Preparing for current affairs is an extremely crucial step for all aspects of the UPSC CSE examination — from the prelims to the Mains and then the interview stage.

We shortlisted five preparation tactics and techniques that worked for IAS officers based on their experience.

1. Pick the right resources for current affairs Ria Dabi, who secured an AIR 15 in the examination, says, “Throughout my preparation journey, I stuck to reading two newspapers – The Hindu and The Indian Express – for current affairs primarily.”

She also adds that aspirants can refer to the comprehensive current affairs magazines released by various coaching institutes. For instance, the current affairs magazine by Vision IAS.

2. Follow a proper schedule Ria started her day by reading the newspaper. “I thought it important to start my day with having an understanding of what was happening around me.”

“It would take me close to 1.5 hours to read through the entire newspaper each morning,” she says.

3. Read editorial and explainers Pratishtha Mamgain, who secured an AIR of 50 in 2017, says, “I would read the editorial every day, and apart from that, go through the explainers very thoroughly.”

“I would also spend some time making notes for issues that were very new to me, and I felt that there was a need to get into deeper.”

4. Divide time judiciously Pratishtha mentions that the first thing she did after waking up, was to read the information that needed to be memorised — details, like names, places, dates, and facts.

She would then move on to reading the newspaper and spend two odd hours doing that. At night, before going to bed, she would go through the Vision IAS booklet.

5. Make notes for current affairs IAS Namrata Jain improved her rank from AIR 99 to AIR 12 in the 2018 examination. One of the reasons for her good Mains performance, she says, was current affairs preparation.

“I got into the habit of reading extensively and also writing a lot. Any news or article I read, I took time and wrote what I gathered from it in a question-answer format,” she explains.

Namrata would also scroll through the internet and find more articles on the same topic to get a balanced view of the topic.

“I would then compile it all and make my own notes,” she says. This method helped her assimilate her thoughts and the writing also helped in practising for the Mains.