"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. 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 UPSC examination.
There are two hypotheses on how our notes making is beneficial to students:
- Encoding Hypothesis: when a person is taking notes, the processing that occurs improves our "learning and retention capacity."
- 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 which 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 pen and paper
or digital software.
- Quite often you will see students go for notes making in one go and without understanding
the exact meaning of notes making and 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 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 lightest of the manner it will help you in
- 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 have
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
- Civil service examination is not about bookish knowledge and it goes
beyond your limited knowledge of the book. So, keep on expanding your
knowledge, not by book alone but analyzing the things in practicality that is
understanding the concept in a more natural way. E.g. Delhi government implement Odd-Even
scheme in November every year. In this case understand that, Delhi pollution is solely
responsible for pollution in Delhi or neighbouring 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 utilised in mains answer writing to get an edge ahead as compare
to other students.
- Making a diagram or flow chart is beneficial in terms of answer writing; when due to crisis
of time you may have to go for 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 in 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 whole thing in 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 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'.
1 Pattern Notes:
- In pattern notes making each topic at the centre 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 of 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.
2. Linear Notes:
- In Linear notes method, you condense the material you
have read and jotted down the most important points using headings and
subheadings. This is the best method to make notes after reading a book
newspaper or a 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 colours, block letters, boxes and highlighters.
This will help you in arranging the notes in sequence and grabbing the
attention to the actual contents and they would make it much easier for
quick recall of the important points of a topic.
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, notes 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. The only you can revise them when you have collected the information in
- 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
that what suits you; it is you who will decide your success or failure. Neither this
article or 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 consists 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 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 for 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 the mind you
should decide the things which are more suitable for you.
5. How to make notes from NCERT?
- NCERT Is basic book, yet it is the foundation stone for your civil services
preparation so, don't take NCERT lightly and read it as for just fun. Take NCERT
with sincerity 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 it 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 source: The Times of India
- Above article is about Universal Basic Income, in which writer is depicting a broader picture of UBI merging it with rural distress; so, her your notes making should be like this:
- What is UBI?
- Reasons for the emergence of the UBI concept?
- Reasons for Agrarian distress?
- Government policies (short term/long term) to tackle this problem.
- Benefits and Negative aspects associated with UBI.
- Above article also mention 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 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 coming time.Good Luck…….
How to make note 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 the will power to succeed in the exam. Note making is of great
importance for a student. This is because there are 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 a good
practice for thinking and writing out essays. Well-organised 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
- 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
- On the occasions when one is called upon to give a lecture, speech or to paricipate 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.
- It allows you to focus on the points relevant to your purpose.
- Make your notes brief and be selective. As understanding a topic would be easy for you but
remembering certain points would be difficult, hence it is important to make notes of
important points as this would make you easy to summaries and have a glance whenever you
- Keep them well-spaced so you can see individual points and add more details later if
- 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
- 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 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
- Try to use different colored pens for headings, sub-headings etc.
- Maintain separate folders/files for each subjects.
- Always keep revising the notes or just have a glance at the important points once in a
- After analyzing the syllabus and selecting the recommended books-Make notes on 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 learnt.
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 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 contribution to a discussion.