The Art of Newspaper Reading for Competitive Examinations

Newspaper Reading is essential for the aspirants of all kinds of competitive exams. While you appreciate the importance of newspaper reading, we're sure most of you have wondered, How to read the Newspaper? Which newspaper to read? How much time to devote to newspaper reading? And so on. In this article we will discuss the best way to prepare current affairs from Newspapers.
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Why is Newspaper Reading Important?
Besides the obvious goal of scoring well in competitive examinations, methodical reading of newspapers on a regular basis will help you at every stage of the admissions/ recruitment process. Experienced journalists/ columnists write editorial and Opinion pages in prominent national dailies. These articles will aid you in maintaining focus over a long time, which is good practice for reading comprehension.The vocabulary and grammar usage in such articles is top-notch and will help you in the Verbal Ability section of various exams.
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Further, if you go through previous year GD topics of MBA colleges, you will see that most of them are related to current issues. You will also see that questions from current events are favorites in the interviews. Further, Written Ability Tests of B-schools are mostly based on recent happenings. Thus, regular newspaper reading will arm you with important facts, figures and information, which you can use to substantiate your opinion in a GD, Interview or an Essay/WAT.
What to Read in the Newspaper?
When you sit to read the newspaper, it is important that you know which news is important from the examination point of view. So, go through the GK section of past 3-4 years question papers of the exam that you are targeting. This will give you an idea of the nature of questions being asked in the exam.
The study of the newspaper may be divided according to the sections commonly seen in the papers.
  • Front Page: The front page is reserved for the most important news. However, some newspapers today devote large spaces in the front page to cover sensationalist news. So, you need to be good at identifying the important part & filtering out the irrelevant one.
  • City and Regional News: This section is not important.
  • Editorial and Opinion: These are important for widening your knowledge base, improving language skills, understanding key issues etc. This section is very useful for GD phase of MBA admission but has limited utility for objective type GK questions, as they emphasize more on analysis than facts.
  • National and International News: These are important from examination point of view.
  • Business and Economy: This section is critical, especially so for MBA aspirants as you can expect a majority of the questions in current GK from it.
  • Sports: Each paper has at least 2-3 questions related to major international tournaments across various sports.
How to Study the Newspaper?
For MBA aspirants, Newspaper is to be treated like a textbook. Thus, when you sit down to read one, you must have a pen and paper in hand, to take down notes. The newspaper is not to be read like a novel, i.e. in a leisurely manner! You must devote a minimum of 1-1.5 hours everyday, to cover all aspects of the newspaper comprehensively.
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Taking Notes
This is the most important part of studying the newspaper. We recommend that you purchase a 5-subject notebook or divide one in 5 parts, with the following broad sections:
  • Economy and Business - In this section, note down details of the latest budget, latest trends in macroeconomic indicators like inflation, GDP, latest business mergers and acquisitions, new appointments of head of business, etc. Please do not waste time in noting down latest figures of inflation, tax collected etc. as it is unlikely that a question may be asked from them.
  • Politics - In it, note down new laws, bills and constitutional amendments etc. Also, keep a note of recently held or upcoming elections and recently launched schemes by the Union Government. Note down the names of any new appointees at high positions in the executive, legislature and judiciary.
  • International News - Take down facts related to conflicts, national elections, regional treaties, global meetings and their agendas etc. Also, keep noting down facts related to India's foreign relations, economic ties, political conflicts, bilateral and multilateral relations etc.
  • Sport - From the sport section, note down the names of winners of major international and national level tournaments. If an Indian sportsperson performs well on the international stage, it automatically becomes important for your exams.
  • Miscellaneous - This may include information on new technological developments, celebrations related to a cultural festival, international days like the world environment day etc.

Try to inculcate the habit of active reading, rather than passively reading the newspaper. When you actively read the newspaper, you spend time to think and reflect upon the issue being covered, regarding its background and future implications. You may also ask yourself, "Can a question be framed on this?" Only then will you be able to take full advantage of newspaper reading.
Further, avoid writing full sentences while taking notes. Just noting down of facts should be enough to clear an objective test. You may keep taking notes until 1 month before the paper you seek to clear. After that, you will find that it will be very easy for you to revise these notes, prior to sitting in the exam.
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Newspaper reading for competitive examination is an art. You require a very different approach to study the newspaper. Rest assured, if you read the newspaper regularly with a methodical approach, the GK section in any exam would become a cakewalk for you!
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