IAS RANK 34: How Arunraj Cracked IAS In First Attempt



Arunraj cracked IAS in his first attempt, with a within 50 rank of 34. An IIT Kanpur alumni, Arunraj had Anthropology Optional.

Arun shared his journey with ForumIAS and here are the takeaways from his success story.

Diversity in terms of Career Opportunities makes Civil Services Unparalleled.

The civil service offers a lot of diversity in terms of career opportunities which I would not find in any other job. It entrusts a lot of responsibilities at a very young age. Also, I would like to stay and work in India and civil service is one of the best opportunities available.

Started My preparation in 4rth Year Itself. Began with NCERTs

I studied all NCERT books from 6th to 12th completely and relied on them alone. Used to make notes from the Hindu daily. Started preparing in my 4th year; from 2012 to 2014

Anthropology was my Optional. Here is what I did.

I covered Introduction to Anthropology by Haviland first. Developed a liking for the subject. So decided to read all the other standard books side by side GS preparation. Used to read all the books like a novel.

Did you follow any specific strategy for managing time for the CSAT/GS Paper? What books/notes did you refer to for General Studies and CSAT?

No books was referred to for CSAT. Solved mock papers which were available for free online

How Many questions did you attempt in GS? (ballpark figures will do)

75-80 questions out of 100

How Many questions did you attempt in CSAT? (ballpark figures will do)

Nearly all questions

Do you think attempting more questions is the key to success in Prelims? Is there an ideal number of questions one should attempt? How did you decide to attempt those questions which you were not sure of?


Attempting more number of questions with intelligent guesses can be used as a strategy to clear prelims.

How Many questions did you attempt in CSAT? (ballpark figure ) Do you think attempting more questions is the key to success in Prelims? Is there an ideal number of questions one should attempt? How did you decide to attempt those questions which you were not sure of?

Nearly all. Left 1-2. Make educated guesses using elimination

Please mention the booklist for General Studies

SubjectBooks Read
HistoryNCERT - 6,7,8,9,10
Modern India - Bipan Chandra
Indian Culture NIOS
Indian Art & Culture - 11 Std.
GeographyNCERT 6,7,8,9,10,11(1), 11(2), 12(1), 12(2)
PolityIndian Polity by M Laxmikant
EconomicsNCERT - 11, 12 Std.
Indian Economy ( Ramesh Singh )
EcologyNCERT Biology - 11 std
ScienceNCERT 6,7,8,9,10
Modern World History ( Mains )Norman Lowe
Post Independence HistoryRamchandra Guha
Politics In India Since Independence NCERT Political Science 11 std
Other Books & Reports2nd ARC Reports (15 Reports)
Punchhi Commission on Center-State Relations (7 Reports )
Indian Constitution by Madhav K

When did you start preparing for Mains Examination?

In my pre-final year of college

How did you cover Current Affairs?

Relied on the Hindu totally. Kept online notes on important topics which were updated regularly

Did you join any coaching classes for Mains? If yes, which one?

Self Preparation. No coaching

How far do you think is coaching necessary for preparing for the Mains Examination?

It is not necessary

Which Interview Board did you face?

DK Dewan

Your Interview Score

Did not get marks yet. Updated : 151

Can you tell us briefly about your interview experience?

Faced a lot of factual questions from the Chairman. Other members asked opinion based questions. Was around 30 minutes. Kept my cool throughout the interview. Said I do not know for questions I did not know the answer to.

What did you wear for the Interview?

Pure White Shirt. Black Pants, Aqua Blue Tie.

What qualities do you think are being tested in the Interview? Some strict Do’s and Dont’s for the Interview for aspirants and Interview candidates?

  • Read eclectically and everything you can get your hands on. Read about your hobbies, your hometown, your state and importantly brush up the basics of your graduation subject. Keep abreast of the latest developments in your specialization.
  • This is the time to interact with a lot of people.
  • Do not argue or insult a board member.
  • Stay calm if any member insults you. They are only checking you for your stress levels
  • Do not lie during the interview. They will find out.
  • You should have consistency in all of your answers

What magazines /newspapers did you refer to for preparing Current Affairs?

Yojana, Hindu

Do you thing marks in school or college can impact one’s score in the Interview?

Not at all. Maybe some members may have a good first impression if your marks are good. But what you project after is more important

How far did you use the Internet for your Preparation? Do you think in the changed UPSC pattern, today an aspirant can prepare wholly by referring sources from the Internet?

Definitely. Knowledge is more easily accessible now

Are you a registered member of ForumIAS.com?

Yes. For the Past 2-3 years I have been using ForumIAS

How far did ForumIAS.com help you as a social network, as a sharing platform for you Prelims, Mains & Interview Preparation (and the excruciating period between the exam and results to chill out with co-aspirants and other successful candidates)?Helped a lot. When I look back the 2-3 years I have spent here at ForumIAS will be a cherished memory. Had fun with all the ‘insider infos’ which come regularly after the Mains written exam is over.

Do you use any other websites for your preparation? Is yes, name them.


Congratulation for making it. Is there any message you would like to give to IAS Aspirants who look up to you?

The exam preparation process provided me with an opportunity to go through a wide range of material ranging from topics as diverse as the Indian Constitution, History, Geography, Economics, International Relations, Sociology, Anthropology, Philosophy…The list goes on. You name it and it is there. The Union Public Service Commission wants a jack of all trades to crack their exam and they make no excuses.

This is an exciting journey. You will discover a lot about life during the 2-3 years of ‘marriage’ with the UPSC.

Marksheet of Arunraj

Click Here

A month to Prelims – Making the most of last 40 days

Print Friendly and PDF