In Civil Services Examination, the lion’s share of the questions from General Studies are, in fact, from Current Affairs. Preparing Current Affairs’ section has always been a nightmare for most of the students. Any beginner ends up spending at least 3 hours every day in just reading and understanding the newspaper. If you start making notes, which is obviously important, the time you spend in doing it is almost 4 hours every day, thus leaving you with very little time to read other sources.
The important question is that what you read, is that even helpful for you? Is it even going to appear in the examination? Will the notes be sufficient for you to enable you in solving majority of the questions based on Current Affairs? Unfortunately, the answer is NO! Let me explain, how I am generalizing that.
For past one month, I have evaluated the notes of Current Affairs of 60 students who come from from all the age groups and all the stages of preparation. I could find the following similarities in the notes of all:
1. Factual information rules! They write facts, a lot of them. Who got appointed what, how many runs were scored by whom, what were the new repo rates etc.
2. Political news dominate the discourse. Politics, no doubt, is interesting. What Mr. Modi said about Mr. Gandhi or vice versa can be a fun read. This was reflected in the notes with majority of students noting them down.
3. Repetitiveness of topics. Newspapers tend to cover an issue for a significant amount of time. Students end up making notes of those topics daily. So in the notes, it is not very difficult to spot a topic occurring multiple times, with even same inputs.
Why these notes won’t help?
UPSC has a different take on current affairs than what most people understand. They are not looking for someone who can be a repository of huge data, but for someone who can be called an aware and alert citizen. They want the students to understand the concepts behind the events. Let me explain this concept to you with a recent example.
I am sure you all must have heard about the incident of death of children in a hospital at Gorakhpur. Most of you must have even made notes about that, that in total 73 children dies, the oxygen was supplied by a particular company, the name of the head doctor handling the case etc. But again, UPSC will NOT be asking any such detail. They will be going a bit further in probing your awareness. As the hospital in question is an important centre for the treatment of children suffering from Japanese Encephalitis, which is an extremely widespread disease in Eastern part of India and some parts of Nepal as well. Because of this incident, attention was drawn towards Japanese Encephalitis, so you must expect at least one question about the disease itself. How is it caused, what virus leads to it, probable cures, the research on this disease. So when you are reading a news, you are required to dig deeper as the news itself will never be asked in the examination. The news gives you the important topics for you to be aware of. You need to go beyond the items that appear in the newspapers.
Remember, this exam is to hire the finest people in India to man some of the best jobs this country has to offer. Keep that in mind and make sure that your preparation is matching the standard of the skill set a person sitting in that chair will require. Mediocre preparation, at least for this exam, is no preparation at all!
All the best!