In the UPSC examination, preparing short notes is considered essential for candidates — among other things like practising answer writing and studying reliable study material.

IAS officers say preparing notes helps candidates revise the concepts easily before the exam. Three IAS officers share how to make efficient notes for last-minute revision.

“I had short notes for every topic. But your content should be condensed. For example, convert a 20–30 page topic into 3–4 page short notes,” he says.

Sharing how he prepared the notes, he says, “I write keywords for any topic that will help me remember the topic. Also, we should not make notes very bulky, because you won’t be able to quickly revise it,” he adds.

Read first, make notes later: Dongre also suggests that aspirants should avoid making short notes while reading any subject for the first time.

“One should prepare short notes only after one or two readings of the topic. This will help us understand what information is important and what isn’t,” he says.

“Subjects like history and geography are objective streams; if you read enough material and are decent at writing your answers, it will be possible to do well,” he says.

Make notes with a focus on clearing exams: “The notes you make specifically for CSE are for just that. Do not aim to make them very scholarly. That will completely defeat the purpose,” says Shashank.