Art of Note-making for Civil Services Exam

Art of Note-making for Civil Services Exam

“Revision is the key to success in any civil/ public service examination and making self – made notes is indeed a great tool to do it properly and efficiently. However, the art of making short notes effectively is still a road unexplored for many. In this article, I, Swapnil Singh, from Aspirants Today, will be sharing the tips on making self- made notes for quick revision and saving the time in revising the entire syllabus at the time of examination.”

Practice, practice till you succeed” – A quote that I have always firmly believed in and will also suggest the same to all the UPSC/BPSC aspirants. Practice and constant revision are the two most crucial parameters to succeed in any examination especially civil/public services where the syllabus is voluminous and the time is limited. And as we all know, without proper and efficient revision, the entire study effort goes waste as many at times the candidates are not able to recollect in the examination what they studied. So, in order to be stress – free during exams, sufficient time must be allocated for revision which should be systematic and not random.  And the best way to effectively practice and revise your syllabus is by going through your own created notes.

Is making exam notes useful?

Yes, indeed. Sharing my personal experience, I will suggest that making good handwritten/digital notes not just helps in quickly revising your syllabus and textbooks in one go but also helps in enhancing your confidence and concept clarity each time you skim through them. When I was appearing for my Prelims, I relied on my notes and found it extremely useful in retaining the essential fodder points of various topics as well as reducing my anxiety levels while appearing for the Mains and interview as well. It also consolidated my preparation and reduced extra efforts while reading and remembering the same facts and figures again and again.

How to start making notes?

Making notes for revision is both an act of hard work as well as smart work. So, learning and understanding of the study material is extremely important than just copying and pasting it into your notebook. The best way to initiate this process is to pick up a topic and get hold of the different reading materials and resources for it and once you have gone through them well, jot down the points in a crisp and precise manner. It will not only organize your opinions in a flawless manner but will also help in improving your answer-writing skills for Mains stage. In addition, you can follow the following 10 steps to have a better idea of the art of note-making:-

1. Be thorough with the syllabus

To understand the requirements of the exam, always be thorough with the syllabus. Keep a copy of the syllabus and mark the keywords and locate them while reading through the study material to establish a connection to be used in your answers later in the exam.

2. Maintain separate notebooks/ registers for different subjects

Try and maintain notebooks/ registers/ files for each subject and mark it as GS 1, GS 2 and so on for easily identifying them before Mains Exam. In each register, subcategorize the topics of relevance and leave certain number of pages for it. While going through the newspaper/coaching materials/ textbooks, if you find anything worth noting down, write it down I those pages.

3. Pattern of note-making

One can make notes in two forms –

  • Linear Notes, where you can write down everything in a serial and elaborate manner.
  • Mind Maps, where you can create a hierarchical structure to remember the important points at once.

Both ways are equally good and necessary as per the need of the hour. So, while jotting down the points, rearrange your notes as per requirement.

4. Study previous year questions

To understand the exam pattern well, going through the previous year questions is a must. And once are done with it, you can mark those questions in your notes to remind yourself of their importance.

5. Underline/Highlight key points

Highlighting an important opinion/fact/figure is necessary for visually remembering it over a longer period of time. We all know that a visual perception often fades away a little late if it is written in BOLD letters or is highlighted using colourful pens, symbols or caged in a box.

6. Handwritten/Digital notes

Another question which is often asked by the aspirants is whether a handwritten or a digital mode of note making is suitable. As per my experience, I have always relied on my own handwritten notes as I have a quality of retaining notes in my handwriting for a longer span. However, the use of digital tools such as EVERNOTE/ MS Note is equally recommendable for toe whose are too lazy to write everything down. However, instead of just using cut, copy, paste candidates must rely on inclusivity and editing of content regularly while making comprehensive online notes.

7. Write in Simple and crisp language

Always prepare notes in simple yet crisp language as it is more crucial to present your answer in a proper way than showing the power of your vocabulary. Using keywords and important economic/political terms is however welcome by the examiner.

8. Use sticky notes for updating the information

Never treat your notes as the final version and keep them updated by adding facts of current affairs using sticky notes /side margins. One can also paste a news piece cutting from the newspaper for reference if it is essential to a particular topic.

9. Use diagrammatic representation /flowcharts

Use of flowcharts, diagrams, maps, global phenomena etc. is a big catch in such exams. They are visually appealing and often attract the examiner’s attention thereby fetching some extra marks.

10. Use real-life example, quotations, definitions and new words

Always remember to cite some quotes by famous personalities, real-life events, historical event of importance, summaries etc. while explaining a      topic. It gives a beautiful start/end to an answer and makes it look attractive and presentable.

In the end, I will suggest you to keep reviewing your notes once you have finished reading the course to build up your confidence and strengthen your preparation process. The more you devote time initially the lesser burden you will feel on the day of examination. So, learn to trust your abilities and jump into the ocean of information to pick your diamonds of true knowledge.

Best wishes,
Swapnil Singh
Follow me on Youtube:Aspirants TODAY

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