Sunday, March 3, 2013

UPSC - How to make General Studies Notes



Most of the questions from them are based on current affairs, So Never miss reading the newspaper on any day. Now the issue comes – how to read newspaper to prepare current affair – this is important cause most students either glance over the newspaper in 3 minutes and some waste 3 hours reading each and every detail.

How to read any newspaper (for General Studies)

What is not important in newspaper / Current Affairs?
Following things should be ignored

 Politicians making remarks on each other – and the usual politics.
  XYZ party making coalition with ABC party
  State elections (who won / which party got how many seats etc) {just have a look}
  Attacks (Maoist/Terrorist/Insurgents): (how to stop it / what new forces or equipments are purchased is imp but they attacked this place and destroyed 3 jeeps- not imp.) {but if there is any Operation name for that, have a look into it}
  Accidents : train, bus, car, bike etc (BRTS, new traffic rules, Traffic cops getting computer = imp)
  Crime (how cybercrime is done is imp but XYZ man stole 100,000 Rs from someone's credit card is not imp)
Masala News
  Cricket (nothing is imp, they never ask anything from this,)
  Bollywood (do we need to say anything? Although if someone wins Dadasaheb award- note it; National Award winning film names particularly on Environmental category; social category; children category)
  Surveys (like after doing tests on 50 people, scientists claimed that tomato keeps you young etc)

What is important in newspaper then?

Following things are EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to read in newspaper

 New laws / bills coming in (like Women reservation bill and the current editorials, and everything related to it)
 Administrative reforms, E-gov etc
 Government schemes (NPS, NREGA- and editorials related to it-good things, bad things)
 Education related – Deemed Universities, IITs, IIMs, NITs etc..
 Internationally important issue ( Af-Pak Policy, Global Meltdown, G-20, ASEAN, BRICS, etc) {If India chairs are India participates it is a MUST to take note down} [note down where they met and what points did they discuss]
 Indian Army Exercise with different countries particularly with P5 and Asian countries
Sci & Tech
 New Space Mission
 Vaccines, Swine flu
 Climate Change
 Solar Energy , Bio Technology
               Finance Budget
  Railway Budget
  Economic Survey
  PSU Activities
[100 Marks from Economy in Mains]
 Noble Prize (name and their field of research)
 Abel Prize
 Pritzker prize
 Bharat Ratna
 Dadasaheb Phalke
 Sahitya Akdemi etc..
[Whenever Indians/NRI/PIOs win International Award make note of it surely at any cost]
 Generally on Sunday in The Hindu, they will put book review, make a note of it surely
International Election
 Neighbouring countries election and political parties
 P5 countries election
 Gulf countries election
 Concentrate on Russia, Brazil and South Africa too
 Tennis (most important) {if Indians win or runner sure you have to note it}
 Any Indian achievements in all sports other than Cricket
 Anything happening in above mentioned topics- you look @ your map book (Atlas) and see where that place is.

 Why Read Editorials?

 Because the regular news won't talk of what happened in History or what are the good / bad points of a particular topic. But the editorials will give you the 'big picture.' Along with the suggestions for reforms so it also helps in writing mains + Essay. + interview too.
 Many of the articles/editorials will be completely criticizing anything and everything of Administration. So be careful about what to read and what to skip – because your answers have to be constructive criticism and positive "there is still hope for reform" and "Democracy is the best way to run country " etc.
 Cause if criticizing everything about Administration was going to make you an IAS officer then every reporter of Aaj Tak, NDTV and Zee News would be a District Collector. You've to be constructive, creative, visionary and positive in your answers, opinions and criticisms –only then you'll get more marks. I'm saying this here because when you are reading anything in newspaper- that's not just one shot to prelims but also helps you in mains, essay, interview as well.

Current Affairs is a yearlong continuous process.

 This process doesn't take more than 1 hour per day. And it’s worth it, cause current affairs is not something that you can develop reading some book for 15 days before exam.
 A lot 'current affair special' books will come in market from Wizard, Chronicle, Pratiyogita Darpan and many more but if you've been following the newspaper throughout the year & making your own diary- then you won't need to read them AND if you've not maintained a diary then you won't be able to remember much from these books – and will end up wasting 15 days reading it.)
WHAT IF You DON'T read newspapers?

Then this will be your situation

You'll be blank in Current affair and will start reading any of those 'current affairs special book' as mentioned above – but since you've never read newspaper, you won't be able to cover the book very fast- and it's a thick book, and you won't be able to remember everything you read, you won't even have time to revise it, so in the end you'll be ignoring either your GS's rest topics or the current affairs itself, and ultimately losing heavy marks in Prelims.
Newspapers Help in Essay Writing
v    In the mains you've to write a compulsory Essay paper which is worth 200 M and they're counted in the merit list.
v    There are many books / guides for essay writing in the market as well, but if you write from it, you'll end up writing a street quality, cheap, strerotype school essay and getting very few marks.
v    Your essay has to be unique, precise, showing your vast knowledge and understanding of the subject which can't be done reading 2 page essay in some cheap guide book.
 For 2 reasons
1.   1. Quick revision
You can't revision 15-20 Thick books on the night before exams, but you can revise your 50 Pages note.
2. Remembering the tough to remember things. By making charts, diagrams, tables etc.
  How to make notes?
   Note making DOESN'T mean writing down everything from the reference book. (that's same like Xeroxing) Note making means - you write down some specific sentence / keywords that'll enable you to recall that entire 1 page big topic. It’s an ART of converting 1 Paragraph into 1 Sentence. Let’s take an example.
You’ve to prepare Freedom Struggle Movement for G.S. history. Now you can read multiple books, they'll have written many paragraphs on the Characteristic of Early phase of Freedom Movement from 1857- 1905. But you can summarize all of it into just 3 lines
·         Done by posh people.
·         Reforms via Peaceful means
·         Had faith in the British Justice.
Those 3 lines explain everything in disguise that,
Why British introduced Reforms?
·         To keep the moods away from Extremists' influence.
·         Prevent a situation like 1857 (not written in the note cause it’s obvious)
Why no fruitful results / What are the limitation ?
(Only Posh people involved, did not have popular big base of poor farmers), so the reforms were only piecemeal – namesake only.

How Extremists were different from Moderate?
(Moderates. wanted reforms via Peaceful means + did not want British to Leave India (had faith in ...)

Why Surat Split?
No fruitful result + Extremists Vs Moderates difference.

Why Gandhi was successful?
Because he expanded the Base of people. (Posh People + Poor people.) He had hinted about it during his BHU Opening Ceremony Speech.

And we'll be able to recall everything, without having to read that big paragraph/ Chapter again.
(For Facts and Dates you'll have to make Table etc.)
That's the use of Notes.

We convert a 500 page big book into a 15 pages small note. And then we never touch that big book again
and keep revising that note until we know it like the back of our hand.
 Why not use Coaching classes’ notes then?
What they've written?
When expenditure is more than income, government has to borrow to finance the deficit from banks and people, that is called Deficit Financing.
What if we take notes?
Deficit Finance = Govt. borrows from people + Bank.
Compare their 23 words with our 7 words.
[Even coaching classes’ 'so called Last minute Revision Note' is longer than our own note.]
We don't have to write down "when Expenditure is more than income.." cause it’s obvious that we don't borrow unless we're out of money and we're not out of money unless we spend more than what we earn.
See? We've to waste more time revising that long line + pain on brain to remember it. But it'd not be the same thing if we had our own note.
So don't even waste a single more word in our note than what's enough to remember and understand.
We write the note for your own convenience, not to impress some Girl or Professor or Earn Ph.D. Note is for quick revision and remembering - it has to be Short and sweet. + It gives us writing practice that helps us in mains. It has to be our own note, not even note of some other person/Topper. 
Because he/she wouldn't have written things that he/she could remember without writing. He / She might not have written things that he/she did not consider imp during the UPSC trend of his/her time.
And you can never know as much as he understood from his note. (Because they made the note ONLY AFTER reading the Reference Book.)

Mains Exam

You'll come across many friends who'll say that quote:
XYZ Topper in some year got the rank despite making any note. So you don't have to make notes to get selected in UPSC.
They'll quote some interview of him, posted in Wizard / Chronicle /CST. BUT you ask yourself,
Do you've computer like brain to remember everything you read for single time. Can you recall everything on the day of exam without revising?

You don't have to burn down your hut because someone got a big bungalow.

Just because someone cracked the exam without making notes doesn't mean you too should step into his shoes without measuring your own foot (brain) size number.
Make your notes in loose papers and file them.
Advantage = when you come across some new important things related to that topic- you can add a new
paper in between those pages in the file.
(If you use a traditional notebook / full scale note then it'd be difficult to add something new in between the pages afterwards.)

While reading a book, always keep a highlighter with out and mark down the important lines and then once you are done reading, start making the notes, by converting those imp lines in your own words. Break down the long ornamental sentences into small words - then only you can remember it for a long time.
This isn't our college exam, we can't score huge using a readymade material. If we want to be an IAS then you need to be in at least first 30-50 in this whole country (or in around first 270-400 if in SC/ST),
And do you think they'll give you that big marks,
when you write the same thing what 10000 other people are also writing (from those readymade notes?)
This exam is not about cramming (those readymade notes/material) but about understanding and revising.
More suggestions are welcome.
Without reading THE HINDU, please do not think of appearing UPSC (For somewhat Tamil translation see Dinamani)
Reading THE HINDU is an art, we have to make practise of that, try to love that.


(Do not compare with others and degrade yourself)
Any Comments:
Mail id: senthilkumar.murugesan.klk@gmailcom


  1. Thanks for the post. Did you make through this year?

  2. It is a stunning post.your blog is giving very useful knowledge for all. Exceptionally valuable to me. I preferred it. And i'm sharing your information to all friends.If you
    Want more details kindly Visit Here

  3. Super suggestions!!salute to you ,sir.