Mission UPSC 2019: How to Deal with Current Affairs for Civil Services Prelims and Mains Examinations

Since the changes in the UPSC Exam Pattern, current affairs play a significant role in the IAS exam. Most of the aspirants whether they are beginners, or veterans of the exam are still sceptical about Civil Services Exam Preparation. Current affairs for UPSC, a dynamic and undefined part of the IAS Syllabus is what puts aspirants in a dilemma thinking how and from where to start IAS preparation.

To clear all the doubts and give aspirants’ a fair idea on how to deal with the current affairs, we present a strategy on how to cover the current affairs part of the UPSC Syllabus which aspirants’ preparing for the UPSC 2019 exam can follow.

It is imperative for aspirants’ to start their preparation after referring UPSC Previous Years’ Question Papers of both Prelims and Mains as by going through the UPSC question papers aspirants will get an idea of what kind of questions have been asked and how the questions are framed and why the questions have been asked. We also recommend candidates’ to solve IAS question papers as solving them develops the skill to predict questions that could be asked in the actual UPSC Exam.

E.g. Here is a question asked in UPSC 2016 IAS Prelims Exam.

Q. Regarding ‘Atal pension Yojana’, which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. It is a minimum guaranteed pension scheme mainly targeted at unorganized sector workers.
  2. Only one member of a family can join the scheme
  3. Same amount of pension is guaranteed for the spouse for life after subscriber’s death.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1,2 and 3

Ans. C

Why was the question asked? It was in the news as the provisions regarding the payment of lump-sum on the death of the subscriber were amended in the month of March 2016 by the government. Also, mentioned in the Economic Survey.

Here’s a question from UPSC Mains 2016.

Q. With a brief background of quality of urban life in India, introduce the objectives strategy of the ‘Smart City Programme’.

Here again, the ‘Smart City Programme’ initiated by the government was in the news, all candidates have to do here is to know the features and benefits under the smart city programme linking it with the quality of the urban life in India.

Now candidates’ are aware of the prerequisites for current affairs preparation, here are a few strategies on how to deal with UPSC Current Affairs for both prelims and mains.

  1. Which newspapers to read?
    • Most of the aspirants’ or IAS Experts recommend reading The Hindu, which is followed conventionally for UPSC Exam Preparation. It is also recommended that candidates refer to other newspapers like The Indian Express, Live Mint, Economic Times., etc. as well for IAS 2019. Notably, whichever newspaper candidates may read but all they have to ensure they get good coverage of National, International, administration related news, economy and business matters science and technology, biodiversity, disasters, etc.
  1. How much time should one take to read the newspaper?
    • IAS Aspirants’ should spend less than two hours in reading the newspaper and not beyond that as they have to dedicate their valuable time to cover the static part of the syllabus and ensure to read the newspaper from the UPSC Exam point of view.
  1. What to read and what not to read from the Newspaper?
    • Aspirants’ should understand the need for current affairs preparation for UPSC Exams and know that reading the newspaper to cover this part of the UPSC Syllabus totally differs from the usual way of reading.
      • What to read from the newspaper for UPSC Current Affairs?

    Things to give importance while reading the newspaper in UPSC perspective.

    • Read news which is related to the UPSC Syllabus
    • News those are of National and International importance as given below.

    Administration related matters, Economy and business matters, Editorials, Science and Technology, Environment, Biodiversity, Disasters, etc. –Read these well.

    News that should be skimmed through or spend less time.

    • Sports – skim through if India has won in any major events or if sports their hobby
    • States’ /Districts/City news – should give importance when any issues in the news are directly or indirectly related to the national level (like issues where the central government should interfere with the state issues e.g. water disputes).
    • Issues related to your profile – Like their career/educational/hoppy back up as it may come in handy during the personality test or interview round.
    • News that is relevant to your profile like location, job, hobby etc.
      • What not to read from the newspaper in UPSC Current Affairs perspective?
    • Entertainment
    • Lifestyle

    One should skim through only if it is relevant to their hobbies.

  1. How to read the Newspaper and make current affairs notes for IAS Exam?
    • IAS Aspirants’ should be well-versed with the UPSC Syllabus and divide the syllabus into static and dynamic parts and give importance to each accordingly. It is advised to the aspirants to keep the UPSC syllabus next to them while reading the newspaper and notes of the static part of syllabus as whenever they come across any issues in the news then all they have to do is look for the syllabus keyword in the news then highlight it in their notes of the static part and correlate it.
  1. Refer BYJU’S Comprehensive News Analysis
    • If candidates’ find it difficult to read the newspaper and make notes then we would recommend them to refer our Comprehensive news analysis which covers all the news of national and international importance from major newspapers like The Hindu, Live Mind, Press Readers and others. The news covered from these newspapers is categorized into the four general studies papers of UPSC Mains Exam.
  1. Till what stage of the UPSC Exam should a candidate read the newspapers?
    • The question should actually be “How many months current affairs for IAS Prelims 2018 is required?” Usually, we advise candidates’ to start their preparation a year before, in a similar way, we recommend covering the issues in the news from 18 months or at least 12 months prior the UPSC Exam.

For e.g. if candidates’ are planning to write UPSC 2019 Civil Services Prelims Exam, which is to be held in June 2019 then they should start reading the newspaper from the previous year’s January Month or at least June Month of 2018.

Mostly, candidates’’ should never miss reading the newspaper until they clear the UPSC Civil Services Exam as current affairs play a crucial role in all these three stages of the IAS Exam.


To prepare for the UPSC current affairs, candidates should have a conceptual clarity, which they can acquire only by referring NCERT Books an essential source required to start with the UPSC Exam Preparation.

The candidates’ who aspire to get in the civil services and serve the nation should follow these simple strategies to cover the IAS Current Affairs, a dynamic part of the UPSC Syllabus.

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