UPSC / IAS Preparation: How to Read Newspapers

Disclaimer: Below is purely my personal opinion and may not be the best way of going about this task. This is just the way I followed. Optimum way for others may vary from person to person.

All of us read newspapers, but many of us don’t read it in the way it should be read for UPSC exam. There is a common complaint that we spend too much time on newspapers or we read the topic, still couldn’t write well in the exam on it. Many people complain of quantity versus quality tradeoff in the exam i.e. how to attmept maximum number of questions while maintaining good quality in answers. This happens mostly because we are not able to structure our thoughts well in the exam and don’t recall our points quickly. And the main reason for this is unorganized way of studying. Our mode of study should be structured and we should then make our notes in a way UPSC asks questions. Then our thought process would be structured, we will write good answers and recall maximum number of points in the exam. UPSC asks ISSUES and NOT NEWS. So while reading newspapers, we should focus on issues and not news.

An aspirant, chocoboy was kind enough to send me pdfs of today’s hindu. Instead of replying personally to him, I thought it would be useful if I write a public post on it. So below is how I think we should go through today’s newspaper.

Page 1
Click here to see Page 1.

In this page, only 2 articles should be read – one on judge appointment and other on high speed trains. In the judge article, the things we should focus on are: collegium system, its origin, what it is, government has what powers to overrule judiciary (as has happened recently), what can judiciary do now, how the collegium system has worked so far, its criticisms, recent JAC act and constitutional amendment, pros n cons of the act, way fwd / our opinion… Now obviously most of these things we will not find in this news article. Here is where internet steps in. We should google about all these things, read expert opinion, watch Rajya Sabha TV youtube video on it etc. and make our own notes in our own words on all these topics. Better to have online notes so that we can edit them later.

Next article of use is high speed train where we should study sad affairs of railways today, what are issues with railways, how it should be improved, various committees formed in last 3-4 years, any major committee formed whose recommendations have had a major effect on railways, is running high speed / bullet train a good idea or wastage of money, pros and cons of it, privatisation of railways – pros and cons, is any new technology being used in high speed / bullet / maglev trains? Again obviously we will not find all these in a single place, we will have to toil and search for all these things on internet.

Page 3
Click here to see Page 3.

Normally page 3 doesn’t contain anything, but here there is this ‘blue fuel’. So blue fuel must be focused upon – what it is, what will be its impact, pros and cons.

Page 8

Click here to see Page 8.

Judiciary article – we have already read in page 1, so may be just glance through it to see if anything new covered.

Islamic state article – new thing for me, so I would read it, try to link it with what I know. Things which are new to me or I can’t understand, I would google starting with Baghdadi’s name. If this is an important story, we would get to read more about it in coming days.

Page 9

Click here to see Page 9.

Ecology article – Usually such articles contain repetitive and often said things. So just a glance through is needed to see if this contains anything new. If it doesn’t no need for any further action. If it does, underline it, make notes and if needed search on internet.

Privatisation of health sector – This is an important question for us. We should read the article and then search on internet what are the weaknesses in present system – both public health system and private health system, and the pros and cons of privatization, and how to achieve privatization while minimizing its harmful impacts. Internet study is needed.

Page 10

Click here to see Page 10.

Only article of use to us is Indians in Mosul. This is a developing story, we will read the article, most probably there will only be 1-2 lines of use to us in this article which we should underline and add to our notes.

Page 12

Click here to see Page 12.

Again the article of use is Kurdish leadership one. This again is a developing story, read it fast and underline and make notes of 1-2 new things we find.

Next article is that of shift in Japan’s policy – we should be aware of the nature of this shift and its impact. Japan – China question is an old one and so much we already know about it that not much time needs to be spent on it.

Page 15

Click here to see Page 15.

There is an article on El Nino. Don’t read the article, we just need to know the mechanism of El Nino from Geography point of view.

243 thoughts on “UPSC / IAS Preparation: How to Read Newspapers”

  1. Thanks sir. But I have some queries relating to newspaper reading.
    1. What is the appropiate time to read Newspaper on exam point of view?
    2. How should we prepare notes for exam? E.g. Today I prepare notes from Newspaper, How can we able to recall the facts after 6 months?

  2. Hllo sir,sir i was a non-medical student till 12th i have changed my subjects now i m an BA part 1st student.i wanna become an IAS officer but i dont know from where i should start my preparation….so plz guide me

  3. Hello Gaurav Sir….somehwhere in this blog you sad that one shouldn’t give more than half an hour per newspaper. When you say that, Do you mean just reading the article and noting down important issue ? Because all the analysis of the issue that you are talking about in the above section can’t be completed in half or even 1 hour.

    1. Or you mean reading the article including analysis, making structured notes etc has to be completed within an hour ?

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