Regularly reading the newspaper is an indispensable part of the UPSC Civil Services exam preparation. In fact, newspaper reading is an integral part of exam preparation, be it the UPSC CSE or other exams such as CAT, IIFT, SBI PO, IBPS PO etc.
The first question arises,
Why is it so important to regularly read a good newspaper during preparation?
All these exams either have a general awareness section or have an essay writing section and the fodder, to perform well in these areas is best provided by a newspaper.
Regular reading will not only keep you abreast with current affairs but will also give you the knowledge to express opinions while writing that essay or for answering a question in the interview.
All said and done, here we would like to mention a word of caution. Regular reading is NOT enough. What is required is EFFECTIVE reading.
In this post, we will be mentioning ways to make the most of your newspaper reading session.
How many newspapers should you read?
This is a very commonly asked question and has an easy answer – ONE is enough!
Some people would even go on to recommend a particular newspaper, but make sure you choose the one you’re comfortable reading. Because the goal is to understand and learn and not get caught up in the language. ‘The Hindu’ is the most commonly perused newspaper. It has some really good editorials and level of language is one that will understand with some effort and practice.
Now let’s address the elephant in the room.
What to read and what not to read?
As a rule of thumb, focus on ISSUES and NOT news.
For instance, in this image, the headline is the news and is not important, but the issue, that it refers to, which is “Moral Policing” is important. Some points can be noted from the article to make answer more comprehensive and substantial.
News is what has happened and a collection of this daily news on a particular topic is an issue. For instance,
Issue of ‘Climate Change’ and news related to it – Paris Summit Agreements, China-US deal on carbon emission cuts etc.
Thus, the first page of a newspaper can be just glanced over for the headlines in not more than 5 minutes.
That said, let’s see which topics are important from the exam perspective and which are the topics that can be done away with.
– Press conferences held, announcements made by the union and state governments (Those held by specific political parties are not that important.) All scheme announcements are important.
– News of national significance is important. But make sure you prepare the “What, Why and How” of these. For instance,
Railway Accidents: how many killed = unimportant. Reason for the rail accidents and suggestions to prevent future accidents = important
– News of events of international significance such as agreements and treaties signed, elections in major countries (UK, US). To cut the long story short, some thing that will impact the future or will stay relevant for a long duration is important.
– The topic of economy is important. Again, the daily ups and downs of the share market, the mere numbers of various indices are not important. However, the general trend indicated by these numbers is important. Develop a basic understanding of what gave rise to it, how it will impact the present and future scenario. Also, World Bank, ASEAN, IMF related news is important on the international economy front.
Now, let us address how to read columns / editorials to get the maximum benefit in lesser time.
Columns covering the day to day happenings of something can be done away with. Usually columns are made up of 7-8 paragraphs but not every line is important. There are just 3-4 gemstones in it, which you can use to substantiate your mains / essay / interview answers.
Also, make sure you follow articles/ editorials/ news etc. specific to your region and your hobbies as you can be cross questioned on these specifically during the time of interviews.
An example of HOW TO READ.
First of all, highlighting or jotting down important points is crucial.
Now, what is important in this piece of news:
- What is the Ken-Betwa Project? (Ministry, Department, Location)
- Why it is under criticism from wildlife activists?
- Where is Panna National Park? Which animals are found there? Vegetation and River, Hill, Range in Panna National Park?
- What is the role of National Board for Wildlife?
- About Ken & Betwa rivers (tributaries, regions they flow through etc.)
We hope this article gives you a good insight into how to read newspapers effectively.
Like all new habits, newspaper reading is built overtime with perseverance but once in place, it is highly rewarding and can do wonders for your exams and career.
All the best.
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