Making notes for UPSC or any exam is very straining and pressurizing only if you use wrong methods of making notes. UPSC is one such exam where you are not asked to just mug up all the information out there in the world but imbibe all the information out there to help you think clearly about how our nation has evolved, how it works, and how you can be a part of making things better.

This exam helps you grow not only as a knowledgeable person but also makes you a great analytical thinker. UPSC exams are mostly descriptive in nature. It analyses candidates reasoning, perception, communication and critical thinking abilities. Candidates are meant to answer not only precisely, but also in a short period everything he/she knows about a topic.

It is a fool’s dream to avoid intense revision and taking down short notes for your mains exams and expecting to do very well. Your answer must exude a sense of pragmatism and common sense. The key is to write down every answer in your very own words. Now, we will be discussing 10 ways of Making Notes for UPSC Exam.
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1. Don’t Fail To Notice Your Syllabus

  • First and foremost, look through your syllabus to get a gist. Since your UPSC syllabus is very wide and somewhat vague, you must carefully know what to study and what not to study. The syllabus helps you divide your notes into sections under every topic.
  • Take a look at your Mains GS syllabus and optional papers. You will also find that your Prelims syllabus is similar to your mains which can help you make another set of notes in a much more concise format. 
  • Divide your syllabus paper wise and then topic wise. Each topic will primarily take up a few pages. 

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2. Get Hold Of Loose A4 Size Sheets

  • For each topic that you make notes for will also include further development when you are interlinking static information with current affairs notes. Write them down pointwise in A4 sheets and include them accordingly between notes they are relevant under. 
  • A4 sheets help you add information under current affairs topics like policies, schemes, economy, etc. 

Download: NCERT Books

3. Keep Revising Your Notes

  • You are meant to read your material repeatedly as you have to see for any changes or ways of making the notes much more concise.
  • Read your notes at least more than thrice. By the time you read it for the fourth time, you end up not only knowing your matter, but also the number of points each topic has.

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4. Make Use Of Flow Charts, Bullet Points, Diagrams

  • Don’t use complete words or sentences. Write information in point format and not paragraphs.
  • Write down in a streamlined manner to connect points.
  • Use symbols and abbreviations.
  • Flow charts help you get a visual glance at a series of events that took place in brief.
  • Diagrams are also a big heads up for topics like Indian Geography to have a pictorial memory of geographical features.

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5. Previous Year’s Question Papers Should Be Handy

  • When you segregate your notes, use post-its to write down all the questions that have already appeared related to the topic.

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6. The Format Of Taking Down Notes

  • Major heading
  • Principles, Concept and theories
  • Key highlights
  • Examples and real-life illustrations
  • Simple diagrams and charts
  • Timelines and any new words
  • All quotations, definitions, and summaries

Read: UPSC Prelims 2019 Question Paper Analysis with Detailed Explanation

7. Newspaper Reading For Taking Down Notes

  • While reading any editorial or major news, take loose sheets to write news under various topics separately. 
  • Make the notes short and precise
  • For example, in GS II paper is regarding Polity and Governance for which there has been recently getting many updates on the newspaper. Editorials are very relevant in this matter. You must not write opinionated points but takedown points to have a neutral stand.


8. Use Digital Format Of Taking Down Notes

  • With the emergence of technology and easy access to applications, you may make a soft copy of your notes.
  •  Notes end up getting messy when you overwrite. You may use digital platforms to make your rough version. The correction and addition of points to the notes are easier this way. 
  • However, you must also practice writing notes for mains. The softcopy is required just to aggregate information in less amount of time.
  • ‘Evernote’ is one such platform that helps you make series of notes and separate notebooks.

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9. Read Your Textbooks Or News Material First And Then Proceed Towards Making Notes

  • Never sit with the books for the first time and write notes simultaneously. You end up including unnecessary information this way. 
  • First, read the book, highlight or underline points that are relevant after the second reading. The third time you take the book alongside your pages and start taking down important information.
  • Remember, you have to go over the notes frequently as you will forget most of the things you wrote down. So frequent revision, as advised earlier, is recommended during this process.

Download: UPSC Prelims Question Paper (2014-2019)

10. Use Different Coloured Pens And Highlighters

  • It is not absolutely necessary to use different coloured pens, but at least arrange your answers clearly with the major headings, subheadings and details.
  • Keywords are to be highlighted or written in bold or capitals to have it etched in your mind. 


UPSC Notes can be very helpful, so if you are making notes for UPSC Exam then do follow the above techniques. If you face any problems in making notes for UPSC Exams, then do ask questions in the comments section below.


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