The UPSC civil services exam requires a lot of reading. Despite reading all the recommended books, candidates sometimes fail in clearing the exam. This is because there is a method to read the textbooks for the UPSC exam. The UPSC exam has certain requirements and a superficial reading will not suffice. Also, reading the lines and memorising them will not help either. In this article, a few tips are given to enhance your reading process so that you can extract the maximum out of the books.
Basically, reading books especially the basic textbooks should be done in three stages for the IAS exam. The three stages are given below:
Stage 1: Read for the general information given under the topic.
Stage 2: Read for extended knowledge based on the information obtained from the first reading.
Stage 3: Read to go beyond what you extracted from the first two readings.
The technique is illustrated with examples below.
This is from an NCERT book, chapter ‘Climate’. The topic under discussion is ‘Indian Monsoons’. There is a line in the book under factors affecting the Indian monsoon. One of the factors given is as follows. The presence of the high-pressure area, east of Madagascar, approximately at 20O S of the Indian Ocean. The intensity and position of this high-pressure area affects the Indian Monsoon.
In the first reading, you only take the given point, i.e., the presence of high-pressure area east of Madagascar as one of the factors affecting the Monsoons. In the second stage, you think about why the high-pressure area is created near Madagascar? How does it help the monsoons? You will get the answers by your own logic and connecting other pieces of information. You can always rely on other advanced books or your teachers or seniors. In the final reading, you will think about the whole picture including Somali jets, El Nino, etc.
This example has been taken from Bipan Chandra’s book ‘India’s Struggle for Independence’, chapter 6: Socio-religious Reforms and National Awakening. A line in this chapter says: Religious reformation was a necessary prerequisite to social reform.
In the first stage, you take in the information. In the second stage, you should understand the why and the how. How were social reforms related to religion? Why was it needed to reform religion first before venturing on to social reform? What is the interrelation between religion and social reform? In the third and final reading, you should ponder about the good and bad impacts of bringing religion into social reform. The obvious demerit would be the communal element to it.
This example is taken from the NCERT textbook for Economics for class X, chapter 1 ‘Development’. A line says, Consequences of environmental degradation do not respect national or state boundaries; this issue is no longer region or nation specific. Our future is linked together.
In the first reading, you understand the sentence given superficially. In the second reading, you must conclude why this is so based on your reading of the chapter. In the final stage, you should understand the ramifications of this line, what environmental degradation in one part of the world does to another part, and why it is important for the world to work as one in this regard.
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