Strategy to Prepare Notes for UPSC Exam

How and When to start making notes?

A very interesting question but mostly filled with ambiguity, thanks to the conflicting opinions from various sets of people. Some are of the opinion to start right from the first read; few others advise to finish few readings and make notes at the wee end and some advice not to make notes as it will be voluminous and impossible to revise. Here it is crucial to understand what the reasons behind making notes are:

  • Few treat it like a one stop solution for all questions. While revising, one need not flip through many books.
  • Many are of the opinion that more points means more marks giving one an edge in answer writing.
  • Some like making notes as writing makes one remember better.
  • It will contain more points than the one given by a guide/professor.
  • Helps you compile points from multiple sources.
  • On the occasions when one is called upon to give a lecture, speech or to participate in a discussion, note -making skills helps in providing a record of the essential points so that the speaker does not have to read out what he has prepared. The notes remind of the contents and sequences of lecture or contribution to a discussion.

When to start and what should go into notes??

The most common mistake aspirants do is, they start making notes right from the beginning. The drawback of making notes in the first read is:

  1. One feels every other point is important. Due to lack of subject clarity in the initial stages, one is ill – equipped to differentiate between the important and not so important points.
  2. In this case, one’s notes become an exact replica of the source, which defeats the very purpose of making notes.

It is advisable to start making notes in the second or the third read because at this stage you are sufficiently well versed with the topics/subject and can easily pick out the most relevant points. Making notes gives you better perspective at the nth moment for the exams. Notes should be something that one can refer to at the fag end and recollect. It should essentially be a set of points, small cliff notes that would help you recollect the ideas and get your aptness in order.

Anything that makes sense to you should be included in the notes.

  1. Notes come in handy especially during mains when one needs to write elaborate answers. Relevant points help one fetch more marks and a broader perspective around the topic.
  2. It helps you in relating wide arenas and making the answer sensible by correlating various viewpoints.
  3. Keywords should be noted down and it should be summarised in your own words. This pushes one to think and focus. This also facilitates to capture the main ideas and internalise them better.

How to prepare notes??

Let’s look at few important thumb rules for making notes:

  1. Notes should be selective and brief. After the initial skimming, it is important to extract the key information from the chapter and note down as concisely as possible.
  2. Make notes for core subjects where the syllabus is clearly known.
  3. Keep it extremely simple and organised with key points listed and it should be well-spaced to accommodate more details later if necessary.
  4. One should use own words to summarise as it helps register the topics better.
  5. Make separate sections in accordance with the syllabus and ensure to cover the syllabus as much as possible.
  6. Notes are meant to simplify and not complicate further. So it is advised not to waste too much time and effort on the same.

Hope these pointers bring certain clarity in preparing notes.

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