Smart studying is all about efficient studying. This means, in less time you cover more. 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.
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Ways to Study Smart for the UPSC Exams
Learn in multiple ways
When we think about a thing in multiple ways, our brain is able to learn better. That means we learn better when we see, hear and read; rather than when we read alone. That means more than one sense organ works at a time. 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
If you study only one subject in a day, studies might get monotonous. So, it is better if you go for 2 to3 subjects a day. This avoids monotony and also lessens the chances of your getting confused with similar themes.
Remember that at one point in time, you should do one thing only. If you do multiple things, you cannot concentrate on a single thing properly and your efficiency reduces. It is also easier to get distracted. When you study don’t watch TV or look at social media or even have your meals.
Learn by association
Whenever you read something, try to relate it with a topic which you already 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.
Revision is one of the most important things to be done while preparing for the UPSC exam. Apart from the revision of the whole syllabus that you must do, you must also revise regularly each topic that you have studied. You can make a schedule that works for you like you can revise the contents of a week on weekends. 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. Use infographics to remember the important facts.
Practice makes a man perfect. Practise taking tests in order to assess how much you know, where you are lacking so that you can improve. Also, practice previous year question papers for an idea about the type of questions.
Know what to filter
You need to be precise while studying for the IAS exam. Remember, time is the limiting factor 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.
The best way to cover the newspaper daily is to go through our Comprehensive News Analysis (CNA) which gives the relevant news item analysed for the UPSC exam.
Read textbooks effectively
Use the SQ3R Method—survey, question, read, recite, review—to actively recollect information.
You can download the NCERT textbooks for UPSC for free here.
Don’t cram, Understand
Cramming can be very dangerous for your preparation. It doesn’t let you retain things for longer. 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.
You need to take short breaks after long hours of study. 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.
Practise Answer Writing
It is important to practise answer writing skills. The UPSC Mains exam is totally descriptive and you need to write good answers in a limited time in order to score well.
The links given in the table below will be of immense help for candidates in their exam preparation: