Newspaper plays an undisputed role in disseminating information, enhancing the power to comprehend essays, articles and passages and simultaneously adding to your vocabulary. However, the difference between blind reading and smart reading has to be clearly understood. The former is reading every single item in the newspaper while the latter is picking the items that would bear significance in your exam. Thus, reading newspaper is an art and has to be learned through practice.
Again your interest must not dominate your goal. An aspirant may be interested in sports, but reading that section would not be considered important from the examination point of view. Therefore, I have broadly listed the topics which you should not read and if you do so please do not include the time spent on it as the time of study;
1. Sport section can be entirely left out.
2. International news which doesn’t involve India.
3. Political debates, comments of spokespersons, heated arguments shall be left out completely.
4. Book review is not required at all.
5. Historical reviews of political events.
The news section which you should read but with a rider attached;
1. Political news has to be dealt separately. You have to focus on the polity aspect of that news which shall be learned in the section dealing with mains examination.
2. The state news should be read to the extent which involves only some new schemes or policies.
3. The finance/economy section must be watched for policies of finance ministry, actions of RBI, upcoming legislations dealing with finance. No pain should be taken to remember the periodic reviews of GDP, interest rates, import/export and other facts and figures.
4. Business section must be read to the extent of performance of a particular sector. Movement of stocks, speculations of currency, mergers and acquisitions can be left.
5. Science and Technology can be left out if you read the consolidated developments in the monthly magazine ‘science reporter’.
The topics which you must read completely;
1. Look out for Supreme Court judgements.
2. The Editorial section.
Thus, we see that an aspirant has to read the newspaper smartly enough so that maximum can be extracted from minimum effort.
Magazines will confuse you. There are so many different magazines available that an aspirant may be tempted to overload him/her with myriad contents upon visiting the book stall. Further, there are diverse views emanating from the teachers, peer group and even the book stall people regarding which magazine to study.
In this pandemonium that exists I adhered to a clear cut choice, that is, Yojana, and nothing else. Initially I had taken off with Frontline, then switched to Pratiyogita Darpan, also tried The Gist, which gives the concise of several newspaper and magazines. But finally I stabilized at Yojana. The publisher is information and broadcasting ministry but it does not voice government views only.
Dear aspirant, compare the mains paper of 2013 with the content of Yojana of previous 7 – 8 months and you will be amazed to find many questions in paper 2 and paper 3 of GS can be traced to several articles in Yojana. The monthly magazine is also important in essay as it is forward looking, prospective and optimistic in its approach. The multi-dimensional analysis of an issue, its multi-sectoral linkages, challenges there upon and finally - instead of a negative view – a goal oriented solution with a vision for development is what is required not only in your essay but also as a personal trait to be an administrator. Yojana suffice in this regard completely.
Kurukshetra, a publication of ministry of rural development, is also considered equivalent to Yojana in its content and its importance. However, I feel that it is more research oriented and it provides a detailed solution of a problem rather than a generalist view. Taking account into this factor, I would suggest the aspirant to stick to yojana and read it thoroughly.
Websites may become a trap if not used astutely. There are so many websites which gives facts and analysis, even the traditional part of the GS course. Websites such as civilsbaba.co.in, Iasbaba.com, mrunal, unacademy are good in this regard.
However, the aspirant has to be very cautious in using these sites. You should know precisely what you are looking for on the internet. Otherwise, the abundant material available on internet will sway you from your target and you will end up reading a lot but knowing nothing! Internet, if not used properly, is bound to create distractions. Once I set out to search for the programme REDD, a mechanism at the world level to incentivize the tropical developing countries to preserve their forests. It took me four hours on internet to know the basic intent, funding mechanism and how it is linked to joint forest groups in India. Some days later I found the same content in a more structured manner in some coaching notes!
Thus, in the language of economics the ICOR (incremental capital output ratio), that is, the change in output upon increasing a unit input, is definitely higher for internet studies. Therefore, dear aspirant, it is advisable to resort to internet only when it is urgent and exit immediately once your task is achieved.
MYTHS AND FAQs
A) How can I use newspaper to perform better in comprehensions of CSAT?
Apart from playing an efficient role in GS preparations, newspaper can also be effectively used to improve comprehensions of CSAT. Do the following and adhere to it regularly; Take any one article of editorial. Try to read it within 3 minutes and write down its essence in another 3 minutes. Dear aspirant, make this a habit for around one month before the preliminary exam and see continuous improvement in your CSAT scores by giving any test series. Even if you are a Hindi medium student and CSAT remains, inspite of all the protests, I request you to follow this strategy and fare better than the English medium students as far as comprehension is concerned. I followed this practice for around 20 days before prelims and achieved 180 out of 200 in CSAT paper in 2013!
B) Should I make notes of the newspaper?
Once you have understood to filter the required content of the newspaper and read it smartly, then you must progress to the second level, that is making organized notes. However, the notes should be segregated and readily available for future reference. Dear aspirant dedicate small diaries for polity & constitution, Geography & environment, Social issues & schemes, Economic policies and International relations. Whenever you read newspaper write down the respective news and their analysis in very concise and lucid manner in these dedicated dairies. This will aid you not only in GS but also in your essay.
C) If I don’t read newspaper I won’t clear CSE.
It is in fact better not to read newspaper if you read it blindly. Dear aspirant, if you had your tries with smart reading of the newspaper and still could not pursue it in an organized fashion, then it’s better to devote the time you spend on newspaper to other pursuit. You will definitely find the collection of all the important issues in the Yojana magazine.
D) India year book is must to read.
It is one of the most prevalent misconceptions. On contrary, it is not required at all. It is so copious that the bulk would itself create hindrance for the aspirant to complete it and may lead to a frustrating attempt towards in this pursuit. In fact the plan document is the best substitute for India year book. And that too has to be read carefully, particularly for the mains examination.
E) We must jot down new words encountered while reading newspaper along with its meaning from the dictionary.
Neither possible nor required. Not possible because you may lose the continuity of this particular habit of finding new words and writing their meaning due to the scarcity of time witnessed during this preparations. You would do it for a few weeks and then other concerns will debilitate this habit. Further, while you focus on the meaning of a particular word, the article as a whole would be displaced from your mind and you might have to read again!
Not required because more than the meaning of a particular word its usage and the sense of the sentence is valued.
F) I feel let down by people who readily use mobiles to study newspapers and search anything on internet. They accumulate vast knowledge and have a considerable edge.
Dear aspirant, if you have encountered this feeling then you must acknowledge that you are a victim of digital divide just like me! Still, we must understand that easy access to information is not the solemn criteria that will govern your chances of success. It is how the aspirant processes that information, whether it is organized or not, can it be recalled for usage at a later point of time or not, what is the time invested to procure that information; all these factors combined determine the chances of success in current affairs.
Also, increasing your general knowledge only won’t help you much. These only provide supplements to your analytical answers in the mains as purely factual questions are not asked in mains examination. For example, why should I be bothered about who gets caught in the match fixing scandal of cricket world? But I am definitely concerned of its impact on sports, its financial linkages to the underworld and extremist activities, which laws our government law enforcing agencies uses to curb it and whether there are any loop holes in those laws.
Another example, I may not remember who got the Nobel Prize in chemistry, whether it was shared or not, but I must know how that research will help mankind, will that be available to India and how. Thus, my dear aspirants get over this syndrome to memorize the facts and dig deeper into the concepts that provide the facts before us!