How to read a newspaper for IAS (UPSC CSE) Exam

Updated On -

Feb 23, 2021

Almost every IAS (UPSC CSE) exam has a fair share of questions based on the current affairs, necessitating reading the newspaper thoroughly and daily. However, simply reading through the daily paper will not be enough as there is so much information to access every day and it is impossible to remember them all just by reading once. Not all of us are habitual readers which makes it much more difficult as it is an unavoidable practice if you want to ace the IAS (UPSC CSE)exam. Newspapers like The Statesman, Indian Express, and The Hindu are considered helpful for the preparation. Experts suggest that “The Hindu” is the best paper to follow if you are aspiring to qualify IAS and we are sharing a guide on how to read and remember the important sections from a daily newspaper. IAS(UPSC CSE) 2021 is scheduled to be conducted on 27 June 2021.

Understanding the Newspaper

The newspaper has approximately 15-20 pages, and specific pages are dedicated to specific topics. You will be able to scan the important parts quickly when you are familiar with the contents of each page and section. As an IAS aspirant, your approach should be to read only the relevant sections with maximum focus and concentration. If you dedicate 60-70 minutes daily to scanning the newspaper and only the relevant sections, you can easily grasp the necessary information. Check IAS Exam Pattern 2021

Why choose “The Hindu”?

“The Hindu” is considered the most credible source for national news by aspirants as well as non-aspirants, making it a trustworthy study material for acing the general awareness section in IAS.

  • There is a clear demarcation between the note-worthy news and popular opinions in the paper which makes it much crisper and easier to follow.
  • News of actual national importance is highlighted in the paper, hence you are likely to observe a dearth in the number of sensationalized and local news in this paper.
  • However, the writing style of the articles can be difficult for a novice to grasp, but once you manage to read through the presentation and get used to it, you will be able to make a note of the quality information which will definitely help to attempt the IAS general awareness questions better.
  • Reading the paper like a book from the first to the last page can take up to 4-5hours every day and hence we have made a quick page-wise analysis that will help IAS aspirants particularly.

Must Read How to Prepare for IAS Exam?

Newspaper Reading

Page-wise reading of the Newspaper

The following is a page-wise approach that you can take while reading “The Hindu” newspaper:

  • Page 1- This page covers all the main news for the day in brief. Scan this page quickly to get a general awareness of the different things happening across the country.
  • Page2-6- The pages 2-3 have regional news while 4-6 has state news which is not very important for the IAS.
  • Page 7- The national news is compiled on this page and it is very important. Supreme Court verdicts, important quotes from parliamentary debates, and different types of government orders and bills are included in this page.
  • Page 8- This is the editorial page of “The Hindu”. This page is considered the backbone of the paper and has all the information necessary for an IAS aspirant. There will be two editorials on the left and it will be followed by the lead article. Give special attention to these three contents.
  • Page 9- This page is also known as the OP-ED page where a person not associated with the editorial board expresses their views on certain current issues. You can get an overview of the current affairs through this.
  • Page 10-11- These pages have general news about the current political scenario. This is not very important but casually skim through so you have a basic idea about the present happenings.
  • Page 12- This is the world page where you will find all the international news and it is important for your preparation for IAS.
  • Page 13-14- All kinds of fiscal, monetary policies, and business news are available in these pages. For IAS, read thoroughly through the news that is socioeconomic in nature and relates to women, children, and health.
  • Page 15- The last page is dedicated to sports that are not very important in IAS preparation.

What can you skip?

You have to recognize news and sections that can be skipped to make your study simpler and quicker. Here are a few types of news that you can safely ignore:

  • Chronic political fights and sensationalized statements made by politicians every other day.
  • Press conferences by the Political parties
  • Which political party is defeated by whom in the elections etc.
  • The detailed explanation related to the share market.
  • News related to films and entertainment unless it is about a significant award or recognition.
  • Localized political news and events that do not have any impact on the national level.
  • Entertainment news
  • If you are not preparing for IAS (UPSC CSE) interview, you can avoid the regional news.
  • Controversial statements that do not add any value to national policies, decision-making, or international agreements and conventions.
  • Rift between two political parties on a regular basis.

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Important content

What sections you must not skip?

Just like the sections that can be skipped, there are sections that you must not skip under any circumstances:

  • News on government press conferences where various policies, schemes, and reforms had been discussed.
  • Bills pass or are discussed in the parliament.
  • List of achievements of the ruling political party which is often published in the form of advertisements.
  • News related to the Election Commission.
  • News related to Supreme Court and High Court verdicts on cases of national importance.
  • Implications of major events like a natural disaster or an accident or terrorist attack that impacted the entire nation.
  • News on ISRO and any kind of scientific development in the national as well as international level.
  • Press conferences related to SEBI, Planning Commission, RBI, banking schemes and reforms, economics, agriculture, and industries.
  • NASSCOM and ASSOCHAM related news that will affect economics and business all over the country.
  • News on indicators like GDP, CPI, etc. - focus on the reason than the actual number.
  • Visits of various foreign Prime Ministers and Presidents and the reason behind it. Also foreign trips of the Indian Prime Minister and the purpose.
  • Treaties and agreements that are signed and sanctioned in bilateral visits.
  • Reports, publications, and news from international organizations like the UN, WHO, ASEAN, etc. and India’s role in them.
  • Major political events of other countries.
  • Global warming/ climate change related updates
  • Events related to the ecology and environment.
  • Updates related to the Science and technology upgradation in the Science fields.
  • Important information about endangered species or those on the verge of extinction.

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Thus, what is implied here is that it is important to read a newspaper, by linking it to what we read in the books. The recent trends of the UPSC have seen questions more based on the applicability of the issues, rather than the direct factual questions. Let us see the example below.

In a National level exam like IAS 2021 Prelims, you expect several questions related to this prolonged event. While studying the new articles related to this event, the following are important facts that you must note for the exam:

  • Financial policies, tax relaxation, etc. that are declared due to this pandemic in India
  • Schemes for the underprivileged, declared by the Central Government for the Pandemic
  • Latest updates on vaccines/treatment/medicines if any by the time the exam commences.

What information can be ignored?

  • Regionalized news on daily lockdown violations
  • Political debates on state and central deficiencies regarding combating the situation
IAS Tips

Tips to process all the information

Preparation for current affairs for IAS (UPSC CSE) 2021 should ideally begin right after the commencement of IAS 2020. However, if you have not done so, making yourself well-versed with the current affairs at least in the past six months is crucial. Here are a few tips to do this successfully:

  • Maintain a diary or a notebook for current affairs related topics only. Diligently make notes here every day, mentioning the date of the paper for which you are taking the notes.
  • Make short notes and summary of important news daily but only make notes of important points like the name of a new policy, who declared it, the organizations associated with it, etc.
  • You can also make a folder of paper cuttings however this will require both time and effort and going through the folder at the last minute can be cumbersome.
  • Use sticky notes to mark the pages of the diary which contain important events and news so that you can easily find them and browse through them at the last minute.
  • Maintain soft copies of the notes or simply subscribe to an e-newspaper version of “The Hindu” so that you can go through them on the go.

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Hindi Newspaper

Newspaper suggestions for Hindi medium students

There is a vast majority of IAS aspirants who come from a Hindi medium schooling background. Following an English newspaper can prove difficult for such students. However, Hindi medium students often face a scarcity of quality material to study current affairs. Some of the national level and top Hindi newspapers to follow include Jansatta, Hindustan, and Navbharat Times. You can study them for current affairs following the strategies suggested above.

Another method to ace current affairs and general English at the same time will be putting some extra effort and following an English newspaper. Initially, it can prove to be difficult to follow and understand but is beneficial in the long run. Not only, will you get better quality information but also can increase your English vocabulary which will help in solving several questions from the General English section. You can always develop notes in your mother tongue after gathering and processing the information from any English newspaper.

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Newspapers vs. Magazines

Along with the newspapers, you can consider subscribing to magazines like Yojana Magazine, and Protiyogita Darpan. Press Information Bureau (PIB), PRS India, Websites of various ministries are also helpful to get an overall and complete scenario of the present economical, social, and political events at a national and international level.

It is advisable that you do not spare more than an hour daily on skimming the newspaper when you have a huge syllabus for the core subjects to cover. By strategically going through the newspaper and focusing on the necessary topics only, you can easily learn enough to attempt the majority of the IAS general awareness questions correctly. Wish you all the best for your preparation for the upcoming IAS (UPSC CSE) 2021 exam.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.