November 18th, 2020       Civil Services Preparation

2013 CSE topper once remarked that by reading editorials from newspapers like Hindu you are manufacturing bullets which you are gonna fire in the exam hall..

This statement beautifully captures the importance of editorials in the civil services exam. The exam has undergone tremendous change in the last couple of years with focus being on current affairs. Even the static portion of the syllabus is being asked by adding dynamic angles to it. Opinion based questions are the new normal in UPSC CSE.

It is a no brainer that the best source for preparation of current affairs in today’s time is the newspapers.

Now the question arises what is the significance of newspaper editorials?

⦁ Firstly, they act as a readymade fodder to be used in the exam hall. They contain a plethora of content which is almost impossible to find in standard books.
⦁ They act as a one-point source to collect facts, data, figures, anecdotes, best practices, creative linkages, background history etc.
⦁ They are written by people who are highly experienced and experts in their field and as such provide both sides to an issue that is pros and cons.
⦁ There are numerous examples of successful candidates who attribute their high scores in essay to newspaper editorials.
⦁ If a candidate goes through the data bank of PYQs asked in UPSC CSE he/ she will find that editorial headings/ lines have been word to word transformed into questions and asked in the exam.
⦁ It is a well-known fact that off late aspirants have faced tremendous difficulty in clearing the CSAT paper of Prelims. But do you know that passages are directly sourced from editorials of newspapers like Hindu. Can an aspirant be at a more advantage who has diligently gone through these editorials!!
⦁ Similarly, in GS paper of Prelims, editorials help in gathering content which is not so easily available.
⦁ Diligent reading of Editorials improves concentration power, assimilating power, improves processing time, helps taking stand/ forming opinion, broadens thinking and inculcated critical thinking/ scientific temper, understanding how to write about any topic in lesser words and provide maximum information.
⦁ They also help aspirants during interview. If any person has regular practise of reading the editorials, he can give the correct answer to many questions.

Although this is not an exhaustive list, but it suffices to highlight how important are the newspaper editorials to ace this exam.

The next basic question that pops up in the mind of aspirant is what should be my sources? A couple of years back everyone would suggest only one newspaper that is THE HINDU. But now two newspapers for Prelims and Mains and three in case of Interview stage are a must. The important ones to choose from are Hindu, Indian Express, Business Standard, Economic Times, Financial Times. This should be supplemented with the daily editorial analysis available on IAS GYAN website.

Now comes the serious question how to prepare from these editorials?

Let us first focus on the pre-requisites.

⦁ By a proper practice of effective reading, daily editorials can be completed in less than an hour with around 30 minutes devoted for notes making.
⦁ Know the syllabus of the exam thoroughly.
⦁ Practice previous years’ question papers & know the question patterns.
⦁ Focus on the issue not the news.
⦁ Filter what is to be read according to the need of the exam.
⦁ Read from the perspective of the exam not for recreational purpose.
⦁ Avoid unimportant news no matter how impressive they might be.
⦁ Never postpone even for a single day.





Notes making:

⦁ Maintain a notebook for each month.
⦁ Divide it according to subjects-Polity, Geography, History, Economy, International, Environment, Security/Defense and Science and Technology.
⦁ Maintain a separate notebook for optional. For any topic of the syllabus which may have current affair linkage, jot down the relevant news in 5 points. This will be a creative addition to your answer.
⦁ Try to jot down any issue in point format i.e. the important facts, figures, quotes, data, judgments, keywords etc.
⦁ Do not make paragraphs.
⦁ Everything should be in your own words.
⦁ Do not store newspaper cuttings.

In the case of Hindu, Page 6 is EDITORIAL. This is the most important page of ‘The Hindu’ newspaper from UPSC Exam perspective. Carefully read the two editorials given on the left margin. Then move to the Lead article. This usually would be an excellent analysis of a current issue. Finish this page, by reading the Letters to editor as this would give different opinions on the same issue. Page 7 is OPED. It expresses the opinion of a named author usually not affiliated with the publication’s editorial board. Read this to get a different perspective on current issues. There is a data point column which may be important fodder for mains.

A SMART approach is required to effectively read the editorials and make notes in an hour. Initially you may even take 3 hours Practice the process and after every week, do self-assessment. But with practice and perseverance, in two months, you will gradually reach the target of completing quickly with maximum ROI.

In case you have missed reading editorials so far, let it be the last time.


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