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How to Read Newspapers Effectively For the Civil Services Exam

Reading newspapers is an important part of preparing for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam. While news analysis can be helpful, it’s not a substitute for reading newspapers.


Newspapers can be read in various ways that are useful for the three stages of the UPSC exam: the Prelims, Mains, and Interview.

For the Prelims

  • Candidates should focus on facts, data points, terms (especially in economics), and the static information behind current news. They should also delve deeper into topics that are mentioned in the news but not fully explained, and try to come up with relevant questions for the Prelims.
  • Looking at past exam questions can give candidates an idea of frequently asked topics and how much in-depth preparation is necessary. Static information should also be correlated with current news.

In The Mains

  • Candidates should focus on analyzing a topic from different angles. If a topic can be debated, it’s important to understand both sides of the issue and form a balanced opinion. The editorial pages of newspapers can be very helpful for this stage.
  • Candidates should analyze articles in relation to topics in the Mains syllabus and structure answers in their mind for potential questions. It’s important to include a variety of points and to explain the same topic from different perspectives, such as political, social, environmental, ethical, and economic. Conclusions should always be optimistic and forward-looking, showing scope for improvement.

For the Interview

  • Newspapers should make up 80% of preparation. Candidates should form their own opinions on every issue, rather than just memorizing facts.
  • Watching discussions on different news channels and using the knowledge gained during preparation to form opinions can be helpful. These opinions should be logical, optimistic, and balanced, and can be supported by the Constitution and Supreme Court judgments on controversial issues. It’s important to follow the news up until the day of the Interview, as even the day’s news can be crucial.
  • Developing the habit of reading newspapers early on can be helpful. It’s okay if it takes a long time to get through them at first. Some people find it helpful to have someone mark important points and then read the newspaper the next day, focusing on the marked items. Reading different newspapers for the Mains and Interview stages can also be useful.

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February 2024