Every candidate preparing for UPSC Civil Services exam must be well aware of the importance of current affairs in each stage of the exam. And, therefore, besides gaining knowledge about the subjects and developing right administrative traits, candidates also need to be well aware of the current happenings around the world for which developing a habit of reading Newspaper becomes imperative.
A candidate preparing for Civil Services cannot think, study or act like a common person, similarly, he/she cannot read a Newspaper like a common person. One has to understand the right way to read a Newspaper to not just read but to study from it and utilize that study well in the examination.
One has to be very well versed with the syllabus and pattern of UPSC before jumping to prepare from newspapers. It helps you in picking up the right articles/issues from the Newspaper while leaving out irrelevant ones from the exam perspective. It also reduces your time spent on the Newspapers, as you will know which articles to read and which articles to skip.
Here are few effective tips for reading Newspaper as a part of the preparation process for UPSC Civil Services Examination
- It is not advised neither encouraged to read from newspapers to learn basic concepts. It will kill your preparation and confidence. For basic concepts, begin with NCERT books and gradually make a habit of reading newspapers every day. Read important News, editorials and make notes of them.
- Never focus on political news as coalitions, party meeting, inter-party cold wars etc.
- Do not pay attention to deaths, awards or sports section unless significant- Just a formal read is sufficient
- Focus on Issue rather than News. Suppose there is a news headlined as ‘HC orders floor test in Uttarakhand, allows disqualified MLAs to take part’, don’t focus on who is CM, who are disqualified MLAs, why they rebelled or so. Focus on the constitutional mechanism of forming and dissolving legislative assemblies, rules regarding the Presidential rule, Whether CM can disqualify MLAs before floor test, whether Court can interfere in matters of Presidential Rule, whether assembly can vote under presidential rule etc.
- After identifying the issue, take down notes topic wise and not date wise
- Use the following websites, if you need more points.
- Do not spend more than 1-1.5 hour on the newspaper. Few students end up spending 3-4 hours merely on the newspaper. It does not help.
- Few important news bites and articles that appear in the newspaper and are relevant for the exam.
- Any judgment/ruling /remark by Supreme Court/High Court is important. While you note down the judgment, also understand its relevance in your syllabus. Relate it to Geography /History /Economics/Polity and other topics of the syllabus.
- Identify social issues /challenges facing the society as such. Understand its pros and cons and also note the recent incidents. You can quote them to substantiate your point. Example – caste, riots, moral policing, restriction on freedom of speech, Women issues, Education or Health related issues, Issues or policies affecting vulnerable sections etc.
- Note down any issue being discussed in the Government departments/ministries. Note down the pros and cons of the issue. Example – linking Rivers, water conservation, Infrastructure, Power etc.
- Identify schemes/policies/ initiatives of the government.
Reading Newspaper for prelims
For prelims, you will have to know
- Objectives of the policy
- Under which ministry /department / it operates.
- Any special feature of the policy.
- Who are the members (If it’s an organization. eg. Inter-State council)
- Any constitutional provisions related to it.
- Always focus on issues of national and international importance.
- While reading the editorial, identify the issue first. Then find out points in favor and against it.Please understand that the editorials have a bias towards one opinion. So, it is your duty to identify points, both for the topic and against the topic. Also, make your own opinion based on the facts/ concepts read elsewhere. For example, if you do not agree with the point of the author, then you must have facts/concepts to rationalize your argument against the opinion of the author.
Reading Newspapers for the mains
For Mains, cover the following points;
- You will have to understand the issue relating to the policy/scheme and make notes on pros and cons.
- Always read the syllabus of Prelims and Mains-Time and Again until you memorize it.
- Have the past question papers with you and keep referring to them, to understand how questions are asked.
- Try to categorize the news in few categories. Divide news or issues in few categories like International Relations, Environment & Biodiversity, Personalities and Awards, Government Policies and Schemes, International Organisations, Economic Policies, Science, and Technology etc.
- Matter given in the newspaper itself is not enough. Surf the Internet to get more about it. For example, recently, the search of gravitational waves by LIGO device is in news and can be seen in The Hindu Editorial as well. Editorial will give some points and idea about it but that is not enough. Google the questions emerging in your mind like “Why is gravitational waves detection important?”, “Contribution of India in the detection of gravitational waves?” etc.
- Avoid making notes on the first reading – you are likely to find everything important and create a parallel news press of your own! Start making notes after an understanding what is important and why.
Make notes of the What, Why and How
- The means Specifics of the event/news at hand but from a bird’s eye view. A good newspaper makes sure that the headline informs you of the key takeaway.
- The Why is about Why is this news important? Why did this make into today’s newspaper? What were the events leading up to it?
- The How gets you into the technicalities of the news at hand. This is where you get to know about the organizations, departments, ministries, civil societies and general public involved as well as the past history and basic needs leading to this point.
- Don’t read 5 newspapers! Keep it Simple. Sooner or later, every newspaper catches up with the current affairs.
Few specifics about reading ‘The Hindu’
- Try to skim through the news headlines and quoted lines in Frontpage news because these are not so important. Focus on the ongoing issue and just add to your knowledge on the ongoing issue if something new has happened.
- Avoid reading Political news or issues. Just have a superficial knowledge of what is happening in the political world etc. Try to avoid naming any political personalities in your answers, except for when talking about foreign policy.
- Avoid reading pages 2,3,4 as they carry only news which varies from city to city and is not so important in exam point of view.
- Always read EDITORIALS. Usually, 2 articles are given in the left margin and 1 is in the center. Including this, there are some micro tasks which help you strengthen your reading skills like preparing a list of keywords used to explain matters of national importance like Sedition, Deficit, Ordinance, Bilateral etc.
- Avoid reading Sports news because it is never asked in the UPSC examination. Also, avoid reading news from Agriculture Development part which is just before sports news section.
- Read the NATIONAL page meticulously (in a detailed manner). Don’t miss the weekly edition of Hindu Science and Technology coverage as it covers many questions both in prelims and in mains exam as well.
- Avoid reading Open Page on Sunday where a reader writes content, which is mostly useless from examination approach. Completely avoid reading any magazines or any 4-8 pages extra edition which comes above 5 days a week.
- Read financial portion well because many regular/recent changes are covered in those sections. Also read the last page of the newspaper very meticulously as a lot of important information are provided there. No need to mug up any kind of facts, just remember the trends and analyze them as they change in particular area.