Why make notes at all?
Making notes ensures that you do not have to revisit the lengthy books or newspaper clips that have high probability of getting misplaced. Also self written notes enable us to retain and revise better.
However, caution must be exercised that we do not copy a content word by word when making notes. It will be a waste of time. Additionally, it is good to make notes on our own, use short-hand to save time.
And now, how to make notes. We will discuss note-making in two parts:
Static content: History, Geography, Polity, Standard text books.
Step 1: Read the content from the book, mark important pointers, keywords. Do it chapter-wise. Preferably in one sitting.
Step 2: Revisit the highlighted portion, make notes of the same. You can use short-hand, diagrams and flow charts. Remember notes making is not a substitute or precursor to answer writing practice. It has to be done swiftly so that you save time and do not miss out on important content. Some examples below:
Step 3: Periodic revision of notes is important else piling up written material does no good. Keep every Sunday of the week (or any other day as per your schedule) fixed for revision. First revision will be tough, second onward you will start recollecting better. This will also boost your confidence immensely.
Dynamic content: Newspaper, magazines, economics
Step 1: Do the initial reading. Make a note of words/terms/events you do not understand. For example: if you read in the economy section that India’s import cover has increased. Look up the internet if you don’t know what an import cover is. Please remember that UPSC does not want you to merely read the newspaper but understand why a certain event takes place. If you read about the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, do look up its member countries.
Step 2: Make notes section-wise: International relations, National, Internal Security, Economy, Social Issues in India. Keep notes as simple and short as possible without compromising on the content. Remember notes should help in revision and not act as a burden.
- Digital Notes are a great way for revision on the go. Evernote is a good software for the same. Keep separate notebooks for static and dynamic as the latter would require periodic updating more than the former.
- Rely on self made notes more than borrowing it from a “topper” or friend. What might be easily understood for him will not feature in the notes and you might end up missing important points
- Notes should have sufficient content so that we don’t have to open the book once again.