Partha Pratim Mazumder
(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
It cannot be stressed enough that reading the newspaper is an unavoidable practice for APSC (Assam Public Service Commission) preparations. It is great to know that many serious aspirants out there have taken this advice seriously. Newspaper reading is one of the essential habits you need to inculcate if you wish to crack the Combined Competitive Examination (CCE). A lot of socially aware people read the daily newspaper. As Combined Competitive Examination (CCE) aspirants, you should imbibe this habit and also know how to extract meaningful and exam-relevant information from the papers. But you should also know how to be smart about reading newspapers. Why is it that some people take an hour to read the same content that it takes under 15 minutes for others? As Combined Competitive Examination (CCE) aspirants, you would be hard pressed for time and it is important not to take more than an hour or so for daily newspaper reading.
First of all, you must understand how articles are written in the newspapers in order to read them effectively. It is said that reading is the reverse of writing. Newspapers follow a technique called the 'inverted pyramid'. As per this technique, the gist of the whole article is mentioned in the first paragraph itself. Then, they expand it giving additional details which may or may not be relevant for you. Therefore, we don't have to read through the whole news item to extract relevant data for your notes. Also, it is important to note that interesting and important facts and figures related to the news item would mostly be published in little boxes or made prominent in the article. This way, you can get all the information you need just by going through the first or, first and second paragraphs and these boxes only. You can then move on to the next news item.
Reading is a matter of jumps and stops. When children start to read, they read character by character. When they advance, they move to reading words as a whole. And further, readers can progress to phrasal reading where a phrase or a group of words are read together. This is in fact, most effective as meaning is hidden in the phrases and not words. When we read in phrases, our 'stops' in the reading process are reduced, and this naturally increases our overall speed. So, phrasal reading gives two benefits:
n Increases speed by reducing the number of stops.
n Improves our comprehension and prevents us from going back to the sentence (thereby increasing speed again).
Newspapers are seen as an indispensable tool to prepare for the civil services examinations. It is highly unimaginable to think about clearing the civil services examinations without cultivating a mature newspaper reading habit. However, most of the candidates fail to develop the style of selective reading that a newspaper requires. A newspaper generally contains information about different issues and topics. Many of these issues might not be as relevant for the civil services preparation. Therefore, it is important to cultivate a habit of making a selective reading of a newspaper. This habit requires an understanding of the syllabus of the civil services examination, as well as the relevance of any topic from an examination point of view. To begin with, it is important to remember that an examination, of the level of the civil services exam, does not bother about the political tussles and non-decisive debates that are brimming in the newspaper of these days. Though these developments might be important in understanding the contemporary scenario of politics of the country, yet from an exam point of view, it is unimportant to spend enormous amount of time in making an in-depth study of these issues. Thus, an aspirant shall glide through the articles and news relating to the political developments of the working of different parties and groups.
What is of importance, from the exam point of view, is the decisions that are being taken, and the agreements that are concluded by the public authorities. Also important is, to look at the syllabus and highlight the developments that particularly relate to the traditional knowledge given in the books. Also, it is important to keep a log of the developments that an aspirant reads in the newspapers, because it is practically impossible to remember each and every news item till the exam time. Therefore, a more rational practice is to prepare a log of the important items from the newspaper. This shall not take much time of the candidate, as the candidate need to write down every bit of article from the paper. Also, while preparing notes from the papers, do not try to copy down the entire matter as it is. Instead, read the news items carefully and write down the brief summary. This would also help you to keep track of different developments that are covered by the newspapers. By the time of the examinations, you would be able to prepare all the current affairs easily and in an adequate space.