How to Deal with Current Affairs for Civil Services (Prelims and Mains) Examinations


Strategy for Reading News and Saving articles:

Here are the basic steps for an efficient online news reading for UPSC at no added cost (beyond internet):

1. What to read and what not to read:

Only read things that are either (i) related to the syllabus, or (ii) are of national importance, or (iii) are relevant to your profile (location, job, hobby, etc).

  • Sports – Skip unless India won a major event or if you wish to write sports as one of your hobbies.
  • Your local state’s / district’s news – scan through quickly to pick up things of national importance. Restrict yourself to the national news media and important state news should come up in these. There may be important issues (like division of states, water sharing, etc) that you should note for the sake profile-based question in your interview. You need to visit a news website of your choice to add the RSS feed to your Feedly.
  • Issues related to your background – Read for your own interest and career backup as well as profile-based question in your interview
  • Entertainment – Only major national awards should suffice
  • Lifestyle – Skip unless the item is relevant to your profile
  • Day to day political bickering – Skip
  • National, International, Administration related matters, Economy and business matters, Editorials, Science and Technology, Environment, Biodiversity, Disasters, etc – Read these well.


2. Which newspapers to read:

There are many newspapers floating around the country. You may choose any that suits you. However, make sure you get a good coverage of National / International / Administration related matters, Economy and business matters, Science and Technology, Environment, Biodiversity, Disasters, etc. Regional issues are of secondary importance (see above).


3. Which magazines to read:

A myriad of magazines exist that civil service aspirants often refer to. Magazines are to be used as supplements to your news papers. The need to be scanned through for relevant information (as discussed in the newspaper section) and need not be read line by line.

The single most important magazine that you need to read is Yojna. You can buy copies on a monthly basis. You can also download past issues (though not all are available) for free from their website.

Only read important articles. Reading past mains questions should give you an idea as to what to read and what not to. Most magazines have 2-3 articles that are of value for the purposes of this exam.

If you read your newspaper well, this is all that you need.


Whatever sources you choose read, make sure you’re getting all sides of the story – the pros and the cons, the arguments in favour and against. Your answers must contain both. Using multiple sources helps in this regard.

4. How to read:

I. Doing it yourself:
You do not need to reed everything and neither should you waste your time reading “too much” news. There are static and dynamic portions of the exam and each needs equal attention depending on the marks allotted. You need to organise the material that you read, either as printed pdfs or text files so that you can refer back to it all before the exams.
How to read online : Open a free Feedly account (or any other RSS reader of your choice) and subscribe to RSS feeds of various newspapers of your choice.  Use any software like CutePDF or PrintFriendly to convert the web-page into pdf. Move these into appropriately named folders to ready reference.
How to read offline : If you choose to use the hard copy of the news paper, read as mentioned above. Make sure you either make notes, especially of keywords and important issues for later revision.
II. Using ready-made materials:

Today, you can buy/download ready-made compendia of current affairs notes / articles. You can use them to too. But dealing with such collections can be difficult when time is short.

You should, ideally, strive to make your own notes.

You can also use our very own news compilation available under our newspaper section.

5. For how long to read:

The usual advise is to read up on issues that happened within the 18 months immediately preceding the examination, i.e. 18 months before the date of prelims for prelims, 18 months before the date of mains for mains, and 18 months before the date of your interview for your interview.

Basically, you need to start for prelims and never stop reading the news till you get though this exam. If you have a lot of backlog for the static part, you may temporarily put off the newspaper before the exams. However, you must make sure you do not lose anything. After the exam, you must get back and finish your newspaper backlog.

6. How to revise:

You must make notes. Without revision, you will not be able to remember very little information during the exams. Make sure you take your own notes (digital / hand-written).

If you don’t have any notes for a certain period, use any compendium ans read up of the parts that you missed.