Effective Way of Making Notes for IAS Exam
You might have heard a hundred times about the importance of taking small or micro notes for the IAS exam. But how do you do it in a manner that the notes are concise, effective, readable in a short time, all at once. After all you will need to go through these small notes for IAS exam before the preliminary and/or the Mains in just a few days. Or even hours.
Make Separate Notes for Prelims and Mains
You should prepare separate notes for Prelims and Mains exam of UPSC. Why is it so? Because for Prelims you require extensive coverage of topics without going too much in details or facts and figures while for Mains you need selective but in-depth coverage of the chosen topics. In addition, the events for Mains need to be tracked and updated on continual basis while majority of the events for Prelims do not need to be updated continually.
What Should be Included in the Notes?
Quite frankly, you do not need to make notes for every single sub-topic given in the syllabus for every paper of the Prelims and Mains. Rather you should be selective in approach. Which are the important topics? Which information you would like to recollect easily during the exam (Prelims and Mains)? Which topic contains important facts and figures? Which topic is of current relevance and needs to be updated? Ask yourself these questions if in doubt over which topics to make notes for. The rule of thumb says you should prepare notes for current affairs related information for Prelims and the GS and optional papers of Mains exam.
Recommended Books for IAS
How to Make Notes for UPSC
The first step is to maintain a dedicated register, book or take down notes on flip cards if you are comfortable with this method.
What is a Flip Card?
Flip Cards or flash cards are papers where you can write information on both sides that you can quickly revise before exams. Flip cards are best used to make short and crisp notes for Prelims or Mains where the important points are jotted down along with the important facts and figures that you would like to remember at the time of attempting the Prelims and Mains papers.
Even if you make notes in a register please remember that your notes should be concise and precise (to the point) and should not be a copy of the book or newspaper or the printed notes from where you have sourced the information. This will help you to quickly revise the notes at the time of the Prelims and Mains papers. Also the shorter the notes the more number of revisions you can squeeze in just before the actual exams. And we all know the saying Practice makes a man perfect.
Recommended Books for Prelims and Mains
In the next step, divide the pages of the register by months or topics. In a particular month you could write events topic wise on each page or you could divide the register topic wise, like some pages devoted exclusively for Economy, some for Sports etc. I prefer the first approach and will explain it with the help of the illustration alongside.
Notice that I have clubbed different events month-wise and have written the topic name before each entry for easy scannability. Also observe that each entry is just a few sentences long and it contains only the most relevant information from Prelims view point. Another important aspect of this notes making strategy is that I’ve included some background information to that immediate event as well.
That’s why in the Sports entry I’ve mentioned that India and Sri Lanka were both beaten by Australia in their previous finals. This is important as UPSC has a habit of asking questions concerning not just the immediate issue but some past events as well connected to the current event.
For this reason in the PSU entry, I’ve mentioned the names of other Maharatna PSUs as well so that I can easily recollect all the Maharatna PSUs while going through these micro notes for IAS exam. This is also a good way to prepare for current events and GK at the same time.
Some Points to Remember While Making Notes for UPSC Mains
- The example cited above is good for making notes for Prelims. While you can use flip cards and registers for making notes for making notes for Mains exam, while making the notes you should include the latest facts and figures which you can use while writing your answers. Answers backed by relevant facts and figures always help you score more marks in Mains than general answers, however well written.
- Always allocate more space or pages to important topics while making notes since new developments take place routinely and you will need to update your notes as per these developments. Example of such topics include Governor’s powers (what happened in Karnataka, Goa, north-eastern states recently), Indo-China border issue, simultaneous elections etc.
As mentioned above, whichever method you follow, the notes should make sense to you since you will use them for revision purpose before the exam. So prepare the notes in such a way that they provide the most important information at a glance.
Note: Also learn to Read the Newspaper for IAS
Reference Books for IAS
Topic-wise Books for IAS