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Charts to Mnemonics: 5 Secret Weapons Successful UPSC CSE Aspirants Use

Having cleared the UPSC CSE three times, Nikhil Agrawal shares important tips to successfully clear the civil service exams.

Each Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) civil service aspirant has a unique method of preparing for the exams. While some aspirants make copious notes, others devise their own technique to remember important points. In this article, we look at five tools that have helped an aspirant prepare better.

Nikhil Agrawal who cleared the UPSC CSE thrice in 2016, 2017 and 2018, shares these tips on his Quora post.

Nikhil Agrawal

1. Charts

Nikhil writes, “I have seen many rank holders using chart making techniques in their exam preparation. Charts help you to write a huge amount of data in one single page. It is very useful for repeated revision.”

He continues, “Another benefit of chart making is that you can paste that chart anywhere such as your cupboard, near your bed or even in your bathroom.”

UPSC preparation
The chart that Nikhil used for preparation.

2. Revision

With respect to revision, Nikhil writes, “This is the most crucial preparation part for a serious UPSC aspirant which non-serious students often ignore. We never accept the fact that our brain forgets things easily. But successful aspirants know this fact very well. They don’t bring ego in between their studies. They read the same book repeatedly. You can revise properly if you have made charts and notes of your own.”

3. Connecting the dots

“This technique helps in remembering a lot of what you have studied. By interlinking the topics with each other, you can remember many points for your answer. This technique is more useful for the mains. Connecting the dots will surely fetch you additional marks in every answer. For example: If a question on economy is asked then you must relate it with environment/education/women as well,” he writes.
He adds, “Connecting the dots also helps in developing your thought process, which is very useful in prelims examination.”

4. Taking notes

Nikhil shares, “Making notes, especially from newspaper content, is of utmost importance. It is important because you cannot revise a newspaper but you can revise from your notes. You cannot keep one year’s worth of newspapers either. Newspaper reading without revision every one month or so is of no use, so make effectives notes.”

UPSC Preparation
A look at the notes made by Nikhil

5. Mnemonics

This is a technique that various successful aspirants have used over the years to remember important points like dates, years, details about countries, etc. Having used this technique, Nikhil writes, “Remember that mnemonic acts as a supplement to your core preparation which should include extensive reading and hardwork.”

Examples of a few mnemonics that Nikhil used are as follows:

SAAB– Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bengal (Bhutan and Indian state border),

PATNA– Prithvi, Akash, Trishul, Nag, Agni (All five missiles developed under IGMD program India).

To be successful in the CSE one needs to adopt a combination of various techniques and not just stick to one of them. You can read our coverage of various civil servants cracking the UPSC CSE and sharing tips here.

(Edited by Yoshita Rao)

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