How to Prepare Notes – For UPSC Civil Service Aspirants
- Why preparing notes is a basic requirement.
If you are studying for the UPSC exam, sitting on your chair and reading a textbook or a newspaper article is not like lying on a couch and reading Chetan Bhagat. Mindfulness is a must. Having a pen and a notebook on the table will help you stay focused and look for facts, ideas, arguments and their context.
Your bed is not meant for studying and taking notes. It’s meant for something else. Sitting on a chair with your pen and notebook while reading is a given. Otherwise, you end up sending signals to your subconscious mind that you are actually passing time. Like the way you watch breaking news on Republic TV. Presence is more important than productivity. Your mind needs to stay present here and now on the printed page (or the laptop screen). Don’t worry about how many pages you’ll have to finish in a day.
Note-taking will help you remember concepts and gain a better understanding of a topic. It’ll lead to less stress when the exam comes around. Retention is better if you take notes. And it’s easier to go back to your notes when you want to revise what you read after a fortnight or after six months.
- How much note-taking is too much.
It depends on the subject and your study habits. If you find economics a difficult subject, you need to take notes extensively. If you find geography extremely easy, you can manage with sparse note-taking.
- Prelims VS Mains.
It’s a false differentiation. Content is important, not the nature of the exam. If you love a girl, her text messages are as important as her letters or emails. Prelims or Mains, your mind needs to be tied to the page you’re reading. Otherwise, it’ll start daydreaming about your weekend plans and Instagram likes.
- What to note down and how – Five note-taking methods.
Please have a look.
- Stay loyal to what you read. Pay attention. Remember the nuances. Observe. Like you observe your friend’s mannerisms. And take notes. Jot down.
If you read a brilliant piece of writing, the best you way to understand and remember what you read is to link the author to the arguments to the source. Here is an example, Manish Sabharwal writing on Indian economy in the Forbes.