How to Read Newspaper to Prepare Current Affairs for UPSC IAS exam?

Current Affairs is an integral part of the UPSC IAS Exam curriculum. At least 12 to 18 months’ worth of the top news relating to the internal affairs of the country and her interactions with the world around are important data points from which UPSC sets its questions. Not only is it an essential part of the IAS prelims exam, but it also forms the crux of the material on which a candidate has judged in their mains examination as well as their interview.

Knowing what is happening around the country and the world is essential for a Civil Servant, and thus, UPSC expects every aspirant to be well versed in the matter. The best way to stay up to date on current matters is by reading the newspaper. However, newspapers carry a lot of information, and understanding which information to read and retain is crucial for one to succeed in the IAS Exam

Our memory is finite and no aspirant can afford to retain information that is not relevant to their UPSC needs. Thus, first, it is essential to understand how one must read a newspaper effectively in order to fan their IAS preparation in the right direction.

Choosing A Finite Source

Choose one newspaper to read, no more than that. For most UPSC aspirants, the usual choice is between The Hindu and Indian Express. In recent years, there has been a consensus that Indian Express presents a more balanced reporting style. However, it is essential that one goes through the editorials of both of these newspapers. For online sources, diligently follow the PIB website. And finally, choose one monthly magazine to revise the news items you will read month long, and pick up on the ones you may have missed.

What To Read And What To Ignore

The front page holds most of the top news items of the day in the form of attention-seeking headlines. However, as future civil servants, you are expected to look deeper. Read the news items pertaining to government policies, schemes, national interest, economic or environmental disasters, scientific or defense achievements, and stories of India’s international relations with special emphasis. Look beyond the headlines, follow these news items to inner pages. Political or entertainment news items can be given very low priority.

Mark Important Terms And Make Notes

Note important bodies, laws, personality names, etc. that are part of the relevant news stories and make short notes on them. Add these side notes to the main note on the news items. For example, recently Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa joined Asian Development Bank as Vice-President. This news item needs to have two smaller side notes - one on Ashok Lavas and his achievements, another on ADB and its role and functions.

Cross-Link Data Points

There are many interconnected facets to news items. For example, the rise in the rate of unemployment and the suicide data as released by NCRB may be different news articles, however, given that 10.1% of all those who died by suicide in 2019 were unemployed, they are in fact linked by a thread. As a budding civil servant, UPSC expects you to read between the lines. Again, while making notes here, it is important to make side notes on the World Employment Social Outlook Report as well as the National Crime Records Bureau as well.

Constitutional And Legal Amendments

Whenever any change is made to an existing Act, or Legal Framework, or a new Bill is introduced, it is an important piece of news from UPSC’s perspective. Understanding the terms of the amendment is only a part of the exercise. You must deliberate on the legal, social, economic, and environmental ramifications, whichever is applicable. Aspirants are expected to understand the precedent passing such an amendment set as well. Thus, a wholesome understanding of such news items is required.

Time Management

Do not spend more than 70-90 minutes on newspapers and PIB daily. On a weekly basis, it should not cost you more than 12 hours, including revision and answer writing. The UPSC syllabus is vast. Do not waste time trying to read from too many sources and thus weakening your preparation in other subjects.

To Summarize

Thus, once you have selected the news items of the day that are relevant to your IAS preparation, make notes on the following aspects -

  • Key Concepts
  • Policies
  • Statistics and Data Points
  • Facts of the News Story
  • Impact of the Events or Action

This information, along with the side notes, will give you the complete, holistic picture UPSC IAS Exam expects its aspirants to have.

In order to retain such a wide array of facts, revision is key. Revise your notes weekly. Use monthly magazines such as Vision IAS or Insights on India for your monthly revision. Most importantly, write answers. Answer writing is an excellent way to retain current affairs information and the practice improves your chance in the mains exam as well. And mains it what will make or break your rank in the IAS Exam, so keep practicing!

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