For the UPSC CSE exam, why is it advised to make notes only after reading a book 2-3 times? Why shouldn’t I make them in the first read itself?(Bhavesh Mishra IAS)

Here is a page from Chapter – Harappan Civilization from Ancient India Class XI

Before you read the rest of the answer, I would request you to read the page first (will take 2–3 minutes).

Now if you start making notes after your first reading, you would feel that:

Every line and data mentioned in the chapter is important since we have a mindset that UPSC can ask anything from anywhere.

Eventually you would end up reproducing the entire text in your notes which is a colossal waste of your time and energy.

Moreover, when you want to revise the chapter you would have a dilemma whether to revise your notes or read the book again since the essence of the chapter cannot be captured in one single reading. So if you read the book then the bulky notes that you have made serve no purpose. On the other hand if you read just your notes, you may have ended up missing many crucial information.

Alternatively, a good strategy to make notes would be to:

  1. Read the book once.
  2. Highlight important lines in the book itself when you read it for the second or third time.
  3. Go through previous year papers and analyse the questions asked in the past.
  4. Make short, succinct and crisp notes afterwards.

Reading the original text multiple times helps you connect the dots and the notes made after multiple reading will be of far better quality and insights. A good note after the above mentioned exercise would be like:

Housing Pattern in Harappa ? (CSE 2014 Mains Question): Followed Grid Pattern

Great Bath: Ritual bathing purpose, made of burnt bricks (one of the very few civilisations to have mastered this art). Egyptians used dried bricks [What other scientific achievements during Ancient times ?]

Granary: Largest building in Mohenjo-daro. Found at other places as well [What does it tell us about the economy of Indus Valley ?]

Important Places (CSE 2019 Prelim Question)

  • Kalibangan (try to locate it on map as well). [Which are other important places ?]

So we could summarise a page in just 4–5 short lines. On first reading you could have been tempted to write the dimensions, number of floors and other miscellaneous details but if you see past questions papers, UPSC has avoided asking such questions and it would be safe (though not 100%) to assume that they will continue with this trend.

Just one page of this chapter has inspired UPSC to ask 2 questions in the last 5 years.

CSE 2014: To what extent has the urban planning and culture of Indus Valley Civilizations has provided inputs to the present day urbanization ?

CSE 2019: Which of the following is not a Harappan Site?

  1. Chanhudaro
  2. Kot Diji
  3. Sohgaura
  4. Desalpur

Moreover, you should keep on adding questions to your notes e.g Scientific achievements during ancient times? Other important places of Indus Valley ? etc.

This will add value to your notes and they will be much more than just a mere collections of facts and figures.

Confused on how to start?Prepare with us
Xaam Prelims 2020 Online test series and guidance program.AIR|24/7 doubt resolution and support|Time bound mini and Full mocks|Hindi and English medium|2 years of Current affairs

Click here for TARGET UPSC 2020

You may also like...