Part-6 Current Affairs (Pre+Mains) and How to read Newspaper?

Scope and significance of Current Affairs in Civil Services Examination; How to read newspaper? How to make notes from newspaper? Various Magazines and Websites, IASToppers Initiatives on Current Affairs, etc.
By IT's Research & Analysis Wing
May 02, 2017


  • Scope and significance of Current Affairs in Civil Services Examination
  • Analysis of Current Affairs
  • Newspaper Reading: Inevitable Part
  • How to read newspaper?
  • IASToppers’ Initiative: Today’s Important
  • How to make notes from newspaper?
  • Magazines
  • IASToppers’ Initiative: Quintessence of Magazines
  • India Year Book
  • Economic Survey
  • PIB
  • PRSIndia
  • TV videos
  • IASToppers’ Initiative: Video Summary
  • IASToppers Initiatives on Current Affairs

This is the sixth part of the series of Strategy for UPSC Civil Services Examination by IASToppers. To read previous or subsequent parts, click here.

Scope and significance of Current Affairs in Civil Services Examination

The scope of Current Affairs (CA) is immense in all the three stages of Civil services examination viz. Prelims, Mains and Interview [ Added: The current affairs significance lies in the fact that UPSC asks CA related topics almost in every paper of Mains and its importance in prelims is not hidden for anyone. A significant portion of Prelims question ranging from 40- 70% can be traced back to CA origin.]

  • In Prelims 2015, there was a sudden increase in the number of questions related to current affairs.
  • In Mains, two papers of General Studies i.e. paper-2 and paper-3 demand a good preparation of current affairs.
  • G.S. paper-1, which mostly contains conventional sections, having some topics like social issues, environmental geography etc. which requires a good reading of current affairs.
  • A good command over current affairs also helps you indirectly in solving questions of case studies of G.S. paper-4 (Ethics & Integrity).
  • Current Affairs improves one’s knowledge and at the same time helps to bring in the dimension in one’s thought which ultimately helps in writing mains answer with clarity.
  • Very good marks in Essay paper of Mains can be achieved with better understanding of current issues.
  • In CSAT paper of Prelims, newspaper reading will help you in section like Comprehension.
  • Some optional subjects like Public Administration, Political Science etc. also require a decent coverage of current issues.
  • Last but not the least, in Interview/Personality Test, candidates are expected to have a better understanding of current issues.

You can conclude from above analysis that this single subject (if you consider it a subject) of current affairs is indispensable for your success in Civil Services examination. You can simply handle this mammoth subject with only regular reading of few sources. Now we come to the part what are the ideal sources to prepare current affairs.  


Analysis of Current Affairs (Prelims)


Newspaper Reading: Inevitable Part

With the increasing importance of current affairs in the Civil Services examination (from Prelims to Interview), the reading of newspaper is a crucial and indispensable part of the preparation.

You can read either The Hindu or Indian Express. Both newspapers cover national, international, social, scientific issues in a very holistic manner.

If a hard copy of both these newspapers are not available on daily basis in your vicinity, you can subscribe an e-copy from their official websites.

How to read newspaper and also how to manage it on daily and monthly basis is the frequently asked question for almost every aspirant.

The first and foremost question asked by many aspirants is that how many newspaper is necessary to read. Our answer to this question is that the reading of only one newspaper is enough. However, with the changing nature and diversity of questions on current affairs, it is advisable to read more than one newspaper if your time permits you. IASToppers is here to help you. We are exploring more than two newspapers and also PIB and find important news for your examination on daily basis. 

Here we suggest you to read minimum one national newspaper on daily basis. If your time permits you, you can read selected editorials from other newspapers. For editorials, apart from The Hindu you can go for Indian Express, Business Standard, LiveMint, Business Line and Times of India. 

Here, we discuss in detail about how to read and how to make notes from newspaper/s, the main source of current affairs.


How to read newspaper?

  • Before starting to read newspaper, please read syllabus of Prelims & Mains two-three times. Even allot few minutes every day to read the syllabus. This practice will help you to select the right news from the newspaper.
  • Keep a pen/pencil in your hand and underline every specific information that you feel will be helpful.
  • While going through any news content, if you find any new terms that you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to search on the internet.
  • Very first, read the first page of the newspaper. There always a bunch of political news. Here go through the news headlines and quoted lines. No need to go in detail here.
  • Then go to the last page of the newspaper and start moving from last to front page. Then read from last page to the Editorial page. Avoid reading pages 2,3,4 as they carry only local news of some states, not so important for exam.
  • Avoid reading Political news or issues. Try to avoid naming any political personalities in your answers, except for when talking about foreign policy. You just need to have a superficial knowledge of what is happening in the political world.
  • Keep a vigilant eye on every news important for the examination.
  • While reading editorials, you might feel that the important content for examination is very scattered. Even the idea of the editorial is not easily grasped because of its tough language. Despite of these challenges, editorials are goldmine of information. It acts as an opinion-builder for you. We find its importance and include editorials in our initiatives. We deal with two editorials on daily basis and try to simplify them in our notes. This initiative is titled as “Editorial Notes”.
  • Read the NATIONAL page in detailed manner. Here, various policies and actions initiated by government is covered.
  • Business page in the Hindu contains news related to various aspects of Indian Economy and its interaction with world. Highly useful page.
  • Don’t miss The Hindu’s Science and Technology coverage as it covers many questions both in prelims and in mains exam as well.
  • Avoid reading Sports news because it is never asked in the UPSC examination.
  • Other pages which can be avoided include Magazines, Literary Review and any other supplements. But we suggest you to take a quick view of all these pages and find only important stuff.
  • On Sunday, The Hindu provides a brief background on important issues of the week. Do go through if time permits.
  • Apart from news coverage, sometimes you will find a few government advertisements in newspaper which may contain important information. Underline or highlight or make notes of it.


IASToppers’ Initiative: Today’s Important

Under this initiative, we cover three sub-initiatives like

  1. Current Affairs Analysis: This daily initiative provides a list of exam-oriented News Articles taken from The Hindu and other leading national newspapers.
  2. Editorial Notes:  This daily initiative provides a list of exam-oriented Editorials taken from leading national newspapers like The Hindu, Indian Express, Business Standard, LiveMint, Business Line etc.
  3.  Flash Cards: Our flagship initiative Covers all subjects of prelims syllabus from static to dynamic topics.
  4. LSTV and RSTV Video Summaries:This initiative helps you to reduce your time on watching LSTV and RSTV videos and making summary notes on them.
  5. Mains Articles:Important current affairs topics and issues analysed in a more meaningful and comprehensive way.
  6. Mind Maps: Pictorial representation of complex topics. Our daily initiative would help you understand an issue in a diagrammatical form.
  7. PIB Daily and AIR Summary: This initiative helps you to reduce your time on reading PIB news and listening AIR Discussions and making summary notes on them.


The most important benefit of these daily initiatives is to save candidate’s daily time to find important stuffs from newspapers. Even by following these initiatives, you don’t need to have a hard copy of newspaper/s. 


How to make notes from newspaper?

  • Don’t try to make detailed notes of newspaper as it is very time-consuming and impractical task.
  • It is advisable to either underline or highlight important stuffs using the pen or highlighter.
  • You can make online notes using software available free of cost like Evernote or OneNote.
  • Make folders in your online or offline notes with titles like Polity & Governance, Issues related to Health & Education, Economy, Social Issues, Environment & Ecology, Science & Tech, Bilateral & International Relations, Defence & Security Issues, Art & Culture, Indian History, Geographical phenomena & Distribution of key natural resources and Key Facts of Prelims. [We also categorize our Current Affairs Analysis using the same categories. These categories cover every topic of Prelims & Mains]
  • Put every news under its appropriate category. Over the time your notes or data start increasing in volume but in a systematic way. Revise them periodically. At last time, do nothing but revise your own notes.



Apart from newspapers, few important magazines should also be referred. The list of suggested magazines includes ‘Yojana’ and ‘Kurukshetra’ (both are selective). These two magazines are published by Publication Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India and are a good source of government schemes and policies. We suggest you to read it selectively. Both the magazines are also helpful in preparation of Essay paper.

For environment-related topics, DownToEarth is a very useful magazine. It is a fortnightly magazine on environmental issues. You need to read its selective articles important for our exam.


India Year Book

Published by Publication Division of Government of India, India Year Book (latest) is a compilation of various governmental institutions, schemes, statistical figures etc.

The book is divided into around 32 chapters, so it is advisable to read individual chapters, connecting them with your conventional subjects. For example, chapters on polity should be read with Polity Laxmikanth, chapters on geography should be read with NCERT Geography books etc.

The book is too bulky (more than 1000 pages) to read in one seating and also full of junk information, so it is suggested to read India Year Book in parts or say in chapters and also selectively.


Economic Survey

Economic Survey is a Finance Ministry’s yearly document, that contains essential information on various economic parameters of India Economy. It has many important economic terms as well as statistical figures, which are important for all stages of the exam.



Press Information Bureau (PIB) is a government website ( It gives updates on government policies, schemes, programmes, events etc. on a daily basis. Again it is advisable to read it selectively. IASToppers covers all important PIB news in its daily Current Affairs Analysis. 



PRSIndia is a website (, gives among others summary on various Bills of Parliament.

These summary of bills is a good source of information, helpful in better understanding of various governmental bills. You do not need to explore this site on daily basis. That means, if news of any new bill appear in newspaper, you can explore this site as a reference.


TV videos

Important TV videos include Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha TV videos. They are amazing source of information on wide areas of important current issues. They are highly useful for Personality/Interview test besides Prelims and Mains exam.

This is the end of the part-6. In the next part, we’ll discuss in detail about the strategy of Essay paper and Optional Paper.

If you find this part of Series on Strategy helpful, please like and share.

Thank you

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