Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Making notes

This is a very important process. You have millions of books and they seem intimidating at times.
It's always a good idea to make notes.

First, do not ever make notes in your first reading. I would go for notes maybe in 2nd or better in 3rd read.

There are many kind of notes that you can make.

1) If you select certain most important topics in your optionals, eg distt administration, RTI in pub ad, then select the best books for that topic and write all of that on A4 sized sheets. select such 50 60 topics from your optionals by looking at the pattern of paper and make the best notes possible. Initially it seems like a lot of hard work. But it really helps. I made such notes for about 80-90 topics in Pub ad. Remember, you can not afford to leave the rest of the syllabus. because even in the best case scenaro you might get questions outside this list.
So finish your syllabus thoroughly and these notes will work as add ons.

2) Chapter-wise notes- I did this in both psychology and Pub ad.
take an A4 sheet and fold it in between so that it has 2 parts. write synoptical notes just the gist that is relevant to you. write it in condensed form so that it doesnt take much space. Also, use highlighters and red/pink/green pens to highlight imp stuff.

You must be wondering why I a stressing on A4 sheets. They are easy to handle and you can classify the notes whenever you want. You don't have to carry a big notebook at the time of exam.

3) Post-it notes-
Suppose you have GS notes from a coaching class. They are good. But they are huge. Also, you have already spent enough time on optionals notes. So there's a short cut for these notes. Buy Post-it notes, the yellow coloured stickies. When you have studied a topic, just write the +ves, -ves, anything on that post it and stick it onto that page. When you are revising the stuff, just look at the post-its. That will save your time and stick better in head.

Just before the exam, you can just glance at these notes for the last time. Remember you should have done this many times before. But the last revision is the most crucial. Psychology students would understand why. When you write your paper this year, you would understand the significance of this last look you gave your notes.

Also understand that the note making exercise is a tedious one and you might think you are wasting a lot of time. rather you could study from books. but for a single topic you will have to open 4 5 books at a time. That's even more tedious. Plus it will be difficult to retrieve the stuff. Get it all in one place and you are all set.


  1. Ma'am a request, can we get your notes ?
    That would also save lot of time for us and as we know they are the best ones and far better than any coaching notes . I am not doing any coachings so it would be a great help for me and those who can't afford a coaching . Thanks

  2. No, my notes can not help you as they might not be relevant for you. you will have to do the requisite hard work for thus exam. Do not shy away from hard work if you wanna clear this exam.

  3. I did it all on my own. I didn't have even this guidance that you have in the form of this blog. So go ahead and work hard. there's no short cut to success.

  4. thanks a lot mam this was enlightng just hope i get the schedule frm you ..i am sorry mam i might seem kinda freaked out but to be frank i am nt a very good planner so if you could just give me a skeleton i would work on it and improvise ..looking for the guidance

  5. also let us know how to make notes from news papers.

    thank u

  6. mam so u dont suggest making notes of a particular book like dd basu and bipin chandra?which in a sense says that no book is holistic for a particular topic?and if we make notes on a4 sheets then how to keep them together?may be pin them up together?and what if we use notebooks to make notes?
    and how to make notes from newspaper?

  7. I didn't make notes from newpapers.

  8. @monu
    staple them together.

    I didn't make notes for all topics of polity and history. I just put synopsis of topics on few pages to revise. That's all.

  9. Ruchi di.. Nihar here from our good ol' Kargali colony. I just came to know about you and - Wow! You've made each one of us soooooo proud.

  10. mam then how does notes and synopsis differ?and i must say that u would be very brilliant just as most iitns r!
    but mam u must have read the books on polity and history many a times?

  11. Thanks Nihar!! good to hear from you!!! how are you?

  12. @monu
    yes i read the books many times.
    synopsis is v brief notes..almost in point form.
    the other notes for your optionals should be more detailed.

  13. Dear Shubhra,

    Many thanks for you guidance and precious time. This blog is really a blessing for CS aspirants.

    If you didn't make notes from newspapers, then how did you cover current affairs? And, without making notes from editorials, how did you gather viewpoints from mains perspective?

    Does current affairs magazine sufficient for these purposes?

    Best Regards,

  14. would it be a bad idea to make otes on note book instead of a4 size paper?
    and what abt notes making from ncert etc?

  15. @rohit
    I followed 1 current affairs magazine to keep up with current affairs after i was done with newspapers.

    I just cut editorials that I thought were important for my optionals and GS, classified them, highlighted the points and kept in a file.

  16. @monu
    i found it handy to have notes on a4 sheets. I could organize them easily and carry whichever i wanted easily.

  17. Hello Ma'm,
    U said u didnt make notes from the newspaper..but..its obvious u followed the magazines and the newspapers daily...what I am doing is I take d gist of daily news from AIR news at night and follow it up with d newspaper d next morning...taking tit-bits out of those and reading the editorials...and finally I supplement with my monthly magazine...

    the problem I am facing is that a lot of time goes into it..almost 2 hrs per plz suggest a way to tk cr of it...
    thnx n regards.

  18. @vandna
    That will take a lot of time.
    you are supposed to work hard...but smart hard work. so don't waste unnecessary time. you have a long way to go.

    1. Disagree. Newspaper (obviously selected topics ONLY) will take around 30 -40 mins to read and prepare notes. i think air news + newspaper = overkill simply because too many sources = confuses your mind. select one paper and do it thoroughly of selected topics. magazine can supplement ( no mandatory rule of making notes, though synoptic notes are always good as it gives you practice + more focus while reading).

  19. bureaucracy as stucture ,andadministration as functions explain
    give few suggestions to make decision making value free
    such kind of questions confuse a lot and they have limited matter to put up,can you just tell how to do away with such questions.
    irrelavent plz,ignore it.
    thanking you,
    kanishka shukla.

  20. mam,
    can u tell me how u prepare for GS papers & essays paper. which magzine, books essential for GS.



  21. please go thru the blog to get ur answers
    essay post will follow in august.

  22. Thanks a lot ma'm..I would work upon it positively.

    Warm regards.

  23. @kanishka
    the question you have given is easy to understand. Whether decision making process in admn can be value free or value laden. You have to talk baout simon's bounded rationality model here.

  24. maam thank you for throwing light on how to make notes...maam you said that you covered a lots of books for different topics but maam the books you mentioned in psychology tips are just baron and ciccareli and given the time constraint do one has to go through (in psychology)these books perfectly or read many books ..i mean is it good to do few books thoroughly or read many books ..did you went through other than the books mentioned in psychology ...
    thank you maam

  25. Hello ma'am,
    Your tips are very helpful. Regarding point 1 - selection of important topics and making notes.
    a. Can you please share the 80-90 topics that you had prepared notes on and also other important topics for Pub Ad - based on your experience?
    b. If possible, can you please share the notes you have made - since it will help us read your valuable notes and leave us with more time to focus on other topics.

    Thank you very much for your guidance till now and we all look forward to more tips.

    - Arjun

  26. @vikas.
    Kindly post ur question in relevant post.

  27. Hi Ma'am,

    I belive in a first reading of about 10 -15 Pages and then making brief notes of them.. Would you recommend this statergy?

    Also Ma'am please enlighten us on how to improve our vocabulary and increase our retention skills.

  28. maam i thought that my question was related to note making from diff. books otherwise i would not have troubled you like that..i hope you would understand that this was mistakenly posted here..

  29. In the first reading, you will end up writing everything in the book. Second reading helps you decide what to select.

  30. Hello Maam
    About the chp wise note making..since you didn take'd have to make the notes(apart from the synopsis) yourself..could explain how you went about that?..or did you buy the notes of some class and added a synopsis at the end?

  31. I looked at the syllabus and the topics to be covered and prepared notes from books and internet accordingly.

  32. Mam what were internet sources(URL)apart from wikipedia, for note making.

  33. Eg.suppose u want ARC-II recommendations, go to ARC website. You will have to search sources per topic separately.

  34. Hello Ma'm,

    I have taken out around 80 topics for an optional from the syllabus and past year papers pattern...I am still in a fix..

    Should I follow the syllabus in a flow chapter-wise and make notes on those gross topics as they appear while I am covering the syllabus...this way I feel I would have covered the text also nicely...

    OR should I just start with note-making on those gross identified areas and cover the remaining general ones from the book later...this might break the flow somehow hopping from one topic to another but could save up on time...

    I don't know if I am putting it clearly..this is what I have comprehended so far..You followed both ways as u have mentioned for your optionals...I am so confused about the initiation..plz help me with it..

    Thanks n regards

  35. First make notes for whole units so that your whole syllabus is over. Then, start about making notes for these spl areas consulting the best sources.

  36. thanks shubhra mam...ur reflections on notes makeing r really motivating. infact sometime b i too concluded that there is no alternative to notes making...n i started with great enthu. but soon i found that i m spending lot of timein this exercise n lost interest in the process. but again i was with no better alternative or short cut. n was sceptical about success of this method. but really after going through ur post i hav regained my faith in notes making...its really a tedious work but at the end of the day i feel that a particular topic is in my full control. n i can handle any question on that.

    i hav read all of ur posts...mam u really doing a true social service here by helping aspirants. i m sure that our administrative system is going to hav a very dynamic n committed civil servant.
    best wishes for ur career.

  37. Dear Ma'am,

    Suppose I want to make notes on Topic 1 (PA) & I'm reading M.Bhattchrya, Awasthi Mahesh. & N.Henry. Do I make notes on the relevant chaps from the 3 books & then a final synopsis (for final revision)? Or a combined notes after going thru the 3 books? Plz suggest.


  38. combined notes after going thru the 3 books

    select the best from all sources.

  39. Hello Shubhra Mam...hw r u??
    1st of all I would like to congratulate u 4 yr great achievements.
    Your tips on making notes is indeed very much helpfull 4 all aspirants of civil services.
    Before joining yr blog site I was in deep confusion tht have almost been solved now.
    I would like to solve 1 query regarding making notes...tht's while making notes 4 relevant topic we should go 4 different books 4 the same topic & then make it comprehensive...but should we focus on current situation passing into government in a year 4 the same topic if any happens???
    Hw to apply it into our conventional notes???
    & wht should b the body of answer???
    Should we mention tht current topic into our preface & conclusion??
    Hw to start an effective preface 4 each topic & wht's qualities should our conclusion have???

    Thnx & regards
    Rasheda Khatun.

  40. Shubhra ji wht's the importance of notes frm coaching class???
    which coaching class notes r useful 4 pub adm. & GS???
    Vaji Ram & Ravi's notes r better 4 GS or should we buy another coaching class' notes??
    have u gone through notes by coaching??

  41. Rasheda,

    you will have to consult more than 1 book in most cases.

    You should make a separate notebook for current related information so that you can keep noting all of the current stuff in that notebook. When your notes are over, just supplement these details to your relevant topics.

  42. Rasheda,

    For GS, Vajiram notes are good.
    For Pub ad, Vajiram notes are not good.
    You can also get notes of any other GS coaching u find around.

    Yes, I have gone through Vajiram and ALS notes.

  43. hello mam,
    im mano ,preparing for civil services examination.first of all mam,congratulation for your greatest achievement.well mam,im having lot of problems with my study routine,taking notes,reading newspaper....can you please help me
    i will enlist all problems below goin to coaching center mam,their i write down notes in a4 sheets dictated by sir...should i memorize all content or just read can i make synotic notes...i hav tries but still a topic covers 2 to 3 papers of my memoring all day to day topis essential?....please guide me thru this...
    2.secondly the newspaper which is read daily ,has to be revised again and again? can i manage my time mam?
    these are my doubts ,please guide me thru it....i would be greatly obliged

  44. @Mano
    Please do not memorise everyday.
    Finish whole chapter from relevant sources and then start making notes.

    No, newspaper doesnt have to be memorised at all.

    Time managemnet can be done by making daily, weekly and monthly timetables, You should break your syllabus in parts and then plan your timetable accordingly.

  45. mam,hence the synopsis which i take can be memorized....
    or is it that the answers should be memorized which i hav written

  46. hi mam,
    congratulations for your achievement.
    im mano,ias asprirant going to give my prelims next yr
    im having lot of problems with manking notes in synoptic for,reading newspaper....i have enlisted my probles in detail below not able to make synoptic notes,im goin for vajiram classes for geo,notes are pilling up ,the notes im reading but is it mandatory to memorize the notes ,or can it be memorized by writing synopsis,but in that sitaution synopsis are to be in not able to understand mam.....are synopsis supposed to be short or sufficient for having main ponts which can make up answer by manipulating....please help me man...i would be greatly obliged

  47. @Mano
    First study the topics well from expansive notes and books
    Once you have finished the topic well for about 2 times, then start making synoptic notes, how detailed or how brief the notes should be, depends on your level of comfort in the topic.

  48. ma'am,

    In case of shortlisted topics ,how comprehensively are we expected to cover the topic since there are many interlinkages.

    The questions which i can think of are --
    civil society and public policy ;civil society and good governance;civil society and accountabity

    so should i just make generic points about civil society and apply them in the exam or try to cover all the aspects around it.

    or is it good to answer all the previous year questions on that topic?

    Thanks & regards ma'am.

  49. You should make generic notes and try to apply them to specific situation. If you strat doing it by question per question, you will have to put in tremendous amount of time and patience.

    Just try to cover all aspects of civil society from some good books and make notes in one place.

    Questions come in all shades and packages. Do not try to outsmart the exam. Just be flexible enough to accomodate any eccentricities the q paper throws at you.

  50. for gs i m relying upon-
    the hindu, yojna, kurkshetra, competition wizard, chronicle mag.
    is it all enough or do i need to edit the list?

  51. why read 2 curr affairs magazines? choose one and stick to it.

  52. but in your opinion which 1 is better out of wizard and chronicle?

  53. so nice of you for the guaidance

  54. ma'am,

    When do you think we should generally prepare the notes??Since i'm writng '09 mains,is it late to be making notes now since its a little time consuming?
    and also ma'am,kindly guide us about the last month/2 month preparation strategy(the do's and dont's)

    Thanks and regards ma'am..

  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

  56. Hi Shubra mam

    Is it necessary to make newspaper notes for prelims and how much time be invested for that. And regrdg my optional P.A - as of now i'm not writing the mains but preparing with the mains focus for next yr use, so in order to check whether i'm in the right track i'm answering the previous yr questions. Shall i post my answer in order to get ur correction.
    Thank You

  57. ma'am,

    kindly guide us about the last month/2 month preparation strategy(the do's and dont's)

    Thanks and regards ma'am..

  58. @Lavanya
    yes, plz post ur answer.
    u dont need to make notes from newspaper, that will take a long time. refer magazines for Curr affairs.

    1. respected ma'am
      so we should make notes from the current affair magazines, but then what about the newspaper, what to prepare from it .
      thanks in advance for reply, you are a very good human being

  59. hey shubhra... impressive wat ur doin... helpin UPSC aspirants!! whr ru these days.. ur whereabouts?..sad 2 interact wid u thru dis medium though!! :) m bakk in India... n wid CSC.. wrkin in Bid Mgmt/Proposals/Presales for CSC India sales.....!!! hs ur induction already startd?..
    keep in touch!!

  60. Hey Marut,

    Good to hear from you.
    My no is still the same. Call me tomorrow.
    or just put your email id here...I will send u my no.


  61. hi, madam ive start preparing for ias very later( in aug) ..also i m doing i m not able to join any coaching class (coz i m posted in a remote area) i m lil worried as how to there any substitute for classes...can i buy notes of these classes n strt reading thm..will it be useful...pls do help..waiting for ur reply...

  62. hi, madam, im bit confused as how to go about making notes..should i make them without refering books(i.e. by learning ) or from books. as there are many topics in a chapter , so what should be the ideal approach..pls help...

  63. @adi
    yes you should buy these notes and start studying from them.

  64. Hello Ma'am... It feels great getting CS tips from you... I thank you very much for helping all of us taking out your valuable time for this blog... This blog will help us to utilize our time and potential in the best way possible. Thanx a lot..

  65. Madam
    chapter wise notes is in respect to prelims or what?
    Also please provide more detail if possible how to go about chapter wise notes.
    After analysing the paper should we go about those kind of points only whose type is asked in question papers.
    Gaurav shrivastava

  66. Hello Ma'am,
    This is Abhishek, i just completed my civil engg from Motilal NIT-A and currently working in an MNC as business analyst, i want to start preparing for civil services and that too from scratch, so can you please guide me through and also can you help me with the optional subjects? As one i have decided to be pub ad but for second am confused whether to go for my engg branch or some other subject!!

    Thank You

  67. In my view the no. of seats in UPSC exams should also be increased.

  68. Shubhra, I am cmng to attend the Udyog Bandhu Global Investors' Summit in Agra from 27th to 29th Jan' 2013. I am very glad to learn about your positive approach and helping attitude to the young aspirants.

    Wish you all the best in life. I also got to see your Cleopatra painting, which reminds me the Wafi Mall in Dubai( you may google out the image of the Mall ), close to my office.

    Wish you all the best in life.

  69. ma'am,
    I am confused for making notes from newspaper. i mean shud it be date-wise or topic wise or i dnt knw but how to synchronize the notes from news paaper ...

  70. pls tell me how to prepare notes from newspaper??

  71. pls tell me how to effectively study the newspaper??

  72. Mam,
    The problem that I am facing is that I feel all the content is important and thus it makes it hard to select the content for note making.
    The reason of my inhibition in neglecting some content is because the IAS exam ask quite extensive questions and I fear that I might miss some questions if I neglect some stuff. DOn't know what and how to do. Please help
    Vaibhav Tripathi

  73. Mam please suggest the books for psychology. And how to prepare for the subject and how many hours i have to spend on this subject?

  74. Mam please suggest me the book for the psychology and how to prepare for this subject and how many hours i have to spend on this subject? please help me.

  75. respected maam, I'm preparing for IAS-2014. Please help me to clear the confusion that as acoording to the new pttrn syllabus of main exam the entire syllabus of prelim paper-1 is also broadly included in main papers,,should i prepare those topics for main papers from begining of my preparation or first i have to prepare them for prelim only and then have to dig into them for main papers? Plzz suggest me.

  76. respected maam, I'm preparing for IAS-2014. Please help me to clear the confusion that as acoording to the new pttrn syllabus of main exam the entire syllabus of prelim paper-1 is also broadly included in main papers,,should i prepare those topics for main papers from begining of my preparation or first i have to prepare them for prelim only and then have to dig into them for main papers? Plzz suggest me.

  77. respected maam, I'm preparing for IAS-2014. Please help me to clear the confusion that as acoording to the new pttrn syllabus of main exam the entire syllabus of prelim paper-1 is also broadly included in main papers,,should i prepare those topics for main papers from begining of my preparation or first i have to prepare them for prelim only and then have to dig into them for main papers? Plzz suggest me.

  78. respected maam, I'm preparing for IAS-2014. Please help me to clear the confusion that as acoording to the new pttrn syllabus of main exam the entire syllabus of prelim paper-1 is also broadly included in main papers,,should i prepare those topics for main papers from begining of my preparation or first i have to prepare them for prelim only and then have to dig into them for main papers? Plzz suggest me.

  79. Mam..thanks a lot for this article.
    I made many notes till now but none of them worth, your technique will surely help me.

  80. hello Ma'am... I'm pursuing B Tech(1st year). I need to know the important books for Pub Ad which I'm keen to keep as my Optional Subject and from where I should start my preparation.
    Thank You ..

  81. hello Ma'am... I'm pursuing B Tech(1st year). I need to know the important books for Pub Ad which I'm keen to keep as my Optional Subject and from where I should start my preparation.
    Thank You ..

  82. Hello Ma'am... I m Pursuing B Tech (1st year). I need to know about imp Books for pub ad keen to prefer it as my optional subject and from where should i start the preparation???
    Thank you.


  84. Thanks mam... ur's blog is really helpful for my little needs and queries.

  85. Maam, I am a pass out of 12th std ( engineering next) and an aspirant of civil services. I would like to know about the approach i need to own to get through this exam in the best possible way. I thank you heartily for sparing you precious time helping us like a guiding light.

  86. Mam, I am a 12th pass out, gearing up for an engineering course. I am a civil service aspirant. I kindly request you to enlighten me on how exactly to go about. I am clueless about my strategy. I went through endless blogs and this is the best ever. I thank you mam for sparing your valuable time despite your hectic schedule.

  87. Dear mam, this is keshav bhardwaj i have 2 years for my graduation and I've just started preparation for ias, and i heard so many times that ncerts are the best way to start for ias preparation but my question is that i have to only read these books for foundation or i have to make notes from them. Ncert books bus. Padhni hi hai ya phir notes bhi bana ne hai unse.

  88. Dear mam, this is keshav bhardwaj, i have 2 years for my graduation and I've just started my ias preparation and my question is that i heard many times that i have to study ncert books in starting so i have to only read these books or i have to make notes from ncert books. Notes bhi banane hai nvert books se ya phir reading se kam chal jayega. Aur notes banane hai to kaise an d kis tarah ke notes . Please helo me mam.

  89. Hello mam,
    Thank you for your valuable advice regarding note making. But I am bit confused here. As you said to take the notes on second or third reading, does it mean that I read a topic in chapter once, and re-read it immediately and take notes? or shall I read the whole chapter once and then start taking notes on the second reading from the beginning of the chapter??

  90. Ma'am, how to get your public administration book? It is not available anywhere.