How To Make Notes for UPSC Civil Services Exam
Making your own notes is an important aspect of any kind of exam and while preparing for UPSC CSE, it plays a very important role here as well. Since the UPSC test includes many subjects with vast dynamic syllabus, it is very difficult to remember everything and it is not possible to go through the whole syllabus while revising.
The main test of IAS Civil Services contains descriptive type questions. Mainly it is about assessing the chosen person's ability to analyze, critique, and communicate. The most important thing to remember is the time limit. Candidates should therefore answer questions quickly and effectively and in small words.
Aspirants should make separate notes for Prelims and mains. This is because, in the prelims exam, the topics covered is precise while in the mains exams extensively all the syllabus has to be covered. Aspirants can even make short notes for appearing in the interview. Before the interview, students can go through these short UPSC CSE notes to quickly read and remind themselves of the important things to do.
Need for note making:
- Making notes for any exam is very important for getting high marks. And when aspirants prepare CSE notes, it will help them revise the entire syllabus efficiently in less time.
- Also, making UPSC CSE notes complete and organized makes difficult topics easier.
- It is almost impossible to revise all books on the night before the exam. So, in that case, making short notes is a deep breath.
- Another good thing about making notes is that learners are able to read the whole syllable in small words and write important points in brief.
- Taking notes helps learners to think and write accurately and to reach a point.
- This writing practice helps them to write well in exams.
Note making helps in mastering the following important aspects of answer writing:
- To begin with every aspirant who makes notes would have clarity and have a plan in place regarding how much time they are going to contribute to each question (both in terms of thinking and writing down of the answer). It is always a good investment if, before starting to write an answer, one spends a minute or two to understand the required dimensions and framing the skeleton of the answer.
- Self-evident plan: In order to ensure good flow and progression, there is a need to logically segmentize the answer. Every aspirant who makes notes will have clarity of the thought process and give the examiner bird’s eye clarity about how the answer is going to unfold. There will be continuity and linkage between different parts.
- Answering the ‘question’ rather than a ‘topic’: every aspirant who makes notes will address the ‘focus’ of the question. A common mistake committed by aspirants is that they cherry-pick familiar words/ topics and fill pages on that and then expect to score well. It is worth noting that one can’t blindly write whatever one knows on a topic. Maximum attention would be devoted to core content of the question. The answer would reflect that the aspirant has understood the question and has catered to its demands. Rather than beating around the bush, aspirant would directly hit the nail on the head.
- Proportionality: one common mistake often committed is that aspirant write too much about something or write too little. Sometimes there is inadequate intro or conclusion and sometimes too excessive. This leads to abruptness in starting or ending of the answer. Aspirants often keep repeating the same theme or dimension which leads to a lop-sided answer. Every aspirant who makes notes will write which has a good but concise ‘first impression’ and ‘parting impact’.
- Visual appeal: every aspirant who makes notes will write answers that are appealing enough to read with neat hand writing, uncluttered presentation, underlining of key content, heading of sub-parts, diagrams/ flow-charts. They would ensure that the examiner reads the strongest arguments present in the answer.
- Creative input: every aspirant who makes notes would write answer that would consist of inter-topic linkages, catchy terms, facts and figures, case studies/ illustrations/ anecdotes.
- Expressions: there would be a balance between one’s own view points on one hand and technical jargons, research studies, expert views on the other hand. In other words, it would neither appear as too bookish nor as layman like.
- Concise and thoroughness: answer would be written in such a way that it concise and consists of thoughtfully framed sentences and at the same time conveys a lot. The answer would not be ambiguous, un wielding or meaningless.
- Engaging with the reference statement mentioned in the question: Many a times a question consists of a statement. In this case, rather than going around in circles they would quickly come to the statement at first opportunity.
- Addressing the specific requirement of the question: the specific requirement is indirectly indicated by a concluding word. Eg: discuss, elucidate, critically examine. Every aspirant who makes notes would address these effectively.
Steps For Making Notes:
- Firstly by heart the syllabus and accordingly plan for your study. Pick out the relevant information needed for UPSC examination with the help of syllabus.
- The first thing you should do is make notes to buy a separate and dedicated notebook or register or file that you will keep and edit your UPSC notes. Therefore, choose one that is easy to carry so that you can read it while traveling
- It is recommended to divide the syllabus into months, weeks, and if possible days. There are two ways to divide a syllabus. Divide it by topic or topic. It is advisable to make your combination of both which is to divide the whole notebook with the wisdom of the topic and continue to divide it into the wisdom of the topic. Mention the title of the article and highlight the subheadings so that you can easily identify the topic. This saves time
- The practice of underlining key points and phrases is excellent because they are easy to read and easy to understand. Try to write dots instead of long paragraphs. Divide the notes into short paragraphs.
- There are a few apps available today like Evernote, Notepad, etc. which you can use to prepare IAS notes. Digital notes are simple and useful.
- It is possible that learners often write in a hurry and forget to write correctly. But that can be a bad point when you review the syllabus. Because of a bad hand, the writer may not be able to understand you. Therefore, write clearly.
- Read Textbooks and do a second jog while reading
- Keep in mind that notes are letters. It should be brief and clear and easy to understand.
- Longer sections are a waste of time and do not add extra value to writing.
- The way we write our notes is the way we write in the test.
- Record keeping is a long process but one of the most rewarding aspects of learning.
- Make diagrams or charts in chronological order where possible.
- One of the most important things you should do is keep updating your notes
- Separate Your Task Work with Your Friends
- Use a pen and a color marker.
- To distinguish between main and minor points, use capital letters, boxes, stars, underline, and highlight.
- Do not write complete sentences, use abbreviations and punctuation marks, avoid linking words.
- Update your notes regularly
- Paste a sticky note to add the latest updates.
- What- When-Why-How- Current compatibility- The final comment should be in a format
Forward and backward linkages:
UPSC CSE preparation demands not just superficial knowledge about the News in hand, but also everything related to it that occurred in the past. Gathering this information is known as creating backward linkage.
Similarly, what will be in News, till the exam date, related to that issue in hand is also very important. This is known as maintaining track of Forward Linkages.
Even in static subjects we need to keep updating our study material in sync with the happenings taking place at present.
- First and foremost, it is important that for current affairs you maintain separate subject-wise files/folders/registers for the notes on various issues pertaining to the Current Affairs.
- Also, divide the files into various sections and sub-sections. It would help maintaining the notes for various topics and the sub-topics in a more organized manner.
- We know that any robust structure requires a strong foundation similarly it is important that the beginning gets right. So, it important to have the right sources in hand.
- It is a no brainer that the best source for preparation of current affairs in today’s time is the newspapers. Choose any two newspapers from Hindu, IE, Economic Times, Financial Express, Business Standard.
- Apart from newspapers, government sources like PIB/ Yojana/ Kurukshetra and websites, magazines like Down to Earth/ EPW/ Frontline, Economic Survey and Budget.
- Aspirants might ask what should be covered and what should be left? Answer is very simple. You need to do two things. One, be thorough with the syllabus. It should be on your tips. Two, go through the previous years’ questions to get a rough idea on what is asked and how it is asked.
- Remember that each and every topic that you cover, its notes should answer these questions:
- Why is it in news?
- What is it?
- What is its background?
- Acts/ policies/ schemes related to it
- Constitutional linkage and SC rulings regarding it
- Initiatives taken by states in respect to it
- Global well-known initiatives regarding the topic
- Latest facts and figures
- Case studies (if any)
- Advantages and disadvantages
- Challenges and solutions
- Way forward
- Now, question arises how to go about it. Consider an example that on a particular day an editorial comes in the newspaper on MSP advantages and disadvantages.
- So, you will make notes on this topic. You will jot down the content under the advantages and disadvantages section from the editorial in point format in your own lucid language. You need to be brief in notes making.
- You will try to fill the remaining the sections from other mentioned sources as and when the topic is reflected in them. Don’t start googling straightway.
- At the end of the month, go through each and every topic covered. Now fill the remaining sections by googling from standard sources.
- Further, before each topic and after each topic keep a page blank to jot down the content that will come down in future. For example: in the case of MSP what further steps states/ centre take.
- Remember, this slow process take you at least a month to adapt and gain clarity on things.
- Try making own notes in concise manner for easy revision and retention.
Note making for editorials:
- Maintain a notebook for each month.
- Divide it according to subjects-Polity, Geography, History, Economy, International, Environment, Security/Defense and Science and Technology.
- Maintain a separate notebook for optional. For any topic of the syllabus which may have current affair linkage, jot down the relevant news in 5 points. This will be a creative addition to your answer.
- Try to jot down any issue in point format i.e. the important facts, figures, quotes, data, judgments, keywords etc.
- Do not make paragraphs.
- Everything should be in your own words.
- Do not store newspaper cuttings.
In the case of Hindu, Page 6 is EDITORIAL. This is the most important page of ‘The Hindu’ newspaper from UPSC Exam perspective. Carefully read the two editorials given on the left margin. Then move to the Lead article. This usually would be an excellent analysis of a current issue. Finish this page, by reading the Letters to editor as this would give different opinions on the same issue. Page 7 is OPED. It expresses the opinion of a named author usually not affiliated with the publication’s editorial board. Read this to get a different perspective on current issues. There is a data point column which may be important fodder for mains.
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For current affairs:
The weightage of Current Affairs has increased enormously after the change in syllabus from 2013. The importance of Current Affair is now in each stage of UPSC i.e Prelims, Mains and Interview. Reading daily current affairs will not only help you prepare for the exam but also keep you aware of the surrounding happening around you.
Although, the best source of Daily Current Affairs should be newspaper like The Hindu, The Indian Express etc. but reading everyday newspaper along with mammoth syllabus of UPSC is almost next to impossible. Secondly every news in the Newspaper have not to be read. To help aspirants in this, Aptiplus Academy, the best online coaching for UPSC CSE, best UPSC coaching in West Bengal and the best UPSC coaching in Odisha providing the best UPSC CSE test series for 2022 and best online UPSC CSE preparation, coupled with the best online platform for IAS preparation/ best website for Civil Services Preparation, IASGYAN provides the summary of all the relevant news of the day. These summaries are exactly how the notes should be made.
Reading these daily also helps you in developing a habit of daily reading that will help you prevent the last minute rush of study.
As we all know, during our preparation, we are told to read the newspaper(The Hindu, Indian Express, LiveMint, Business Standard etc.) everyday and pay special attention to the editorials and OP-eds which are published in them. However students encounter some challenges like:
1.They don’t know which editorial/article is more important and which is not?
2.They are confused regarding the issue –If they should read more than one newspaper and their editorials too every day? It may take 4-5 hours every day.
3.And the most important issue is, an editorial or Op-ed is often biased and contains partial information. So, to get the holistic view of a particular topic, a student has to read the issue in various editorials over a number of days, weeks or even months.
To counter these challenges, Aptiplus Academy, the best online coaching for UPSC CSE, best UPSC coaching in West Bengal and the best UPSC coaching in Odisha providing the best UPSC CSE test series for 2022 and best online UPSC CSE preparation, coupled with the best online platform for IAS preparation/ best website for Civil Services Preparation, IASGYAN presents to you Daily Editorials.
it is important to know how notes should be made in timely manner in least possible space. It is very important for understanding Mains Issues as Mind Maps cover only important points relevant for examination. Since it is in diagram format, the image gets imprinted and helps in easy recall and retention. It reduces the time required for revision and many topics can be covered into few sheets. It is helpful for essay where we have to structure the essay before attempting it. Aptiplus Academy, the best online coaching for UPSC CSE, best UPSC coaching in West Bengal and the best UPSC coaching in Odisha providing the best UPSC CSE test series for 2022 and best online UPSC CSE preparation, coupled with the best online platform for IAS preparation/ best website for Civil Services Preparation, IASGYAN present to you Mindmaps.
Daily Mains Mini Test:
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A SMART approach is required to effectively make notes. Initially you may even take 3 hours Practice the process and after every week, do self-assessment. But with practice and perseverance, in two months, you will gradually reach the target of completing quickly with maximum ROI.