Preparing for UPSC Current Affairs can be done effectively following the 5 step approach, which is being discussed below. There is no single or best way to prepare for the Current Affairs Section in UPSC Exam. The below guidelines are just a few tips that can be followed to achieve a better outcome; the aspirant may choose the ones which he/she feels comfortable with.
First of all, it is pragmatic to be well versed in the IAS exam pattern and the UPSC Syllabus before kick-starting the current affairs preparation. A beginner having less understanding of the UPSC syllabus and pattern will take substantial time to read and prepare from the newspapers.
Going through the syllabus and previous years’ papers thoroughly help an aspirant to pick the right articles/issues from the newspaper(s) from the exam perspective while leaving out irrelevant ones. This way, the time spent on the Newspapers will be reduced, and the aspirant would be well aware as to which articles to read and which ones to skip.
As an Illustration, there are normally two methods which can be followed while making notes of Current Affairs:
1) Making handwritten notes and classifying them with sticky notes by months, subjects, and topics.
2) Some prefer to make notes electronically as it is easy to do classification or edit them. The use of the internet is inevitable for current affairs, and this method makes it easier to update from the net directly. (Notebooks in Ever note can be used, and aspirants can divide it as per subject and topics.)
Following are the five prone approaches which can be adopted to score well in GS Exam,
- Limit Study/Source Material
- Check the time allotted to Current Affairs.
- The Issue matters, not the News.
- Try to make Notes Digitally
- Constant Revision and Regular answer writing in practice test.
A) Limit Study/Source Material
The most common problem with Current Affairs is excessive of Study Materials. Most aspirants are used to buy current affairs materials in the hope that more the material, the more the marks. So they keep on buying them in excitement, but then forget them on the desk and never reopen the. Thereby chasing too many books intact becomes counterproductive. So don’t go hop on with CSR, EPW, Yojana, or every random magazine you come across.
A brief set of sources that can be referred to as a guideline:-
- The Hindu Newspaper ( Daily )
- Indian Express Explained section ( for a comprehensive understanding of an issue )
- Anyone of the following Daily Compilation (Forum/ Visions/Civil/IAS Baba/etc.)
- One Compilation Monthly wise
- Study IQ YouTube Channel Current Affairs Section and Detailed videos on Controversial running issues.
There is no sense of spending excessive time searching for the “best website” or the “best coaching material”, hop on to the daily news gets into its background on a daily basis.
B) Check the time allotted to Current Affairs.
The problem with most aspirants is not that they neglect newspapers, but they overplay its importance. Some read newspapers for almost 3-4 hours a day, leaving them with no time to read other subjects.
Current affairs are important; newspapers are important, but not so much that you invest a disproportionate amount of time in it. In my experience, ideally, one should finish reading the day’s current affairs under 2 hours. 3-4 hours for everyday current affairs is overkill. Current Affairs preparation may consist of
Newspaper reading (30-45 min, no note-making) —
- Everyday Online reading of the daily news compilation (choose any institute material for this) — every day (45 min, highlighting and capturing the material on Ever note)
- A revision of last week’s issues, catching up on All India Radio (selectively), and internet research on selective issues — weekends
- Referring to a monthly compilation (choose any institute material for this) — at the end of the month.
C) The Issue matters, not the News.
News talks about an incident. Issues focus on ideas. Let me give you a couple of examples.
1. Prime Minister talking about $5 trillion economy is news. Merely focusing on the speech or what’s reported in the newspapers isn’t enough. You must research and understand the larger issue: Why the number 5 trillion? What sectors to focus on, and what steps should the government take? How should we rapidly increase the pace of investment? What are the impediments facing the economy? How can we overcome them to realize the 5 trillion goals by 2024? etc.
2. International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) verdict on Kulbhushan Jadhav is news. But the larger issue is about bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, ICJ— its structure and mandate, who are its subjects, how are cases referred to the court, India’s role in global fora, etc.
So to understand any current issue, I used to follow the following framework:
- Reason— Why is it in the news? (This is usually reported in the newspapers)
- Background Knowledge— (Data, facts, authentic reports, etc.)
- Current Status— what has the government done or not done so far?
- Both sides of the issue— Pros and Cons/ Opportunities and challenges
- Opinion/ Suggestions/ Way forward— what we must do about it?
- Many a time, coaching material covers issues comprehensively. If it doesn’t, use the internet to find quality content and make online notes so that you have a complete understanding of each issue.
D) Try to make notes digitally.
While making notes of current affairs, one can also do it digitally by compiling day to day happenings in the form of bullets on every note. Often aspirants try to skip the newspaper and only go through the day to day highlights they made digitally, but that’s not a good option to go for because:
- Newspaper reading makes you remember the news more precisely, and after making a compilation of notes by reading the newspaper, one can regain it more than once, which is beneficial.
- The questions that are asked in the question paper are mostly given from various newspapers, so skipping newspaper reading is a must while preparing current affairs for UPSC.
- A persistent reading of current affairs daily magazine can improve one’s reading speed and retain the news more effectively.
E) Constant Revision and Regular answer writing in practice test.
The only way one can achieve almost all relevant and important news is by being persistent in newspaper reading and making notes from it. The aspirants must revise the compilations of notes regularly. The suggestions given above for writing current affairs daily makes you not accumulate a large number of current affairs as every day there is news that could be relevant for the aspirant. So reading and writing, both should be done to get the most out of your preparation.
It is hard to remember every news in a precise form, but if one remembers a little information about the news, then they can frame a good answer.
One should be diligent and have a belief in oneself to get good results out of their hard work and persistency. The above-mentioned rules can give an aspirant a desired result by being consistent and hardworking.