Current Affairs play a major role in UPSC Civil Service Exam (CSE) preparation. It has dominated both Prelims and Mains in recent times with questions being directly based on recent news items/articles. Saturation in terms of questions being created from the static syllabus is also a reason for UPSC to go after Current Affairs topics.
While you can’t always expect questions to be directly lifted from news articles, following current affairs becomes important to shape and build your knowledge. The knowledge build-up will be reflecting in your ability to make your answer stand out and to add value to whatever you have studied from standard textbooks. So, there are unlimited reasons to justify “Why” you should be religiously following Current Affairs and almost “Zero” reasons to skip it in your UPSC CSE preparation.
Now moving on to the next part of the question on “How” to prepare, the first thing one needs to understand that there is no water-tight compartmentalization of Current Affairs and static subjects. All Current Affairs topics are one or the other way related to the static topics. So, broadly saying there are two ways in which one can effectively prepare Current Affairs
- Relate and interlink the news articles with relevant UPSC syllabus/static topics. For example, News related to topics like Bifurcation of J&K should be read in relation to India’s cooperative federalism topics.
- Background research of news articles that are about very new discoveries/inventions or not-so-familiar topics. This is important for getting a conceptual understanding of what one is studying. For example, if the article is on Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), a basic understanding of black hole is necessary. (But limit your research only to get an understanding. Don’t get engrossed in it.)
As the UPSC syllabus is vast, you can’t cover all the newspapers/magazines within the time you have at your disposal. But following one newspaper, preferably The Hindu, on a daily basis and making notes out of it is important.
- Read articles that are only relevant to the UPSC syllabus. This can be done by referring UPSC syllabus and Previous Year Question papers before starting with the newspaper.
- Follow a structured approach in making notes. Keep different segments for each GS paper/topic. So, it will be easy to update and revise in the future.
- Cover important articles of various other newspapers/sources from free online UPSC platforms. Skholar IAS helps you in this aspect by providing lucid and comprehensive coverage of news articles from exam point of view. Most often, you can make notes directly from the points given there.
- Once you start making notes, you will realize after 5–6 months, all that you do is update the existing notes. This helps you to keep track of developments in each topic/subject without much energy & time being spent in the process.
- Have a holistic approach by interlinking various current affairs topics to get a broad understanding of developments around issues/events. For example, while studying Social Security Code 2020, you should be able to link it with the Social Justice section of the GS-II paper and Unemployment & Migrant Crisis news items related to the Economic Development section of GS III paper of Mains.
- Finally, making notes out of Current Affairs is mandatory as it helps you in your preparation for Mains answer writing and also in retention of things you studied.