adding 10 hours to 4 p.m. (or a.m.) will give you 2 a.m. (or p.m.).

48) They can be expressed as the sum of the cubes of two different sets of numbers.
10^3 + 9^3 = 1729
12^3 + 1^3 = 1729

49) Peacock doesn’t lay eggs, peahen does.

50) They used square manhole covers in Baker Street. As the side is smaller than the diagonal of the square, they were prone to fall when twisted. However, the manhole covers were round shaped in Crawford Street making them impossible to fall inside.


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