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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.

The first step is to maintain a dedicated register, book or even take down notes on pages or flip cards if you are comfortable with this method. Next, divide the pages 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 below.


Click to enlarge



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.

As mentioned above, whichever method you follow, the notes should never be more than few sentences long. Keep the long notes separate. The micro notes for IAS exam notes are meant for quick revision before the Prelims or during the break between the two Prelims papers. If you’ve something more or different to add, we’re all interested.

Note: Also learn to Read the Newspaper for IAS

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I am your friend, mentor and guide to help crack the IAS exam. I've cleared the Prelims everytime including the first and also reached the Interview stage. Know more about me

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 23 comments

hallo to everyone

time witnessed different but experimenting approaches on my part of notes-making a nut-shell i wish to share my modus-operandi since sep.2007 when i begin my preparation for CSE while doing my part -1 of undergraduation course. initially ,i was preparing for hindi-lit. and economics(it was also my subject of specialization at Bachelor degree level of my formal study) as my two optionals.since jan.2011 i have opted for Pub. Ad. & Psych. as my new optionals due to the good reson that i needed some refreshment.

now i ought to enumerate about my notes making process. for my optionals i followed an objective used to jot down my daily readings into my notebook in point wise form.that's it. for G.S. ,for conventional topics i didn't make any notes rather i used to underline the important statements and revise it whensoever i think it to do so( honestly speaking i hardly reveise it ever) .but today i came to know about the importance of revision work while considering the assignements of syllabai to be so voluminous. as far as current affairs was concerned i used to do exactly the same which has been said above.i used to note it in about 2 to 3 lines .i did it till P.T.2010 .

Afterwards i resorted to some other way. i just dedicate to Pratiyogita Darpan,esp. current affairs section.once i gone through it ; for future refernce & and revision work ,i used to tear it from the main volume and file it properly.but my habit of underlining the main theme & statement has not been left ! also i am regular viewer of P.I.B.'s website and government of india's official website(very esp. the International section). hereon, i want to know that is it enough for the preparation of the paper-2 of G.S.,too ?my approach for GS preparation is just to create familiarity with the issues at hand with very slight retrospective touch. please reply……..

    Suchithra Madhu

    Hello sir,

    I am new for this UPSC ,and i will choose public admin is the one opt and i am confused in choosing the another one. plz could u guide me which opt is best and easy for mains,while plz send me a copy of public admin notes(e-book) b'cos i dont have any books

ramveer singh narwariya

I am new for this UPSC and i am just start the prepretion. so plz send me a copy of GS and public admin notes(e-book) b’cos i dont have any books

shubham gupta

sir if u have any study material in hindi plz send it to me .

sweety chaturvedi

Hi sir,
I wanted detailed note on subject selection for the upsc exam ….as well as the optional subjects available .
Wud b waitin for ur rply .

sarika jain

thanks. for such a wonderful and compact guidance. I am housewife and preparing for upsc 2013 prelims, it helped me in boosting my morale.i am always thinking that I am not standing in competition but now I am ready all to set the upsc exam

sarika jain

one more thing sir. I have done degree in business administration and also two years of mass media course and now pursuing m.a along with upsc . I have selected political science and sociology as an optional. it is very difficult for me to seriously concentrate for long hours per day. how I schedule my time as a housewife and mother of five year old kid.nobody else to look after. very serious for becoming ias


u r doing a great job.


There isn’t any image(Click to enlarge).


2-how many times can I attempt a test??


    Hello Kishor,
    1. All tests are being converted to mobile-friendly format that can be attempted from any touch-screen smartphone. This conversion process will complete by April 15th ’14. Right now, about 12 tests have been converted to mobile frinedly format. Also, all new tests being added are mobile-friendly.

    2. Unlimited times. There’s no limit.


your style of put the things are really very nice
thanx for nice efforts
for gs paper 1 what is right strategy for study ?


umar nazir dar

sir i am in ist year i want to crack ias pls help me

thota naveen

Dear Sir,
I am confused and unable to decide in making notes for my four Gs papers.I would like to get your advice,on which of the four Gs papers in mains(history,poitics,economics and ethics)should i make my own notes.Besides,I am already in making notes for the prelims especially current affairs and gk from the hindu.
Thank you

Vishal Kanv

I can sense the desperation of the candidates from above comments. Few of them are quite genuine and few needs everything at their doorstep (send me the e-book and so on). I would like to make a suggestion here, you need to search internet or exploit it to the level that you shouldn’t be depended on other to get you the study material.

There are many books priced at the lowest on this website. All you need to do is to pick up your card and order the books you like, everything is given in simple steps. Stop Begging and start preparing….Best of luck to all 🙂


Sir there is no photo at ‘click to enlarge’. What to do??? I am following your suggestions to prepare for IAS and seems that they are the best out of all the websites, I have seen yet. So please help for note making. Thank you very much.


    Thanks for your feedback Gagandeep. I’ve added the missing image.

rahul singh

Hello sir. I am in the second year of my mechanical engineering. Will it be possible for me to prepare for ias along with my engineering studies? I need your guidance.

Parerna ?Nagpal

Hello Sir,

I am very new to UPSC exams.So CAn you plase guide me from where and how to start preparation.
I am also little bit confused for choosing optioanl subject.Kindly guide me appropieatly.


hi..I am Priya…recently I completed my graduation in engineering..but my aim is to become a IAS officer.. recently I bought civil services book(McGraw hill publication) through online..but I don’t know ,how to prepare for this…how to make a notes for this…pls tell me to some tips…


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