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How to Prepare for Current Affairs in CSS and other Competitive Exams

How to Prepare for Current Affairs in CSS and other Competitive Exams
Shahzad F. Malik
Written by Shahzad F. Malik

Limit Your Sources

A fundamental problem with Current affairs is the deluge of reading material.

Some aspirants spend an indefinite amount of time researching about the “best website” and the ‘best coaching material’ website for current affairs and  invest less time actually reading it.  Others have this perfectionist mindset that forces them to make copious notes and compilations from tons of material available in the market. Desist from this. Do your research for a day, decide on your sources, and stick with it. You’ll do just fine.

Choose quality over quantity.

“A wealth of information leads to a poverty of attention” — Herbert Simon

Current Affair Sources:

  • The Dawn’s Editorial/ Opinion Pages (One English Daily)
  • One daily compilation (Choose any among CSS Times/ HSM FB Page.)
  • One monthly compilation
  • Misc (HSM Current Affairs Book )
  • Internet

Limit Your Time

The problem with most aspirants is not that they neglect newspapers, but they overplay its importance. Some read newspapers for almost 3-4 hours a day, leaving them with no time to read other subjects.

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Current affairs are important, newspapers are important, but not so much that you invest disproportionate amount of time in it.

Current Affairs Preparation

  • Newspaper reading (30-45 min, no note making)— everyday
  • Online reading of the daily news compilation (choose any institute material for this)— everyday (45 min, highlighting and capturing the material on Evernote)
  • A revision of last week’s issues
  • Referring to a monthly compilation (choose HSM CSS Times — at the end of the month.

Focus on Issues, Not News

What’s the difference? News talks about an incident. Issues focus on ideas. Let me give you a example.

International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) verdict on Kulbhushan Jadhav is news. But the larger issue is about bilateral relation between Pakistan and India, ICJ— its structure and mandate, who are its subjects, how are cases referred to the court, India’s role in global fora etc.,

So to understand any current issue, follow the following framework:

  • Reason— Why is it in news? (This is usually reported in the newspapers)
  • Background Knowledge— (Data, facts, authentic reports etc.)
  • Current Status— What has the government done or not done so far?
  • Both sides of the issue— Pros and Cons/ Opportunities and challenges
  • Opinion/ Suggestions/ Way forward— What we must do about it?

Many a time, coaching material covers issues comprehensively. If it doesn’t, use the internet to find quality content and make online notes so that you have complete understanding of each issue.

Read. Revise. Execute.

The aforementioned methods will ensure that you capture 90-95% of current affairs in a manner relevant to this exam. But current affairs is a continuous topic that keeps piling up by the day. The best way to retain the content is through constant revision and by executing them in the answers you write during daily practice or test series. Just mentioning the relevant issue in a sentence or two will add tremendous value to your answers.

Besides, it’s best to revise current affairs immediately after you read the concerned static part of a paper. Even after reading and revising, you may not be able to recollect all current affair material in the exam hall. That’s okay. No one really can. Like perfect notes, perfect answers are a myth. You job must be to write the best answer you can in the limited time you have. Trust your instincts and have that unflinching self-belief. You will outperform your own expectations.

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Shahzad F. Malik

Shahzad F. Malik

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