How to Read a Newspaper for IAS Exam
“I see the path that leads towards my destination, but I wonder what is the right way to walk on it”
This is a classic challenge that every aspirant faces. Every one of us know about the importance of reading the newspapers, but it is difficult to keep track of the different current affairs and events. With no option left, you keep searching the different avenues of updating the current affairs.
Finding the Right Content: What to Read?
A newspaper generally contains information about different issues and topics. Many of these issues might not be as relevant for the civil services preparation. Therefore, it is important to cultivate a habit of making a selective reading of a newspaper. In fact, you only need to read about 20% newspaper daily, in order to be acquaint with the relevant news and events.
This habit requires an understanding of the syllabus of the civil services examination, as well as the relevance of any topic from an examination point of view.
What to Skip?
You should understand the fact that it is not important to keep track of the political fights and statements that the leaders keep making every other day. Instead, what is important is to read and grasp the major policy decisions, announcements and international agreements and conventions. You don’t need to go deep into the political struggles between different parties.
What’s in the Name?
Shri Shakespeare rightly said that what’s in the name?
Merely having the name of the Prime Minister or any other Dignitary, with a news item does not make it important from the exam point of view. You should be careful not to waste your time in reading such irrelevant news (though you now read them for time pass). But for exam purpose, UPSC is never going to ask you about what are the political problems between the BJP and the RSS, or why is Rahul Baba being so naïve…
So What to do?
First thing first, understand the need of the syllabus and content of the UPSC and other exams. Also important is, to look at the syllabus and highlight the developments that particularly relate to the traditional knowledge given in the books.
Keeping Track of the Current Affairs
It is important to keep a log of the developments that an aspirant reads in the newspapers, because it is practically impossible to remember each and every news item till the exam time. Therefore, a more rational practice is to prepare a log of the important items from the newspaper. This shall not take much time of the candidate, as the candidate need not write down every bit of article from the paper. Also, while preparing notes from the papers, do not try to copy down the entire matter as it is. Instead, read the news items carefully and write down the brief summary. This would also help you to keep track of different developments that are covered by the newspapers.
By the time of the examinations, you would be able to prepare all the current affairs easily and in an adequate space. This approach has been utilized by many of the IAS toppers, and has been proved for its effectiveness.
As a supplement to your newspapers, a candidate may also use any current affairs magazine, as an additional resource. However, the value of the self-made notes cannot be exaggerated.
There are a few methods to prepare your notes from Newspapers-
Making Notes Every
- You may prepare a short summary of notes from the newspaper everyday.
- But remember to keep the summary really short.
- Avoid the minute details.
- Be very particular while choosing the new items.
- Consistency is the only option.
Keep a Diary of News Paper Cutting
- This requires some effort on your part.
- Keep a folder of cuttings of the news item that are important.
- Prepare the news either on weekly basis or fortnightly basis (whatever suits you)
- while making the news, edit the news items, and avoid the unnecessary repetitions.
Maintain Current Affairs in Soft Copy
- easiest method, for the techno-savvy people
- This method can help you collect news from a number of papers quickly.
Newspapers Vs. Magazines
“There is no substitute for your Hard Work”
You have a number of choices while preparing for the current events. The IAS market is brimming with the magazines for current events. However, should you rely on these magazines?
Since a newspaper is often made in a haste, it might lack a sharp analysis and evaluation of an issue. Newspapers are, basically, a collection of factual knowledge on current events and agreements. However, a good newspaper also contains important editorial articles, which contain a good analysis of contemporary issues. Many of the editorials can prove to be of great value, from an exam point of view. Thus, reading a newspaper can be useful in expanding the knowledge base of the candidate. However, this task is fruitful only when done through a selective reading.
A Magazine, on the other hand, presents a summary of the events that has taken place in a particular time frame. Thus, it is very useful for those candidates, who are not able to cultivate a habit of selective reading of the newspaper, or does not have appropriate time for the newspaper reading. Reading a good magazine can particularly help the working professionals, in getting acquaint with the current events without devoting time for the newspaper everyday.
But if you are a sincere candidate, and have time, there is no substitute for your self-prepared current affairs notes.
Read the Hindu for IAS
The Hindu is considered as a very good newspaper for the preparation of the IAS, IPS exam. However, it should be noted that the language of the Hindu is generally of a higher level. Thus, a beginner should prepare his/her notes carefully, and without any haste.
We suggest a stage-wise approach to read the Hindu.
- At First, just go through the paper, and mark the news items that are relevant from the exam perspective. Remember, avoid getting indulged in the political and non-significant controversies. Once you mark the relevant portions, you can just read the other material superficially.
- As the next stage, study each selected news item carefully, paragraph by paragraph, and write down the summary of the news item, IN YOUR OWN WORDS. It is important that you write the summary in your own words, as it would be beneficial in the long term. You would notice that from the paper of each day, there are hardly 8-10 pieces of news items that would require your serious reading.
This strategy would help you to maintain a log of important current affairs.
For the Hindi Medium Students
Aspirants, with the Hindi medium, might feel, at times, a scarcity of material, equivalent in quality to that of the Hindu. To tackle with this problem, there are only two options:
You should prepare the current affairs section, from good Hindi newspapers, using the above mentioned strategy. Remember that, you must not go deep into the irrelevant news articles.
The second strategy involves a little more effort, but also guarantees better result in the future. You might start reading a good English newspaper slowly, and develop your personal notes in Hindi, in your own language. This would have two advantages: One, you would better remember the things, as you will be going through the news material multiple times. Second, your understanding and hold on the English language would improve substantially, helping you in the exams as well as in the longer run.
Thus, what is implied here is that it is important to read a newspaper, by linking it to what we read in the books. The recent trends of the UPSC has seen questions more based on the applicability of the issues, rather the direct factual questions.
Team Aspirant Forum