If you are an IAS aspirant, you would probably be tired of hearing this advice, ‘You must sincerely work hard to become an IAS officer.’ There is no denying that you must indeed do dedicated preparation with sincerity in order to crack the UPSC civil services exam. Thousands of students work hard to achieve their dream goal. But why is it that only a few come through with flying colours in the end? It is because it is not how many hours you put in that matters, but how you use the hours you put in that really matters. This is where ‘smart study’ comes into the picture.
Smart studying refers to employing certain techniques in your preparation by which you would be able to study and internalise more in less time. A candidate can go on cramming stuff late into the night. He is, in the conventional sense, working hard. But will this kind of work deliver the goods? Hardly. What you need are tricks based on scientific evidence that will help you grasp and retain more. And, when it comes to the lengthy UPSC syllabus, you definitely need some tips to cover it.
A few easy-to-implement tips to study smart for UPSC Exam:
Learn in multiple ways
Our brain processes information faster and better when it is stimulated in multiple ways. That means we learn better when we see, hear and read; rather than when we read alone. So, after reading a particular topic, when you revise it, watch a video lecture on the same. This enhances your understanding and retention.
Read multiple subjects in one day
This is a very effective smart study technique. Instead of studying only one subject continuously for a day, read topics from 2 or 3 subjects. This avoids monotony and also lessens chances of your getting confused with similar themes.
It is proven that when you multitask you lose efficiency and effectiveness because your attention is divided. It is also easier to get distracted. When you study don’t watch TV or look at social media or even have your meals.
Take handwritten notes
Always make handwritten notes. Do not try it out on the laptop. This is because experts say your chances of getting distracted are high when you use a computer.
Learn by association
When you read something new, relate it to something you have previously learnt or know. For instance, when you read about white blood cells as being cells of the immune system, remember them as ‘soldiers’. This way it would be easy to recall that they protect the body from foreign invaders.
The importance of revision for the UPSC civil services has been talked about at length. Apart from the revision of the whole syllabus that you must do, you must also revise regularly each topic that you have studied. This helps you remember all that you have learnt.
Simplify the information
This is a smart technique that will give you great results. Simplify the information by using analogies, patterns and mnemonics.
Practice taking tests in order to assess how much you know, where you stand in terms of marks and also to time your answers. Also practice previous year question papers for an idea about the type of questions.
Know what to filter
Know how to sieve the abundant info available for syllabus-specific information. Remember, time is a scarce commodity when you are preparing for the UPSC civil services exam and you cannot afford to waste time reading unnecessary stuff. Streamline your studies to what is essential. Scanning the newspaper top to bottom for 2 hours is not a smart way to prepare for the IAS exam.
Read textbooks effectively
Use the SQ3R Method—survey, question, read, recite, review—to actively recollect information.
Don’t cram, understand
Cramming is the least smart way to go about your civil services preparation. Understand what you are learning. It helps you recall more. In fact, the more you understand, the less you have to mug up things.
Read important information out loud
When you read a topic, always underline keywords in the material. After you have read it once, read out aloud the keywords. This helps you retain that info.
After you have finished a topic or a few topics, reward yourself. This could be a walk or listening to a favourite song. This will give you the necessary break to your studies, which brings us to the next point.
Take a break
It is important to take breaks. It is physically and mentally impossible to study continuously. A break revitalises you to move ahead in your studies.
The UPSC exam preparation, a process that can last for almost a year, need not be a strenuous affair. You can enjoy it and make the most out of it if you employ these simple tips.
|Video lectures for UPSC civil services|
|Strategy to Prepare Notes for UPSC Exam|
|Mnemonic tricks to ease UPSC preparation|
|Read on how to take breaks during your IAS preparation.|