Note-making goes a long way in IAS

Note-making goes a long way in IAS

Note-making goes a long way in IAS

Dr Pratyush Mani Tripathi shows how to make preparations for IAS exam more effective using note-taking methods

The civil services examination is mainly a test to choose suitable administrators. It tests the candidate right from the stage when one starts the preparation. A candidate should have the right frame of mind and the will power to succeed in the exam. A proper action plan is needed for the preparation itself since you will be tested for some essential qualities like power of retention, clarity of concepts, ability to identify the correct alternatives with efficiency and accuracy. All this requires a quick decision making power.

With the new pattern, more stress is on language skills and analysis and decision making capacities, so work on these on a consistent basis as these are skills that are developed over years and not just in a few months. It would be advisable to start focusing on your problem solving and language skills as soon as you decide to take these exams.

Changes in formats of question papers always tend to create a lot of mental discomfort in students. Specific fear of mathematics may be baseless considering the changes lay greater emphasis on the “aptitude” which mainly involves reasoning skills and not just mathematics.

Civil Preparation Preparation for Civil Service Examination is a long process. The Civil Service Examinations conducted at the Union and State levels is divided primarily into three steps —


Thus, it is a three tier system in which first tier i.e. prelims comprises two papers i.e. General Studies I and General Studies II for the UPSC and G.S. as well as optional paper in most states’ services which is an objective type examination. After first round of screening, those who qualify prelims examination take main examination in the second round.

Since the preliminary exam is an elimination round, the candidate should also learn to focus only on the information needed and filter out the rest. It helps to discuss with friends and teachers but the most reliable way is to solve past years question papers. One should also keep himself updated with current events and information related to them. The questions asked are of 10+2 level. Therefore emphasis has to be on conceptual clarity. Any concept has to be understood with its origin, merits and de-merits and it has to be correlated with the events that have taken place during the year.

The civil services main exam consists of descriptive type of questions. It focuses on testing the candidate’s analytical, critical, and communicative abilities. The most important thing to be kept in mind is the time constraint. Therefore it becomes necessary to answer these questions quickly and effectively and in minimum words.

IAS exam calls for rigorous exercising of the brain. It demands the candidate to think with clarity and organize their thoughts flawlessly. Such kind of clarity and organization can only come from constant practice, and note-making is one of the best ways to achieve it.     

One should take notes soon after studying, when the material is fresh in the mind. This helps to fix it in your memory. It is better to make notes from all possible sources - from what you read, what you hear, and from what you do. After making the first brief notes, it can be expanded and organized properly. You can then keep adding information to it from time to time.

There are two types of making notes:

(i) Linear Notes
(ii) Pattern Notes

Linear Notes is all about making use of loose sheets of paper instead of an exercise book since it is easier to keep adding information. It is a good idea to leave space on each sheet of paper for additional information. Another way to make your notes more interesting is to use colors, block letters, making boxes and highlighting as and when necessary. All this will immediately draw our attention to the actual contents of our notes and make it more clear and comprehensible.

In Pattern Notes, we have to begin the topic at the centre of the page. Each line radiating from it represents a branch of the main idea. Each point is written as briefly as possible using a key word or a phrase. It is a better method to adopt because it is more flexible than making Linear Notes. Following are the adavantages of Pattern Notes:  

- One can add extra information to it at any point without any problem.
- One can see the whole pattern at one go without actually turning the pages.
- One can indicate the links between different topics more easily than we can do in a linear method.
- It is easier to remember as notes are made in a shape format.

The most effective way of making good notes is to use a combination of both these methods. Note: For many subjects, your notes will have to include diagrams and sketch maps. They must be accurate and labelled very clearly.


- Try to focus on about 70% of the syllabus instead of trying to cover the whole syllabus.
- Refer to only a few standard books to get a deep understanding of the subject. Reading from too many books will do more harm than good.

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