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3 Key Points on How to Read Newspapers for IAS Prep

This article has been written with an assumption that the reader is aware of the basics of the IAS Preparation.


This post is dedicated to those IAS Aspirants, who in their early stages of euphoria (much like Faizal Khan) set out to conquer all the National Dailies (Hindu, Indian Express, Business Standard, Mint etal.) only to realise that the 3-5 hours spent on Newspapers daily might not be the optimum strategy to cover the IAS syllabus!

Here are our top 3 recommendations to help you realign your strategy on “How to read newspapers for UPSC”.

#1. Focus on Issues, not News


  • You do not have to read newspapers for UPSC Prep for the sake of it. You have to read it in a mission mode!
  • Avoid anything on Politics, Sports, Entertainment.
  • Avoid making notes in the first reading – you are likely to find everything important and create a parallel newspress of your own!
  • Remember that newspapers are written with a very specific formula: the who, what, when, where, why, and how always come first.
  • As an IAS Aspirant, you are required to focus on the underlying theme or issue rather than specific newsbytes.
  • But what about Prelims? UPSC tends to ask a few seemingly fact based question, right? Fair Point.

Along with your Daily Newspaper, Spend 5 minutes on the Civilsdaily’s Android App. We take good care to publish key point summaries of daily news articles which you can bookmark and take offline for revising again and again.

#2. Make notes of the What, Why and How

The What: Specifics of the event/news at hand but from a bird’s eye view. A good newspaper makes sure that the headline informs you of the key takeaway.

For eg: IAEA chief heads to Tehran for nuclear talks: IAEA says the visit will focus on clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme

The Why: Why is this news important? Why did this make into today’s newspaper? What were the events leading upto it?

The phrase “Past and present outstanding issues” should give you some idea of a possible historical trail of these nuclear talks. This should excite your curiosity and this is where you get the understanding of the issue at hand.

For your ease of understanding, at Civilsdaily.com, we collate the milestone events and connect them in a single story, such as this: Iran’s Nuclear Program & Western Sanctions.

The How: This line of reasoning gets you into the technicalities of the news at hand. This is where you get to know about the organisations and the nature of sanctions which are in place.

Try to know all about IAEA, Uranium enrichment facilities, Nuclear Reactors, the safeguards in place etc. Make some key point notes on them because you are going to encounter them again and again in your IAS Prep.

#3. Don’t read 5 newspapers! Keep it Simple

  • Sooner or later, every newspaper catches up with the current affairs.
  • The reason why you are recommended to read Hindu or Express is that they focus less on the click-bait and scoppwhoop-ish articles than the other well known brands do.
  • So, do not over sweat on covering a lot of ground – that’s one thing where you can definitely bank on Civilsdaily’s News Story Collections.


#4. Bonus Point: The Increasing Importance of Current Affairs

In 2013, the then UPSC chairman D.P. Agrawal was addressing the Kerala State Civil Service Academy and he extolled the importance of Current Affairs.

He said it was impressive how well students scored in their optional papers — where they put in more effort to raise the overall score at the expense of neglecting their reading of general issues in the country and the world over. The candidates should to be well-read, he said adding that learning by rote had entered the interview process as well.

This should act as a clarion call for all the aspirants of IAS 2015, 2016 to buckle up and start preparing the current affairs like a PRO.

Like all good things, newspaper reading takes time and patience but once you bear through the initial few weeks, it will be a very rewarding activity. You will be able to relate static with dynamic, expect developments in a story and develop a sense of relative importance of a news event.

Want to read more?

Questions, suggestions and comments

  1. Ronnie Arora

    Every other aspirant struggles, in the beginning, we know that! If I were told how to begin my preparation at the start of my journey, I could have saved a lot of time. Here is an article that can help you and hopefully save a lot of your time.
    Here Is The Link – http://www.iaseducator.com/civil-services-preparation-tips-before-starting-upsc-preparation/

  2. sagar pandey

    I do read The Hindu completely, plus I love to go with the editorials of the TOI, Economic Times, Business Standard, Dainik Jagran, and The Indian Express.

  3. Rohitash Yadav

    Good evening sir,
    I have opted pub ad. as my optional, preparing self, however, I feel myself struck with the beginning every time, I start to read, feels like I want more confidence on my subject, What should I do now?

    Thank you

  4. navjot brar

    Sir sometimes I felt very low cofidence regarding paper and not concentrate properly pls suggest

  5. Vidya Sagar Korlam

    I have been waiting for some time in the hope that you will launch iOS app too. Though i can open the website in browser,, it will be much more user friendly to use the app. Please develop iOS app too.

  6. saranyavaliplackal13@gmail.com

    I am saranya sasidharan. Now I just started my preparation for civil service exam. Will u please give me a time table for study? I don’t know how to study and how to make notes and all. Can u please help me?

    1. Amenda Tyler


    2. Root


      Here’s a standard answer to get you to a more disciplined approach towards IAS 2017.

      The Flagship Program is especially designed to help the aspirants fine tune their testing skills and get that upto the advanced user level performance. It starts on 11th September 2016 – http://prelims.civilsdaily.com/flagship-prelims-course/

      Cost = Rs. 5997 (incl. of taxes)

      Look into the detailed time table – prelims.civilsdaily.com/flagship-prelims-course/ – All sources and booklists are given

      At the end of 6 basic tests – We will then have a call with you OR send you an analysis of your testing skills.
      After that you graduate to advanced and CA focus tests.
      All 32 tests will have very detailed explanations which will reinforce the concepts again to you and help you handle the critical questions better.
      We have dedicated tests for current affairs so even if you slack on a month’s news – we will have it covered on our monthly CA tests + explanations.

      Along with this – you have a FREE Mains guiding program which is already running on our portal – http://www.civilsdaily.com/topic-tag/target-mains/

      Attempt questions – google on the statements or just read the answer and get an understanding of how your competitors prepare.

      Hope this helps you get more confidence. Join in!

  7. bagchi ankan

    Will it be okay if I just go through Civils Daily app? Or reading a newspaper is that important? Because, the news articles in the Civils Daily app are well written and it kills the need of maintaining notes. Will it be okay if I read Express online, from their app?

  8. Pramit Kumar

    Supposing,i plan to appear for upsc exams in 2018 or 2019 after a two years work experience in IT sector,should the current affairs of the present be read as vigorously?
    Also,how can an aspirant in my position prepare for the same.

  9. Divya Verma

    The Hindu and The Express should be enough, then?

    1. Anil BL Gather

      The Hindu is more important… dont waste ur time in different type news paper..

    2. Root

      Pick any one paper. That should be enough.

      If you want an easy initiation into reading news – download the civilsdaily android app or give a shot to the news section of this website.

  10. Sumona Dey

    where I live ,Hindu newspaper is not accessible sufficiently and it cost more than the printed prize. Can I follow Times of India instead?

    1. Root

      Pick any one paper. That should be enough.

      If you want an easy initiation into reading news – download the civilsdaily android app or give a shot to the news section of this website.

    2. Sumona Dey


  11. Subham Tiwari

    What shld be the strgty for Hindi Medium Aspirant …?
    Can u plz tell me the news article for cilvil exams.??

  12. Tukaram Dhage

    Hey i am second year BTECH student
    So how should i start my preparation for cse

  13. Priyanka Gupta

    where are next posts in line?

    1. Root

      Hey, will link the subsequent posts. Some of them had changes in name.

  14. Akshay Awasthi

    hi…i am a 1st year law student seeking to prepare for the civil services., can you please guide me, about how to start for it??

  15. Kanchan Dixit

    Hi.. Could you please elaborate on how to make notes on daily news keeping related issues in focus?

    1. Root

      Sure. We will be writing an article for advanced reading soon. The first one was just to get you familiar with that basic themes of reading.

      Which newspaper should we pick and explain?

      1. Ashish pal

        hindu and express …..

      2. Kanchan Dixit

        The Hindu & Indian Express. You can also incorporate few details from RSTV debates on relevant issues to give it a multidimensional look.

  16. Divya Prakash

    Thanks…waiting for more !!!

  17. Arun Muradnar

    @Vígnéshwár Vj,There are lot of good stuffs in Market..choose any one for CA,it needs to served the purpose of CA.Our Civilsdaily Digest of August and September month will soon find way here.

  18. tariq mir


  19. anjali tushir

    Thanks ….

  20. Narendra Yadav

    My problem is that ever and most of material for upsc like newspaper and other articles and videos those some websites like unacademy provided in english . But i am preparing via hindi medium. So plz tell me some apps those translate articles and videos in hindi.

    1. Abhishek Yadav

      you can read jansatta and for hindi notes you can purchase Drishti IAS notes it will be very helpful and you like pages on facebook which deals in Hindi medium preparation. i hope it will help you and the best thing you read yojana monthly it will moreover covers current parts also.read only editorial articles from other newspapers like dainik jagran,navbdharat times and others.

  21. Rini Sen

    Like you said – When I started reading paper, everything looked important to me. How can we develop this understanding on what’s important vs. what’s not?

    1. Pragya Tanwar

      slowly and steadily you will yourself know what needs to be read.. just go through insights. com current event questions.

    2. Gyan Prakash Mishra

      solve previous year papers , it helps u

    3. Arun Muradnar

      One good solution is stick to syllabus points,It will get easier to remember and recalling more points on one issue given by syllabus.
      Current Affairs is very dynamic part,we have to make sure for shall it necessary for Exam? If not given in syllabus then just scan it and leave it.But,if it stakes for exam then check that issue from What,When and How point of view?
      It’s one type of chronology where we have to connect dots on number issues.
      e.g.If we read Syrian crisis,then check its historical background by simply googling.
      As stated above,ask question to news i.e.Why this refugee crisis happen?
      What active factors leads to it?
      Then How to tackle it(Solutions – Short term/long term)?
      Are there any UNHRC law/UN convention for it?
      Just,connect dots from its history to contemporary issue..
      Lastly,Give most priority to syllabus and stick to it.
      Thats it.

      1. Vígnéshwár Vj

        But Arun BRO… Current affairs is a vast field, how a syllabus is going to affect current affairs? ?

        1. Amit Bhardwaj

          Good morning vj. Yes vj I “still” say that syllabus is the ground on which you build the structure of your preparation and success.??

        2. Amit Bhardwaj

          Hi vj. Though the correlation between ca and syllabus has already been explained beautifully by Arun. Lets see it from one more angle. For a split second assume that you get a call from UPSC inviting you to set the paper for mains 2015 then apart from a probable lecture from the chairperson what you shall be handed over is a copy of the syllabus, that’s my safe guess. So now you have to set the paper. You read the topic international relations and you try to recollect the important international events and a flashback of usa and Cuba relations crosses your mind and eureka you have got a question. What was Cuban missile crisis. Yes. You would something from the background instead of a direct question that anyone can ask. After all chairman asked you to frame questions to keep the UPSC standard.? anyway jokes apart that’s how syllabus helps us. When you know the topics in syllabus you tend to waste less time on frivolous news and keep yourself to news directly related to the topics in syllabus. Syllabus is what forms the basis of questions and ca is the source of those questions. It is a misnomer that UPSC asks anything under the sun. They don’t. However sadist they may appear, even they have a conscience to answer that they should frame questions from the syllabus ?. And even if they ask out of syllabus, who cares? We just need 50% marks to get rank 1 and that much percentage is certainly from syllabus. So have a copy of syllabus on your study table. Always.?

          1. Vígnéshwár Vj

            So Sir, you still say that sticking to syllabus will help you also for current affairs in prelims?

        3. Arun Muradnar

          Syllabus gives you a various topics which helps in connecting dynamic news points which are important or not is further question.
          But,to keep syllabus in hand,will almost saves your a lot of time.

          1. Vígnéshwár Vj

            And could you please suggest me any perfect magazines that are available for Upsc current affairs..

      2. anjali tushir

        Hi arun ..i m going to write upse exam in 2017..so according to 2017….what all things that i need to focus in newspaper….or in simple words…in what way ..i need to start prepration. ..plss explain

        1. Arun Muradnar

          Yes,Anjali..just go through following blog as rightly given by Rini Sen.


        2. Rini Sen
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