Five Principles for GS Preparation
General Study’s syllabus is fully described by UPSC and nothing is asked beyond the syllabus.
GS preparation is very enriching experience not only for UPSC but also throughout your life. To prepare GS, one has to keep certain principles in mind –
Principle-1: Limited sources (e.g. Indian Polity means Laxmikanth)
Most of the aspirants do this mistake to filled room with number of Magazines and Coaching Notes and in the end not having time to read even a single material, which is sheer wastage of time and money. Aspirants are advised to keep sources limited and keep on revising same stuff again and again. Keeping sources limited means covering one topic from one source. Do not try to cover one topic from multiple sources otherwise it would be very difficult to recollect in the end. In the second or third reading you can enrich your content by adding some more points in the space left over in your notes. But never ever try to do PHD on a topic. Neither UPSC wants this nor in your interest.
Current Affair Sources:
- The Hindu Newspaper (You can not afford to miss)
- Indian Express-only selective editorials especially for GS Paper-2 and Interview.
- Daily Compilation by any reputed coaching material
- Monthly Magazine of any reputed Institute (if you read daily compilation then monthly compilation would be too easy to finish)
- All India Radio-Discussion (listen it while having a walk after dinner and jot down the points after listening)
- RSTV-BIG PICTURE AND INDIA’s WORLD)
- Smart use of Google Search (if you come across a topic which you do not know about then write it down in a notebook and leave at least 200 words space. Search some important facts about the topic and write it down. It is very handy for fresher to build concept in GS e.g. Chandrayaan Mission, get some facts about the mission in approx 150 words-it will help in GS Paper, Essay Paper, Optional and Interview as well)
Do not try to get perfection while preparing. You need success not perfection. Perfection has no limit. The successful candidates just read with these many sources only and they are in the Services now.
Principle-2: You have limited Time
Current affairs should get maximum 3-4 hours time slot every day. To cover newspapers you should give maximum 1.5 hrs. Then give 30 minutes for noting down the main points in your notebook. Just write main points only and do not copy newspaper. Do not run after online analysis and do your own analysis, which will stay with you longer. Note only main points of an article and do not try to copy the exact sentences from newspapers or magazines. Trust me if you have read and understand a topic properly then you can recall it at any point of time by just seeing the main points of that issue.
In starting you may take sometimes but with rigorous practice you can cut short your time and increase quality and see the difference after one month.
Please feel free to write us about issues in Current Affairs preparation, the selected candidates would answer your query.
Principle-3: Prepare Issues
Issue means a matter or an affair in question e.g. Poverty, Hunger, Malnutrition, Nuclear arsenal, Corruption etc. Issue focus on ideas whereas incidents and events may be one time occurrence. Let’s understand with one example-“The PM has said about $5 trillion economy” Here you have to see larger picture and background e.g. in which sectors, which model-PPP or else, from where investment will come, what reforms we are needed, what we try to achieve etc. or another issue like India-Pakistan relation and its impact on SAARC etc.
So to understand any current issue, you may use some framework:
- Reason/Why aspects— Why is it in news?
- Background Knowledge— (Data, facts, authentic reports etc.)
- Current Status— How the govt responded?
- Both sides of the issue— Pros and Cons/ Opportunities and challenges
- Opinion/ Suggestions/ Way forward—
Develop an attitude to write down on notebook and understand the issue in holistic manner/Online content development is also good by I will personally suggest to use pen and paper, as you have to write it in exam. Keep revising the issue and also try to link it with another similar issue. It will develop an idea to express things in holistic perspective.
Principle 4: Notes Making
In CSE Mains Exam you have to write answer in 200 or more words. If you keep on practicing on paper then you will save yourself from penalty marks. Many aspirants feel handy to make notes online which is also easy to update when time demands but I will suggest to keep writing on paper and you will realize the writing potential of yours. It will help you to cope the Mains Exam easily.
Make Four Copies for Four GS Papers. Read Newspaper/Magazines/Current Affairs Compilation and just give heading of the topic in your respective Copy and write the main heading within which write some facts and data and move on. You will surprise to know how handy it is in your GS preparation. And you will be remembering the issue because you have written in your own writing.
Many aspirants think that reading newspaper is wastage of time but this very wrong calculation. There is no replacement of newspaper. You read newspaper, understand it and write it. You completely understand the issue. With little revision you can recall and write.
- Reading newspaper and then covering compilation give you a good understanding about the issue.
- Most of the questions are current affair based which has been covered widely in newspaper.
- Anecdotes and examples for essay, ethics and interview can be collected from newspapers.
- Continuous reading of English newspaper also improve vocab.
Principle 5: Read-Revise-Write.
Current Affairs is a continuous process. Some or the issue keeps on coming up. Keep on revising and using in Test Series and see how much you can recall. If you able to recall and write even few points of your writing then it will add tremendous value to your answer.
Read current affairs along with Static topic. For example if you have covered the static part of GS-2 then read current affairs and try to associate with static portion. A good answer consist both static and current affairs.
Detail GS Strategy and Books/Materials to refer are given in below links-