Making notes is essential for the preparation of Civil Services examination and there are several reasons to it; one, notes makes you to understand the given topic clearly. This is because you have to pick up important points and condense them in few words or sentences while making notes. Second, writing down any information helps you to remember it much better. Thirdly, making notes is a good practice for thinking and writing about the given topic. Fourth, well-made notes help you to avoid going back to voluminous study material. Lastly, notes remind you of the most important points of each topic and helps you in your final revision.
The next question is how to make notes from voluminous study material? There are different methods of making notes and one should decide which method suits you the best. There are two types of making notes; one is the 'Linear Notes' the other is 'Pattern Notes'.
'Linear Notes': Linear notes method is in which you condense the material you have read and jot down the most important points using headings and sub headings. This is a best method make notes after reading a book newspaper or a magazine. Here one has to avoid copying a lot of material and lot of care has to be taken while condensing the contents. The right way is to use loose sheets of paper to make notes on a given topic as it is easier to keep adding information through additional sheets. One can make the notes look more interesting by using colors, block letters, boxes and highlighters. All this will immediately draw your attention to the actual contents and they would make it much easier for quick recall of the important points of a topic.
'Pattern Notes': In this method you have to begin the topic at the center of the page and each line radiating from it should represent a branch of the main idea. Each point is written as briefly as possible using a key word or a phrase. This is a better method to adopt because it is more flexible and one can add extra information at any point of time.
Second, we can see the entire pattern at one go without actually turning the pages. Thirdly, we can indicate the links between different topics more easily. Fourth, it is useful from one's memory point of view as one can keep jotting down the points as and when they crop in the mind.
Lastly, since it is in a shape format it is much easier to remember the content of the notes. This patter help in revision much faster as only brief key words are being used to make notes.
The disadvantage of pattern notes making is if there are too many facts and too much of information, your notes becomes messy and overcrowded. Using key words can remind of basic ideas but when it comes to remembering details, this method cannot be sufficient alone.
So the best method of making good notes is to use a combination of both Linear and Pattern methods and evolve your own unique pattern of making notes that may help you in your last minute revisions.
However, whichever method you may choose to make notes it essential to have them made into four basic stages, one outlining the topic, second jotting its key points, third, its advantages and disadvantages and finally the conclusion.
One important thing to remember is that for many subjects your notes will have to include diagrams, table or a graph and sketch maps etc and you must have them accurate and labeled very clearly.
Whatever method one may follow, one thing has to remember that the notes have to be kept handy at all times and has to be kept in a proper file. It is a good idea to use colored flags to demarcate different topics. With such systematic preparation of making the notes the challenge of revision can be faced with much greater confidence.
Now the last question when should one start making notes? One should start making notes right from the very beginning of the preparation and could be much before taking an attempt to write the Prelims exam.
The best way to make notes is to pick up a topic and get hold of different reading material and resources for it, and once you have finished reading them all, you must start making its notes because its content is fresh in your mind. This will helps to write the important part of the topic in your notes and reading and writing method will help in its retention of the topic.
One important thing to remember is to never treat a set of notes as the final version. You can first start making brief notes on a given topic, and then keep adding information to it from time to time. Later on you can expand and organize your notes in a much more properly. This as such is much better way to make notes because when you are updating the information, your revision will be happening simultaneously while going through your notes.