A day for IAS aspirant usually starts by reading newspaper and scanning the important news. Few jot down important points in the register; few underline the points and paste cuttings in the register; and so on.
However, have you ever noticed that when exam approaches most of the aspirants fail to even revise that notes, not able to co-relate them and end up reading the ready-made materials which become hard to grasp in the last minute.
Why is this so? What’s the fault in the methodology? Is there any one best method for preparing current affairs from the newspaper?
As all human beings are different from the other, definitely their learning and grasping power will be different and hence there cannot be any one best method.
Hence hereby, sharing one of the methodologies for scanning Newspaper:
1. One should be aware about the UPSC syllabus as it will help in scanning and analysing the important news.
2. Firstly, just go through the headlines in the morning to remain up-to-date and further read it for the civil services preparation in the evening. It is because till evening more content related to the important topics will be available under different heads.
3. Try to cover one newspaper only, not more than that. As most of the news will be similar. For editorials refer different newspapers as it will help in developing the thinking line.
I will suggest reading Indian Express and Mint newspapers.
In Indian Express the editorials and coverage of International News is much better. Whereas in Mint, the language is lucid, technical jargons are less and quality of content is good.
4. While reading newspaper note down the underline issue rather than the headline.
For example: there was news last month “Election Commission seeks funds for Paper Trail Units”. The news simply states about the funds and how much they want and in brief about Paper Trail Units. If an aspirant is reading this, then in general he will note down the news in 3-4 lines. But for the civil services preparation this news can be utilised as
a) Election commission and its role in free and fair election
b) About Paper Trial Units and its working?
c) Will it be able to make EVM more tamper-proof?
d) Importance of fair and free election for maintaining democracy and so on.
5. When an aspirant try to list down different dimensions associated with the particular news the analytical skill improves and he can design material with interdisciplinary approach. At first it looks a tedious task but if you note down important topics of one day, it will not be more than 2 or 3.
6. Note down important points under each head. Make different registers for different subjects/GS papers so that before the Mains examination of particular subject, it can be revised easily. This will also be helpful in connecting different editorials at one place as each editorial display different dimension.
Be an active reader rather than passive reader.
7. There are number of news that get stretch to days, so while preparing notes leave 2-3 pages, so that if new dimension come up in news it can be added and co-related easily. If it remains scattered in your notebook, revision cannot be done effectively.
8. Avoid reading the politics news unless it is related to governance as:
a) Concept of freebies politics
b) Issue related to the Separation of Power
c) Logjam between Executive and Judiciary … overall the recognition of underline issue is must.
9. If one come across some particular incident as in article “The groundwater beneath their feet” http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/the-groundwater-beneath-their-feet/article17321183.ece, it is particularly related to the incident in Tamil Nadu but the issue can be “Impact of industrial pollution on water bodies”. The example can be quoted in Mains answer. So the case studies should be noted down.
10. For the prelims, the terms in news should be noted down carefully because questions are generally related to the terminologies. Apart from it the reports, committees, commissions and schemes etc. should also be noted down.
As stated earlier, everyone has different learning pattern so adopt this methodology for at least 10 days. If it works, try to incorporate it with flexibility according to your timings, number of newspaper, etc.
To conclude, the syllabus of Civil Services Examination is very vast and it is humanly not possible to cover all and be master in all. The important thing is that one should be able to differentiate between – “What to read and not to read”.