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.

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By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

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