Friday, May 11, 2012

Making notes

Following are the subject-wise strategies I followed for making notes (I didn’t make notes for any subject other than the ones mentioned below) –

1. India and the World – As posted earlier, I had a file of important facts and figures jotted down from the newspapers along with the cuttings that I would industriously collect every Sunday. At the fag end of my preparation (before mains) I prepared an excel sheet. Each worksheet of that excel file was dedicated to a different country (e.g. India – US, India – Myanmar, etc.) I divided each worksheet into two parts – background and foreground. The background listed out the important historical milestones that have shaped the progress of that country and its relations with India. This background was mostly summarized from books on IR that I have listed earlier. The foreground, summarized from the books as well as the newspaper cuttings and aforementioned facts, would concern itself with relatively contemporary events shaping our relations right up to the present day. This way, I had the entire IR matter summarized in a single excel file.  In a nutshell, this is what I did : (1) Read books on IR for background knowledge + Read newspapers and magazines for contemporary events, take cuttings and jot down points (2) Summarize it all in an excel file for revision before exam

2. International Affairs and Institutions, other current affairs, science and tech – I followed a strategy similar to what is given above : Read, take extracts and notes, summarize further for final revision

3. Polity – I had made notes from DD Basu, which I feel is a fantastic source for polity. I kept revising and updating these notes with information gathered from newspapers and internet. I repeatedly revised these notes and always kept a copy of bare act by Bakshi handy for quick reference.

4. Public Administration Paper 2 – I bought a compendium of previous ten years’ papers . I divided the questions topic-wise (as per syllabus). I then began preparing thought framework for each question – and on the next page I went beyond what was asked and jotted down other related points in a similar format. For example, in a question on the tussle between the cabinet secretariat and PMO, I created a TFW after having read the topic from the sources mentioned below. On the next page I made a flowchart of the evolution of PMO  (this was asked in the main exam!). Thus, I started with the previous years’ questions as the nucleus and then expanded outwards to cover the entire syllabus. After having completed the notes, I glanced through the textbooks to make sure I hadn’t left anything uncovered (while keeping in view the syllabus). Other than that, the newspaper articles relevant to the subject were placed in the notes for quick revision.

5. Public Administration Paper 1 – I started making notes for PA-1 quite late, much after prelims, which is why my notes weren’t as elaborate for this subject. I, however, did manage to jot down the core points of each subtopic which enabled a quick revision in the end. Thoughts of leaders, theorists etc. on various topics were especially stressed upon. The sources for this subject have been mentioned in a previous post.

6. Sociology Paper – 2 : The numerous booklets of IGNOU would be too tedious to be revised at the end and therefore, I made synoptic notes for this subject, taking special care that none of the case studies given in IGNOU booklets failed to find space in my notes. These case studies formed the skeletal structure of most of my answers in Socio-2 exam. I placed the relevant newspaper cuttings and 4-5 case studies from internet (couldn’t find time for more) in my notes.

7. Sociology Paper-1 : mentioned in a previous post
8. International organizations – I created a PDF from wikepedia pages that I found relevant for the exam


  1. I have started following your blog rigorously and you are doing great job by guiding future aspirants. Can you please share the excel and pdf you made which could be of great help to the future aspirants. Thanks in advance.

    Utkarsh Mishra

  2. @ Utkarsh

    I shall share examples of what I did. My files in their final form won't be useful for aspirants in terms of content as they are highly summarized and short versions. Also, a lot of notes continued to be in hard copy format. However, the examples that I'll share would help you to get a glimpse of what i did and you could then evolve your own notes which could be much better than mine. If you make your notes from scratch, you'll be making the best investment of time.

  3. Sir can you please write a detailed blog-post about how you approached Public Administration and GS..that would be of great help..

  4. sir
    what is your opinion about ignou notes on public administration?

  5. sir
    your blog is really helpful,.,.much of my doubts got cleared.
    thank you

  6. @Shailesh - I referred to IGNOU MA for paper-1 and they are pretty lucid

    @ankipati - thanks. Glad to be of help.

  7. Sir
    Thanks a lot foe such a detailed Description of your preparation.It is very helpful indeed. I have a request it would be great if you can refer to some common mistakes commit by aspirants during yhe preparation.

  8. One mistake that I did was focusing more on GS...I couldnt get enough time for sociology paper-2 and GS didnt fetch me enough returns on my investments. Other than that, all is well that ends well :)


  10. Hi Kshitij, Thanks for your notes, they look very good, your efforts are much appreciated. I am in the same boat as you and very well know the importance of those three hours. Best of luck for life ahead. Make Indian Proud!!!

  11. Sir Congratulations!
    I have just one query for which i wld sincerely wish ur suggestion.
    My query may appear a bit silly but with no guidance to turn to other than the net, i feel u having already lived thru a similar or tougher situation wld be the one who could answer
    In 1 of ur interviews that i came across u talked of 2 months of leave b4 mains being absolutely essential. I am working in a GoI facility and the chances for such an amount of leave look rather depressing. May be i am not exactly aware of the process & system.
    Sir u bng in MNRE how did u manage with the leave? I mean what was the grounds for leave applied by u and for what duration?
    And as per UPSC requirement I had to inform my superior abt my application. So every1 is in the know of my intentions. What do i do?
    Cld i ask for leave as a matter of right?
    During my last attempt i cld manage only a week b4 the mains.
    Congratulations again sir for ur accomplishment wld definitely inspire many to value one's sacrifices.

    1. I applied for EoL and the reason I gave was that I had to prepare for Civil Services Exam. The key is to convince your superior. Leave cannot be availed as a matter of right. You have to be persuasive and convincing - everything will then fall in place.

  12. Hi KT, Congratulation for this very particular milestone in your life. Wishing you loads of more to come...

    Tyagi ji... can you please share how did you do time management along with work... I did read somewhere that "Those 3hours have done the magic"..... but considering even 3-4hr apart from newspaper reading... its hard to complete the subjects...

    a walk through your week, during your preparation days would be great.. asking this because myself too a working professional... aspiring for the same. Again don't have the luxuries of Dr. Mukherjee Nagar as residing in Bangalore. Kinda able connect my situation with your's as many more would have done along with me.
    Next query i have .. "i've read blogs of few other successful candidates from past.. "that start making notes only after 3 reading of the book/topic"... i seriously doubt that's ever possible for candidates with JOBS!!.
    So did you as well followed the so called rule of making notes proportional to number of readings.

    Any other special input for candidates with job(?)... all welcome bro.