If you have decided to find your way to one of the most sought after jobs in the country through the IAS exam, you are one brave soul. However, just starting out and beginning your preparation for IAS exam can be an overwhelming experience. With extensive and ever-expanding syllabus that covers almost everything under the sun, studying and actually remembering the key points for all the topics in the syllabus can be a daunting task. Even veterans, who have been preparing for the IAS exam since few years, also find it quite difficult to manage. The only way to effectively crack IAS exam can be to boost your memory and improve the retention power of your brain.
Below, we have given some basic tips, tricks and techniques to boost your memory to crack the IAS exam.
As per a study, the human mind is more inclined to retain information and data presented in graphical or visual form compared to plain text format. Put simply, it means that the as an IAS aspirant, you are more likely to remember a diagram explaining the working of an internal combustion engine rather than a paragraph. Similarly, watching a documentary on Mughal Era rule in India would be far more beneficial compared to reading a book of 500 pages. Therefore, in order to cover the extensive subjective and general syllabus for IAS exam, candidates must depend more upon graphs, charts and audio-visual content compared to plain text notes. In today’s social media era, there are abundant audio-visual and graphical sources of information sources available to IAS aspirants; using them can certainly improve your memory drastically.
This one goes without saying. Revision is the best way to learn any topic that you want to learn and memorize it for a long time. While many candidates follow this and include it religiously in their daily schedule, many others take it quite casually. But, for all the doubters there is scientific proof that revision drastically improves your memory. According to the concept of ‘Learning by Spaced Repetition’; an average human being is bound to forget almost 90% of they learn if the learning is not backed by proper revision.
Therefore, it is very important for all IAS aspirants to have a well-planned revision schedule in place when it comes to cracking the mother of all entrance exams. The ideal time-frame for revision would be Weekly / Fortnightly / Monthly / Bi-monthly basis. Try it for a while and space out the time period as suited to your memory. Also, there are different revision strategies that can be tried upon in order to find the one best suited to all your needs.
This is one technique that the majority of IAS aspirants are not aware of when it comes to improving their memory. Considering the vast and ever expanding nature of IAS syllabus, there would be many topics that can create divided opinions among different candidates. One of the simplest ways to cover all these different points and schools of thought on a particular topic would be, to debate them within your study group.
Using debate as a technique to improve your memory works on two levels. On a primary level, you would be studying a particular topic or concept in detail from the point of view that in your opinion represents it the best. Secondly, while debating you would also come across other different perspectives that will help you not only gather more information but also reaffirm the facts, figures and data that you have already studied earlier.
Another rarely used technique to improve memory retention when it comes to IAS exam is teaching others. Just like debating, if you were to teach a particular topic to others in your Study Group, you would put in extra efforts in order to augment your information and build strong arguments. Furthermore, while teaching others the information you share with other also reinforces the same in your mind as well. Another advantage of teaching others is that it would also help you build confidence when it comes to presenting information before others. Teaching others would be very advantageous when it comes to preparing for interviews and group discussion rounds.
Although the term Mnemonics sounds pretty scary, but we have all been using it to improve our memory since childhood. Remember VIBGYOR, it is a type of mnemonic technique that helped you to remember all the colours of a rainbow. Similarly, you can also form abbreviations, acronyms and other techniques that can assist you in improving your memory. Furthermore, there are several mnemonic techniques available for candidates preparing for IAS exam, just Google them and you would be good to go. However, candidates are more likely to remember self-created mnemonics, so try those as well.
Create mental maps or co-relations
Another very effective way to improve your memory would be, by creating mental maps and co-relations among different facts, data and information. For instance, it would be wise to study about the emergency period from 1975 to 1977 along with details of the 4th and 5th 5-year plans implemented in India. Apart from elaborating upon the political reasons, it would give you a few economic reasons which made the imposition of emergency in India. Similarly, an IAS aspirant can also create a mind-map about the development of railways in India and its co-relation with the overall growth in the GPD of the country.
One of the biggest problems while preparing for IAS exam is to avoid distractions and this becomes even more important if you want to improve your memory and retain the information you study. Thus, a simple way to improve your memory with regards to IAS preparation would be to avoid multi-tasking and concentrate on the material that you are studying. This includes avoiding any social media distractions like WhatsAap, Facebook and Twitter as well as company that often disturbs you from your study routine.
Another very simple way to improve your memory would be to self-quiz. To do this, you would have to prepare a detailed questionnaire about the topic, chapter or concept that you are planning to study in this session. After this, you can prepare the topic under question thoroughly as you normally would do. Once done, take a short break and then take the self-quiz up with the help of questionnaire you prepared earlier. This would give you the right picture as far as your memory retention is concerned and also provide you with your strengths, weaknesses which you can work upon later.
Shorter Study Sessions and frequent brakes
As per a study, the human brain has its peak concentration power only for about 1 to 1.5 hours. Therefore, it is beneficial that you plan you study sessions keeping in mind this timeline. Any time and effort you put in continuing to studying beyond 1 to 1.5 hours is completely useless and will not help you. So, plan shorter study sessions with frequent breaks in between. During the break, you can try to recall the material you have studied and see how much of that can you recall. After your break, get back to the same topic and see the things you missed out and revise them again. This would help you reinforce and revise not only the parts that you missed but the entire chapter.
Eat well – Sleep well
Finally, just like any other part of your body, even your brain is prone to fatigue and tiredness. The more you use it the more rest it requires to recover. Therefore, never miss a chance to rest your brain well after an exhaustive study session. It may be by taking up other activities like exercise or going for a walk or even watching your favourite TV show for a while. Apart from this, IAS aspirants are also used to pulling all-nighters that can seriously hamper with not only your body cycle but also the capacity of the brain to function. Therefore, minimum 8-hours sleep is a must for anyone trying to crack the IAS examination with flying colours.