Friday, 6 February 2015

Current Affairs: Not in One Day but Everyday

    “Current Affairs: The latest and updated news available for preparation in Competitive exams”. I’m sure you’ve see this headline as you search for the latest news online. The sources vary. We are aware of the many sites which guide us with questions and answers, The Hindu publishes a separate segment on Current Affairs. There are magazines that offer in-depth analysis of issues and events in India and around the World. There are even groups on Face book where discussions happen on various news posts. While these may be excellent sources to rely on how does one still take time to prepare on such a vast topic.  50 questions, 50 marks  - How to take advantage and score maximum marks in this section.

To begin with make ‘Reading a Lifestyle’.
    Habituate reading news to become more knowledgeable not just for the exams. The attitude must change from solely focusing for the purpose of examination but rather make it a habit that improves not just your general knowledge but your reading comprehension and speaking skills. The more information you become aware of and retain, you become knowledgeable and it enhances your communication.

Let us explore some strategies to retain information we read.

Strategy 1:
For a particular issue, do gather prior history or events pertaining to the issue.  For example, Republic Day Celebrations just got over recently. Read up facts and history of this event.
  1. This was the 66th republic day celebrated across the nation.
  2. The First republic day was in 1950 when India became a Republic with Constitution of India coming into force.
  3. The main theme of 2015 Republic Day parade was “Women Empowerment”.
  4. U.S President Barack Obama was the Chief Guest at the 66th Republic Day parade and this was the first time The President of United States attended such a celebration.
  5. The first Chief guest of Republic Day Parade was President of Indonesia Sukarno in 1950.
When you explore the history and events of a particular event or issue, your knowledge is expanded and it improves recollection and retention.

Also make note of the important developments on a daily basis. This allows room for progressive knowledge check.

Strategy 2:
Skim through headlines quick and decide what to read.

Identifying what to read is also an art because it involves a lot of self discipline and an eye for detail.

In a page filled with advertisements and various news headlines, how does one focus and narrow down on the most essential one without wasting time on the irrelevant ones.

For example, if the headlines on a page were such that
  1. Let nation debate the Preamble: Ravi Shankar
  2. Jaishankar is Foreign Secretary
  3. Cabinet goes by HC Tax relief for Vodafone
  4. Now, German help for smart cities
  5. No more din in this tiger’s lair.
  6. Bedi woos Muslims
  7. Bardhaman Blast
So, which ones do you read and which ones do you overlook. Ideally, one should spend time on the second headline which specifically addresses the competitive exams and the third one maybe for Group discussions and the likes.  Most importantly do not get distracted by petty news, gossips and political hullabaloo and spend less time on state level and district level news. Ideally one needs to focus on the First Page, the economy section, Sports and International News. To get the best ensure you also follow a good newspaper or magazine and TV news hour.

Strategy 3:
Develop scientific ways to read the news paper in less time.

In order to do this one must increase their reading speed. First analyze how many words per minute (wpm) you can read. The average adult reads prose text at 250- 300 wpm. The idea is not to understand every word or get stuck with difficult words that hinder comprehension but to get the overall message of the text.

While reading, one tends to regress, ‘ conscious rereading’ and back-skipping (subconscious rereading via misplacement of fixation). This happens when you lose focus, daydream or just read for the sake of reading without paying attention to the content. This is when you do not comprehend and waste time rereading. So, it is important to eliminate regression and back skipping to increase speed. Learn to test yourself with reading for comprehension. Condition your mind to focus and register what you read.

Strategy 4:
Try to focus on the language as well.

There are many advantages while you take time to update yourself with the latest news. While you definitely expand your knowledge this also helps improve your reading comprehension skills and is a sure - fire way to expand one’s vocabulary. As a post reading activity, revisit the unfamiliar or new words and understand the application and usage of the word in various contexts.

Strategy 5:
Try discussing with friends.

There is nothing like a good discussion on a topic or news event that aids in retention.  Because it’s active participating learning, it’s more engaging and easy to remember.

Create forums or join a discussion forum, ask your friends and family views on the latest news and share yours too.

Current Affairs does cover a wide range of subjects. It builds language, vocabulary, reading comprehension, critical thinking, problem solving, oral expression and listening skills. It provides a ‘writing model’. Is a source to open up communications and offers ideal opportunities for group discussions and debates. Most of all it makes you a competent lifelong learner.

So, what’s stopping you from picking up that newspaper or magazine?

Read Away and Read Everyday!
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