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GATE Preparation Tips - Nurture Your Note Bank

GATE Preparation Tips - Nurture Your Note Bank

Continuing our series of articles on GATE Preparation Tips, in this article we talk about nuturing your note bank. Throughout your four years of engineering and then during the months of GATE preparation, you will come across a lot of textbooks. All authors have different styles of writing and you have to navigate these differences and form your own impressions. 

You must keep in mind, that books are written according to how the author sees things; notes are made according to how you see them. It is very important for you to see things your way by making your own original notes for every important concept you learn. In the end, you will see how big a difference that makes in your GATE preparation. 

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When writing notes, try and summarize the concept in a couple of lines. Once you are clear about the crux of the concept, decide the structure and the points first, and then start writing the descriptive text. The advantage of notes over books is that they have to be read only by the person who wrote them. So, as long as you understand what you have written, it's fine. The purpose is to jot down the most important bits legibly and succinctly. 

Focus on concepts in your notes, not chapters or pages. They may be the same but not always. For instance, I have seen some of my friends and students writing notes about boxes, side notes and even appendices! 

For a better GATE preparation level, never make notes from an open book. Read or hear, and then try writing notes sometime later without anyone or a book around. It forces you to explain in words what you think you know and so the gaps in your understanding become evident. Every chapter or section has two or three core concepts. Identify them and make notes about them first.

What I used for my GATE preparation, was writing notes in the form of questions so that at the time of revision I could challenge myself with those questions and then refer to the notes for answers, if I need to. 

Have some coding in your notes. Multicoloured and well-annotated notes, though hard to write, is easy to read. You can use a lot of personal icons, like big question marks, smileys, stars, etc. to annotate your notes. That will make your notes easier for you to understand as well as fun to write. 

The notes should be of multiple hierarchical levels. You can have 'notes of notes' or 'notes of notes of notes'. So, there should be a one-line summary of a concept, then a five-line detailing and then maybe a one-page detailing. This is not a rule, but this structuring will help you in two ways. First, you can structure your revision cycles into short ones and long ones depending on how much time you have for the revision; and second, you can also prepare yourself for both short-answer and long-answer formats for the same concept. 

Do remember to mention catches and 'gotchas' very clearly in your notes. There are always some common mistakes about each concept and keeping them highlighted is very important so that you consciously watch out for them in trick questions, especially under pressure. 

I hope, you have now understood the practice of good note taking and then managing them for a better GATE preparation level. In the next article, something more on better ways to prepare for GATE. 

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