Renu Raj (CSE 2014 Rank 2) UPSC Topper’s Interview – Part 2

Renu Raj IAS has covered her background in the first part of Clear IAS interview. She has briefly shared her study plan as well. In this part she explains to the readers of, the main books/study-materials she referred for Prelims and Mains. Readers can also know her marks in detail and success tips.

UPSC Prelims Can you elaborate on your preparation strategies/approach and study materials and books used for Prelims Paper 1 and Paper 2 ?(Please mention books/materials used for each subject)

  • Books/Study materials for History: NCERT, Bipan Chandra, Spectrum
  • Books/Study materials for Geography: NCERT Only
  • Books/Study materials for Polity: Lakshmikanth, Current Affairs
  • Books/Study materials for Economics: Class Notes From KSCSA
  • Books/Study materials for Science and Technology: Websites
  • Books/Study materials for Environment: NIL
  • Books/Study materials for Current Affairs: Newspapers, Magazines
  • Books/Study materials for General Studies Paper 2 (CSAT): Nothing Any tips/pieces of advice especially for UPSC Civil Services Prelims?

Just study for mains…It will come on the way.

ClearIAS Prelims Online Test Series

Renu Raj IAS Study Notes

UPSC Mains Can you elaborate on your study materials and books used for each topic of Mains Papers? (Please give a detailed view, especially for sub-topics in all the general studies papers like books/materials used for each subtopic like Disaster Management, Internal security, Indian Society, Biodiversity etc.)

  • Books/Study materials used for Essay Paper: NIL
  • Books/Study materials used for General Studies 1 (Indian History, World History, Indian Society, Indian Geography, and World Geography): Mentioned
  • Books/Study materials used for General Studies 2 (Constitution, Polity, Governance, Social Justice, Foreign relations, and International affairs): Mentioned
  • Books/Study materials used for General Studies 3 (Indian Economy, Biodiversity, Science and Technology, Internal Security and Disaster Management): Mentioned
  • Books/Study materials used for General Studies 4 (Ethics + Case Studies):  Nil..Dont loose ur ethics by reading books.
  • Books/Study materials used for Optional Subject Paper 1: Notes.
  • Books/Study materials used for Optional Subject Paper 2: Notes. Did you prepare hand notes or participated in mock answer writing before mains? What was the strategy for preparing current affairs topics in general?

Write mock papers. It does wonders. Collect current affairs…Either write down or keep cuttings. What are the government reports that aspirants should go through, before giving Mains Exam?

Economic survey, new bills. What was the color of the pen you used for writing mains (Blue Ink/ Black Ink)? Also, the company and brand name of the pen used:

Blue cello butterflow What were your writing style in GS and optional subject? Bullet Points/ Essay style or a mix of both styles?

Mix What are your suggestions to aspirants for improving the score in essay paper? What were the essays you choose to write? Did you use sub-heading/points/graphs in your essay paper?

Select the ones which give scope to write in a wider canvas. What are your suggestions to aspirants for improving the score in GS Papers?

Correlate with current affairs…Applies to all gs papers. What was your optional subject? Please give our readers detailed insights on your selection and strategies regarding your optional subject. We are sure that there will be many who take the same optional subject as yours in future.

Take literature if you are fully interested in it…read widely to improve your writing skills. What was your exam hall strategy for mains: attempting all questions even at the cost of compromising quality or writing only quality answers compromising on the number of questions attempted?

Attempted almost all questions barring one or two in each paper

UPSC Interview Can you elaborate on your approach and preparation for Interview? Did you attend any mock interviews?

At KSCSA…Greatly benefited. Can you elaborate a bit about things mentioned in your DAF (Detailed Application Form) like your hobbies, extracurricular activities or prizes won:

Hobby: classical dancing. What was your interview dress? Saree. Who was the Chairman of the board you faced? How long was the interview?

David Sir…Around 35 minutes. Were you happy after the interview? Did you expect good marks?

It went ok…not happy nor sad..There were no troubles. Any tips for aspirants going for UPSC Interview?

Be cool. Do you think that there is a relation between the profile of the candidate (age or education background) and interview marks? At a time when lot many candidates from top institutes like IIT, IIM or AIIMs appearing this exam, is there any matter of worry for other candidates from state colleges or those without work experience?

No idea…I don’t believe.

Marks – Prelims, Mains, and Interview

Preliminary Exam (Just for Qualification)

  • General Studies Paper 1: (Out of 200)
  • General Studies Paper 2: (Out of 185)


  • Essay (Out of 250): 148
  • GS1 (Out of 250): 104
  • GS2 (Out of 250): 92
  • GS3 (Out of 250): 82
  • GS4 (Out of 250): 114
  • Optional Paper 1 (Out of 250):147
  • Optional Paper 2 (Out of 250):172
  • Written Total (Out of 1750): 858


  • Marks for Personality Test: 198 out of 275.

Final Marks (Out of 2025): 1056 After looking at the mark sheet, suppose if you are going to write prelims and mains this year, what changes will you make in your preparation, answer writing and interview?

Would focus on gs2 and gs3.

Success What do you think as the main reason for your success? Whom do you credit for your success ?(Feel free to name any special help from friends, teachers, family, coaching institutes, websites, or other sources)

Family. Did your life change after success/attempt in UPSC Civil Services Exam? If yes, how?

Sure life has changed a lot…Bit busy too. Does the educational or financial status of the family of the aspirant impact the UPSC preparation and result?

Education will of course. What is your advice to all those candidates who didn’t succeed in this exam yet?

It’s not the end…Keep on trying…Even if u do not get through, there are ample other opportunities around you… Any extra note in general (if any): All the best. We like to express our heartiest congratulations once again for this grand success. We are happy that you chose to share your happiness on this special occasion. sincerely thank you, on behalf our readers and ourselves, for the spirit and benevolence to find time to write answers for our detailed questionnaire. Wishing you, all the very best in career and life.

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