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This article is written by Manash Mondal (with inputs from Shweta Devgan) Team LawSikho.

Apart from the standard textbooks, newspapers have become an essential part of every competitive exam’s preparation and especially when one needs to prepare for current affairs, GK and interview. 

But it is not as easy it may sound at first, as newspaper reading is a lot different than reading a novel or a textbook and quite often many aspirants come across difficult questions like, how to read, how much time to read, what to read, how beneficial is note-making, does one need to remember each name and data in every article, etc. 

Therefore, this article will answer each of the above questions in detail.

For simplicity, let us divide the process of reading a newspaper into three steps: 

  1. Before reading. [“Laying the foundation”]
  2. While reading. [“Execution with efficiency and optimum utilization”]
  3. After reading. [“Reality check and improvement”]

1. BEFORE READING:

1. Choose one reliable newspaper (maximum two), as reading a newspaper efficiently can take a considerable amount of time (1.5 to 3 hours). Moreover, it is always advisable to read quality and reputed newspapers only, as the articles published are written by reputed experts and are relatively authoritative. 

For central level examinations, like UPSC, newspapers like – The Hindu, Indian Express are considered to be the best.

Here are some of the common and most important features of a reliable newspaper:

  • Comprehensiveness. [Avoid local/state newspapers, unless you are appearing for state competitive exams]
  • Standard English. [Highly beneficial during mains examination, as it helps you improve English writing skills and vocabulary]
  • Unbiased. [Not politically influenced and provides multiple-sided view]
  • Regular. [Daily edition newspapers are preferable, but do not ignore special editions related to the syllabus]
  • Authoritative content. [Written by experts]

2. Choose an appropriate newspaper source. If hard copies are easily available on a regular basis and without any disruption, then always go for hardcopies as they are easy to read and mark. If not, go for e-papers as they are eco-friendly and easily accessible through the internet. 

3. Read and understand your syllabus thoroughly [MOST IMPORTANT], as this will help you to avoid the irrelevant parts (from the respective examination’s perspective) of a newspaper and save a lot of time. But in general, one can avoid news articles relating to pure politics, Bollywood, stock market predictions, fashion trends, etc. One can also go through the previous five years question paper to get a better idea on the type of questions being asked.

For example, if you are preparing for judicial services, then you need to be well versed with the judicial services exam syllabus of that particular state and read the newspapers in accordance with the same. But while attempting multiple state judicial exams, it is rather advisable to formulate a common strategy, in order to save time and improve efficiency.

4. Know the weightage that a particular exam gives to the current affairs section/paper, as this will help you to allot appropriate time for it. Suppose, the total marks is 100 and current affairs have been allotted 20 marks, then you need to give in a good amount of time (ideally 20% of your total daily preparation time), but if current affairs have been allotted only 5 marks, then allotting 20% of your total preparation time will be highly inappropriate and unnecessary. While allotting time, do keep in mind that newspaper reading is also helpful for personal interviews.

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For instance, if one is planning to attempt state judicial exams in states like Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, it is advisable to allot a considerable amount of time for GK and current affairs, as the current affairs/GK ratio to total marks is relatively high. Similar is the case with other States, where current affairs have been given high weightage. [For judicial services, apart from reading legal current affairs like constitutional and legal amendments, new laws passed by the legislature, important supreme court and high court judgements, etc., do not make the mistake of ignoring general current affairs, if it is included in the syllabus.

2. WHILE READING:

1. Do a quick analysis of the complete newspaper (in 5-10 minutes) and identify all the relevant articles that are required to be read. This will help you to manage time while reading. If you identify many articles as relevant (related to the syllabus), then you may avoid in-depth analysis of the articles, which seems less relevant and vice-versa.

2. Make one line notes, as this will help you to revise efficiently and in a less amount of time (Will be highly beneficial in the immediate days before exams). Please keep in mind that note making is an art and it is advisable to write smart notes. Try using only keywords and not a complete statement. Avoid cutting newspapers articles and pasting it in a notebook.

For example, write “Gen. Bipin Rawat – First CDS – four-star”, instead of the complete statement – “General Bipin Rawat has been appointed the first Chief of Defense Staff. He is a four-star General.

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3. Try to connect the news, if the news relates to an event that is an ongoing process which can be connected by a series of events. This will make the newspaper reading more interesting and fun.

For example, issues like “Brexit”, the ongoing “Covid-19”, the “Sabarimala Judgement”, and constitutional validity of “Citizenship Amendment Bill”, etc

4. Use google search as a supplementary tool, when you come across anything new (might be a place, river, personality, a rare animal/bird, etc. that is either directly or indirectly related to the news at hand). This will hardly take about 10 extra minutes per newspaper reading but will help you understand the news a lot better than others. 

For example, if the news is “The Ministry of Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) has directed the Arunachal Pradesh government to include the Chakma and Hajong communities in the COVID­19 relief programme” then do a general google search as to who are the “Chakma” and “Hajong”, brief details about the DoNER, etc.

3. AFTER READING:

1. Do both weekly and monthly revision of your one-line notes [IMPORTANT], so that you are not over-burdened before the exam. It will also help you to improve your note writing skills.

2. Participate in daily/weekly/monthly online quiz. This will work as a reality check and will help you make improvements to your current strategy for better results. It is always better to do an early reality check early and work on it before it’s too late.

If you continue to practise newspaper reading like this, I can guarantee you that you will reap the maximum benefit of reading the newspaper.

Thinking of appearing for the judiciary exam?

A daily habit of going through the newspaper in the way mentioned above is definitely going to do wonders for your preparation, and should be an indispensable part of it, BUT…

That’s not enough. 

The judiciary exam, being one of the toughest competitive exams in India, needs a battle-tested, full-on exam preparation strategy to help you crack the exam and become a judge one day.

What questions should you prepare for the most?

How you should practise writing your mock test papers?

What’s the best approach to prepare for the judgment writing paper?

Lots of questions need to be answered.

The best way to get the answers to these questions is by giving our career counsellors a call on 011 4084 5203 and having a free career consultation with our experts.

(Alternatively, comment below to this article stating “I want to pass the judiciary exam.” We will get back to you urgently.)

Looking forward to hearing from you.

To your success.

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