UPSC prelims are done with and now we’re faced with the next level of the officer recruitment examination – the UPSC Mains 2020. Cracking this round of the examination is crucial to securing your birth in the next round. To prepare for it, one needs utmost dedication, sincere efforts and great notes. Making notes is very important for making your study time easier and more efficient.
You can find a lot of online notes and compendia which explain the syllabus and relevant topics in a very good manner. But when it comes to UPSC, depending on someone else’s notes can be disastrous, especially if your understanding of a particular topic is different than that of the writer. Making excellent short and long notes is no less than an art. Let us take a look at the best strategies to make notes which will turn you into a notes artist.
- Answer all the W/H Questions
The W/H questions are – “Who?, What?, Why?, How?, Where?, When?”
Most of the topics revolve in and around these questions. While reading through on any given topic, try to answer the relevant w/h questions in one word or two. You’ll have the gist of the topic, story, historical account, scientific phenomenon or any other topic in you hand right away. Every question may not be relevant; just try to answer as many as possible.
- Shorten Down the Topic
Short notes have their name for a reason – they are short. Take a highlighter, read the entire paragraph. Read it again and highlight only the sentences which are absolutely necessary for making the info get through. Often times, highlighting the important parts reduces the length of the topic you’re trying to get a grasp of. This must be done during revision as chunks of seemingly unimportant info might, later on, turn out to be crucial for a complete understanding of the topic.
- Practice Short Hand Techniques
Shorthand techniques were used by a wide range of people. Examples range from journalists and stenotypists (before the invention of the machine) to secretaries in corporate offices. Shorthand involved the use of abbreviations, cutting off words, and more such methods to write as much meaningful word sequences at a rapid-fire pace. These shorthand notes were then expanded when there was enough time. Anyone who knew shorthand could easily interpret what was written with one look. Knowledge of shorthand comes in handy.
But if you don’t know shorthand, don’t invest your time in learning it separately. Instead, you can always come up with your own abbreviations, code names, and other mnemonic techniques to make your notes condensed. It need not make sense to the world, just you is enough.
- Pictorial Representation is Great
- People tend to understand a concept better when information is presented in an audio-visual format. Visual is the cue here. Try to draw graphs, plot-points, pie charts etc., especially when data-driven topics are concerned. A visual illustration of data gives a clear idea of whatever is being discussed. Similarly, you can draw a timeline of the chronological order of historical events for easy remembering.
- Link Notes to the Syllabus
Just making notes is not enough. They should be relevant to the syllabus as well. The commission, along with NCERT, gives some syllabus from which aspirants can study and prepare. Of course, the examination is not a mug-up-and-score system and so the syllabus is not the limit of what you should study. At the same time, going too far astray is also not encouraged. The syllabus gives you a sample space to study from and your notes should also be in and around the same space.
How Does Making Notes Help?
Now that you have seen some strategies to make your own solid notes for your preparation, you might be wondering why do I even make notes in the first place? Just highlighting in the books, or remembering important dates, events and names should do the trick. The answer is, “No.” Simply highlighting important points and mugging up names and places is not enough. The syllabus is extant and quite vast. Also, while studying, if you need to go to another topic quickly to establish a link, you might need multiple books and would have to constantly shuffle through them. Making your own notes gives you a single source to study from.
Apart from that, while making notes with these strategies, you will be making them concise and to the point without going astray. This would make revision quick and easier.
Moreover, it is always better to prepare your own notes as you would make it to suit your study style, understanding and eventual revision. Custom made notes would make your study time easier.
In a Nutshell
Making your own is an excellent way to prepare for the UPSC Mains 2020. Having your own notes will make sure your preparation is excellent and efficient. The ability to cover a lot of syllabi and also recalling it when needed will aid you in gaining an important edge over the competition.
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