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"HUMANS tend to lose almost 40% of new information within the first 24 hours of first reading or hearing it. If we take notes effectively, however, we can retain and retrieve almost 100% of the information we receive"

Given the voluminous nature of the UPSC exam syllabus, it is almost impractical for a candidate preparing for UPSC to expect a complete revision of all the textbooks and entire syllabus right before the examination, at the same time to score good and to crack the examination, revision plays a major role. Hence, to overcome this challenge, most of the aspirants rely on their self-made notes for a quick revision during exam days.

Notes making plays a crucial role in UPSC preparation as it is part of active learning. One cannot expect to clear the UPSC examination without preparing his notes and revising it regularly. Take any UPSC topper of any year and you will find almost all of them had notes making as part of their strategy to crack the UPSC examination.

  1. Encoding Hypothesis: when a person is taking notes, the processing that occurs improves our "learning and retention capacity."
  2. External-Storage Hypothesis: A person learns by being able to look back at his notes, or even the notes of other people.

The very exact meaning of notes making is to write down things, which you can forget and things that can be revised in quick succession of time

While note-making is crucial, it is important not to waste much of our time and to make such notes that one can look back at and understand in one reading.

Learning is the first step of notes Making

  • Notes making is quite often confused with writing everything down on paper or digital devices.
  • Quite often you will see students go for notes making in one go and without understanding the exact meaning of notes making and the importance of notes making.
  • The very exact meaning of notes making is to write down things, which you can forget and things which can be revised in a quick succession of time.
  • Notes making is an art where you read things and use that information smartly in pinning down that information in a crispy and precise manner so that you can remember those things.
  • Before note-making you should collect information, information is the key in note-making. When you will know the topics, even in the lightest of manner it will help you in note-making.
  • So, the mantra of note-making is going for information collection in the initial stage and later on, you can disseminate that information in note-making.

Reading less analyzing more

  • Visualize things to remember the studied matter.
  • One of the common problems that are found in students is that they forgot, what they had read after some time.
  • You don't have to worry about these things much, as although it is quite natural that you will forget the studied things but revising time and again holds the key in this examination.
  • Civil service examination is not about bookish knowledge but beyond limited knowledge of books. So, keep on expanding your knowledge, not by book alone but by analyzing the things in practicality that is understanding the concept more innately. E.g. Delhi government implement the Odd-Even scheme in November every year. In this case, understand that Delhi pollution is solely responsible for pollution in Delhi or neighboring states also contributes to Air pollution in Delhi. You should also understand what kind of air is injurious to health and their source of emergence.

Making notes in own words

  • Make a Mind-map or Flow chart.
  • Making a mind-map or flow chart is not only beneficial in notes making point of view but, this same flow chart can be utilized in mains answer writing to get an edge ahead as compared to other students.
  • Making a diagram or flow chart is beneficial in terms of answer writing; when due to time crunch you may have to go to depict relevant information on your copy. These little things can also fetch you good marks.

Confining notes as Small as Possible

Make precise and crisp points.

  • Make notes as much as possible in a crisp and precise way. Write notes into the points in a when, how, and where format.
  • Sticking to the point is most important in notes making as you may end up filling your notebook with irrelevant information, which may not have much use.
  • In a nutshell, you may end up making another voluminous note for yourself before the exam, which might not be much useful.
  • Linear notes are far more superior as compared to writing down the whole thing in the notebook and increasing your work burden by increasing the material. So, try to stick with the information and read as if you have to carry that information for a lifetime.

Linear Notes and Pattern notes

  • Making notes from voluminous study material is nothing but a gigantic task. There are different methods of making notes and one should decide which method suits you the best. There are two types of making notes; one is the 'Linear Notes' the other is 'Pattern Notes'.

  • Pattern Notes:

    • In pattern notes making each topic is at the center of the page and each line radiating from it should represent a branch of the main idea. Each point is written as briefly as possible using a keyword or a phrase. This is an appropriate method to adopt because it is more flexible and one can add extra information at any point in time.
    • Pattern notes making is beneficial as you can see the entire pattern at one go without actually turning the pages. You can indicate the links between different topics more easily. it is useful from one's memory point of view as one can keep jotting down the points as and when they crop in the mind.
    • Pattern notes are much easier to remember the content of the notes. This pattern helps in revision much faster as only brief keywords are being used to make notes.
    • The disadvantage of pattern notes making is that if there are too many facts and too much information, your notes become messy and overcrowded. Using keywords can remind of basic ideas but when it comes to remembering details, this method cannot be sufficient alone.
    • So the best method of making good notes is to use a combination of both Linear and Pattern methods and evolve your unique pattern of making notes that may help you in your last-minute revisions.

    Linear Notes:

    • In the Linear notes method, you condense the material you have read and jot down the most important points using headings and subheadings. This is the best method to make notes after reading a book newspaper or magazine. Here one has to avoid copying a lot of material and a lot of care has to be taken while condensing the contents. The right way is to use loose sheets of paper to make notes on a given topic as it is easier to keep adding information through additional sheets.
    • Notes can be made by using colors, block letters, boxes, and highlighters. This will help you in arranging the notes in sequence and grabbing attention to the actual contents and they would make it much easier for quick recall of the important points of a topic.

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Some frequently asked Questions

1. Is it necessary for note-making?

  • Not really, it varies from person to person. This is not something mandatory for clearing the examination. You can still clear this examination without making notes, however, note-making eases the preparation hard work.
  • If you don't want to make notes, you can choose another way of highlighting text, make an important word bold if you are making notes online.

2. Is it necessary to make notes for the static portion?

  • For longer subjects, it is mandatory to make notes. e.g. History, Geography, and current affairs, as these subjects are voluminous and you need to revise it again and again. Only you can revise them when you have collected the information in one place.
  • Choose what you want, whether you want to make notes or not, even if you want the later one it will not have any major impact on your success. It depends upon you what suits you; it is you who will decide your success or failure. Neither this article nor tips goanna help you neither is I. So, work on yourself of what you want rather than taking tips from others and implementing it on a trial basis.

3. What should note consist of?

  • Your notes should ask the questions what? Why? How? When? Where? Examples? Benefits? Cons? Suggestions? Data? Committees? Schemes? Alternatives to the phrase of the syllabus in question.
  • Your notes consist of information that you have read and the information that you have collected in a more precise manner and crispy manner. It means that your notes should be in your words and the pattern of your notes should be like asking questions from you.
  • Your notes should also consist of a diagram and flow chart wherever it is necessary and it should be in linear form which should follow the pattern.

4. Should I make notes online or offline?

  • Again, like I have said earlier above it is your call to decide whether you want to make notes online or go offline. The most convenient you feel in which you should adopt that method. No matter where you make notes but you should remember that you have to revise multiple times. So, keeping that thing in mind you should decide the things which are more suitable for you.

5. How to make notes from NCERT?

  • NCERT Is a basic book, yet it is the foundation stone for your civil services preparation so, don't take NCERT lightly and read it for just fun. Take it sincerely and understand every concept of NCERT and utilize your reading in your example by understanding the crux of the material.
  • Understand this through an example suppose you have read; the difference between GDP and NDP SO, here write down what GDP includes .e.g. Goods services produced within boundary of the territory of a country within a limited period, In NDP You can write in your notebook NDP=GDP-Depreciation.

6. How to make notes from News Paper?

  • When you read the newspaper daily, understand the whole dynamics first then write down the important points in your language. Let's understand this concept through an example; read the article given below, which is taken from The Times of India:

Article for notes in The Times of India

Article source: The Times of India

  • The above article is about Universal Basic Income, in which the writer is depicting a broader picture of UBI merging it with rural distress; so, your notes making should be like this:
    1. What is UBI?
    2. Reasons for the emergence of the UBI concept?
    3. Reasons for Agrarian distress?
    4. Government policies (short term/long term) to tackle this problem.
    5. Benefits and Negative aspects associated with UBI.
    6. The above article also mentions about Rythu Bandhu scheme of Andhra Pradesh, so google it and know about it and write it down in your notebook.

At last, I would say that "less is more" .so, stick with this mantra and read your notes again, again and again rather than running here and there for the collection of new information. Collection of information is a good thing but, it will become useless once you will not be able to revise it. Make your notes in your word and revise it and stick with it and you will see the difference in the coming time. Good Luck…….

How to make notes for UPSC preparation

  • The Civil Services Examination is mainly a test to choose suitable administrators. It tests the candidate right from the stage when one starts the preparation. A candidate should be in the right frame of mind and have the willpower to succeed in the exam. Note-making is of great importance for a student. This is because there are a few good reasons for making notes:
  • One is that you cannot make notes without understanding the given topic, since you have read out the important points and tried to summarize them.
  • Next is that writing down any information helps you to remember it better. It makes good practice for thinking and writing out essays. Well-organized notes make the writing process much more efficient.
  • It will prompt you to revise your work since it does not take a long time to go through a set of well-made notes.
  • It helps you in your final revision by reminding you of the most important points of each topic.
  • Note-making habits will help to train a critical mind, and it helps a student pass his examinations as well as develop a discerning, insightful mind which is quick at grasping relevant information.
  • On the occasions when one is called upon to give a lecture, speech, or to participate in a discussion, note-making skills help 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 lectures or contributions to a discussion.
  • It allows you to focus on the points relevant to your purpose.
  • Make your notes brief and be selective. Understanding, a topic would be easy for you but remembering certain points might be difficult, hence it is important to make notes of important points as this would make it easy to summarize and have a glance whenever you want.
  • Keep them well-spaced so you can see individual points and add more details later if necessary.
  • Show the relationships between the main points.
  • Use your own words to summarize.
  • Illustrations, examples and diagrams can help to put ideas in a practical context.
  • Make them memorable using: color, pattern, highlighting and underlining.
  • Read through to make sure they’re clear and understand them when you come to revise.
  • File with care! – use a logical system so you can find them when you need them, but keep it simple or you won’t use it.
  • Writing down points helps you to remember it better, it is also a good practice for thinking and writing; it is easy to revise your notes as it helps in your final revision making it easy for you to recall important points of each topic.

Here is the list of some strategies that should be followed while making notes:

Try to write on loose white sheets as they help in organizing and adding content relating to a particular topic.

  • Try to use different colored pens for headings, sub-headings etc.
  • Maintain separate folders/files for each subject.
  • Always keep revising the notes or just have a glance at the important points once in a while.
  • After analyzing the syllabus and selecting the recommended books-Make note of the particular chapters from the recommended books as you study.
  • Whenever you read some other books or come across a news/update about a particular topic, directly go to your notes, add one page and write down all the new things you learned.

Notes For Current Affairs:

Try to segregate the news/articles/features etc. in following categories:

  • Polity (PIB, PRS, Yojana etc.)
  • Diplomacy and International Relations (The Hindu, IDSA etc.)
  • Economics (The Hindu – Economy, Industry , EPW etc)
  • Environment and Bio-diversity (The Hindu – Environment, Indian Express etc.)
  • Science and Technology ( The Hindu, Indian Express)
  • Collect news from various sources and take notes from it on day to day basis.
  • Try to group the similar news/features/articles under the same heading and you will get a bigger picture after some time.
  • Also update the corresponding sections of GS subjects/ optional by adding one extra page in between their notes.

Note: For comprehensive coverage on Current Affairs Check out Chahal Academy's Six-point Current Affairs Program.

Importance of Notes Making for UPSC Preparation:

  1. Writing down any information helps you to remember it better and makes good practice for thinking and writing out essays. Moreover, Well-organised notes make the writing process much more efficient.
  2. Note-making habits will help to train a critical mind, and it helps a student pass his examinations as well as develop a discerning, insightful mind that is quick at grasping relevant information.
  3. It will prompt you to revise your work since it does not take a long time to go through a set of well-made notes and helps you in your final revision by reminding you of the most important points of each topic.

On the occasions when one is called upon to give a lecture, speech, or to participate in a discussion, note-making skills help 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 lectures or contributions to a discussion.