Subjects and topics in GS have become highly dynamic and requires constant updating with the current events from newspapers to fetch more marks in the exam. Just like in Civil Services Current Affairs, one must remember the following things and follow them daily while reading the paper, it will help you tremendously.
Never read those topics which have no link with the syllabus. For this, you should know the program in and out. An article on India and China, Social Movements, or Nuclear issues will be relevant. Still, a report on some International Issues with no connection with India, nor is it making a global impact, is useless.
Selecting topics related to the syllabus is essential. Linking with curriculum comes over time for which one should know the curriculum by heart.
What should be extracted from the articles?
- Concerning any topic, the standard position and opinion on it must be extracted. For example, terrorism in Pakistan requires a multi-dimensional approach through Soft border and Composite Dialogue Mechanism or Judiciary ruling on Sedition in Shreya Singhal case. This is the final judgment until Judiciary itself makes a change.
- With every new article on India-Pakistan or Sedition by an original author, the stand may change. But as a UPSC aspirant, your position remains the same, which should be balanced, avoiding extremes, secular, progressive, and in line with the Constitution’s principles.
- Once you know the government of India’s standard position concerning a country, you need not change your job with the author of the article. It means that opinions are given now and don’t matter much unless it is the government’s stand. And the new standard idea is your Mains preparation concerning the topic is complete.
- When opinions are left out, what remains are the developments on that topic, mostly the factual details of the issue. For example, BRI 2.0 was in the news recently. What are its major components, and how is it different from BRI 1.0 would be the factual details you would be focusing on while reading the articles?
- Remember, factual details are a game-changer in UPSC. Extract those points only and make a note of them. These will help in answering both Prelims Question and Mains questions (because you have to give facts to substantiate your stand)
- Sometimes you don’t get a great article but some small news items on some topics of your syllabus. For example, recently, the United Nations Environment Assembly was held. Such issues should be usually read from the point of Prelims only.
- Hence, one should focus more on factual details and less on opinions on such topics that UNEA was an outcome of the 2012 Earth Summit; it is an executive body of UNEP rather than the importance of UNEA as it is most likely to be asked only in Prelims.
Prelims Topics vs. Mains Topic
Remember the following rule to separate a Prelims topic from a Mains topic in the newspaper (The Hindu).
- An issue if repeatedly appears in the Newspaper day after day it is essential for both Prelims and Mains, else if it seems like a news item once it is more critical for Prelims
- Secondly, specifically for IR, if there are some relevant statements made by government or government officials or even foreign analysts, Defence analysts, those should be collected, which can be quoted in your answers. Remember, the more government color you give to your answers, the more acceptable you will be to the examiner.
- Finally, don’t read current affairs as an independent subject; it should be linked to Static portions so that you can integrate current dimensions into your answers effortlessly. This comes over time through continuous practice.
- Newspaper reading and notes-making have become very important as UPSC targets all kinds of shortcuts like the Daily and the Monthly current affairs compilations. That does not mean that an aspirant should stop reading collections. They should use it to supplement their newspaper readings and not substitute them.
- To cut down the extra work a student can make notes from newspapers related to only those topics which are not covered in the compilations.
The weightage of Current Affairs has increased over the past years in UPSC Civil Services Prelims and Mains Exams, their concern for Current Affairs preparation has only risen.
Specific difficulties faced while preparing for Civil Services Current Affairs Exam
- Reading the newspaper daily is time-consuming
- Coverage of the alternate sources like – Yojana, PIB is also a tough challenge
- Retention of all Current Affairs on the eve of the exam
- Revision of all the related Current Affairs from the notes and books
- Understanding the relevance of Current Affairs for Prelims and Mains.
What is the way out?
- Difficulty- Reading the Newspaper daily is time-consuming.
Solution- Allot a fixed time for the newspaper reading, say 30min. Skim through and find what’s in the news.
- Difficulty- Coverage of all the alternate sources like – Yojana, PIB is also very challenging
Possible solution- Read weekly or monthly compilation on online websites like insights on India, IAS baba, etc.
- Difficulty – Retention of the Current Affairs on the eve of the exam
Solution – May use notes, i.e., a monthly compilation of an individual institute or online website, whatever you find very reliable. A lot of sources are available today on the internet.
- Difficulty- Revision of Current Affairs from the notes
Way out – Current Affairs should not be pushed to the last minute before the exam. Allot time every month for the previous month’s Current Affairs Revision.
- Difficulty – Understanding the relevance of Current Affairs for Prelims and Mains.
Way out – Past question papers and mock tests are the best way to understand your preparation’s relevance. Also, you may take the help of a teacher.
Tips in Preparing for the Civil Services Current Affairs Exam
- Make a habit of reading newspaper every day.
- Don’t choose too many newspapers to read.
- Follow the news updates.
- Make current affairs notes of your own.
- Any issues related to geography or international affairs.
Subjects and topics in GS have become highly dynamic and requires constant updating with the current events from newspapers to fetch more marks in the exam. Just remember the following things and follow them daily while reading the paper, it will help you tremendously.
Never read those topics which have no link with the syllabus. For this, you should know the program in and out. An article on India and China, Social Movements, or Nuclear issues will be relevant. Still, a report on some International Issues with no connection with India, nor is it making a global impact is useless for us.
Areas covered in this article
- Figuring out Prelims vs. Mains Topics
- Tips to Prepare for current affairs (CA) for UPSC/IAS?
- Difficulties and Solutions while Preparing for CA.